Angela Cash

Even in the middle of a weekday, Alberta street feels like some laidback college town, with sloppily dressed youngish folks parked in coffee shops, paging through magazines or passionately discussing Nietzsche's influence on the existentialist movement. More so than the restaurants, boutiques, or bars on this exploding avenue, Alberta's coffee shops have a range of personalities to fit your every mood. Enjoy them all, or just find your favorite.

Black Cat Café
1203 NE Alberta

More suited to socializing than a lot of cafés, the Black Cat offers Batdorf Bronson coffee (good, but not quite Stumptown), plus beer and wine. Besides serving libations including always-a-dollar PBR, Black Cat distinguishes itself by offering a bunch of open computers, board games like Taboo, Life, and Connect Four (okay, that's not a board game), and tabletop Galaga and Ms. PacMan. They're also open late (10 pm) and have a fairly bustling crowd of regulars from all walks of life from open until close. Other notables include $5 ham, turkey, and cheese sandwiches on ciabatta, $2 bagels with hummus or cream cheese, and those heavenly chocolate cream cheese cupcakes, which are pretty much the only dessert I consistently succumb to. If the sun is shining, roll up to the Black Cat on your bike, grab a drink, and kill some time on their adorably slipshod secluded back patio. KATIE SHIMER

Fuel Café
1452 NE Alberta, 335-3835

While lunch and a coffee can run you up to $10 at Fuel, it's worth it. They make homemade soups, amazingly delicious sandwiches, and great coffee, which can all be enjoyed on their utopic side patio. Right next to the Tin Shed restaurant, Fuel is like the Shed's lower-maintenance, quieter counterpart. They have a vegan sandwich with basil and veggies that made my day because of the goat cheese-like spread (vegans, you gotta miss cheese) and its hugeness, which made one half enough for lunch. The people at Fuel are also extremely nice, they have a computer you can use, and--be you so inclined--they serve beer and wine. A perfect spot for some respite on a hot day. KS

Random Order
1800 NE Alberta, 331-1420

This little coffee shop is the perfect morning spot to sit down with the ol' laptop and get to work. Beautiful windows spray sunlight across an orderly array of tables and eclectic local artwork, and the place is generally very peaceful and quiet, even when full. As for the coffee, it's topnotch (Stumptown), and it's supplemented by a worthy menu that includes the World Famous Fried Egg Sandwich, various panini-centric items, and a blueberry muffin that will turn your mouth to quivering mush. Seriously. These huge muffins are baked in-house, are absolutely crammed with blueberries, and are as good as anything you'll find anywhere, be it food, money, sex, or drugs. JWS

Star E Rose
2403 NE Alberta, 249-8128

This established caffeine hotspot has more of the old-school Alberta punk/hippie/radical vibe than anyplace else. With lots of outdoor seating, you'll find dudes with dreads kicking it outside the front windows, talking intensely about who knows what. Star E Rose is always decently crowded and serves a host of really decent food including bagel sandwiches like the Tominion (tomato, cream cheese, onion), a neat lunch of quiche and salad, and ham and cheese or veggie paninis. Everything is really affordable and they have a computer you can use if you're cyber-impaired, plus an informative billboard in back where you can find a new radical vegan roommate. KS

Concordia Coffee House
2909 NE Alberta

If you, like me, spend all of your free time working on that novel about how your parents wrecked your life (no, not really--I'm so sick of those novels!), Concordia is the spot for you. Woody and minimalist, this shop plays the music low, has muted lighting, tons of open space, free wi-fi, and Stumptown blends behind the counter. If you're having a hard day, this is a great place to calm down, granted you stay away from the Stumptown Hairbender blend, which can frazzle your nerves more than popping four ephedrine while driving in rush hour traffic. KS