Getting Locally Caffeinated

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time (and money) at Starbucks. I spend most of my day scavenging LinkedIn for jobs and editing cover letter after cover letter, so I like to get out of my house and embrace the application process over a caffeinated beverage. After reading a recent Times Union Article about some new projects in Downtown Albany I felt inspired to step out of the Starbucks bubble and try out something a bit more local.

I knew I was going to be in Downtown since I had to go to my dad’s office, so I packed up my laptop and headphones with the intention of checking out Stacks Espresso Bar. In the article I learned that Stacks had just recently opened a new location on Broadway, but has an alternate location on Lark Street which had been open for some time. After leaving my Dad’s office I put Stacks in my GPS which first brought me to the location on Lark. I struggled to find parking and ultimately decided to try the newer location.

When I got to the new Broadway location I once again struggled to park. Parking Downtown is sometimes tricky but I really wanted to go to this coffee shop. It took a few trips up and down the one way streets, and a lot of digging for quarters to put in the meter, but finally I made it.

Walking into Stacks I had no expectations since I had never been to this area of Albany but I was pleasantly surprised. There were quite a few young people dressed in business casual, clearly on a break from the office, and a young woman working on her laptop. Immediately I was surprised how bright it was inside especially considering it was quite the gloomy day. Brightness of a location is a really underrated quality of a place and something that’s kind of rare to find in a coffee shop. But I really loved the light and clean look of the place.


I ordered an 8oz. latte with french toast flavoring. It was $4.05 including tax, which is definitely not much cheaper than Starbucks, but I rationalized that I was supporting local business so it was totally worth it. The way Stacks is set up, there aren’t any tables to sit at but rather a bar going around the perimeter of the building (hence the “espresso bar” in the name, I’m guessing). When my drink was ready there was plenty of space to stand along the bar, but no free stools to sit on. I had wanted to do some work on my laptop so I was kind of disappointed to have to stand, but I made do, and it wasn’t long before I could sit down.

My coffee tastes have certainly grown since my first introduction to this caffeinated gift in high school, where my friends who worked at Dunkin Donuts snuck me free iced coffees. Today I still live for a good Dunkin iced but have acquired tastes for more than just that. Local shops usually offer some different styles or flavors of coffee, which is great if you’re looking to try new things. It’s definitely easier to grab a coffee at a coffee chain, and with the apps and rewards it sometimes seems like the better option. But there is something special about going to a local coffee shop. I’m going to make it a goal to try as many coffee shops as a I can in the next few months, because if I’m going to continue to feed my addiction, I might as well invest in my community at the same time.

If you want to keep up with my exploration, follow my Instagram @eatingwitherin