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Providence coffee shops offer unique atmospheres

East Side neighborhood offers hidden retreats for students, variety of tea and coffee selections

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Coffee is the favorite drink of the civilized world.”

These words still ring true — there is perhaps no drink as ubiquitous in the life of the college student as coffee. It can be a morning ritual, a classroom accessory, a social stimulant or a late night savior. Luckily, for Brown students the East Side is spotted with quality, local options for that all-important brew.

Nestled between trendy boutiques and restaurant, Dave’s Coffee has become a favorite of South Campus dwellers and off-campus residents. Located on South Main Street, its rustic wooden signage serves as a constant beacon to potential coffee-seekers. Well-sized with cozy bench seating in the back, Dave’s Coffee easily allows patrons to remove themselves from the din near the counter.

“It’s the perfect place to escape and get some work done. I love the music they play,” said Marissa Moreno, a resident of East Providence and frequenter of Dave’s Coffee. “It’s indie and fresh and really conducive to focus.”

“It reminds me of home,” said Emma Wexler ’18.5, a frequenter of her local Bay Area coffee roasters.

One of Dave’s Coffee’s most alluring options is its specialty lattes, with unique flavors like “Coffee Milk” and “Vanilla Bourbon.” The store also sells its own coffee syrup, which patrons can use to make Rhode Island’s famous coffee milk.

Dave’s Coffee’s intimate setting is echoed over on Wickenden Street at The Shop — a cozy, welcoming cafe, which The Shop Barista John Henry said boasts “a great community feel.”

“We get students, professors and commuters,” he said. “Everyone is always working on something interesting, and I love hearing about it.”

Bench and bar-style seating adds emphasis to this intimate feel, encouraging singletons to mingle with their fellow coffee drinkers.

Despite a smaller menu that prioritizes coffee, patrons praised the quality of the food. “The avocado toast is awesome,” said Nathan Buchwald ’19. “They give you practically a whole avocado.”

Further down Wickenden Street, East Side students flock to Coffee Exchange. Charming and full of greenery, Coffee Exchange has an impressive array of coffees, teas, pastries and beans. Joseph Austerweil, former professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological studies was known to urge his classes to try its Cubano, a strong, espresso-like shot.

“I brew my own coffee at home, but I go to Coffee Exchange for my beans. The baristas are really knowledgeable about the roasts,” said Jonathan Chemburkar ’19, a devotee of the cafe.

In a more secluded location on Governor Street, Tea in Sahara, though known for its tea, carries a small selection of Moroccan coffees.

Daniel Plaisance ’19 cites Tea in Sahara as his favorite coffee shop, noting its “spaciousness” and “laid back atmosphere.”

Tea in Sahara also offers an assortment of Middle Eastern fare, including hookahs, a hot and made-to-order falafel and sweet, sticky baklava.

Malachi’s, perhaps the local hotspot furthest from campus, is a small, family-owned coffee shop known for its enormous iced coffees served in mason jars and Portuguese-inspired food selections. The baristas also serve up frozen, blended drinks including a unique local favorite: the Chaistachio, a chai tea and pistachio flavored creation.

Another popular menu selection is the tea, which has Providence College student Salvatore Flight making the trek to Malachi’s whenever he can. “The coffee is great, but my favorite drink here is their green tea,” he said.

For students looking to get their coffee fix from local Providence cafes, East Side offers a strong selection of not only flavors, but also atmospheres.

“For me it’s all about the vibe,” said Thea Monje ’19. “When you find a place that makes you happy, you can just settle in, get some work done and enjoy.”


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