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    North of NYC North of NYC By Houlihan Lawrence By Houlihan Lawrence by

    The coffee world has become endlessly creative in defining new ways to enjoy your morning cuppa.  Eschewing ubiquity through endless experimentation, local baristas here in the Hudson Valley and Connecticut are brewing some of the best fair trade, shade-grown, small batch crop-to-cup goodness—with or without almond milk—to be found anywhere, holding ground even to the most stringent standards.  In honor of National Coffee Day, we percolated a list of the best independently-owned java joints in New York's northern suburbs sure to keep you both warm and totally cool:

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    Coffee Labs Roasters — 7 Main Street, Tarrytown, NY
    Like the pied piper's call, wafting aromas of roasting beans beckon locals daily into the small-batch roaster beside Tarrytown Music Hall, serving a daily grind you'll always look forward to.  Owners Mike and Alicia Love have devoted over a decade to building relationships with growers throughout the world, personally sourcing the finest-quality varietals.  The beloved meeting place draws an eclectic crowd of commuters, artists and med students alike to gather within its art-covered walls, entertained by good company and unpredictable latte art poured lovingly into each cup.  ("Labs," by the way is an homage to the canine—not white coat and test tube—variety).

    Cold Spring Coffee Pantry — 3091 U.S. 9, Cold Spring, NY
    A little ways out of town along Route 9, this rural caffeinated nirvana has earned a devoted following—and rightly so.  Along with a serious coffee program that's been a revolving door of revered roasters that has included the likes of Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Counter Culture and Cafe Grumpy, it boasts an enticing craft beer selection, along with a well-curated retail shop to support the home-brewing of both beverages.  Add the rustic patio, original food menu and chai popcorn and it's not hard to see why so many go out of their way for a visit.

    Black Cow Coffee Company7 Wheeler Avenue, Pleasantville, NY and 4 Old Post Road S, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
    Chandler and Monica were still in the friend zone when Black Cow's roasting drum roared to life for the first time.  Westchester caffiends have herded in for nearly two decades to experience Westchester's answer to Central Perk, a bonafide bohemia where the cafe's loyal regulars gather to intellectualize, show their art, strum guitar or simply relax.  The cafe's namesake drink, a shot of espresso and steamed milk, was the gateway for many Croton teenagers in acquiring a lifelong addiction to the cup.

    NEAT20 Grove Street, Darien, CT
    The Gold Coast's original boutique espresso bar carved its niche in Fairfield County by bringing the experiential NYC cafe model to suburbia, coupling the finest coffee with a meticulous cafe and fountain courtyard.  After years of guest roasters, NEAT now scorches its own beans, served at both the Darien location and its latest venture at a former firehouse in Westport that's cafe by day and mixology bar by night.  And if you're really serious about this coffee stuff, NEAT even offers courses for home baristas-in-training. (If only our Greenwich office existed concurrently with their pop-up at 100 West Putnam!

    Irving Farm Coffee Company44 Main Street, Millerton, NY
    The country cousin of the well-known Manhattan coffee label brings big city cred to tiny-but-tasteful Millerton, where Irving Farm planted firm roots with a farmhouse roastery for its popular Gramercy Park, Upper West Side and Orchard Street cafes (and a kiosk on Grand Central's lower level).  Creaking plank floors and a full food menu create an old school yet sophisticated coffee house atmosphere that's homey to natives and urban emigrants alike.  Irving Farm, along Little Gates & Co. Wine Merchants and Harney & Sons Tea Company makes the postage stamp-sized town a true mecca for beverage enthusiasts.

    Slave To The Grind 58 Pondfield Road, Bronxville, NY
    Our hometown caffeinated station!  Straight out of Dead Poet's Society, you'll likely be greeted by the sentimental sounds of 90s grunge rock, set at just the right volume to not interfere with the pensive chats of intellectualizing Sarah Lawrence students out front over piping hot cappuccinos.  A great wall of bean hoppers contains over 60 varietals of roasted coffees—the certified 100% Kona blend is a favorite—leading to a mahogany bar in back salvaged from Bronxville's storied Hotel Gramatan.  A selection of epic baked fare rounds out the quintessential coffee house experience.  (Tell them we sent you).

    Murray's76 Broadway, Tivoli, NY
    This noted all-day-brunch Bard College hangout is known for its locavore menu and La Colombe coffee, sourcing ingredients largely from Dutchess and Columbia Counties.  Locals, weekenders and twentysomething-hipsters can be found mingling on patio tables out front or in the minimalist space, decorated in white wainscott and hardwood.  The hardest thing to order is "to go."

    Bank Square Coffee House129 Main Street, Beacon, NY
    Predictably, creative class Beacon doesn't disappoint when it comes to coffee.  At the foot of Main Street, just up the hill from Dia and Metro North, Bank Square serves Coffee Labs coffee, craft beer and a curated selection of healthy noshes in a phenomal space with chilled vibes and exposed brick.  On warm summer nights, the backyard at Bank Square is bustling beneath strings of rodeo lights past the bedtime of most local towns.  Check out their Halloween decorations, and (real) resident ghost?

    Lorca125 Bedford Street, Stamford, CT
    The only thing possibly rivaling the "Lorchata" (cold brew with house-made horchata on ice) might be the space itself, which might well make Lorca the prettiest place to perk up this side of King's County.  Amidst a jungle of office towers and popular bars of Bedford Street, the chic espresso-and-churro bar, named for Spain's preeminent poet, seems straight out of Bushwick, offering respite by the cup.  San Francisco's Four Barrel Coffee had been a staple on the menu, though baristas more recently started pulling shots with Counter Culture's Apollo Project.

    CFCF Roastery & Cafe 118 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT
    Vast food offerings and corporate-looking menu boards are sometimes a red flag for upward-nosed caffeine connoisseurs, but this Greenwich cafe wins with on-site roasting, skilled baristas and the only pour-over bar on the Avenue.  Nautical decor is artfully assembled to create a warm, stylish atmosphere.  Friendly service behind a La Marzocco—what's to complain about?