Things to Do In Rhode Island - Must Visit Coffee Shops and Cafés
Must Visit Coffee Shops in Rhode Island
So, let me preface this article by saying a few things. The list I have compiled is based on my preferences of coffee shops that I have visited. Notice, this is not a "best" list, but rather a list of coffee shops I am recommending to you. By not including other coffee shops, I am in no way saying that they are not good coffee shops. Also, I drink my coffee black, and usually iced. That being said, most of the flavor/taste descriptions will be based on a black coffee.
While this is not a best coffee shop list, I am numbering the shops in order of my favorite. I do not want you to necessarily take that as meaning my number one is better than my number 4, but I enjoy the flavor and taste most at the number one.
It just happens to be a coincidence that all of these coffee shops are at the southern end of the state. I did not plan for that to happen, but it did. Anyway, enjoy the article, and be sure to check out one, or all of the places listed.
#1 - Cool Beans Cafe, Narragansett, RI
My 1 slot goes to Cool Beans Cafe in Narragansett, RI. Hands down, they gave me the best cup of coffee I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. And believe me, I have had a lot of coffee from a lot of different places. I ordered an iced coffee, black. To start, there was not an overwhelming amount of ice in the cup. Considering I ordered coffee with ice, and not ice with coffee, I appreciated that. Not only was the coffee not in the least bit bitter, but it was strong and smooth and had an awesome taste. I made sure to sip this coffee slowly, and was a little sad that I finished it and could not immediately drink another one. For those reasons, Cool Beans gets named #1 and my new favorite coffee shop.
As a side note, my wife ordered a scone, and it was delicious (I had a piece, of course). We ate it in the cafe, which is lit by natural light during the day, and has more than enough tables and sitting areas to accommodate their patrons.
Their location is also fantastic. If you are driving on Route 1A with Narragansett Beach on your left, turn right at the end of the beach, and you cannot miss it. It is in a small plaza on the left side of the road. See map below.
Cool Beans Cafe Narragansett, RI
#2 - The Coffee Grinder, Newport, RI
I have to say, it was hard to choose between Cool Beans and The Coffee Grinder. Don't get me wrong, The Coffee Grinder serves a great cup of coffee, and I will certainly get coffee there again. Especially if you find yourself in Newport, The Coffee Grinder is a convenient place to get a good cup of coffee, or an espresso.
I was born, raised, and spend the vast majority of my life in Rhode Island. I have been to Newport countless times, but it was not until earlier this year that I came across The Coffee Grinder. I had never heard of it (not that it means anything), but I was in desperate need of coffee, and figured I'd give it a go. I am most definitely glad I did. As usual, I ordered an iced coffee, black. From the first sip, I loved it. It wasn't bitter, it was smooth, and it was definitely strong.
From my understanding, they specialize in espresso. With the coffee being as good as it was, I can only imagine how amazing their espresso is. If you find yourself spending the day in Newport, find this coffee shop.
The Coffee Grinder is located on Bannister's Wharf in Newport, RI. It is conveniently located across the street from the shopping on Thames Street in the Brick Market Place. To actually find the shop, walk on Bannister's Wharf until you cannot go any further without hitting the water. There, on the right, you will find it.
The Coffee Grinder
#3 - Brewed Awakenings,Wakfield, RI, Cranston, RI and Johnston, RI
Brewed Awakenings has been around for years, but it was not until recently that I realized how delicious their coffee is. As usual, I ordered an iced coffee, black. It was not as strong as Cool Beans or The Coffee Grinder, but it had a strong, rich taste, and was smooth, not bitter. For you cream and sugar folk, my wife orders her coffee iced, regular (two creams, two sugars), and said hers was also great-tasting.
Their coffee is awesome, and they also have a large assortment of pastries. My wife had a muffin, that they apparently bake in-house, and she said it tasted great.
Like Cool Beans, Brewed offers more than enough seating, and even has several televisions. Unlike the first two shops, Brewed has four locations in Rhode Island.
As I mentioned, Brewed has four Rhode Island locations: Wakefield, RI, in the South County Commons, Cranston, RI on Pontiac Avenue, and two in Johnston, RI. on different parts of Atwood Avenue.
