Recess Coffee: A Place for Everyone

A feature story from our February-exclusive “Escape The Cold” column.


Cassidy Picciano, Editor in Chief

For students in search of a cozy little cafe to escape this cold Syracuse weather, Recess Coffee might just be the perfect place for you. With three locations – the flagship cafe in the heart of the Westcott neighborhood, a cafe in Downtown Syracuse, and a third location in the Tipperary Hill neighborhood – coffee lovers rejoice all over Syracuse.

I spoke with Adam Williams, one of Recess Coffee’s co-owners, via email, to gather information about the cafe’s history and mission.

“We started in January 2007,” Williams wrote, describing his beginnings with the business. “Recess had been opened the previous year and the former owner wanted to close up – I was a customer and lived in the neighborhood and thought it would be worth asking if he’d sell Recess to me and he agreed. My business partner and I were high school friends and decided to give it a shot.”

Williams emphasizes that over the years he has met “so many fantastic people” through the cafe, both co-workers and customers, which is something he loves about his job. He also enjoys looking back on where the cafe started and how far it’s come: “Sixteen years is a pretty long time,” he says.

When asked about something that sets Recess apart from other coffee shops in the area, he notes that, on a personal level, he is proud that he and Jesse, the other co-owner, have stuck to their core values after all these years. They’ve always wanted Recess to be a place where anyone and everyone could enjoy themselves and feel comfortable. 

Something else that sets them apart: Recess Coffee was voted Syracuse’s favorite coffee shop late last year by CNY Readers’ Choice Awards, held by and The Post-Standard.

Williams notes that while, in the beginning, he didn’t know much about coffee – his focus was  more on the idea of a cafe as a “gathering place” or “community hub” – his coffee knowledge and interest have grown over the years and become a big part of his life, showing that with time all businesses can grow and develop.

For the future, Recess is shifting its growth focus more towards the wholesale aspect of the company. The co-owners are very happy with the cafes as they are now, but recognize that there is always room for improvement and potential growth, and wholesale is one of these near-future growth aspects.

The typical crowd at any Recess coffee locations cannot be defined by just one group of people. Williams describes cafe goers as “diverse,” which, as previously mentioned, the cafe was always meant to be a space for everyone to gather. 

With the busy season ahead, Recess Coffee is ready for you. While coffee and cold brew might be the more popular drinks, the menu has a little bit of everything for everyone. Later this year Recess Coffee will be at the New York State Fair in the Welcome Center at Gate 1, so be sure to check it out there as well as at the cafe locations.

A final note from Williams to share with readers and students: He and Jesse were both very young when starting the business, at 23 and 24. He says that at the time they both had no experience and no business education, but that didn’t stop them from chasing their goals:

“If you want to be an entrepreneur you can be – there is no perfect path and no rulebook. It’s not always easy but it can be very rewarding.”