New Coffee Shop Now Open in Reynoldstown: Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar

A new coffeeshop named Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar opened on Memorial Drive in the Reynoldstown neighborhood of Atlanta in mid-April.

Atlanta Coffee Shops paid a visit to this new spot during the coffee shop’s opening weekend, and below are some photos and first impressions.

The TL;DR version:

  • The coffee shop has an incredible 14-tap cold brew bar (Cold Brew, Nitro Cold Brew, Nitro Latte, Nitro Oat Milk Latte, Nitro Matcha Latte, Sparkling Arnold Palmer, Sparkling Hibiscus Tea, Sparkling Yuzu Green Tea, Nitro Chai Latte, Cascara Cream Soda; and the following seasonal drinks: Sparkling Oolong Tea, Blueberry Hibiscus Soda, Nitro Earl Grey Latte, and the “Captain” on Tap)

  • Strong focus on “clean” and healthy food options (including gluten free and vegan)

  • Emphasis on a long-term, sustainable relationship with the coffee/tea farmers with which the coffee shop partners

  • Beautiful and thoughtful design elements throughout

  • Guilt-free tipping (you can send a tip to Cold Brew Bar via Venmo after your visit, channeling your inner millennial)

  • Amazing wireless chargers built into the tables!

  • Pet-friendly

  • Free parking

Details from this visit are profiled below.

The Space

Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar (with its parent company Thrive Farmers; read below for details) is part of Atlanta Dairies, an urban development project that has been in the works since 2015. Next door to Cold Brew Bar is an apartment complex called Alta Dairies that recently opened. There is a parking garage (free for customers) that is connected to the coffee shop via a catwalk (or you can take an elevator from the parking deck). Three Taverns Brewery is slated to open in the vicinity this summer. You can read more about the Atlanta Dairies development here.

Walking around the area, you get a sense of the massive space (Cold Brew Bar is one of the first retail places to open in the 11-acre complex of Atlanta Dairies).

Exterior view of Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar.

Interior view of Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar. There is plenty of comfortable seating!

Interior view of Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar.

Wide angle view of the interior at Cold Brew Bar.

Another interior view at Cold Brew Bar.

Tea drinkers will appreciate a very strong focus on tea at Cold Brew Bar. Profiled on the @coldbrewbar Instagram here.

The Menu at Cold Brew Bar

The menu at Cold Brew Bar is extensive and is split into “Drinks,” “Breakfast and All Day,” and “After 11AM.”

The Drinks

The drinks at the Cold Brew Bar include the following drinks available on tap (10 out of 14): Cold Brew, Nitro Cold Brew, Nitro Latte, Nitro Oat Milk Latte, Nitro Matcha Latte, Sparkling Arnold Palmer, Sparkling Hibiscus Tea, Sparkling Yuzu Green Tea, Nitro Chai Latte, and Cascara Cream Soda.

From the hot beverages, the menu includes traditional coffee drinks such as americano, macchiato, latte, and cappuccino. There are also frappes (flavors include col brew, sea salt mocha, caramel anise, and vanilla cardamom, and early grey) , milkshakes (early grey, cold brew, or chai; pistachio green tea; and “The Captain”—with housemade cap’n crunch cereal-infused milk), smoothies, and cold-pressed juices.

There are also so-called Functional Beverages on the menu, which include a goldenmilk latte, vanilla rose latte, mushroom chai latte, and keto coffee. For the tea fans, there are no fewer than twelve loose leaf teas on the menu at Cold Brew Bar.

Overall, there are literally 100+ drink choices on the menu at Cold Brew Bar (there are, in addition to the above mentioned options, seasonal offerings on the menu; the current selection of seasonal beverages on tap at Cold Brew Bar includes Sparkling Oolong Tea, Blueberry Hibiscus Soda, Nitro Earl Grey Latte, and the “Captain.”)

Breakfast and All Day Menu Items

The focus at Cold Brew Bar is on healthy options (including gluten free, dairy free, nut free, and vegan options): yogurts, oat+chia puddings, and lifestyle bowls are available all day. Each of these dishes can be supplemented with superfood add-ons such as chia seeds, goji berries, or beet powder.

