Dream of opening Albany coffee shop comes true for Alias Coffee owner
Alias Coffee was welcomed to downtown Albany September 28 with a ribbon cutting at their new 76 N Pearl Street location. Joining Owner Hernán Lopez and Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director Georgette Steffens were Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany County Economic Development and Sustainability Coordinator Lucas Rogers, City of Albany Chief City Auditor Dr. Dorcey Applyrs, and Redburn Development Partners Executive Vice President Elizabeth Young Jojo.
After working in IT for a decade, Lopez realized he wanted to do work he was more passionate about. After taking courses and educating himself in the trade and craft, he moved from New York City to the Capital Region with the plan to open a coffee shop in Albany. Lopez worked at Stacks Espresso on Broadway for four years as a manager, and later, a coffee roaster before opening his first Alias Coffee location in Troy in 2020.
While operating his first shop, Lopez kept an eye out for an Albany location and his dream of opening in Albany began coming to fruition earlier this year when space in The Kenmore became available. With the central location in the middle of the block on N Pearl Street, bright natural light, and a size of 1,300 square feet—he was sold. To transform the space into a coffee shop, architect Kyle Engstrom of KE Studio Design built a coffee counter fitted specifically for Alias’s preparation and service needs. Styled with inviting furniture and décor by Maria Thompson of Sugar Shed, the large, open shop offers a great place for gatherings, with Lopez planning to host art-focused events, like poetry readings and open mics, in the future.
As more residential units are added to Downtown, Lopez sees a bright future for the neighborhood—and more people who will need good coffee. The best thing about this industry, he says, is the interactions with customers. “It’s amazing to have people come in day after day to see you, to drink and appreciate your coffee, to enjoy the camaraderie, and to start the day on a really good note,” said Lopez.
Very intentional about how he sources, roasts, prepares and serves his coffee, Lopez prioritizes sourcing beans from small farmers with sustainable farming practices and works with importers who share his philosophy. Roasting the coffee beans himself, he carefully adjusts the gas and air on the roaster to ensure consistency across his small batches. Finally, he trains baristas to consistently serve a high-quality drink—first training them to pull a perfect shot of espresso, then moving on to latte art.
The menu features traditional espresso-based drinks, like lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and cortados, as well as pour-overs, drip coffee, cold brew, and a small selection of special beverages, like high-grade matcha. Alias currently offers baked goods like breakfast cookies, banana bread and croissants, but plans to expand those offerings to include more light fare, like oatmeal and sandwiches. Customers can also pick up 12-oz. bags of whole coffee beans to use at home (which can be ground upon request).
Downtown Albany BID Executive Director Georgette Steffens said: “As Downtown workers return to near pre-pandemic numbers and residential units maintain 97% occupancy in Downtown, spaces like Alias Coffee serve as more than just a place to caffeinate, but a place for colleagues, neighbors, and friends to gather and build community. We are so pleased to welcome Hernan and Alias Coffee to our District!”
Alias Coffee is located in The Kenmore at 76 N Pearl Street and open seven days a week: Monday through Friday 7:00 AM-5:00 PM, and Saturday and Sunday 8:00 AM-5:00 PM. Follow the business on Facebook and Instagram, and stay up to date with their website.