Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Amherst Coffee: Perfect study spot, delicious menu

By Sarah Gamard

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Maria Uminski/ Daily Collegian

I had heard so much about Amherst Coffee during my first year as a student (from students and professors alike) that I knew I needed to take the short bus ride there myself. As a coffee lover and student in need of a change of atmosphere from the campus, I was not disappointed.

The café’s atmosphere was typical: crowded but simultaneously calming. Everyone was focused on homework and whatever else was on their laptop that sunny, Friday afternoon. Both the shop and the town of Amherst offer free, accessible Wi-Fi, so students can work and surf online. Seating was available inside on long, cozy, wooden tables and at bars along the brick walls. Large windows let the natural light in while dim-lit lamps and light bulbs hung from long wires over the bar. A glass tip jar was filled to the brim with dollar bills by the cash register, suggesting satisfied (if not just generous) costumers.

The popular café sits in the same complex that holds Amherst Cinema, near the corner of North Pleasant Street and Amity Street.

My friend ordered a latte and put cocoa powder in it, which was available along with cinnamon at the counter. I got a regular coffee, which was delicious on its own and a refreshing change from the UMass Dining blend. In fact, I was actually shocked upon my first sip – after drinking UMass Dining’s coffee daily – by the difference.

Calming, eclectic music played inside the café. The music was not loud, making it easy to work.

I was so happy with the productive atmosphere that I returned to Amherst Coffee a few weeks later on a Friday night to churn out some homework with another friend. I ordered the same regular cup of coffee and my friend ordered peppermint tea, which came with its own kettle to pour the tea into a glass when it was finished brewing.

The night atmosphere was different than the day because the entire shop was lit only by the dim light fixtures, as opposed to the heavy amount of sunlight that comes in during the daytime. Several people frequented the “Whisk(e)y Bar to enjoy a weekend-initiating glass of wine, but the shop was still peaceful enough to get homework done.

My coffee experience repeated itself: I took a sip of the regular coffee I ordered and was once again shocked by the drastic difference between Amherst Coffee’s brew and that of the dining halls. The brew was rich, delicious and I did not need to add any cream or sugar (a rarity for me). Amherst Coffee is a great place to do homework no matter the time of day and the beverages are well worth spending money outside of your campus meal plan.

Sarah Gamard/ Daily Collegian

Sarah Gamard/ Daily Collegian

Items on the menu include espresso (with milk and water), hot cocoa, lemonade, espresso tonic (a good beverage for the final warm-weather days), soy and almond milk, triple chocolate and chocolate chunk cookies, ginger molasses cookies, “power” cookies, lemon almond pound cake, toast, shortbread, fennel and feta croissants and more.

The café has three branches, including its Amherst location: Amherst Coffee, Northampton Coffee and Greenfield Coffee. A lot of Amherst Coffee’s products also come from Tart Baking Co., which has its own location on Main Street in Northampton that is open every day of the week. According to its Facebook page, the organic-oriented shop has been open since 2012. Products available for purchase included granola, a brownie with “cocoa nibs,” a “Fig Bar” and chocolate-covered almonds.

The “Loose Leaf Tea Menu” listed an assortment of exotic-sounding teas. The categories were Green Tea (Spring Green, Jasmine Dragon Pearls), Oolong Tea (Iron Goddess of Mercy, Monkey Picked Tieguanyin), Black Tea (Yunnan Black, Golden Monkey, Earl Grey), Pu-erh Tea (Camel’s Breath Pu-erh, Chrystanthemum Pu-erh) and Botanicals (Ginger Lemon, Peppermint).

Different coffee bean blends, ranging from light, medium and dark, that are available for purchase include Gold, French, Italian, Berkshire, Kalledevarapura, Decaf Gold, Nigusse Lemma, Estate, Aceh, Kochere, La Esperanza, Beatriz and Kemgin. The beans originate from all over, including places like India, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Colombia, Sumatra, Indonesia and Mexico. Brew constituents range from dark chocolate to floral bouquet to longan berry and dried fruit. A free cup of drip coffee is available with purchase of coffee beans.

BarringtonCoffee.com contains more information about the different roasts and flavors.

Used coffee grounds were also available to take home to your personal compost pile as coffee grounds are a great natural source of nitrogen.

A sign behind the bar advertised “High Lawn Farm 100 percent Jersey Milk” which explained how the milk used is all natural, contains no rBST growth hormones, is “Berkshire Farm Fresh” and contains “20 percent more calcium” and “17 percent more protein.”

The café’s “Whisk(e)y Bar” features an a la carte menu that includes bread and olive oil, chevre and truffle oil, olive tapenade and crostini, olives, Spicy Marcona Almonds, cornichons and a flourless, chocolate torte. The special drink served that day, called the “Sea Dragon,” was a dirty martini made with fresh tarragon, gin, laurel liqueur and cornichon brine.

Amherst Coffee’s hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.

Sarah Gamard can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @SarahGamard

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