Providence is blessed with an abundance of places to get high quality coffee, and choosing only a few to highlight is beyond difficult. Many shops serve beans from Rhode Island-based roasters like Dave’s or New Harvest, and then there are the food menus to factor in – does the best coffee shop serve doughnuts, and if so, are they from Knead or PVDoughnuts or pastries their own bakery? What about savory options like sandwiches? These many questions deserve many answers and ultimately the “best” coffee shop is the one that gives you the caffeine boost you need along with the flavors you want. We suggest a coffee quest, and you can start with some of the places on this list!
The Coffee Exchange is one of the oldest specialty coffee shops in the city, first opening in Fox Point in the mid-1980s as a family-run retail location that sold beans, coffee machines, and other equipment before eventually expanding to include fresh roasted, fresh brewed coffee as well. Bohemian and funky, the shop specializes in certified organic coffee and Fair Trade sourcing and aims to provide high quality beverages to every customer who walks through the door (or up to the window, in Covid times). Neighborhood oriented but committed to the global coffee community, the Coffee Exchange frequently collaborates with the Coffee Trust, a non-profit organization, to help support one of the poorest coffee growing communities in the world (the Ixil region of Guatemala).
Bolt Coffee aims to have a meaningful impact in Providence and beyond through intentionally sourced, roasted, and prepared coffee, guided by a team with over 30 years of coffee industry experience. Initially offering good coffee from a single cart at weddings and a downtown pop-up location in 2012, Bolt now serves the Providence community from three retail locations and a production facility. Specialty drinks include the Woodsman (espresso, steamed milk, and maple syrup) and an Espresso Tonic.
The Shop‘s tagline is that they “care a lot about the things we make, and even more about the people.” The coffee is single-origin and direct trade, the dairy is grass fed, and the pastries are handmade daily by local bakers. They aim to offer wholesome foods that are seasonal, local, and organic wherever possible. They keep a tight and tidy menu of regular coffee, espresso based drinks, and a small rotation of seasonal specials. We recommend trying a Cortado (half espresso, half steamed milk).
The Nitro Bar, located on Broadway in Federal Hill, is a bright and modern coffee shop found inside a full service bicycle shop (Dash), so if you’re biking around the city, be sure to make this your morning destination. Originating as a coffee cart hand-made from scrap wood, the co-founders first started serving their cold brew on the East Side before expanding with Nitro taps around the city and even moving into Boston. We love the Dirty ‘Chata, which is a house-made horchata + cinnamon served iced with their Nitro cold brew.