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other cities, Providence

Providence Eats Part 4: The Coffee Exchange

Well my friends, it looks like we have come to the end of this long journey. That’s right; this will be my last post on Rhode Island. It’s been quite an adventure, hasn’t it? I feel like I’ve posted everything so fast, it seems shorter than it actually was. It’s hard to condense everything that I’ve experienced and eaten those 5 days into concise posts, but hopefully you guys got a general idea of what my long weekend in RI was like. :)

That being said, I guess I kind of-sort of saved the best for last. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every single bite that I took out of Providence. But The Coffee Exchange just struck a special cord in my heart.


area where you buy your drinks and food


freshly-roasted coffee beans for sale whole or ground

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I love cafes, and it’s not just because I work at one. It’s true that I’ve been getting more into coffee lately, but really, there’s nothing quite like snuggling up to a cup of hot coffee and a warm pastry – the two are just a match made in heaven. And cafes provide both, with a warm ambiance and a comfortable atmosphere to match. So cafes are usually of the first things that I look for whenever I’m checking out a town’s food scene, and Providence was no different.

So I did my research, and it turns out that Providence is quite the coffee town; apparently, it’s the 4th best coffee city in America, only Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco (that puts it ahead of New York City, Boston, and New Orleans). Who would’ve thunk?

And as you might expect, there were quite a few places that popped up when I was looking up cafes by RISD. But after reading about how the Coffee Exchange roasts all their beans on-site and that all their is fair-trade and organic, I just had to come here.


So off to the Coffee Exchange I went!

And no lie, I fell in love with this place from the moment I walked in through its doors.

Maybe it’s because the morning I visited, the sky was somehow managing to snow, sleet, and rain, all at once; and after walking through that for 20 minutes, the Coffee Exchange just seemed SO inviting.


Granted, it was a little cramped and all the table were occupied; it seemed like every time I turned around, I bumped into someone or something. But the café was cozy and warm, fragrant with the aroma of freshly ground coffee and warm baked goods.


coffee paraphernalia


monster espresso machine

And like everywhere else in Providence, this place had SO MANY OPTIONS. Jeez, this city is going to drive me crazy. Along with an extensive drink (i.e. coffee, tea, chocolate) menu, they had a bunch of edible things as well.


do not be deceived; this is only a third of the drink menu

DSC_9204 DSC_9177


baby cupcakes


granola parfaits

I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, so it took a while for me to decide what I wanted to eat. I wanted a pastry that was hearty yet wholesome, a little something sweet to that I would enjoy yet help tide me over until lunch. But what to get?

Luckily, I already knew what I wanted to drink and ordered my usual small Americano:


look at the residual crema; mmm...

Strong and full-bodied, this really was an excellent cup of coffee. I added just the tiniest bit of milk to help smooth things out, and tried not to burn my tongue while happily sipping away at it.

And while I was waiting up front by the register (next to the case of baked goodies), I saw 2 words that made my heart flutter with excitement:


Granola. Scone.

Say whaaat?

I know, it sounds and kind of looks ridiculous. But it was so flippin’ good. I mean, can you see how loaded this thing is? I guess they really got some granola and added it to scone dough to make this, because it had all your average granola fixings: rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, almonds, golden raisins, raisins, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. The best way I can describe it as is an oatmeal cookie on steroids; it was thicker, heartier, and more varied than any oatmeal cookie I’ve tried. And it was perfect accompaniment to my Americano as I sat and enjoyed the people scenery in the café.


I’m not sure why, but out of all the places that I’ve eaten at in Providence, the Coffee Exchange had the least amount of college students. Maybe it’s because I was there on a Monday morning (class time?) or maybe it’s because it is a fair distance away from any of the campuses, but most of the people sitting here were adults who looked like they could be anywhere from their late 20’s to early 50’s.

Because there’s free Wi-fi here, there are also a bunch of people doing work on their laptops, as well as friends and co-workers who came here to meet up and talk.. And because Providence is such an artsy place, there were also people who looked like artists and poets, scratching away at their notepads while enjoying their coffee.


storybook ideas


Taking all of this in while sipping my coffee and nibbling away at my scone, I was so glad that I chose to come here. It’s a place with lots of character, as well as excellent coffee and delicious eats. The Coffee Exchange has got that “café” feel that always makes me feel warm inside, slightly eclectic yet worn and slightly antiquated at the same time. It’s a Providence favorite, and very popular among the locals here; and I’m glad that I chose this place to experience the RI coffee scene.

The Coffee Exchange
207 Wickenden Street
Providence, RI 02903



One thought on “Providence Eats Part 4: The Coffee Exchange

  1. I love the Coffee Exchange! I spent a semester on exchange at RISD in 2007 and I would go there every day. There were often students there, but it was a very mixed crowd with students, blue and white collar workers coming in. I think you described the cafe really well, and it brings back the memories, thanks!

    Posted by onlythegoods | February 1, 2012, 3:37 pm

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