Some of my favorite moments have been on the highway during road trips, watching other people dance in their cars. It adds to the appeal of driving somewhere rather than flying – the ability to witness other people’s embarrassing moments. And once you’ve been stuck in Peru for an extra week because of flight delays, you think twice about jumping back on a plane. So, I decided to put over 1,000 miles on my car this past week and take a road trip to Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
I’m not a morning person, so along the way I leaned on coffee to help me start my day. Here are a few places I went for a caffeinated pick-me-up.
Saint’s Cafe: State College, PA
Coffee: Pumpkin Latte
There’s a container on the counter at Saint’s that says “Sexy People Tip,” which was probably my favorite item I saw on my road trip coffee shop tour. Saint’s is a small coffee shop, which has its perks – nice baristas, people aren’t afraid to talk to you when they have to plug in their laptops by your leg…things like that. It also has its downsides. The tables are so small, I had to choose between keeping my laptop or keeping my coffee cup on the table.
The pumpkin latte was super flavorful. If the flavoring they used was artificial, it totally fooled me.
Pro: This place has great wifi if you need to pop in and do some work.
Con: I was basically sitting on the person next to me’s lap.
Naked Egg Café: State College, PA
Coffee: Cafe Latte
I decided to be an adventurous bruncher and try a Scotch Egg at Naked Egg Café. I have never liked hard boiled eggs, so the fact I didn’t like the dish was mostly my fault. I got a bagel sandwich in its place and a blueberry pancake, for good measure. I loved the vibe of this place; it was cozy and had an interesting menu with items like the aforementioned Scotch Egg that you just don’t see many places. Plus, their bacon is seriously special.
The cafe latte was decent. I think they tried to make a heart on mine, but it ended up as a Rorschach blot.
Pro: The menu selection was on point.
Con: It’s a little off the beaten path, so there’s no way to walk there from Penn State.
QuickChek: Rockaway, NJ
Coffee: Pumpkin Cappuccino
Google maps and I have this unspoken agreement that when I search for coffee shops, it spits out a decent one for me to visit. But someone decided to tag a non-coffee shop as a coffee shop, so I ended up at Quick Check next to an old man shouting obscenities at the coffee urn. It was pretty great.
The pumpkin cappuccino was okayish. It’s convenient store coffee, so it did the trick of fueling my sugary coffee craving.
Pro: It’s across the street from one of the most adorable bookstores – Ray & Judy’s Book Stop.
Con: QuickChek gave me weird vibes, but it might have just been the older gentleman asking me if I was mad at the coffee too.
Book Trader Cafe: New Haven, CT
Coffee: Caramel Latte
New Haven boasts a few coffee shop-bookstore combos, and Book Trader is a fun option. The store itself is a used bookstore that also carries DVDs and CDs. It always seems to be packed, no matter the time of day. I adored the sandwich I had there not only because it tasted amazing, but because of its name – Hemingway and Cheese.
The caramel latte was a winner. If I had more time in New Haven, I probably would have gone back a handful of times.
Pro: I could have drank a gallon of that coffee.
Con: There wasn’t much seating available, which made it a little claustrophobic.
Atticus Bookstore Cafe: New Haven, CT
Coffee: Caramel Latte
Atticus knows its market: Millennial hipsters. Every facet of that store screams “English major.” And I totally loved it. As far as the store itself goes, some items were a bit pricier than I wanted to pay, but to be fair, the prices did seem to line up with what Amazon charges. The coffee shop portion is cute with a decent-sized menu. It did take a little long for anyone to take my order when no one else was in line.
The caramel latte was honestly forgettable. I would suggest getting a latte without flavoring and adding sugar to taste (if that’s your style).
Pro: Buy books and other cool souvenirs while you drink coffee.
Con: The caramel flavor was weak.
I learned a few things about myself on this road trip, but mostly that I spend entirely too much money on coffee. Need some coffee recommendations or have questions about my 1,000+ mile road trip? As Katie, our waitress at Cozy Thai, told us – “if you have questions, I have a lot of answers.”