(585) Coffee grounds
How you bean? Illustration by Sarah Killip
Coffee and community CDGA Coffee
By Nancy E. McCarthy
The Cotters of Canandaigua know their craft beverages. Don Cotter co-owns Naked Dove Brewing Company and he, wife Donna, and their adult kids, JJ and Bill, are also big artisan coffee fans. In 2018, java love inspired them to launch CDGA Coffee, their family coffee roasting business. They source organic, fair-trade coffee beans worldwide and roast them locally. CDGA coffees are available online, at Canandaigua Farmers’ Market, and at local stores and eateries from Rochester to Penn Yan—like Old School Café in Naples. “Our customers consistently tell us it’s the best around,” says co-owner Trish Aser. The café’s coffee offerings were built around CDGA Four Country Roast, a signature dark blend they serve by the cup and sell by the bag.
The family’s business was also motivated by their love of community. “One of the primary driving ideas behind the business was to give ten percent of our proceeds to local nonprofits,” says Donna. They pick a monthly focus charity, such as Literacy Volunteers or Habitat for Humanity, and have donated about $17,000 to date. “It’s admirable that CDGA Coffee donates to select charities,” says Aser. “It reflects the Cotters’s giving nature, their gratitude, and their wish to share their success with their community.”
With the Cotters’s connection to the local craft beverage industry (a community unto itself), CDGA Coffee has collaborated on various coffee-infused beers with Young Lion Brewing Company, Reinvention Brewing, Noble Shepherd Brewery, and Big aLICe Brewing. They also partnered with Black Button Distilling on its Bespoke Coffee Liqueur featuring CDGA Four Country Roast coffee beans steeped in hand-finished vodka. cdga.coffee
Hometown brew Canaltown Coffee Roasters
By Regan Wagner
Across from Rochester’s East Avenue Wegmans, there sits a small plaza bedecked with friendly red awnings. This is where you’ll find Canaltown Coffee Roasters, one of Rochester’s oldest coffee shops.
Upon entering Canaltown, you’re met with a strong, chocolatey coffee aroma as you notice a wall stacked with an assortment of coffee bean flavors for sale. As you approach the counter, you’ll hear the gentle rainstick-like whir of beans in the coffee roaster.
Canaltown’s master roaster, Peter Pelletier, has more than thirty years of experience buying, roasting, and selling coffee. For Pelletier, coffee is a family affair; he founded the café with his in-laws in 1991. Pelletier values his solid relationships in the industry and always roasts beans in small batches to preserve freshness. He prides himself on consistency and flavors that are “coffee first.” Canaltown first rose to popularity during the 1991 Rochester Lilac Festival. When its staff brought a coffee cart to the festival during high heat, sales were low. The team had to think quickly. Pelletier notes,“it was a really hot day . . . so we started throwing ice on it!” People loved the iced coffee, and business at the festival was a success.
Community, coffee, and family define Canaltown to its core. When asked about the meaning he finds behind the coffee business, Pelletier thinks for a moment, then remarks: “I just want to make my corner of the world a little better place . . . what if everyone did that?” canaltowncoffee.com
Keeping it real Keepers’
By Regan Wagner
The first word that comes to mind after visiting the newest café in the Neighborhood of the Arts is “intentional.” Opened November 2022, Keepers’ is a cozy, wellness-focused coffee shop born out of a desire to pass healthy habits, food, and beverages on to the next generation. The shop offers all-organic food and drink, and according to manager Jenna Miles,“Everything we source is organic, and if we can’t find it organic, we make it ourselves.” When visiting Keepers’, be sure to try Miles’s favorite smoothie on the menu, the “Hippy Dippy,” a delicious blend of cashew, cinnamon, and banana flavors. Don’t forget to sample one of the tasty homemade soups, offered daily. Comfortable couches, soft music, and knowledgeable baristas invite patrons to relax and stay awhile.
What’s coming next for Keepers? The shop hopes to have a retail space and a tea program in partnership with Happy Earth Tea on South Avenue, and it plans to expand its kitchen program. Overall, Miles hails working with the Keepers’ staff as one of the most exciting parts of the process. “Just having an outlet for my passion and sharing that with the team here. That’s been amazing: the shared creativity and passion.” keepersroc.com
Cozy coffee Clementine
By Lauren Bocka
Clementine has a stellar interior and even better coffee. Nestled by the newly renovated Fairport Lift Bridge and overlooking the canal, Clementine opened its doors in January 2022 with a mission to infuse quality coffee with the bright warmth of a Mexican household.
Started by the same owners as its neighboring taqueria and mezcal restaurant, Lulu, the space combines high industrial ceilings and exposed brick interspersed with tall windows teeming with light. A variety of houseplants—propagated by Lulu herself—are scattered throughout the café, breathing life into a pristine interior. The warm comfort of Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate, the dessert-inspired coffee flavors, and the locally made baked goods make you feel right at home at Clementine. Alexi Andersen, whose father owns and operates Lulu, works at the front end of the shop with business partner and longtime friend, Joelle Cole. “We wanted it to feel warm, inviting, and vibrant,” says Andersen. Pops of color can be seen in their eclectic dishware, comfy furniture, and the vibrant green from the plethora of houseplants—all contributing to a light and cozy atmosphere.
The food is nothing to gloss over, either. Influence from its neighboring Mexican restaurant is reflected in menu items such as the Brekky Burrito, Green Chili Caesar, and the Torta Cubana—all perfect complements to their locally sourced coffee. Opulent, custom-made cakes baked by Cole herself immediately catch your eye at the front counter, making you rethink cake as a special-occasion only treat.
The result is a welcoming interior that serves Mexican-inspired coffee and diverse food options—a great space for an after- noon work session or a Saturday morning date. clementineroc.com
Local love Java’s
By Lauren Bocka
At Java’s Café, there is an overwhelming feeling of warmth and not just from the cup of perfectly brewed coffee nestled between your hands. The manager of the downtown location, Mikey Tarantelli, attributes the shop’s success to a combination of its unique environment and welcoming baristas. “Keeping the environment intact and not losing that spark is what makes people want to come back,” says Tarantelli. “A big part of that is the baristas and myself having enthusiasm about this place.” Operating since 1992, Java’s has been a hub for great-tasting, ethically sourced coffee and a unique gathering place for the Rochester community. Located between East Avenue and Main Street in downtown Rochester, their flagship location serves up locally roasted coffee beans, house made baked goods, and a slew of lunch options to choose from.
Besides the nutty aroma of coffee drifting into the street, the first thing you might notice about Java’s is the eclectic mix of artwork adorning the walls. Your eyes might be drawn to a series of self-portraits donated by a local Eastman School of Music student, a howling stuffed coyote wailing by the window, an unassuming giraffe’s head protruding from the wall, or an original print by Rochester’s very own Ramón Santiago. The result is an immersive experience that extends beyond a quick cup of your daily joe, drawing your eyes to every corner of the café.
Whether you’re looking for an aromatic cup of Ethiopian coffee, a spicy, rich order of Kashmiri chai, or a specialty drink like the sweet and spicy Aztec Mocha, the baristas at Java’s have you covered. javascafe.com
Other places we love
Leaf & Bean leafandbeancoffeeco.com
Equal Grounds equalgrounds.com
Coffee Connection ourcoffeeconnection.org
Bold & Gritty boldandgritty.com
Boulder Café & Lounge bouldercoffeeroaster.com