Hudson Valley Coffeehouses

More than just a place to get your jolt of java, local coffeehouses offer live music, original artwork — and the chance to meet and mingle with your neighbors


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ralph's pretty good cafeRalph Janetti, owner of Ralph’s Pretty Good Café in Chatham, samples his product

Photograph by Jennifer May

2 Alices also displays works by local artists (and yes, they’re for sale), just one more way to tie into the community. Ralph’s Pretty Good Café in Chatham does the same. “Our café’s layout isn’t designed to handle live music or poetry, but we do showcase a different local artist on our walls every month,” says owner Ralph Janetti. His place is just as its name suggests: a laid-back, no-nonsense place to hang out with a cup of the good stuff. “We’re your basic, non-fancy coffeehouse; no vanilla-caramel-triple-zuma-zuma lattes,” Janetti quips. “We sell cappuccinos and lattes, but nothing too over-the-top. People who come here know they’re going to get a good cup of coffee and a good bite to eat — even though the name only says ‘pretty good.’ ”

ralph's pretty good cafe coffeeBrew from Ralph’s Pretty Good Café in Chatham

The café brews coffee using beans from the Barrington Coffee Roasting Company (which is based in the Berkshires), and offers a variety of homemade eats. Customer favorites include the Sloppy Jose quesadilla and the adult grilled cheese: thick sourdough bread, mozzarella, tomato — “it’s a sandwich, but it tastes kind of like a pizza,” Janetti says. They also carry locally made Jane’s Ice Cream.

The interior is best described as casually comfortable. With about 24 seats, plus a children’s area, it draws a varied crowd. “We get a good cross-section of the community. Basically, coffee drinkers who like good coffee come here,” Janetti claims. “A repairman working on one of our machines once said that, by industry standards, we were using too much coffee per brew. I said, ‘Well, that’s what people like. That’s why they come here — we don’t skimp.’ ”

» Get the entire list of fine Valley cafés here
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