Ranking of the 5 best cafes around SU

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Any self-respecting coffee lover or budding Lorelai Gilmore has their coffee of choice. Whether it’s the location of the store, the ambiance, or even the taste of the coffee, people’s preferences tend to be strong and enduring.

For the Syracuse University student body, there are a few notable cafes that many students flock to, so to celebrate International Coffee Day on Friday, here are the most popular cafes near campus – ranked.

The non-profit, student-run cafe under Hendricks Chapel, People’s Place, ranks # 1 for coffee and ambiance.
Alex James | Collaborating photographer

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1. People’s place

Located in the basement of Hendricks Chapel, People’s Place has been a Syracuse staple since 1971. The only student-run non-profit coffee shop on campus, this conveniently located corner is a favorite haunt for faculty and students.

People’s Place also has a myriad of places to sit, study, read, socialize, or participate in other cafe activities. The coffee is as delicious as it is cheap, with a range of different brews and flavors. With one of the best (and cheapest) cups of coffee on campus, People’s Place ranks number one.

What to get: Hot coffee with oat milk

Salt City Cafe in Marshall Square Mall

Salt City Coffee has replaced Café Kubal in the Marshall Square Mall, and its iconic drinks and pastries already make it unique.
Scarlett Benson | Collaborating photographer

2. Salt city cafe

Connected to the 3fifteen thrift store in the Marshall Square Mall, Salt City Coffee is a new addition to the SU coffee scene. The Salt City location was previously home to Cafe Kubal, a cozy cafe that closed after the initial pandemic lockdown and the ensuing shortage of students on campus.

That being said, Salt City made up for Kubal’s absence nicely, with comfy seating, eclectic coffee drinks, and really good pastries. Although Salt City is one of the more expensive coffee options near campus, its unique signature drinks, such as “Cuselandia”, are well worth it. Plus, the opportunity to find your next big savings while you wait for your coffee is unbeatable.

What to get: Valencia Cold Brew

Westcott Recreation Café

What Recess Coffee lacks in convenience, it makes up for in atmosphere and aesthetics.
Dan Lyon | Staff photographer

3. Recreation café

Recess Coffee has three locations across the city of Syracuse, but their flagship store in the Westcott neighborhood is the most frequented by students. With matcha, chai, shakes, smoothies and even coffee floats, Recess offers a wide range of products to appeal to its diverse clientele. On their website, Recess is described as “a hub for students, academics, artists, musicians, families and everyone in between”.

While not as walkable as the other stores on this list, Recess has a great vibe for studying, with comfortable seating and a warm atmosphere. The store also offers locally made artwork, clothing, bags and more that are available for purchase with your coffee. You can follow their new seasonal drinks and treats by following their Instagram account (@recesscoffee), which they post regularly.

What to get: Cold Brew with Cinnamon

Peak coffee at 505

Next to Building 505, Peaks Coffee Company offers a gourmet menu that rivals its coffee.
Wendy Wang | Photo editor assistant

4. Peaks Coffee Company

Peaks Coffee Company is a classic café located under 505 on Walnut that masters the art of creating great-looking, quality drinks. The company’s mission is to “meet people in their peaks and valleys, with coffee as a catalyst to build relationships and impact others”.

Part roaster and café, Peaks opened in its current location in 2015 after being founded by local couple Kelsey and Sam Began in 2014. Although residents of 505 may rank this place number one because of convenience unmatched for them, it’s a bit out of the way for the average league student.

That being said, their avocado toast alone is worth a trip to Walnut Ave (that shames Dunkin’s sorry excuse for the avocado toast). But, be sure to check their schedules to make sure they’re open before you start walking.

What to get: Vanilla Latte

Honorable mention: Schine Center Dunkin Donuts

A long-deceased former Kimmel Dining resident, Dunkin Donuts (the only ‘real’ cafe within walking distance that accepts meal cash) is truly the old trusty on campus. While visiting this place is not as exciting as the others mentioned, the convenience is unmatched. The queue is often long, so be sure to use one of the two electronic ordering stations to avoid being late for class!

What to order: Iced Caramel Latte

There are so many options for students at Syracuse University to choose from when it comes to getting their caffeine fix. Each of these stores is bound to provide an enjoyable and delicious experience – which one you choose is only a matter of personal preference, although I strongly encourage you to try them all.

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