799 University Avenue
Mon – Sat: 6:30am – 9:30pm
Sun: 7am – 9pm
Espresso. Not expresso. Say it with me. Es. Press. Oh. It’s alright, it doesn’t matter. Coffee Bytes is nothing all that special anyways, but they do have a couple of things running in their favor.
First: the location. It’s right on the way to all the big buildings on campus.
Second: Comfort. Scattered with modern style comfortable chairs and food-court style tables, Coffee Bytes is inviting for patrons with many purposes. The comfy chairs work for the person who needs a place to study or just hang out in between classes. A couple of them are even large enough for two. (Wink, wink) The tables are the perfect spot for a quick meeting and of course, there is window seating for the people watcher in all of us.
Bytes is mostly a student hangout, but in my time lounging in their chairs, a few groups of older people came through and didn’t seem out of place at all.
They also have a short menu of wraps, salads and small breakfast choices, all of which are simple choices- nothing fancy or off-putting for the consumer on the go. Their bakery case, although somewhat barren has gorgeous treats of muffins, scones, black and white cookies- the usual coffee shop fare. The one thing they could benefit from is labels near the bakery treats, so customers could know what they were ordering without having to point. I had a chocolate chip muffin (after asking what they were). It was a large, perfectly moist and delicious muffin, but the price of $2.25 seemed a bit steep for a muffin.
The name screams tech café, but there’s nothing extraordinarily technical about the place, other than the funky wall colors of purple, orange and lime green and the semi-modern furniture. The music playing was nothing invasive, but they could stand to turn it up just a little bit to avoid an eerie quiet. At times, I felt like all I could hear were the people surrounding me. They’ve got clean bathrooms, but the door explicitly states that you can’t use them unless you buy them- I hope that’s not the reason they were so clean.
The menu is short and sweet- only a few “specialty drinks”- after all, most people know what they need when they rush through a coffee shop anyway. They keep it local by serving Ancora (http://www.ancoracoffee.com/Index.aspx) beans.
I ordered a Chai latté, my usual coffee shop choice and I was rather impressed. The milk to chai ratio they used made for a perfectly creamy drink that was sufficiently hot, something not all coffee shops can do. In fact, the chai was so good that I came back a second time. The second time I decided to try their advertised drink (per the door), The White Zombie. The White Zombie is made of white espresso beans, steamed milk and a shot of your choice of flavor. I opted for caramel. White espresso beans are supposed to be more packed with caffeine than regular- it may seem like a gimmick, but I could swear I didn’t crash like I do with the regular stuff. It was $3 and definitely worth the pick me up.
As all coffee shops experience, there were periods of “rush,” which the staff seemed to handle quickly and avoided a state of panic. The baristas seemed knowledgeable and helped each other out, which I appreciated. I’d rather two people work on my drink and get it right than one screw it up. Maybe I’m a coffee snob though.
While all these things are great for the shop, there is nothing glaringly different about Coffee Bytes than any of the other coffee shops (ahem, too many) on State Street. They were lucky to grab a prime location and they’ve got everything you need from a coffee shop- relaxing, comfortable and good drinks. It’s definitely a great place to run through on the way to class, even if you are in a rush- they’ll get you in and out fast.