After 11AM Menu Items

The “After 11AM” options include sandwiches (including Korean pork sliders, veggie flatbread, and French country grilled cheese), toasts (including avocado smash, smoke salmon, and goat cheese), salads (including kale salad, arugula salad, and kale salad), and various bowls (such as the Thai Bowl, Detox Bowl, an the Moroccan Bowl). For the toasts, one has the option to choose a Holeman & Finch sourdough bread.

The menu at Cold Brew Bar is beautifully designed like a magazine.

The nitro oat milk latte at Cold Brew Bar. Delicious!

Espresso pull.

What’s on tap? There are fourteen options at Cold Brew Bar (see above).

Design Elements at Cold Brew Bar

During my conversation with Michael Jones, CEO of Thrive Farmers (the parent company of Cold Brew Bar), he explained how the vision for Cold Brew Bar was almost a decade in the making. The wholesale operation of Thrive Farmers has been very successful, and Michael had a vision to bring a retail location where customers could learn about the farmer-direct revenue sharing model. Thrive Farmers seeks to bring farmers as partners in the operation in order to create a more sustainable income for the farmers and their partners. Inside Cold Brew Bar, there is a board which shows the prices Thrive Farmers pays its farmers per pound of coffee from various regions, compared to “Fair Trade” prices observed in the market.

For those curious about the differences in “Fair Trade” system and what Thrive Farmers has been doing, this New York Times article from 2013 offers an excellent explanation:

Typically, farmers sell their green, or unroasted, beans. At that stage, the beans generally fetch a price based on the commodity market price, which in February averaged $1.53 a pound for Arabica coffee, according to the International Coffee Organization.

The fair trade concept offers an improvement on that model. It will pay the market price for beans, but, importantly, it guarantees a minimum price — now $1.40 for Arabica coffee. In addition, the local co-op that collects and processes the beans keeps a premium, now 20 cents, which is used for social services like scholarships and health care for farmers and their families.

Theoretically, a fair trade farmer never loses, because when the commodity market price is higher than the fair trade price, the farmer receives the market price, and the co-op still receives the premium. But fair trade buyers purchase unroasted beans, and the processes that add to the price and value of the coffee come later.

In the system that Thrive is trying to develop, farmers are paid only after their coffee has been exported, packaged and sold — at a much higher price — to retailers. If coffee is sold for, say, $7.25 a pound, Thrive splits the proceeds 50-50 with the farmers, who end up, in that example, with about $3.60 a pound.

Michael Jones provided additional commentary with respect to the above-cited New York Times piece. Specifically, Thrive Farmers has moved past the initial model that is described in the NYT piece and the company now uses an algorithm that is much more sophisticated and takes into account local economy and cost of living with market prices for specific coffees and qualities, etc., all in relation to the cost of production. Michael further elaborated in an email exchange:

We conservatively estimate that a general cost of production figure that could apply to any farmer in coffee in any region would be $1.50/lb—which in almost all cases would be even higher but we wanted a “bulletproof” number that just couldn’t be challenged by anyone in coffee so that’s what we went with. That is very important context when considering the true value of a fair trade program because that means that a farmer in that system can barely expect to break even…which most people don’t understand. Further, there are other expenses that get taken out of those prices before the farmer actually gets paid. That is why we decided to publish our prices that we pay to the farmer—which are net of all those other expenses (which our industry calls “farm gate” pricing). There really isn’t anyone else in the industry who has a fully integrated supply chain and even has access to pricing all the way to the farmer, much less who is committed to positively impacting the farmers.

This additional feedback is really useful if/when you visit Cold Brew Bar and observe their board for prices of coffees they pay to the farmers vs. “Fair Trade” estimates.

Because Michael and his team had a lot of time to build out the space, virtually nothing has been overlooked. From the beautifully designed menu to the ceramic cups to the furniture to the wireless chargers built into the tables, there is a form and function to the elements at Cold Brew Bar.

A cappuccino at Cold Brew Bar. The ceramic cups at Cold Brew Bar are from ceramic artist named Isabel Glatthorn (Soul Matter Studio).

Beautiful interior decor at Cold Brew Bar. Note that the tiles—with the exception of the white ones—are each unique in shape/color. A diverse selection of plants is also a welcome touch.

A “Grab and go” cooler at Cold Brew Bar.

Interior detail at Cold Brew Bar.

