Let's face it, no one loves coffee shops more than me. It's not about the coffee. I mean yes, I love coffee. But a coffee shop is only a good coffee shop if it brings me in for reasons other than coffee.
A good coffee shop has most or all of the following (by MY standards):
- Involved Owners
- Amazing employees, who I often become friends with...
- Good music
- Proper lighting
- Enough seating/outdoor seating
- Vegan/dairy free options
So, no, you won't find Starbucks or Dunkin on here, sorry!
Without further ado, let's get to the list! (Don't worry, I'll continue to add to this list as I keep on finding new shops!)
1. Good Earth Coffee - Far Hills, NJ
Locally owned by an amazing female, Liv, this coffee shop is one of my favorites. Not only is the music good, but the staff is hard working, sweet and quite funny. With all milks but oat, you can get any kind of coffee made vegan and sugar free! Not to mention the sweet treats, cookies, brownies and scones, that you can buy with your coffee and take to go! The white couch in the corner, tables and bar to sit at, really adds a cozy but stylish vibe for you to sit with friends, do homework or read a book.
Go to Good Earth order: Almond milk latte with sugar free hazelnut
2. Smart World Coffee - Morristown, NJ
Right off Main Street in Morristown, this local coffee shop is always filled with people! The staff is SO friendly and they never fail to remember me even if it's been a while (5 months oops). With all but oat milk, again, this shop offers all your dairy free and sugar free options with a fridge full of grab and go food as well. With the option to order and salad or wrap, you can really park yourself here for hours and get work done. In the summer and fall months, you can sit right on Main Street and enjoy the vibe that Morristown has to offer.
Go to Smart World order: Cold brew with almond milk
3. Boxwood Coffee - Summit, NJ
One of my FAVORITES ever. I love this shop. I love the employees, I love the look, the vibe, the music... I have nothing but praise for Boxwood Coffee. They even have oak milk (God bless!!). From a full coffee pot to an amazing pour over, or if you're basic like me... an almond milk latte, you really capture the essence of coffee at this shop. If you haven't been to Boxwood- don't walk, RUN.
Go to Boxwood order: (too many options)... either a cold brew with oat milk or an Americano with mocha and a lil oat milk
4. The Squirrel and the Bee - Short HIlls, NJ
Yes, the coffee is good but MAN OH MAN the vegan goodies here are to DIE FOR. From vegan chocolate chip vegan cookies to vegan muffins and cupcakes, the Squirrel and Bee is what a girl like me dreams was in her town. With a cute interior to hangout in or get work done, you can sit down with a latte and grab something grain/gluten free or vegan to munch on. It's hard enough to be dairy free but grain free and dairy free- that's heaven on earth for a girl with a big sweet tooth. Also, the owners are both friendly and generous so if you're ever running over to the Short Hills Mall, be sure to stop for both a latte and a cookie for me!
Go to Squirrel and Bee order: almond milk latte with hazelnut
5. Stay Gold Cafe and Lounge - Belmar, NJ
Yes, I love an iced coffee on a summers day but what's even better? Taking my dog and sweatshirt down the shore on a fall weekend day and walking the boardwalk with a hot latte in hand. For that kind of fall festive mood, you can find me at Stay Gold in Belmar, and yes, they ALWAYS have a treat for my pup. The staff is beyond friendly and not only do they have a ton of coffee options with all your non-dairy milks, but they offer a full food menu in the back of the shop which is more like a restaurant.
Go to Stay Gold order: Almond milk spiced chai
6. Priscilla's Pantry - Basking Ridge, NJ
Basking Ridge FINALLY has a female mastermind , Priscilla, taking the town by storm both with her personality, creativity and COFFEE. Well, some may argue that her fully stocked fridges with everything from mason jar salads to mac and cheese is what makes Priscilla's a hot spot, but this is all about coffee so if you want more on her food, you'll just have to check it out yourself ;). With a small but charismatic staff, nothing will brighten your morning more than walking in and having your coffee already halfway made, ready for you to drink.
*You can also find Priscilla's at the Bedminster Farmers Market, Saturday's 10-1 pm.
Go to Priscilla's Order: Almond milk latte with sugar free hazelnut or almond milk chai latte with a pump of pumpkin (tis the szn people!)
7. Allegro Coffee (Bridgewater Whole Foods) - Bridgewater, NJ
Okay, I had to put Allegro on here even though it's in the new (ish) Bridgewater Whole Foods. I started coming here habitually to do my homework/study as a commuter student at Rutgers University- since I would pass by it on my way to classes! With a ton of indoor and outdoor seating (for the summer/fall days), it's really a great place to sit down and write a blog post on coffee (lol). What really drew me in was not only the Allegro company- who uses only sustainable farming and works to build relationships with farmers in South America, BUT I love that they incorporate local NJ coffees. The Dark Chocolate Tumeric Mocha cannot be ordered anywhere other than this Whole Foods because it's made locally! Not only that but... THEY DO NOT CHARGE EXTRA FOR NON-DAIRY MILK YAY! Finally, this dairy free chick can save a few bucks. Way cheaper than Starbucks, and even some of the shops listed above, I am a huge Allegro Girl. Not to mention, I love the staff... they're some of my favorite people. So, next time you're looking for groceries, be sure to grab a coffee!
Go to Allegro Order: Dark chocolate tumeric mocha with almond milk OR cold brew with mocha and oat milk OR Americano with mocha and oat milk