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The Ultimate Gift Guide to Troy and Albany Small Businesses

a stack of flyers on a table

As we head into 2021, Taste of Troy Food Tours wants to celebrate the creative ingenuity and participation of our fellow small businesses. You can check out the boxes we created here, but for now, let’s celebrate the brilliant people and businesses behind them.

When COVID-19 shut us down at Taste of Troy Food Tours, along with so many others, we turned our focus to partnering with local, small businesses to create something that was about what makes us special here in the cities of Troy and Albany, New York.  

So started Boxes of Local Love, a project that directly supports other small businesses we would either visit on our tours, or pass by and give our visitors more information on. Throughout this year, we have been fortunate to work with this community to produce five boxes, with our sixth on the way for Valentine’s Day 2021. In the process, we are grateful that one message rings true regardless of circumstances: In our Troy and Albany communities, we work well together as collaborators, helping each other create unique experiences even when we cannot be together. 

We were able to donate 100-percent of our profits from our July box to Soul Fire Farm, and continue to give proceeds to the nonprofit. Between November and  December, we were also able to donate proceeds to the South End Children’s Cafe and raise funds for the Food Pantries for the Capital District and TRIP.

As we head into 2021, Taste of Troy Food Tours wants to celebrate the creative ingenuity and participation of our fellow small businesses. You can check out the boxes we created here, but for now, let’s celebrate the brilliant people and businesses behind them.

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Sweet treats

Coffee, Tea, & More

Unique Local Gifts

Sweet Treats

TieBerry Sweets

Owner Tieece Dixon is Upstate New York’s premier strawberry concierge. Located in the Capital District, Dixon takes her craft to a whole other level in her commercial kitchen where she whips up decadent, customized chocolate-covered fruit, pretzels, and more. For a real treat, try her Hot Chocolate Bomb by plopping it in hot milk for a delicious surprise. 

Appeared in: November and December Boxes of Love

Goodway Rum Cakes 

For some 40 years, the Goodway Gourmet Bakery has been creating artisan baked goods from scratch daily. Cinnamon rolls, chocolate-chip cookies, and cake brownies are among the irresistible offerings found at New York and New Jersey farmers’ markets. The showstopper, however, is the rum cakes made with Bacardi.

Appeared in: July’s Solidarity Box of Love

Parchment Baking Company 

The Troy-based baker Isabel Burlingham whips up a variety of goods based on the recipes and customs of her Scandenavian ancestors. Organic and seasonal ingredients are key to any of Burlingham’s baked goods such as Rugbrød (rye sourdough) and Kardemummabullar (cardamom-infused rolls). During the holiday season, festive treats such as Peperkaker (Scandinavian ginger snaps) are a must. 

Appeared in: Mother’s Day, November and December Boxes of Love

Cider Belly Doughnut

Sugar Daddy, Original Cinn, and Perfectly Pear’d are just some of the delectable donuts you’ll find at this Albany business. That is if you get there in time. “Belly lovers” line up for fresh goods (they also offer gluten-free and vegan options) when they are open, but for now you can order for pickup. We love pairing complimentary mini donuts, the Sugar Daddy and ol’Albany, with a Stacks coffee or tea on our Historic Downtown Albany Tour. 

Appeared in: June’s Father’s Day Box of Love


Krause Candy

This Albany staple comes from three generations of Krause candy makers. In 1929, Manfred Krause arrived in the United States from Germany, opening candy stores in New Jersey and Long Island. Today, Manfred’s son, Tom, runs the popular Krause Candy featuring candy box assortments, sugar-free goodies, and caramel apples, among other tasty novelties. 

Appeared in: Mother’s Day Box of Love

Primo Botanico Chocolate

This Troy chocolatier is known for vegan, botanical goods. The handmade and gluten-free chocolates are packaged in compostable boxes, making for a perfect gift for the environmentalist in your life. As the Capital Region’s first craft chocolate company, Primo Botanico hopes to set an example for how to create ethically sourced sweets.

Appeared in: Father’s Day Box of Love

Coffee, Tea & More

Short and Stout Tea Company

Quality tea and accessories abound in this Albany-based shop. Owners Matt and Joyce travel the world in search of the best tea farms to bring home fresh and unique flavors. Wine lovers should try the Champagne Fizz white tea for a bubbly, refreshing non-alcoholic surprise.

