April 12, 2016

5 Atlanta Specialty Coffee Shops to Visit During SCAA 2016


This April, Atlanta really is the capital of coffee. With the SCAA expo, the Re:co specialty coffee symposium, and the US Barista Championships all happening over the space of five days, there’s no better place for a coffee geek to be.

But with all these national and international events occurring, it’s easy to forget that Atlanta has great coffee all year round. Whether you’re coming here to compete, to discover new coffee, or even just for a family holiday, you’re going to love some of this city’s third wave cafés.

So I’ve created a list of five must-visit places. You really shouldn’t leave this global city without stopping by at least one of these.

Why These Five?

With so many blow-you-away specialty cafés in this city, it would be impossible to pick the five “best”. So instead, I’ve opted for five of my favorites – and let me tell you that it was hard to narrow them down.

I’m confident that each one will serve you an excellent cup of coffee, but that’s not all they’ll do. They will also provide you with a unique experience, helping you to see the full variety of Atlanta’s coffee scene. Not one of them is alike.

Treat these five, not as a comprehensive guide to Atlanta’s coffee houses, but as a great introduction.

1. Brash Coffee

This shipping-container-turned-stylish-café is a project of love – and seriously hard work. In 2012, Matt Lud started building a coffee mill on a farm in El Salvador, setting the foundation for what would become an ongoing business relationship. From then on, Matt worked triple time. Literally. He worked locally as a part-time barista, overseas farming coffee, and in the states as a roaster. But today, he runs multiple Brash coffee houses. The Atlanta “Brashbox” is a stylish café filled with natural light, dark wood fittings, and first-rate coffee.

Where Westside Provision 1168 Howell Mill Road 30318
Style Perfectly minimal
Espresso Machine Strada MP
Grinder EK43
Coffee Offerings Finca Maputo, Ecuador and Finca El Rosario, El Salvador
Roaster Diedrich
Must-Try Drink Espresso or drip, Matt’s roasts are a delight
Food & Other Drinks Local pastries and a selection of teas
Retail Offerings 12 oz bags of coffee, t-shirts, and brewing equipment

Brash coffee bags for sale

Brash Coffee – a brand built out of love and hard work.

brash coffee shop interior

Brash Coffee – this shipping container holds a stylish surprise.

2. Octane Coffee/ Bar

Octane locations are simply a pillar of the Atlanta coffee scene. Tony Riffel opened the original westside location in 2003, bringing great drinks to a pocket of the city where there were none to be found. Thirteen years later and the westside has grown, almost around Octane. Recognised by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and recently visited by Hillary Clinton, this coffee house has quite the reputation! But most days, you won’t find celebrities there – you’ll just find students, creatives, and everyday people hanging out. As for the coffee, Octane began by serving Counter Culture Coffee, but now they roast and sell their own beans.

Where Three locations: Westside 1009-B Marietta Street. 30318, Grant Park 437 Memorial Drive Suite A5 30312, Tech Village 3423 Piedmont Road NE Suite 100. 30305 (no alcohol)
Style Relaxed
Espresso Machine La Marzocco
Grinder EK43, Robur
Coffee Offerings Several house blends as well as single origin coffees
Roaster Probat
Must-Try Drink Wanderlust Nitro Cold Brew
Food & Other Drinks Locally sourced pastries, house-made plates, teas, beer, wine, and cocktails
Retail Offerings Bags of coffee, shirts, brewing equipment, and other wares

Octane coffee bar shop interior

Octane Grant Park, the perfect place to hang out with friends.

3. Henry & June

This coffee and clothing boutique is the self-described love child of Jim Chambers and Camryn Park. Featuring clothing and wares from a variety of makers as well as a multi-roaster coffee menu, Henry & June is carefully curated and surely one of the more beautiful cafe spaces in the city. Not to mention it has great staff!

Where 784 N Highland Ave. 30306
Style Hip and tasteful
Espresso Machine Gloss white Synesso Cyncra
Grinder Mazzer
Coffee Offerings A variety of coffees from Crema, Octane, and other rotating roasters
Must-Try Drink Seasonal beverages
Food Local pastries, chocolate bars from XOCOLATL
Retail Offerings Coffee, brewing equipment, high-end clothing, footwear, and jewelry

retail shelf at coffee shop

You get both style and substance at Henry & June.

coffee shop inside clothes shop

Sip on a specialty coffee while you shop for a new outfit.

4. Taproom

You get some coffee, you add some beer – what’s not to like? This coffee and beer bar in the historic Kirkwood neighbourhood is a great place to hang out and enjoy two of the world’s greatest beverages. Come here for an excellent coffee, a refreshing beer, or to attend one of their many events, all centered around a different flavor.   

Where 1963 Hosea L Williams Dr. suite 106 30317
Style Neighbourhood hangout
Espresso Machine Linea
Grinder EK43, Mazzer
Coffee Offerings Counter Culture Coffee
Must-Try Drink The Beerspresso, a Japanese style iced coffee dry hopped and pulled through a nitro tap
Food & Pastries Pastries from Ratio Bakeshop, Rishi Tieas
Retail Offerings Coffee bags, beer glasses, local artwork, brewing equipment, and coffee wares

barista tamping coffee

Taproom: a space dedicated to coffee and beer.

taproom beerpresso, espresso and beer mixed

The Beerspresso, the perfect combination of your two favorite drinks.

5. Spiller Park Coffee

Think a mall kiosk won’t serve specialty coffee? Think again, because you’re in Atlanta. Spiller Park coffee was created by local coffee professional Dale Donchey and award-winning chef Hugh Acheson.  Dale is no stranger to the Atlanta coffee scene… In fact, he created the Rattletrap Street Coffee van in 2010 and opened Steady Hand Pour House in 2011. Now he’s joined up with Hugh. These guys truly know what they are doing, and it shows in the final product.

Where Ponce City Market 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE. 30308, in the food court
Style Large mall kiosk
Espresso Machine Linea
Grinder EK43, Mazzer
Coffee Offerings Coffee offerings from Intelligentsia, George Howell Coffee, and  Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters
Must-Try Drink Check out the offerings with local Treehouse Milk nut milks
Food & Pastries Sublime Doughnuts and house-made toast eats
Retail Offerings Brewing equipment, Spiller Park swag

spiller park coffee logo

Spiller Park Coffee, serving simply delicious drinks.

barista frothing milk

Behind the bar at Spiller Park Coffee. It may be a mall kiosk but specialty processes are going to be followed!

Atlanta has so much to offer coffee lovers. If you’ve come all this way, whether for a coffee event or simply for a vacation, it would be a shame to miss some of our wonderful specialty cafés.

These five coffee houses are unmissable, but I encourage you to explore the rest of Atlanta’s coffee scene as well. Because believe me, there is plenty more than what you see here. Come on and see for yourself what we have brewing!

All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance. Perfect Daily Grind believes in furthering debate over topical issues within the industry, and so seeks to represent the views of all sides.

Edited by T. Newton.

Perfect Daily Grind.