Midd Kids are big fans of coffee. Some brew it in their rooms or even roast their own coffee beans while others habitually head into town for a latte. Just a few weeks into the semester, you can always find students stationed in the college’s Crossroads Cafe or grabbing a second or third cup from the dining hall dispensers as they tackle their assignments.
Taking the time to relax over coffee might seem paradoxical, but venturing off-campus in search of caffeination can actually offer a much-needed break from the daily grind.
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of coffee shops in the Middlebury area that are well worth checking out. And if students can’t bring themselves to part with their schoolwork, studying at a cafe offers a great change of scenery.
Among the dozens of coffee options in the area, here are four great spots to check out.
Royal Oak Coffee
In the Venn diagram of third wave coffee snobs and Starbucks addicts, Royal Oak exists in the beautiful and elusive overlap that satisfies both. Located right in Middlebury, Royal Oak is about a mile away from campus on Seymour Street, and is beloved by many students. Co-owned by husband-and-wife team Matt and Aless Delia-Lobo, Royal Oak packs incredible quality into every drink they serve. Their latte flavors are unique and delicious. Cardamom vanilla and maple lattes are always on the menu, along with a rotating seasonal flavor. Whether you care deeply about the origin and processing of your beans or simply enjoy the pretty latte art, the cafe is the perfect place to try something new. Their shaken maple latte tastes like pure Vermont.
Royal Oak’s sister shop, Lost Monarch, is located at the Stone Mill Public Market. If the weather permits, studying over a matcha latte on their terrace seating area is a great way to focus and relax.
Olivia’s recommendation: hot cardamom vanilla latte with oat milk
Vergennes Laundry strikes a perfect balance between authentic and upscale. Named for the laundromat that once operated out of the same storefront, Vergennes Laundry is about twenty minutes from campus in the center of Vergennes’ downtown.
The highlight of Vergennes Laundry is their lattes. They are some of the creamiest and most well-balanced around. The coffee shop’s aesthetic is simultaneously minimalist and rustic, and its neutral color scheme and natural light are instantly relaxing. Local products and fresh produce dot the shelves, and the smell of freshly baked baguettes wafts through the room.
Step up to the counter and order a drink (and maybe something tempting from the pastry case as well), and then head outside to sit and sip at one of the cheerful orange tables along Main Street.
Olivia’s recommendation: iced oat milk latte
Bristol Cliffs Café
As the name suggests, Bristol Cliffs Cafe is located in downtown Bristol, making it a perfect pit stop on the way back from a cliff jumping trip at Bristol Falls.
The interior is cozy, with warm wood tables and sunlight streaming in through the front windows, and an unpretentious menu contains all the classic cafe staples you might want.
The coffee alone is decent, but not mind-blowing; Bristol Cliffs is definitely more of a spot to grab a meal. Think a gooey bacon egg and cheese wrapped in tin foil, moist baked goods or Sunday brunch. But if you’re simply looking for a quick and basic iced coffee, they’ve got you covered.
Olivia’s recommendation: iced coffee with almond milk
Brio Coffeeworks is a female-co-owned coffee shop just a few minutes walk away from Burlington’s Church Street.
The interior is calming, with polished concrete floors and plants dotting the floor — definitely a little hipster. The baristas are knowledgeable and friendly, ensuring Brio doesn’t feel like an exclusive space.
In addition to a full espresso bar menu, Brio has an abundance of coffee bags available for retail with some of the coolest packaging around. For a dorm-friendly option, you can purchase cans of nitro flash-chilled iced coffee to bring back to campus.
If you can’t make the drive to Burlington but would still like to try the coffee, Brio espresso is served right in Middlebury at Haymaker Bun Co.
Olivia’s recommendation: cold brew with a splash of milk if ordering in the cafe, or the flash chilled Costa Rica cold brew can to go
Olivia Mueller '24 (she/her) is a News Editor.
Previously an Arts and Culture editor, Olivia is an International Politics and Economics major with a Spanish minor. Outside of the Campus, she is a spin instructor for YouPower, an avid runner and hiker, and a member of the Middlebury Mischords a cappella group.