Fun fact: I believe I have now visited every coffee shop in Middlebury! It’s not a very long list, mind you, but all of them have some really great offerings. Without further ado, here is a review and recap of what to expect if you ever do a full lap of the coffee circuit in town– the only ones I’ve left out as far as I know are Middlebury Bagel and Dunkin’ Donuts.
With its modern, airy interior and riverside patio, Haymaker is an ideal spot to come and linger for a while. The ample seating make it suitable as a study spot or for brunching with a group. Haymaker serves coffee from Burlington’s Brio Coffeeworks, a female-co-owned specialty roaster out of Burlington, with latte art poured to perfection in cheerful ceramic cups. Pairing one of Haymaker’s iconic buns with your morning cup is a must. Be sure to get there early, because they usually sell out before the morning is over.
Royal Oak Coffee and Lost Monarch
Located on Seymour Street about a mile from campus, Royal Oak is owned by husband-and-wife team Matt and Aless Delia-Lobo. Both bring years of experience as baristas on the specialty coffee scene to their Middlebury shop. Royal Oak serves Vivid Coffee, which is roasted in Burlington. Their menu is impeccable, with creative latte flavors that are definite crowd-pleasers, as well as manual brews or a flat white for more serious coffee snobs. Their maple and vanilla cardamom lattes are perennial favorites, but they also offer exciting seasonal lattes, like lavender rose for the spring and, currently, a classic pumpkin spice for the fall.
Lost Monarch is Royal Oak’s sister shop, located in the Stone Mill building right near the footbridge. They serve the same high-quality coffee (and also matcha!), but the Stone Mill location has patio seating perfect for working if weather permits. Iluminar Coffee, owned and roasted by Lost Monarch barista and Middlebury student Daniel Gutierrez ’22, is also served here, so Middlebury students should be sure to give it a try. Royal Oak is easily my favorite coffee in town, and I highly recommend it to everyone I know. Specialty coffee is not cheap, but a drink from Royal Oak is worth every penny.
This student-run cafe is an easy go-to for Middlebury students. Perfect for working, right on campus and with an extensive menu of coffee, tea, and smoothies, Crossroads has something for everyone. The ability to use declining balance towards purchases makes Crossroads an attractive but dangerous choice for easy caffeination. The lattes here may not be as intricate as what you can get at a café in town, but they still taste delicious. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu except for the boba.
11th Hour Botanicals
11th Hour is a wonderfully quirky combination of wellness spa, CBD/cannabis shop, and café. The space has a cozy collection of sofas and colorful, endearingly abstract art lining the walls. Their menu is vast, with a dizzying amount of pleasingly named latte flavors (who wouldn’t want to drink a latte called “Bernie’s Mittens”?). 11th Hour offers espresso-based drinks only, so you won’t find plain old drip coffee here. Due to all the unique add-ins and flavors you can choose from, you can expect a fairly pricey total at checkout. A lot of this is standard, like up-charges for nondairy milk or flavors, which you’ll see elsewhere in town. For those who have limited experience with CBD, though, be prepared that opting for a CBD infusion will come at a premium. Your drink here will definitely taste like a special treat– maybe pick one of their menu items you couldn’t get anywhere else to make it a whole experience.
Otter Creek Bakery
A long time staple, Otter Creek Bakery has two locations, the iconic corner spot within walking distance of campus and another in East Middlebury. Unlike many spots in town that only offer oat milk as a non-dairy alternative, you can also find almond, hemp or soy milk at Otter Creek. The outdoor tables right on the sidewalk are a great spot to gather. Sit and chat for a while with friends! Otter Creek is definitely a no-frills but solid spot, serving local Middlebury coffee from Bud’s Beans. I would not go for the coffee alone, but their drinks are a perfect complement to a hearty sandwich or one of their delicious baked goods.
Little Seed Coffee Roasters
Little Seed is coming soon to downtown Middlebury on October 2 and will be owned and operated by Anthony and Maggie Girakos, formerly of Brooklyn. Five percent of their proceeds will go to nonprofits in a “You Sip, We Give” initiative. The couple plans to have two seating areas in the cafe: one for socializing and gathering and one for quiet work.