The Manifesto at Thrive Farmers (coffee supplier / parent company of Cold Brew Bar) is seen below.

We are in the business of impact. It is the most important thing we strive to make. From the start of a customer’s morning to the end of a farmer’s day, this is how we are measured.

Our farmers aren’t suppliers—they’re people. And what they cultivate isn’t a commodity—it’s a livelihood. It’s not just a supply chain, it’s a chain of values that guides everything we do. Integrity leads to transparency. Transparency to prosperity. And prosperity to quality. It’s a purposefully crafted product and process where all of us—from farmer to customer—thrive.

The Manifesto at Thrive Farmers. Profiled on the @coldbrewbar Instagram account.

A table setting at Cold Brew Bar.

Interior vibes at Cold Brew Bar.

A centerpiece art installation at Cold Brew Bar.

Something easy to overlook: the circular branding of Cold Brew Bar found on the tables is actually a hidden wireless charger for your phones (if they are capable of such functionality). I had no idea these were wireless chargers until the head of IT operations at Cold Brew Bar pointed out this amazing detail!

Another fantastic consideration by the team at Cold Brew Bar is the concept of “guilt-free tipping”. The idea is that you can tip Cold Brew Bar post your experience there. Bonus points for making it easy via Venmo!

Guilt-free tipping in effect at Cold Brew Bar.

Guilt-free tipping in effect at Cold Brew Bar.

Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar is one of the most pet-friendly spots in Atlanta. There is ample outdoor space (including nearby grassy areas) with plenty of water for your furry friends. See some more doggies that have recently paid a visit to Cold Brew Bar in this Instagram post.

Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar is one of the most pet-friendly spots in Atlanta.

Another very cool element in the design of Cold Brew Bar is the transparency (literally). In the back, you can see a section of the kitchen as well as the canisters for the fourteen taps.

Exterior of Cold Brew Bar with the kitchen and the taps visible.

Feeling at home.

Exterior view of Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar.

Final Say

Dairies Coffeehouse & Cold Brew Bar is a must-visit new destination in Atlanta for coffee, tea, and healthy food options. I’ve learned so much in just one visit and will certainly be back. It’s clear that this coffee shop took serious planning and the execution has been exemplary. Just, overall, spectacularly impressive.

If you haven’t yet checked out this new coffee shop (but it’s so much more), what are your weekend plans?

Editor’s note: there may be a part II of this post with additional details about Dairies Coffeehouse & Cold Brew Bar in the near future.

Dairies Coffeehouse & Cold Brew Bar
Web | Facebook | Instagram

Reynoldstown ☕Atlanta ☕ITP

777 Memorial Drive SE
Suite 103A
Atlanta, GA 30316
Google Maps link

Hours of operation:
Monday-Thursday: 6:30AM to 10PM
Friday-Saturday: 6:30AM to 11PM
Sunday: 6:30AM to 10PM

New Coffee Shop Now Open in Inman Park: DeKalb Athletic Club (Gym Clothes Optional)

A cool new coffee shop opened up in late February this year called DeKalb Athletic Club. Upon hearing the name for the first time, you may think it’s some kind of gym—rest assured, however, no membership is required to enjoy this new spot located close to the Beltline.

DeKalb Athletic Club (DAC) is the latest venture from Victory Brands, the team behind the two Atlanta locations of Victory Sandwich Bar (in Inman Park and Decatur), S.O.S Tiki Bar in Decatur, Little Trouble in West Midtown, and more recently, Lloyd’s (which is actually adjacent to DeKalb Athletic Club).

I recently visited and captured some photos of the interior and exterior, as seen below.

First impressions: DeKalb Athletic Club (DAC) has a great coffee roasting partner in Radio Roasters, a nice selection of some specialty drinks like the cubano and the cortadito, and a truly massive interior space. My first thought (which I shared with the barista and manager) was that one could set up some foosball or ping-pong tables inside the space because there is plenty of it. (Perhaps a caffeine-infused tournament in the works sometime in the future?). In all seriousness, DAC could host some really fun events in the future.

DeKalb Athletic Club also has a wonderful and whimsical branding message going, with such slogans as “B for effort,” “If you’re not first, you’re last,” and “Still working on that 2019 Participation award.”

DeKalb Athletic Club, or DAC, is open for business.

