The Troy Coffee Roundup
Although one can get a cup of coffee at just about any restaurant in Troy (and at gas stations and convenience stores besides), there are only a few places in the city that are in the coffee business with any seriousness. Downtown there are the Daily Grind and the Escape Café, both on Broadway; aside from that the only contender is Dunkin’ Donuts, in Troy Plaza on Hoosick Street. All three serve respectable coffee, but some distinctions can nonetheless be made. First of all, Dunkin’ Donuts is the clear winner in the hours department: it’s open seven days a week, five in the morning to midnight. The Daily Grind is open eight to five thirty during the week and nine to four Saturday; Escape is open a bit earlier in the morning and a bit later at night (and possibly also on Sunday), but it’s still a distant second. Dunkin’s also wins for cheapest food (although coffee at all three places is roughly the same price): fifty-nine cents a donut is tough to beat. And for those on or around the RPI campus, it’s the shortest walk or drive of the three. But as far as staff and service go, Dunkin’ Donuts is the big loser. One can’t really condemn the workers flat-out (they’re surely under far more stress than the staff at the Daily Grind or Escape), but Dunkin’s has by far the least friendly, helpful, and efficient service of these three places. A particular pet peeve is the fact that only at Dunkin’s do workers add cream and sugar to customers’ coffee, and they have heavy hands indeed (for an average color, be sure to ask for “just a little bit” of cream in your coffee). Furthermore, Dunkin’s tends to have a significantly dirtier dining area than either of its two competitors. And finally, the atmosphere and setting of Dunkin’ Donuts are rather a lot less appealing than those of the downtown coffee places. The Escape Café has the broadest food selection of the three: besides bagels and muffins there’s a good spread of sandwiches, soups, and pastries to accompany your coffee. However, the Daily Grind’s bagels are tastier than those at Dunkin’s or Escape, and although it’s a close call, the coffee there is the best as well. It’s fresher tasting (thanks very likely to the fact that the Daily Grind roasts its own beans), stronger, and served up better than the coffee at either of its competitors. For coffee qua coffee, the Daily Grind wins, albeit a bit narrowly. Side notes: for music (or ambient sound, at least), the Daily Grind also wins, for playing the staff’s personal (generally indie) selections rather than CNN (at Dunkin’s) or “smooth jazz” radio (at Escape). The Escape Café has computers in the back for Internet use, but stay away. Access is overpriced (circa ten cents a minute), the machines look feeble, and the connection is surely slower than many (college) readers are accustomed to. Just drink your coffee.