We fought it as long as we could, but it is officially, undeniably autumn. And with closed-toed shoes and denim-covered limbs comes the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Look, I get it. They taste like caffeinated pie, complete with whipped cream and a stomach ache later. As Donald Trump would say, “They’re great!”
Another thing that the Donald thinks is great is the corporate takeover of Brooklyn. You know who I’m talking about. That venti grande adult-contemporary-pumping purveyor of Oprah-branded tea products. Crown Heights got its first Starbucks last year, nestled between a Capital One branch and a beloved local coffee house just outside of the Franklin Avenue station. People saw its opening a harbinger of gentrification gone off the rails, the Disney-fication of Brooklyn, but mostly a slap in the face to the already vibrant coffee scene in the area. Politics aside; Starbucks’ coffee is just not that good, you can do better. So, this fall if you find yourself in the vicinity of Franklin Avenue and in need of an an autumnal treat, we’ve compiled this handy list of 6 fall alternatives from Crown Heights coffee shops to make caffeinating great again!
Breukelen Coffee House
764 Franklin Ave. (between Lincoln Pl. & St. John’s Pl.)
TRY THIS: House’s Nutella Mocha ($4)
NOT THIS: Starbucks’ Salted Caramel Mocha
Maybe you like your coffee like I like my men: Made out of candy. For those mornings when you want something that is really more milkshake than coffee, resist the chemical draw of Starbuck’s Salted Caramel Sludge, and opt for a mocha blended with real Nutella and made by a Real Cute Barista. Breukelen Coffee House also serves a full roster of espresso standards, pastries by Balthazaar, and Terrace Bagels. And seriously, they really do have the cutest baristas on Franklin Ave.
663 Franklin Ave. (at St. Mark’s Ave.)
TRY THIS: Green Eggs and Bacon Biscuit ($10)+ Vanilla Latte ($3.50)
NOT THIS: Starbucks’ Bacon & Gouda Breakfast Sandwich + A Vanilla Spice Latte
Lazy Ibis wins the “Lazy Sunday” award in my book. They have TABLE SERVICE so there’s no need to move until your hangover subsides. Bring a newspaper or just space out and watch the fish swim around the aquarium (you don’t get that at the ‘Bucks.) They’ve got plenty of espresso and pastry options… but a breakfast sandwich is the reason you woke up to begin with. No reheated pre-fab egg paste sammies here! Lazy Ibis rises to the occasion with fresh cooked eggs and DUCK bacon on a homemade biscuit. A BISCUIT you guys.
Little Zelda & Nagel’s Bagels
728 Franklin Ave. (between Park Pl. & Sterling Pl.)
TRY THIS: Apple Stroop Toast ($5)
NOT THIS: Starbuck’s Washington Apple Pound Cake
Avocados on crispy bread might be the toast of the town these days, but you can break the internet with the Apple Stroop Toast from Nagel’s Bagels. What the stroop is that? Good question. It’s kind of a Dutch apple butter, but tangy and more complex. Nagel’s smears it on thick toasted brioche and tops it with sliced bananas and chopped hazelnuts. Add a cappuccino from Little Zelda, the sister-cafe next door, and watch the Instagram <3’s roll in!
619 St. John’s Place (at Franklin Ave.)
TRY THIS: Hazelnut Latte ($3.50) + Pumpkin Cheesecake ($4)
NOT THIS: Starbucks’ Toasted Graham Latte + Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin
Forte Cafe is a freelancer’s paradise tucked just off of Franklin Ave. Grab one of many tables to set up your laptop and reward yourself with a slice of pumpkin cheesecake after logging a solid 20 minutes of work without checking Twitter. You may think that having cheesecake for breakfast is a extreme, but jorts season is over so I say, TREAT YO’SELF. Besides, Starbucks’ pumpkin cream cheese muffin is 350 calories and its just a sad, defrosted excuse for a pastry.
915 Nostrand Ave. (between Park Pl. & Sterling Pl.)
TRY THIS: Tinto’s Coffee Milkshake ($6.75)
NOT THIS: Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Frappaccino
Can we have real talk for a minute? A Frappaccino is NOT coffee, its a damn milkshake. And if you’re going to have dessert before your commute, you might as well get a REAL milkshake made with Blue Marble ice cream instead of an iced out blend of additives and artificial flavors. Tinto can do that for you. You could also order a regular coffee like some sort of square, but what’s the fun in that?
The Pulp & the Bean
809 Franklin Ave. (between. Lincoln Pl. & Eastern Parkway), 832 Franklin Ave. (between Union St. & Eastern Parkway)
TRY THIS: The Pulp & The Bean’s Pumpkin Spice Latte ($3.50)
NOT THIS: Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte
If you really really really can’t live without your #PSL, guess what? The Pulp & the Bean is LITERALLY next door to Starburps and they have those! TP&B is the OG new-wave coffee shop of Franklin Avenue (it opened in 2009). It’s a neighborhood staple and usually has a line out the door on busy weekday mornings (but don’t worry it moves fast). Aside from Pumpkin Spice, you can get your latte spiked with at least a dozen other flavors like Maple Syrup or Irish Cream. There are two locations on either side of Eastern Parkway, so you don’t have to go a step out of your way to sip local.