Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Downtown Salem Coffeeshops

I'm a big fan of the coffee shop idea. I love hanging out, having a coffee, talking to friends, surfing the internet, meeting new people, etc. It's like having a big extended living room.

The following is a listing of coffee shops in the downtown Salem area.

The Beanery - Liberty Street
This is what is referred to by locals as the "new Beanery." This is not because it is the newest one, but because it replaced the "old Beanery" which was one of Salem's original coffee shop hangouts. The original was torn down to make room for the new transit mall. This coffee shop was remodeled in 2006 and has lovely wood floors and nice seating options. They also have great cafe style food options and a really good salad bar.

Pros: Free Wi-Fi, newly remodeled, good desserts, outdoor covered seating, salad bar, good tea selection
Cons: Bad acoustics lead to a noisy atmosphere, no soft seating

The Beanery - Transit Mall
This is the coffee shop that is close to the original location of the "old Beanery." It hasn't inspired the same kind of loyalty as the old grungy coffee shop that originally sat in that spot. It is the transit mall, but has it's own entrance on Court Street.

Pros: Free Wi-Fi, good desserts and food, decent acoustics
Cons: Not much seating, it isn't the "old Beanery"

Blue Pepper
Located on Commercial St in downtown, this coffee shop seems to be the place to meet clients and have business meetings. They even have a private meeting room upstairs. It has lots of seating, including soft couches and chairs. It also boasts Salem's only internet cafe (I believe). When this coffee shop opened a few years ago it also had a frame shop in the back. It still acts as a gallery, but the frame shop has closed or moved. They also have music most weekend nights, which starts at 7 pm and is usually over by 9 pm.

Pros: Free Wi-Fi, large space, good acoustics, lots of soft chairs and couches, wine bar
Cons: Closes early, not open Sundays.

Cafe Noir
A newer coffee shop on Marion Street. It also offers food and wine. It has a nice, quiet atmosphere and serves a lot of the state workers. They have good, toasted sandwiches for lunch. Last I heard they were trying to sell the business, but I'm not sure what has happened with that.

Pros: Free Wi-Fi, good sandwiches, small and quiet, wine bar, comfy chairs at tables
Cons: Off the main downtown drag (this could be a pro for some people), closes early

Coffee House Cafe
This Liberty Street coffee shop was opened when the "old Beanery," by one of the former managers of the Beanery. It is in a great historic building and has a cozy, comfy feel with couches and old tables. It was sold to new owners a few years ago and they have cleaned it up and made it more streamlined looking without losing its cozy feel. They often have music on the weekends and they have outdoor seating. For some reason, although I like this place, it has a strange smell that makes me choose other coffee shops more often.

Pros: Free Wi-Fi, Cozy atmosphere, quiet, open late, outdoor seating, bar seating, good tea selection
Cons: Funny smell, some of the couches and chairs are a little too old and soft

The Governor's Cup
I believe this is Salem's oldest coffee shop. Legend has it that one of our governor's used to get his coffee there every morning. It is located in a beautiful old building on Court Street with brick walls and an upstairs loft. This is the hangout of a lot of Willamette University students. They are open late and you will often see people studying or reading in its (sometimes) quiet atmosphere. They roast their own beans on site, so you can sometimes smell the roasting coffee in the neighborhood. Old wooden tables and some couches make this a pretty comfortable place to hang out, although the couches could use an update. Or a cleaning at least.

Pros: Free Wi-Fi, a couple of comfy couches, delicious sugar-free mocha, open late
Cons: Not many food options, not very many plug ins for computers
Other: Sometimes it is packed to the gills and noisy, usually with Willamette students. This could be a pro or con depending on what you're looking for.

Starbucks - Liberty Plaza
This Starbucks is also known as "the big Starbucks," or "the one with comfy chairs." This is to distinguish it from the one on the other end of the block. This is a traditional Starbucks with a few comfy chairs, but mostly small tables. It is not exactly quiet, usually, but the acoustics aren't as bad as the Beanery on Liberty St. This Starbucks always has a mix of business types, retired types, and Willamette students.

Pros: You know what you're getting even if its mediocre, soft chairs, outside seating
Cons: You pay for Wi-Fi, it is usually cold inside.

Starbucks - Liberty and Court Street Corner
Also known as "the small Starbucks" or "the one without comfy chairs." It is mainly a morning coffee stop for downtown and state workers. The other group that hangs out there regularly are the Harley riders. They usually sit outside, probably so they can watch their bikes. :) This is just your typical small Starbucks with a window bar and a few small tables. It was recently remodeled and is nice and new.

Pros: You know what you're getting even if it's mediocre, outside seating
Cons: You pay for Wi-Fi, very small, very little seating

Well, I think that's it for the downtown core area. Of course there are others around the Salem area, but that will have to be another post.


Colleen said...

I believe that I was the one who told you about the Governor's Cup! I used to see Governor Kitzhaber there all the time! :)

I love your blog!

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