These Northern NJ Coffee Shops Will Make You Cheat on Starbucks

Vanilla Snuggle
Danielle Berman

We understand—the PSL is good. Really good. However, we think these North Jersey coffee shops do a better cup 'o Joe.

The Fine Grind

This cozy shop is rich with personal touches in its décor by its owners, Rhonda and Jon Mallek (who still often work the counter and check up on the patrons who are seated). The menu is extensive, ripe with "concoctions"—crazy combos of flavors for lattes, coffees, milk steamers, hot chocolates, and even their signature "Blendesso"s. Think Starbucks Frappucino, but much smoother and way tastier. What to order: A warm Vanilla Snuggle, touted on the menu as "a hug in a mug" and is the perfect fall drink/alternative to the PSL. 101 Newark Pompton Turnpike, Little Falls

Red Eye

Opened by a former manager of the unfortunately closed Montclair staple, Café Eclectic, Red Eye can ride with the best of the neighborhood-y Brooklyn coffee shops. And, with its proximity to the NJ Transit Walnut St. stop, Brooklynites should take note. Serving up Intelligentsia brews, no coffee drink disappoints, but the food is definitely worth mentioning: specials change up daily, but the shop makes a mean "Blue Velvet": a roast beef sandwich with pickled blueberries, shallots, and cream cheese. What to order: New Orleans Sludge, a cold-brewed coffee mixed with spices and milk and served over ice. 94 Walnut St., Montclair

Van Gogh's Ear

Any art lover would appreciate the massive Starry Night mural on one of the front walls of this spacious shop. The mix-and-match furniture and tables instill the "make yourself at home" vibe and provide for a plethora of seating options from high tops to super comfy couches. Sunday Nights are a treat: from 8pm-11pm the shop hosts a live jazz or blues band for a measly $4 cover charge. The food is solid, with a wide range of cuisine from Paella to Buffalo Chicken Pizza. What to order: The Other Ear, if not just for that genius name. It's a double cappuccino with chocolate, mint, and almond flavoring. 1017 Stuyvesant Ave, Union

Rock'n Joe

With five Jersey locations, this aptly-named rock music-themed spot specializes in signature blends, Velvet Underground and Sledgehammer, and Black Dog Espresso. Don't need the extra jolt? Order a cup of "Unplugged" (decaf). Come for the kitchsy ambiance and music memorabilia that lines the walls. What to order: Milky Way Cappuccino—caramel and chocolate, espresso, and steamed milk. Locations in Caldwell, Cranford, Millburn, Union, and Westfield

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