At some point last semester I decided to make it a goal of mine to trying out all of the coffee shops in Burlington. I’m a big foodie and since coming to college have (fortunately or unfortunately?) turned into a bit of a coffee addict. I originally wanted to try eating at all of the restaurants in Burlington before I graduated, but now as a rising senior I have only eaten at roughly 30 of the 100 + restaurants in the area and alas between COVID restrictions, loosing almost a full year, and a lack of financial resources, I don’t think that goal is going to happen. So coffee shops instead! 

I started this bucket list late last fall and have continued working trough the list this semester with the help of a few friends and our standing Thursday coffee dates. It’s honestly been such a great way to have a fun, social distance/COVID approved way to hang out and catch up. We go for walk, get a drink, and chat about life or bemoan the state of the world.  

Alas, many of the shops are currently open for takeout only, so we’re not exactly getting the same atmosphere or experience as we would in person. I don’t know about you guys, but I really miss going to coffee shops and sitting down to do some work while listening to the background noise of conversations happening around me while sipping on a nice latte

Sadly, a few of the shops in town have closed or moved since I started this project, so the list has a few oldies that are no longer open and I missed a few that closed before I could make it. The qualifications for the list: were shops that sell mainly coffee (or baked goods + coffee, which included a few bagels shops), they couldn’t be chains (though I have gotten drinks at the local Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks), and the cafes had to be in the Burlington city limits and within walking distance. Results: 20 shops!! Here’s the list (in no particular order). 

1) Muddy Waters

An iconic Burlington spot, the inside has wooden walls and a healthy amount of plants. The vibes are immaculate and they have a no-screen policy on the weekends. Sadly, they are temporarily closed due to COVID but when they were open their house-roasted dark drip coffee is delicious. 

2) On Campus Coffee Shops (UVM) Waterman, Cat Pause, Campus Perk

Waterman and Campus Perk feature orders to go while Cat Pause has a self serve option. Most of the coffee is Vermont style Green Mountain Blends and the Chai at Waterman was pretty good. I appreciate all the flavor additions at Cat Pause, you can make your own using an array of self-serve coffee from Dark French, special of the week (Blueberry Medium Roast was surprisingly good), etc and add in dairy free/milk, flavor shots, tea, and so on for only a $1.50 for an 8oz cup. 

3) Hendersons (UVM)

This is also an on-campus spot but is fancier than the others so I thought it deserved a separate blurb. The full-stocked cafe has baked goods and an array of drinks, including a delicious maple madness (iced or warm), chai and matcha lattes, and fun specials like a cinnamon roll latte and peppermint mocha that were offered this winter. 

4) Perky Planet 

Mackenzie Laverick

Okay, this one is definitely in my top three and I have gone back a few times. The mocha with a shot of raspberry is freaking delicious and the vegan chai with oat milk was amazing and super creamy! The guy who runs the shop (or at least was working both times I’ve been in) is super sweet and amiable. I also love the vibes of the shop, there’s local maple treats and dog cookies and constantly signs outside advocating for equality, BLM, the earth, and they have a cutout of Bernie Sanders wearing mittens outside of the shop!!! Iconic. 

5) The Cosmic Grind 

Mackenzie Laverick

Oh my goodness, it took me so frickin long to make it to this shop. They open roughly~ at 10, but between classes and uncertain scheduling it took a rainy solo weekend trip to get here. There is an overwhelming amount of options (seriously, go check out the menu, its crazy!). I ended up getting their signature special: the orange mocha “cosmic brew” which was honestly incredible. There was even a full orange peel in my coffee which I was not expecting but it was really good??

6) New Moon

This cafe has sadly closed and switched to catering, but it was my favorite cafe study spot pre-covid. There’s a large room in the back with great hipster vibes (copper, wood tables, cute plants, high ceilings) and the coffee was good. They had basic black drip coffees, lattes, and more artisan drinks so it could get a bit expensive for the size but worth it for the table space. 

7) Tight Squeeze Coffee Shop

This shop is such a little nook of a place, it’s very easy to miss but you shouldn’t pass this place by. The mocha was really yummy and not bad for price. My friend got the gold milk lattee (made with turmeric) and said it was really good as well. 

8) Onyx Tonics Specialty Coffee

Mackenzie Laverick

One of the speciality shops in Burlington, they have very fancy types of coffee. I got the chicory maple latte, which is made with chicory root and had some nice earthy notes to it. If you haven’t guessed, Vermont has a lot of maple-themed goods, and maple lattes are a standard at most stores and for good reason—I hardly ever order regular lattes now because of how good the maple version tastes. 

