Coffee, coffee, coffee

uncommon grounds giveaway basket

Caffeine for the holidays

The AOA elves are back to help you with your holiday shopping. For the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you fun, interesting, local gift ideas for the holiday season.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee, at least, in my humble opinion. But hey, some people don't always think they're worth the good coffee splurge.

Which is why this next installment of the AOA holiday gift guide is near and dear to my heart -- the gift of locally roasted coffee.

Here in the Capital Region, we've got a number of local roasters to choose from, including good old standby the Daily Grind in Albany. The Lark Street Blend seems like a particularly good choice if you really want something that screams "local." It's a chocolate-hazelnut flavor that sells for $14 a pound. There are also usually a few holiday-ish blends. Personally, I'm a blend girl, not a flavor girl, but there are plenty of those, too. Oh, and while the coffee isn't roasted in-store at the Troy shop, you can still buy the beans there.

Personally, my favorite is the coffee roasted on premises at Professor Java's Coffee Sanctuary in Colonie. They have several varieties of beans and blends available at the café or online for $12-14 a pound. I like the Ethiopian and Monsoon Malabar varieties best myself, but those might be a little too dark or earthy for some.

There's also Uncommon Grounds in Albany and Saratoga Springs, which includes the locally-monikered Broadway Blend.

You can also get your grind on at Troy's Spill'n the Beans and the new Caffe Vero on Lark Street.

Pro tip: If you're not absolutely sure the recipient has a coffee grinder, make sure you get the coffee ground in-store. I say this from experience. Or maybe a grinder might make a good item to round out the gift? A colorful mug might also be a nice add-on.

Locally roasted coffee. Okay, obviously it's not locally grown, but it is at least roasted locally.

Who's it for?
Coffee drinkers, duh. Especially your Starbucks-hating pals.

How much? It ranges. It's $12-14 a pound at PJ's, while the beans at UG range from $9.50 a pound to the $12.75 a pound organic and fair-trade varieties.


Caffe Vero, 260 Lark St., Albany.

Daily Grind, 204 Lark St., Albany or 46 3rd St., Troy.

Professor Java's , 217 Wolf Road, Albany.

Spill'n the Beans, 13 3rd St., Troy.

Uncommon Grounds, 1235 Western Ave., Albany, or 402 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.

Other gift ideas from this year:
+ Hudson Valley Seed Packets
+ Capital Region Etsy: jewelry
+ Adirondack carbon reduction certificates
+ Capital Region Etsy: clothing
+ Capital Region Etsy: kid stuff
+ The gift of garlic
+ Capital Region Etsy: other stuff
+ Run, We Must shirts and hoodies


I won a pound of Uncommon Grounds Espresso roast about a year ago, and it is special stuff. I have been alternating between that and some Illy Imported Italian stuff. I specially grind and use the Uncommon Grounds coffee when I want a treat. It has a good body and slightly sweet character. Creates a great crema and is not overly bitter.

Blows Starbucks Espresso Roast out of the water by miles!

Nothing I've found around here compares to Ithaca's Gimme!, Brattleboro's Mocha Joes, or Brooklyn's Blue Bottle, Cafe Grumpy or Stumptown.

They're all still "local" and are world class. Not just the best within driving distance.

Is that a t-shirt in the photo? Where is it from?

I like the name Yergachaffe. I probably spelled it wrong, but any coffee with a name like that is A-Okay in my book. I think it's an Ethiopian blend they sell at DG, but don't quote me on it.

Thanks for including us in your local coffee round-up!

@DerryX: thanks for the kind words -- glad you are still enjoying the Espresso Blend!

@Amy: the photo is a smattering of Uncommon Grounds wares -- a few bags of bulk coffee, chocolate covered espresso beans, a travel mug, and yes - our caffeine formula T-Shirt. We have a variety of different colors and sizes available online and in both of the Albany and Saratoga Springs stores.

(If you are interested in a specific size or color and would prefer to pick the shirt up in person, I'd recommend calling the store you plan to shop at to make sure we have it in stock there. The shirts are fairly popular and we tend to go through specific size/color combos - occasionally without realizing it.)


@AJ: Yirgacheffe is actually a distinct variety of coffee from a district in the south western part of Ethiopia. I don't know what they sell at DG, but if they are selling a blend and calling it Yirgacheffe, they better watch out for the Ethiopian trademark holders. You don't want to mess with those guys.

Speaking of good coffee beans, if you are considering buying a grinder to freshly prepare grounds at home, please take a look at burr grinders instead of the ubiquitous spinning-blade choppers.

Here is a little bit that I wrote on the subject, but coffee obsessiveness is an incredibly deep rabbit hole. Proceed with caution.

Just another fun and local gift idea to add to the growing list... Why not forgo the gifts this year and just give Presence?

Orenda Yoga & Healing Arts is opening a new brand new studio right in the heart of Downtown Schenectady.

To celebrate the occasion they are offering a One-Year Yoga Membership for $100!

This is one of those Holiday treats that really sustains throughout the seasons.

For more info, check out the website at OrendaYoga,org

@Albany Jane: Try making the Daily Grind's Ethiopian Yirgacheffe in a french press pot. It is so rich and it makes a crema also. For this coffee, I make an exception and use half and half.

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All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


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