This morning I was reviewing the recent coffees from my MistoBox coffee subscription. My current subscription includes a mix of African and South American coffees which arrive on a weekly basis . After reviewing my coffees I clicked over to the MistoBox blog where I read a recent article by MistoBox co-founder, Sam Meis, about the different ways she tries for find good coffee while travelling.
For me, good coffee starts with high-quality beans sourced intentionally, it is well roasted in small batches and, finally, is prepared with care ….I also like to look for shops who offer coffees with lots of transparent information about where the coffee was grown.Sam Meis
I agree. I have lived in the Princeton, New Jersey area for over 20 years and over time I have discovered the TWO (and only two) cafés in the Princeton area that meet this criterion. Small World and Rojo’s.
Small World opened in 1993 just two years before I moved to the Princeton area from Ann Arbor, MI where coffee houses are almost as common as squirrels. Small World is located a stone's throw from the gates of Princeton University. The café opens early and there is almost always a line to get in.
Rojo's opened in Palmer Square in Princeton in 2013, after establishing a reputation for small batch coffee roasting eight years earlier in Lambertville, New Jersey, an artsy community near the Pennsylvania border.
But just for giggles, to see how well Sam's research methods work, I decided to try each one to see what I would find for my area.
Without a doubt, anytime I need to find good coffee, the first place I look is Sprudge.com … If there is a notable cafe worth going to, no matter if it’s in a small suburb or a major metropolitan city, there’s a good chance you’re going to find it on Sprudge.Sam Meis
I was sceptical. Princeton is a small suburb with a big name. After all, Princeton University is located here. Students drink coffee. But most online publications don’t usually cover the suburbs of New Jersey. The front page of Sprudge had a small search box over on the right. I typed in New Jersey and got me one page of pertinent results but by the second pages, the articles were about either New York or places in Europe. So, I entered “Princeton” in the search box. Sprudge returned two search results. One about a coffee house in Princeton, Massachusetts, the other about a reporter drinking coffee in Princeton. Number of Princeton, New Jersey coffee shops reviewed on Sprudge? Zero.
I then tried method number two. I typed in “Princeton New Jersey + speciality coffee” in a Google search box. The results were better. The first item on the first page was for Small World. The second link was to a Yelp ranking of shops in Princeton. Rojo’s and Small World were both on the list but so were a number of other cafe’s that are local equivalents of either Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts.
The third Google link is for Rojo’s Coffe. The fourth link is from an article in New Jersey Monthly magazine that mentions Rojo’s and Small World. The remaining links on the first page reveal nothing useful.
So the Google search method worked.
The next method “Ask around among the residents to see how they enjoy their coffee.” would most likely lead you to either Rojo’s or Small World Coffee. However, Princeton also has a Star Bucks and a Panera.
Sometimes you can’t find good or even palatable coffee, but hell you need your caffeine fix. This can – and does – happen. I say bring on the sugar and milk, and call it a day.Sam Meis
There are enough coffee houses in the Princeton area where that is the only way to drink a caffeinated beverage.
I'll try using these methods for my next vacation trip. But I will also make sure to continue doing what I have done in the past. Pack my coffee brewing kit and a fresh bag of beans in my suitcase.