Appeared in: Mother’s Day, November and December Boxes of Love

Stacks Espresso Bar

Coffee and community converge in three cafes found in Troy and Albany. When the world is open, we love stopping by on our historic Albany food tour, but for now, you can still visit their storefronts or order online from a careful curation of their house and guest blends. 

Appeared in: Father’s Day, November, December Boxes of Love

Juice Factory VII 

Made-to-order smoothies and juices such as the Morning Meditation—made with citrus, ginger, agave, and beets—are on the menu at this health-conscious Troy cafe. Genika Blandshaw started her business in 2017 as a means to help community members find a fast, and healthy, spot to grab plant-forward food and drinks. You can also buy juice cleanses for the post-holiday detox. 

Appeared in: July’s Solidarity Box of Love

Brown’s Brewing Co. 

In 1993, when this craft brewery opened in the Capital District it was not only one of only 100 craft breweries in the nation, but the first in Albany and its surroundings. Today, founders Kelly and Gary Brown own a waterfront brewery as well as a Troy taproom, serving ales and lagers, among other beers brewed on site, and a tasty menu. 

Appeared in: Father’s Day Box, November’s Box of Love

Unique Gifts


This luxe line of bath products are made with the fair-trade, natural ingredients. Shop for black soaps, unrefined oils, and more from the New Jersey boutique. When you purchase the Afrikinky shea butter, proceeds benefit women in Ghana communities. 

Appeared in: July’s Solidarity Box of Love

Afrikan Queens Boutique 

Dashikis, jewelry, and handmade masks are only some of the stylish items you can find in this North Troy boutique. Most of the products found here are made in Africa through fair trade or collaborations with non-profits. 

Appeared in: July’s Solidarity Box of Love

Black Kettle Soap 

Co-owners Mark Harrison and his wife Arricka started their soap company 15 years ago, as a way to provide relief for their family’s overly sensitive skin. Arricka is a native Albanian who studied fashion at FIT. They pivoted from their kids clothing company and these successful entrepreneurs have since built a business that sells handcrafted products such as the oatmeal milk + honey salt bomb. Delicious aromas will fill the air and soothe your skin with this soak.⠀

Appeared in: July’s Solidarity Box of Love

Wells Maple Farm

Maple syrup is a staple of Upstate—New York State is the second largest producer in the United States after Vermont— and Wells Maple Farm produces some of the freshest grade-A products out there. You’ll find them selling a variety of maple-flavored sugars, lollipops, and the coveted syrups at the Troy Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. 

Appeared in: November and December Boxes of Love

Tara Kitchen 

Morroccan comfort food makes up Chef Aneesa Waheed’s popular menu at Tara Kitchen, which has been featured on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri’s Grocery Games. You can also shop for an arrangement of jarred goods such as prune jam, date sauce, as well as spice blends like the Ras-el-hanout. 

Appeared in: July’s Solidarity Box of Love

Collar City Candle 

This husband-and-wife duo have been hand-pouring candles since 2004, and all their products are handcrafted using traditional methods and premium ingredients. In 2016, Collar City Candle won the All Over Albany Startup Business Grand, winning first place in both the public vote and the unanimous choice of the judges. Their candles are available at the Troy Farmers’ Market and online (monthly subscription available). 

Appeared in: Mother’s Day, November, and December Boxes of Love

What’s Poppin  

This Capital Region’s gourmet popcorn store sits next door to its parent company,  O’Toole’s Restaurant Pub in Albany. Owner Anthony Gizzi grew up in Chicago, munching on cheesy caramel popcorn, and when he had the opportunity to expand his business, it was a no-brainer. Today, What’s Poppin works with other businesses to create special flavors such as a recent Nine Pin cidery collaboration on a seasonal apple-cider donut popcorn mix. 

Appeared in: All 2020 Boxes of Local Love

Mel’s Fit 4 You Coaching

Coach Mel’s philosophy is all about finding your balance. As a certified trainer and nutritionist, she works with clients on plans that are sustainable and realistic. Programs can be built for individuals, small groups, and even corporation teams. After a free virtual consultation, get started with online classes with Coach Mel. Virtual nutrition consultations are also available. 

Appeared in: Father’s Day Box 

Let’s Support Local 

We hope this guide gives you ideas on how to support your local businesses and creatives. And when things open up, please join us in meeting some of these folks on one of our food walking tours!

Have a delicious day,

Amy Koren-Roth 

 Founder and Forever Foodie

Taste of Troy Food Tours


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