Residents of the Catskills are often people who thrive on privacy and peace, but it’s also important that the commons contain ample opportunities to get off of the farm and out of the woods to socialize. Happily, we’re blessed with a fine selection of coffee shops and casual cafés that showcase coffee curation and offer sweet and savory snacks.
Bread Alone Bakery (breadalone.com, multiple locations) has been doing the bakery-café thing for decades, and has two Catskills shops: the main headquarters on Route 28 in Boiceville, and a satellite café in Woodstock. Flour milled to spec, locally sourced fresh dairy and wood-fired ovens are some of the ingredients in its well-loved recipes.
In Phoenicia, Mama’s Boy Market (7 Church St., mamasboymarket.com, 845-688-3050) is the beloved nerve center of one of Budget Travel’s top 10 Coolest Small Towns, offering delicious caffeine delivery systems from Kingston’s Monkey Joe Roasting Co. A cheerful outdoor deck, homemade baked goods, a smoothie bar and free wifi draw patrons for long sits. (There’s usually a new chocolate-covered something to try on every visit, as well.)
Down in White Lake, near the Woodstock ’69 site, two women on a lifetime quest for coffee perfection operate the small-batch roasting facility and café that is Java Love (1577 Route 17B, 845-583-4082, javaloveroasters.com) with a green and community-based sensibility that would make Wavy Gravy proud.
Some of the great spots to snag a coffee break are also markets where you can shop for exceptional dinner ingredients, feeling like a genius as you relax, enjoy and save gas. Pepacton Natural Foods (57 Stewart Ave., Roscoe, 607-498-9909, pepactonnaturalfoods.com) blends its java with bulk foods, handmade pottery and natural body care products, among other treats. The store also takes orders by phone and email, and delivers from Downsville to Walton.
In Margaretville, The Cheese Barrel (798 Main St., 845-586-4666, cheesebarrel.com) pairs its gourmet cheeses with a full line of Boar’s Head deli meats, along with exotic pasta, candy and ice cream. (If you’re hungrier for more than a snack, try the hot turkey melt with cranberry chutney on a croissant.) Just down the street, 768 Main (768 Main St., 845-586-6166, 768main.com) will serve you coffee and a Bailey’s Irish Cream cupcake amidst an array of antique and unique vintage finds and artisan wares.
The Tay Tea Bar in Andes (131 Main St., 845-676-4997, taytea.com) serves up its organic, locally sourced teas onsite at Tay Home, an ever-evolving lifestyle store full of sleek décor, found artifacts and designer fashion. The store forms a backdrop for a rich culture of wisdom about all things tea: tea and health, tea in history, tea-infused cheese and even brownies.
Tea is also the main attraction at Wellington’s Herbs And Spices (649 Rickard Hill Road, Schoharie, 518-295-7366, wellingtonsherbsandspices.com), an organic farm and retail store. Its elegant tea room offers house-blended beverages, including a special island tea, and casual cuisine, with a wide-ranging view across the picturesque Schoharie Valley.
At Delhi’s Blue Bee Café (114 Main St., 607-746-8060), a delicious addition to the Steinway Book Store in 2010, you can enjoy a good book over a variety of hand-crafted baked goods or a panini (the tuna is especially good).
Then there are coffee shops that blend an epic level of the kind of funk and quirk you just can’t fake with the aromatic roast. Two Old Tarts (22 Lee Lane, Andes, twooldtarts.com) is the creation of Scott Finley and John Schulman. The pair launched their baking careers at Roxbury’s Pakatakan Farmers’ market in 2001 and opened a shop in Bovina in 2012. In the spring of 2014, Two Old Tarts left Bovina for a more permanent home in Andes; the newly-renovated café is slated to reopen this summer. The café, which serves its own Catskills blend coffee, also offers casual breakfast and lunch. Finley and Schulman’s extraordinary desserts are available by the slice or as whole pies, cakes and tarts, which are also popular for pre-ordering at the holidays.
And for those days you aren’t feeling social, you don’t even have to leave your den to experience the rich smooth beauty of coffee-shop culture. Just click over to Catskill Mountain Coffee (catskillmountaincoffee.com) online and custom-order a batch of artisanal beans, which the company will ship right from its Kingston roastery via UPS. Pair it with a delivery of something delectable from Shokan’s Fruition Chocolate Works (tastefruition.com). Chocolate guru Bryan Graham’s award-winning “bean to bar” delicacies will alter your chocolate world view forever. Presto! Catskills paradise at your own kitchen table.
This article originally appeared in the print version of the 2014 Catskills Food Guide, our annual publication covering local farms, restaurants and food purveyors. Find a copy near you here. Find a farm, market, restaurant or other food-related business in our searchable, sortable online database here.