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.

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Comments on The Troy Coffee Roundup

daily grind - no question. the staff is personable, the coffee is decent, there is usually someone you know in there getting their caffeine fix, and i cannot tell you how many times i have been in there when the velvet underground was playing. unless i make it myself, i hit the daily grind for my coffee.

Posted by skfl (December 8, 2003 07:42 PM)

No mention of the former Good Food Company on Third and Fulton? Great espresso drinks, fruit and espresso smoothies and awesome coffee varieties. Daily Grind is the only STAR for java in downtown Troy nowadays. The Escape Cafe failed because the owner had the personality of a SNAIL; he should have stayed home and let some college girls work the place for him. My opinions only.

Posted by Keith (February 11, 2003 11:01 AM)

I agree that the service and atmosphere at Dunkin’ Donuts in Troy, including the coffee, suck. I hate the workers there; they don’t even smile at you, and it doesn’t feel pleasant to buy a cup of coffee from there. I stay away from that place.

Posted by Nina (February 4, 2003 01:36 AM)

Aren’t you forgetting Coffee Tyme, you morons? They have the best coffee by far in all of upstate… if you don’t like Coffee Tyme, then you don’t like coffee!

Posted by Joseph Smith (February 2, 2003 01:03 PM)

With regards to Dunkin’ Donuts, the key is to scream “NO SUGAR OR CREAM” at the server. I’ve never had coffee at the Troy one, oddly enough - I have, however, had pretty good cups of coffee at the one on Wolf Road by Borders, and one in Albany on Western Avenue. Still, though, nothing compares to the Daily Grind. The iced coffee is one of my favorites.

Posted by Justin Baugh (April 12, 2002 08:13 AM)

An editor’s note: the Escape Cafe has gone out of business effective 31 December 2001. I’ll leave my comments about the place online for historical interest (pfft), but be forewarned: you won’t be satisfying your caffeine jones at 5th and Broadway anymore.

Posted by Jack Letourneau (January 5, 2002 08:03 PM)

I’d echo the review posted with one addition. I have had absolutely rotten luck with Dunkin’ Donuts. Being someone who likes a strong cup of coffee, I routinely ended up with weak, foul-tasting coffee with the aforementioned truckload of cream and not-quite-fresh donuts. So how does one get a quick, hot strong and non-nasty cup ‘o joe? Stewart’s. The one on Hoosick has fresh, decent coffee in the morning, you can doctor it to precisely your taste, spend less money and be in and out quicker (typically) than at DD. You want good DD, go to Saratoga Springs. Else, stay the heck away.

Posted by Jesse Nice (November 13, 2001 06:06 PM)