9) Kestrel Coffee Roasters 

Mackenzie Laverick

A fun downtown place near the waterfront, this coffee shop shares space with an art gallery. I got their special, the Denzien, which is a spicy maple latte made with chili pepper. It’s got some zang to it but I really liked it! I’ve also had their chai and it was quite good as well.  

10) Brio Coffeworks 

Mackenzie Laverick

Another speciality shop, this super cute place is in the Burlington arts district right next to a lamp shop and art store. I don’t know if it was what I got, but the mocha with oat milk was just kind of watery and pretty expensive for the size. Brio does sell bags of roasted beans to a lot of the other coffee shops in Burlington, so you may find their coffee in other places. 

11) Nomad Coffee

Mackenzie Laverick

Such a cute location! I think it’s an old factory that’s right by the train tracks and Champlain waterfront. There’s a lot of fitness studios and even some Arial classes in the same building. I got the cold brew with oatmilk which was really good and only $3.50, making this spot one of the most reasonable locations I visited.

12)  Kru Coffee

This shop is the new kid on the block as it just opened up this past year in Burlington on church street, right at the top near the famous Church Street Church. They have a nice selection, I really liked the specialty latte “Cardi Bee” which was honey, expresso, cardamom and oatmilk.

13) Burlington Bagel Bakery

If you go to this place, I’d recommend going for the bagels (which are fantastic) and not the coffee. The maple lattee was just okay and rather pricy for the size. 

14) Great Harvest Bakery and Cafe 

Mackenzie Laverick

Okay first of all, this place has AMAZING BAKED GOODS! Honestly I forgot about the coffee for a bit. Their muffins are delicious and they have a new flavor every day of the week along with two different scone types. The cinnamon roll was positively scrumptious and the latte was pretty good too. 

15) Scout & CO.

This place is a hybrid coffee and ice cream shop, so the whole family can be happy when visiting. I got the special smoked maple latte which was quite good and came with a ROASTED MARSHMALLOW?? Was not expecting that. It was raining and low 40˚F when I went, so I skipped the ice cream but I definitely want to go back because they had some awesome flavors like blueberry brio cold brew. 

16) Willows Bagels

Another bagel place that also had great coffee and other baked goodies! The maple latte was really good and not bad price, $5.50 for 16 oz and they compostable cups which I always really appreciate! The bagel sandwiches are also great and they even have a vegan lox!

17) August First

One of my favorite  cafe’s/lunch places, this shop always great bread and amazing vibes. Built in an renovated garage, the brick walls, plants, free little library and no-screen policy makes for a great dining experience. The bread is also incredible. I got the iced chai, which sadly was a bit too watery for my taste but it was definitely homemade and not made from a mix or concentrate. My  friend said iced mocha was really good and subtly sweet.

18) Black Cap Coffee & Beer 

Mackenzie Laverick

This shop has a few locations around Vermont and has some really good drinks! I tried the raspberry mocha with oatmilk and it was very tasty. They also have a nice array of baked treats. 

19) Speeder & Earls Coffee

Mackenzie Laverick

Probably the most iconic coffee shop in Vermont, you can recognize those classic red Speeder & Earls cups anywhere. This is such a great place with so many options. I got the “red velvet” mocha which has a shot of raspberry and it was SO GOOD iced and very reasonable for the size! The black and tan “cherry bomb” was good as well.

20) Leuings Petit Bijou Kiosk 

Mackenzie Laverick

This spot is such a cute little side station to the main Leuing’s cafe. Located on church street, you simply walk up to the window and order to go. I tried the cardamom vanilla latte with espresso and damn was that good. My friend got the caramel hot chocolate mocha and said it was delicious as well as the croissant she ordered. 

21) VIVID Coffee Roasters

This shop is where New Moon used to be, and I’m not sure if I’m biased because I loved New Moon so much or if it was the coffee itself but to be honest the latte I got was fairly expensive and not all that great flavor wise. 

This brings us to the end of our Burlington, Vermont coffee tour! It’s been quite a journey. Unfortunately I was either distracted in the moment or my fingers were too numb to take pictures so check out the websites or go their yourself to get a good idea of what all the places look like and what’s on the menu.

Now, the question I’m sure you’re all asking is out of over twenty coffee shops, which one was the best? Well my friends, after a long consideration, I’d have to say that for combined flavor, price, and aesthetics I’m going to have to declare the winner to be SPEEDER & EARLS!!! Between the delicious coffee, reasonable price, location, and great decor (they have some great fig trees in there) this shop is my top pick and one I will for sure be visiting again. 

Mackenzie Laverick