Friday, September 19, 2014

@ Comfort Zone Cafe in Hamburg Village

This week's Hold The Coffee post returns to my home city Buffalo to take a look at a coffee shop in one of the most highlighted neighborhoods south of the Buffalo River. 

Matt, always with a new pose!
Hamburg Village, which is an incorporated village unlike Elmwood Village, has been getting a lot of press in recent years after a huge streetscape makeover. The New York Times wrote about the village last month and how it thrived by subscribing to pedestrian and bike-friendly street design.

I've probably have said it countless times before, but I will say it again: inside all great neighborhoods is a great coffee shop. Comfort Zone Cafe at 17 Main Street is that coffee shop in Hamburg.

In a twist to this week's blog post, my boyfriend and editor Matthew Sellers volunteered to write the review of our first ever Comfort Zone experience, Friday, Sept. 12. (Unlike me, he had almost a week off of work.)

(This is Matt's second time writing a post. You can read his first one about Wiggins Street Coffee here.)

I've probably never been to a coffee shop with ceilings
hanging as low as these.
His story is below:

I can always count on Simon to fill our trips to Buffalo with numerous Buffalo-centric activities like paying homage to the grain silos along the Buffalo River, celebrating the ever-burgeoning Canalside downtown development, finding spiritual solace among the construction dust in the air, and visiting several local, neighborhood coffee shops.  

However, before the Buffalo skyline was in view, Simon was nudging me awake in the passenger seat where I'd been sleeping for several hours. Groggy from an overnight shift at the hospital and two-hour drive to Cleveland to meet Simon, I reluctantly turned.  "Yes?"
"Matt, we are in Hamburg, NY!"

The brick and rather WASPy (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants) storefronts blurred by me as we drove through the groomed, quaint village twenty minutes south of Downtown Buffalo. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, took a sip of my sugar-free Monster energy drink and slid on my sunglasses.  

One T-shirt reads "Nevermind the stairs. I'll take
the grain elevators." Still shocked he didn't buy that
"What is so special about Hamburg, NY?" Simon replied with a passionate monologue on Hamburg's innovative answer to the paradigm of coalescing a car-loving world with the quickly blossoming Millennial movement towards pedestrian and bike-accommodating neighborhoods.  Hamburg looks like a restored nineteenth-century village in the Colonial style.  However, its wide bike lanes and series of roundabouts whisper modernity and Gen Y consciousness.  

Simon pulled into a space on the street.  "Matt, we came to marvel at Hamburg's answer of maintaining tradition while making it relevant for the twenty-first century.  Even ISIS would be proud of Hamburg."  I laughed, pulling on a sweater.  "Simon, I'm also suspicious of a nearby coffee shop."

We only ordered one muffin. That's unprecedented
Comfort Zone Cafe is located along the pedestrian-friendly street of downtown Hamburg. It does not feature the usual mocha walls and bohemian themes of Simon's usual coffee shops, but is reminiscent of a doctor's office waiting room and appears to have been decorated by the local chapter of the Red Hat Society with curtains and furnishings taken from the Holiday Inn.  This motif is apropos because the clientele are comprised of mostly fourty-something ladies dressed in L.L. Bean.   Upon dropping eaves, I heard discussions of local politics, church luncheons and, "that Obama." My ears perked when the opinions of combating ISIS began to fire.

Possibly, my favorite part of the coffee shop's interior.
What Comfort Zone Cafe lacks in atmosphere, it redeems itself with its variety of coffee, beverages and food.  (I am going to rebel against this blog's theme just for you, just for today.)  Comfort offers drip coffee, cafe drinks, wraps, sandwiches, paninis, salads and soups. It was a cool, overcast afternoon in Western New York and hot coffee and soup were very welcome. Despite feeling as though Sunday School was about to start, I enjoyed the space and conversation with Simon.

Simon and I indulged in seasonal drip coffee (I got one labeled mudslide and Simon chose a pumpkin-spice flavor) and an apple cinnamon muffin for seven dollars and change.  Following the clear coffee mug trend, Comfort's coffee swirls as ribbons of cream and sweetener are added. With a detailed menu and extensive display of Buffalo-related t-shirts and souvenirs, Comfort Zone Cafe's charm is in its attention to detail, commitment and loyalty to all things Western New York and Buffalo.

Just another photo Simon randomly shot while I was in 
the bathroom.
Visiting coffee shops in new communities with Simon is always a charming, spiritually-nutritive activity.  Witnessing the sights and efforts of a community to remain rooted in tradition but open to things fresh and new is always the bedrock of our travels.  Finally coming from my fog of fatigue and poor sleep, we walked the streets of Hamburg, NY, appreciating and discovering one of Western New York's gems for coffee shop lovers and sugar-free Monster lovers alike.

Simon will be back next week. In the meantime, send suggestions of any coffee destinations to @SimonSaysNH or


  1. These days coffee is an essential part of my morning. I have a 6 month old baby so you can guess why. Trying to quit drinking coffee can be insanely difficult. Grouchiness, irritability and a wicked headache are all signs of caffeine withdrawal. easy cupcake recipes