Recess Coffee House and Roastery

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If it weren’t for the sign hanging from the second-floor balcony, or the fliers for local events hanging in the windows, you might think the Recess Coffee House and Roastery is just another house. Situated on a residential block just off Westcott Street, Recess looks unassuming and modest. But once inside, your nose will be greeted with the aroma of fresh-roasted coffee and just-out-of-the-oven vegan bakery goods.

When To Go: Anytime is coffee time at Recess. They are open from 10 a.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday, and only closed on Mondays. But, if you're looking for some of their fresh bakery items, you might want to wait until later in the day on Tuesday or Wednesday. Since they bake everything in-house, it takes them a few hours to get everything cooking after their day off. The bottom line: Not a coffee shop for early risers, but perfect for your late-night caffeine fix.

On Tap: You won't find any Bud Light or Yuengling here, but you will find a variety of fresh, organic, Fair Trade coffee. The menu boasts some unique hot chocolate, coffee, and cappuccino flavors, including Cherry Bomb, Nutella, and Crazy Shawn. They also carry some out-of-the-ordinary loose-leaf teas, like yerba mate and gunpowder pearl mint, and flavor shots, like cherry and banana. But don't panic if you're a creature of habit. They have all the classics as well, like house blend, espresso, and café au lait. But if you can't make it in to the store, Recess sells their coffee in locations all over Syracuse; from LV Café Sport on the Northside, to Green Planet Grocery in Fairmount. The bottom line: If you're looking for something new to spice up your daily coffee, Recess has no shortage of options. But if you're a black coffee kind of guy, they’ve got you covered, too.

The Scene: Just as the outside of Recess looks like just another neighborhood house, the inside of the shop is just as homey. Surprisingly spacious, Recess has something for everyone. Serious students flock to the front room, where there are tables and chairs that look as though they’ve been gathered from a variety of garage sales. Combined with the paintings on the wall it gives the room a funky, eclectic look. The music is described as "chill and not in your face," which makes it a welcome place for students looking to escape loud neighbors or roommates. The back room serves the opposite purpose. Filled with comfy couches and chairs that look like they were plucked from your grandmother's front lawn, it has more of a relaxed vibe. Perfect for conversation, relaxing, or playing board games. The bottom line: Whether on deadline, or meeting up for a Scrabble tournament, there's enough room for everyone at Recess.

Blue Plate Special: The emphasis at Recess is definitely on the drinks, but they do offer four sandwiches. Only one has meat - turkey. The PBJ, spicy avocado, and tofurkey sandwiches are a few of the many options Recess provides vegetarians and vegans. All of their baked goods are vegan, and they would know, since they are all baked just beyond the counter in the Recess kitchen. Customers especially love the vegan muffins. With a cakey bottom and a delicious crusty top, they’ll make you wonder why you’re not vegan. And they don't skimp on the servings. They're so big,you won't be hungry for a while," said one customer. The bottom line: If you're a meat eater, this won't be your ideal lunch spot, but the large assortment of vegan options is a welcome change for the herbivore crowd.

The Crew: Recess' employees are hospitable and easy to talk to about selections. They definitely know their stuff, and are happy to talk about their baked goods or explain their coffees to a first-timer. They have a solid relationship with the regulars as well, striking up conversation with customers as they walk by them. The bottom line: Good people who are passionate about what they do.

The Crowd: Graduate students seem to be the dominant majority at Recess. The neighborhood is home to a lot of students, and this gives them the perfect study alternative to the library, which is at least a 30-minute walk away and usually filled with noisy undergrads. Recess has free Wi-Fi, and regulars can often be seen typing away at their computers. The bottom line: You won't be shunned if you don't have a master's, but be respectful of those studying.

The Deets: An alternative to Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, Recess features original coffee drinks at moderate prices. One would pay $2.75 for most hot chocolates, with coffees ranging anywhere from $1.50 to $3.75. Cappuccinos hit the high mark at $3.75 for a small, but balancing that out are the $1.75 fresh loose-leaf teas. Fresh-baked vegan muffins and cookies are available daily, with a constantly changing selection. The surprisingly late hours make it the perfect spot for cramming for tomorrow's test, curing your late-night coffee craving, or just hanging out with friends. The bottom line: If Starbucks had a cooler, vegan, hipster sibling, Recess would be it.

Photo by Alexandra Spychalsky


110 Harvard Place
Syracuse, NY 13210
(315) 410-0090

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