#4 - The Village Hearth Bakery Cafe, Jamestown, RI
Last, but certainly not least, is The Village Hearth Bakery Cafe. Unlike the others on this list, The Village Hearth is a Bakery. They also happen to have delicious coffee. As you may have guessed by now, I ordered an iced coffee, black. The coffee was strong and had a bold taste, but it wasn't quite as smooth or flavorful as Cool Beans or The Coffee Grinder. Don't get me wrong though, I thoroughly enjoyed the coffee, and get some every time I am in Jamestown.
Besides the great coffee, they have no bag tea, which they make right in front of you with fresh herbs. My wife got a hot chamomile tea, and said it was the best and most flavorful tea she has ever had.
Be sure to get a bakery item when you are there, too. My wife and I both got scones, and liked them so much, we got more. Everything is cooked fresh and on-site. As an added plus, The Village Hearth will be baking certain gluten free items soon.
The Village Hearth is located just off of North Main Road in Jamestown, RI, almost directly across from the Jamestown Library, and next to Cumberland Farms. Parking, and the entrance is located on Watson Avenue.
The Village Heart Bakery Cafe
I really thought I had visited a fair number of the state's outstanding coffee shops. This clearly was not the case. Since this list was never in any particular order, I have some more to add.
#5 - Coffee Exchange - Providence, RI
I am not quite sure how I never happened upon this place until recently, but I am glad that I did. The Coffee Exchange is located on Providence's East Side on Wickenden Street. I'll start with one of my favorite things about this place: they have coldbrew coffee. I usually have trouble finding coldbrew, but lo and behold, here it is. Like the others on this list, both their hot and iced coffee is awesome and you have a number of roast choices. Besides coffee, they also have a number of specialty drinks such as chais and lattes, etc.
Like most coffee shops, they offer a small selection of food in the form of pastries. Also awesome is the fact that a section of the shop is filled with coffee beans from a number of countries that are for sale.
If you find yourself in Providence, especially on the East Side, do yourself a favor and stop in. As I mentioned it is located on Wickenden Street, just a few blocks west of the Wickenden Street/Main Street intersection. Parking is limited to street parking, but I've yet to have an issue finding a spot. Also, both cash and card is accepted.
Since writing this article, my family and I have relocated to a different part of the state. Since moving we have found many more amazing coffee shops. I thought it was only fair that I add them to the list.
#6 - Custom Coffee House - Middletown, RI
Since I started working in Middletown, Custom has quickly become one of my favorite, go to coffee shops. Their cold brew is phenomenal, as is there regular iced and hot coffee. They also have fun and whimsical names for their coffees such as coffee addict and zombie killer. Love cold brew, but don't want to hold an iced coffee in the winter? Check this out: Custom can get you a hot cold brew. If you just gave your screen a puppy dog head turn, don't worry, I did too the first time they told me about it. I said, well doesn't that defeat the purpose of cold brew? You're putting acidity back into the coffee. Then, they blew my mind. They steam the cold brew. Steaming only makes it hot, it does not further roast the coffee. You can have a hot coffee with the low acidity and taste of a cold brew.
As with most of the others on this list, Custom offers more than just coffee. I can never leave Custom without a piece of their lemon bread. Many of my co-workers enjoy popping in for a quick lunch, as they have ready made sandwiches and salads. My son has had a few different flavors of smoothies, which he always loves. My wife, besides loving their coffee, loves their tea, chai, and hot chocolate.
Custom offers one more thing that most other coffee shops do not. Not only can you buy whole beans in a plethora of varieties from numerous countries, but they will grind them to any consistency for you. Additionally, Custom offers a selection of pre-packaged beans with a portion of the proceeds going to veterans organizations.
Bonus - If you are active duty military or a veteran, Custom will gladly take 50% off of your order on their aptly named Military Monday.
Custom Coffee House is located on Aquidneck Avenue in Middletown, RI. If you are familiar with the island, either take East Main Road until you hit Aquidneck, or if you are coming over the Newport Bridge, you can take Miantonomi Ave until it turns into Green End Ave and turn onto Aquidneck.
Custom Coffee House
Coffee in Rhode Island
If you have yet to notice, there are a vast number of coffee shops in Rhode Island. Why? I'm not sure, but I am glad there are. I promise, all of these shops are worth at least one visit. And, good new is, if you cannot get to one of these shops, you are never more than five minutes from Dunkin Donuts, which is consistently good coffee, although not as good as the shops I've mentioned.
If I've missed any good ones, let me know. I would love to visit and write about more great coffee shops.
© 2014 Jay Connors