In the heart of Utica right off of Genesee St., in a cute nook, lies the Utica Coffee Café and Roasting Company. Founded by Frank Elias and Heather Delia, the roasting company and café took on its own personality influenced by Utica’s diverse population and pop culture aspects.
Utica Coffee started its roasting business in 2002 and later opened a café in 2013 to serve fresh coffee and treats to local individuals. The café also has a second location in the center of Clinton Square that offers its own unique ambiance.
“It all began in 2002 with the purchase of our Genesee Street location in a relatively economically depressed area of Utica,” Utica Coffee Roasting Company online said. “The potential in not only this location but this area was seen by our founder and president, Frank Elias.”
Utica’s character is unmistakable with its Big Apple energy and small-town people. The addition of Utica Coffee to the area simply enhanced the already existing beauty of the small city and encouraged the work of local artists.
Because Utica Coffee has been around for nearly 20 years their customer base allowed them to thrive during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit, we went to an online base and our customers were very supportive and respectful with that,” Brandy Zizzi said. “When we opened our space back up for in-person customers, everyone was very supportive and respectful of COVID-19 guidelines. Yes, we wear masks and we have moved tables but they have been really good about being compliant with guidelines.”
Adherence to the safety guidelines is crucial for any business but especially for small businesses like Utica Coffee and the many others that exist on Genesee St. In addition, Utica Coffee has about 500-600 transactions per day between both locations; following the necessary precautions is crucial for them to stay in business and keep others safe.
“I would love for the Utica College community to know that we do offer online ordering as well as Brewtorials for how to make coffee online,” Zizzi said. “We also get a lot of students that help and we love all the support they have given throughout the pandemic.”
The “Brewtorials” are tutorials on how to make a variety of coffees in different styles using various techniques. The Brewtorials can be found on the Utica Coffee website.
“Something that makes Utica Coffee special is our wide variety of coffees,” Zizzi said. “We roast our beans right behind our café which not many other places have. Our warehouse is right behind the building and we also partake in wholesaling.”
With so many options available in terms of freshly roasted coffee beans, an endless list of flavors, and fun extras like muffins and chocolate-covered coffee beans, it is hard to imagine how a coffee shop could get much better.
“We also have the Stars program for rewards which awards you stars upon a purchase,” Zizzi said. “When you reach 10 stars, you get $5 off. The stars also don’t expire, ever. You could use them at the beginning of summer and then leave and when you come back they will still be there. The stars can also be used for anything: merch, coffee and food.”