All posts by Abigail Averill

Abi is a junior at Emory University studying journalism and Middle Eastern studies. Whenever possible, she enjoys exploring Atlanta's restaurants and farmers markets. And, her love of the outdoors means that she can often be found trail running in or around Atlanta.

Coffee is going gourmet

Octane Grant Park's cappuccino
Octane Grant Park’s cappucino

A good old-fashioned cup of joe is a part of many people’s daily morning routine, but according to a report by the National Coffee Association, demand for coffee is now going gourmet.

In 2013, consumption of traditional coffee decreased by 7% while consumption of gourmet coffee, like espresso or specialty pour over, increased.  Although these numbers represent nationwide trends, they are backed up by increasing demand for local, speciality coffee shops here in Atlanta.

coffee charts big

With the rise in consumption of gourmet coffee, the role of the coffee shop in society also seems to be changing.  Rather than serving as a quick pit-stop for a caffeine fix, the coffee shop now is becoming a gathering place for conversation and intermingling.  One might even argue it is the new social hotspot.

Local coffee shops in Atlanta are not hard to find, they exist in almost every neighborhood these days.  With that in mind, the shops discussed in this piece are merely a sampling of the ever-growing coffee shop culture.  But, if you are looking for a good cup of gourmet pour-over coffee, a latte with perfect foam, or just a barista who knows so much about coffee that it verges on intimidating, they are a good place to start.

            In Decatur, the Dancing Goats Coffee Bar draws a unique mix of academics from Emory and Agnes Scott, families who live in the area, yogis from the studio next-door, and professionals utilizing the free internet connection.  With its airy interior and friendly baristas, Dancing Goats is arguably the most simple of the coffee shops on this list.  Its beverages are mostly ones that everyone recognizes, and while the baristas undoubtedly know a lot about coffee, they do not seem to possess any sense of superiority from that knowledge.

            Since its opening in 2007, the shop has continued to grow, opening another location across town in 2012.  It attracts a nearly constant stream of customers, who come mostly for  its espresso beverages (although the locally-made doughnuts it serves have their own following).  And, the baristas at the shop recognize that they have filled a sort of niche.

Across town at Octane Coffee in Grant Park, pour over seems to be the main attraction for the young, hip crowd that can be found chatting around the tables in its large warehouse-like space.  With the Little Tart Bakeshop’s headquarters also in the shop, customers can get both coffee and a meal like a granola and yogurt bowl or a warm quiche.  This seems to make the shop even more of a gathering place, a function that continues at night, when it becomes a cocktail bar.

Similarly, Condesa Coffee in the Old Fourth Ward attracts a young crowd, though it seems that many come to the shop to work rather than to socialize.  There are often meetings around the bigger tables while the bars by the windows are filled with people on laptops.  The food served is made with all local ingredients like Atlanta Fresh Yogurt and, like Octane, the bar serves cocktails instead of coffee at night.

For a different coffee shop experience in Atlanta, the Chattahoochee Coffee Company is located right alongside the Chattahoochee River about 20 minutes outside of downtown.  Hidden away in an apartment complex, the shop has some small food items as well as French press coffee and espresso drinks—more specifically, strong espresso drinks.  The environment is relaxed with some people working, but most socializing, oftentimes heading down to the Adirondack chairs that sit right by the river.

With all of these options for coffee shops in Atlanta, and more and more popping up all the time, it is easy to see that local coffee shops, at least in this city, really are flourishing.  And, while each shop has a different feel, one attribute they share is their dedication to gourmet coffee.

Provisions that shine like stars

sp outside

As you walk into the light and airy interior of Star Provisions, a café and marketplace in the Westside Provisions District it is hard to imagine the location’s past life as a meatpacking warehouse.  Instead of what I can only imagine to be the unpleasant odors of raw sausage, the mingling aromas of baked goods and grilled sandwiches greet you.  Of course all those delicious smells do not make figuring out what to order any easier.  But, once you do manage that feat, I find the real fun begins.

The line to order isn’t short, but trust me and wait it out.

The café’s adjacent shop is filled with everything from oddball trinkets, like dishware made out of driftwood, to entire rooms dedicated to cheese and charcuterie.  Because of my undying love affair with cheese, the cheese shop is easily my favorite room and without fail I spend at least 10 minutes inside perusing the cheese selection.  I have to restrain myself (with great difficulty) from trying and then buying them all.

But luckily, by the time I’ve sampled a couple of cheeses, my food is usually ready and I find a spot at one of the counters to sit down and dig in.  I’ve never been disappointed in the food at Star Provisions, but I especially liked my most recent combination of the Mediterranean salad and pecan sticky bun.  I told myself that on some level the greens canceled out the luscious dessert.  And, to the credit of my often-spotty self-restraint, I only ate approximately a quarter of the bun by myself and shared the rest with friends who had come to lunch with me.  Some other stars of the meal were the frittata with goat cheese, leeks, Brussels sprouts, and herbs and the catfish sandwich.

After finishing our food, we decided we were too full to simply drive back to campus so we walked around, exploring WPD more than I ever had on past visits.  The complex is definitely upscale with stores like Billy Reid, Free People, and Anthropologie.  But, even if all of your shopping consists of the window variety, as mine did, it’s still enjoyable to explore.  And hey, a girl can always dream about the days when that Emory education pays off and she shops in the store not just outside of it.

the WPD's past industrial life can still be felt today
the WPD’s past industrial life can still be felt today