The exterior space of DeKalb Athletic Space. The promenade connects with the next-door neighbor Lloyd’s.

The interior of DeKalb Athletic Club. So much space! Also, what do you think warranted the “Unfair Play” award in 2015?

The drink menu is printed on the door.

Another view of the space at DeKalb Athletic Club. What do you call those ladders in the background?

Plenty of comfortable seating in the space.

Track & Field.

The counter at DeKalb Athletic Club.

A cappuccino in the making.

Some of the Radio Roasters coffee bags for sale.

Breathe easy—no athletic prowess is required to enjoy the drinks and food at DeKalb Athletic Club.

How do you keep track of coffee shops opening in Atlanta? Get it, track? You can follow the Atlanta Coffee Shops blog or Instagram account.

I will aim to profile DeKalb Athletic Club in more detail in the future.

Help DeKalb Athletic Club secure that 2019 Participation Award by checking out this new coffee shop on DeKalb Avenue in Inman Park. Arriving in gym clothes, is, of course, optional.

Highly recommended overall.

DeKalb Athletic Club
Web | Facebook | Instagram

Inman Park ☕Atlanta ☕ ITP

900 DeKalb Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
Google Maps link
ph: 404-228-7226

Hours of operation:
Monday-Friday: 7AM to 7PM
Saturday-Sunday: 9AM to 5PM

Coffee Roaster / Roasting Partner:
Radio Roasters Coffee (Atlanta, GA)

The Inaugural Sprudge Twenty Class of 2019: Spotlight on Daniel Brown of Gilly Brew Bar

This week, the coffee magazine Sprudge announced the winners of its inaugural “Sprudge Twenty”. (See the Instagram announcement and the winners tagged here). This class of twenty people are changing the coffee scene around the world. In the words of the magazine, the Sprudge Twenty are people:

[W]hose work challenges and excites us, from every step of the coffee value chain. It includes entrepreneurs and coffee producers (they’re often one and the same!), working baristas and cafe owners, career professionals and those whose careers are just starting, competition success stories and folks working quietly behind the scenes, leading by example.

And from the amazing list of nominees, there are two people from the Atlanta coffee scene who made the list: Sara Frinak and Daniel Brown. Sara is well-known as a volunteer and supporter of coffee events, both regionally in the Southeast, and nationally through the Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) USA competitions circuit. You can read more about Sara in this Barista Magazine profile and Sara’s involvement with green coffee in this Medium piece from Ally Coffee (where Sara works). (Perhaps a future spotlight about Sara may appear on this blog).

Daniel Brown at Gilly Brew Bar

The other nominee from Atlanta in the Sprudge Twenty inaugural class is Daniel Brown of Gilly Brew Bar.

Here is the blurb that accompanied the Sprudge piece about Daniel:

Daniel Brown is the founder of Gilly Brew Bar, a successful and important new coffee company based in the Stone Mountain suburb of Atlanta. Housed inside a historic 19th century home known as “The Mayor’s House”, purchased in 2015 by Brown and his wife, Shellane Brown, Gilly pushes quality and innovation across an ever-changing range of premium coffee “elixirs” featuring dried herbs, bitters, and aromatics. Brown was nominated by multiple people for The Sprudge Twenty, and in one nomination essay is described as “one of the most innovative, creative, savvy interpreters of the coffee experience I have ever encountered.”

Daniel’s nomination for this award was submitted by Justin Brostek (from Atlanta’s Read Shop) and Juanita Brown. I asked Justin if he wanted to contribute a quote to accompany this post, which he gladly agreed to do. Here is what Justin had to say about Daniel:

Daniel is, by far, one of the most influential voices in the coffee scene today. He’s proud but never egotistical, always insanely approachable and humble. He’s a trendsetter at heart—always looking for the next thing but never letting others tell him what that is—and his shop embodies that. It’s old, but with soul; fresh, but still timeless. Daniel is redefining mastery in the coffee industry—purism is one thing, but instead he chooses to tell the story of how coffee can be the foundation for art. And he’s doing all of this by serving—Daniel’s employees speak of how he’s never above the worst task in the shop. He’s built a family in a way every shop dreams they could build. I don’t think there’s another person in Atlanta who puts more love, acceptance, and creativity into the coffee scene than Daniel does. 

I profiled Gilly Brew Bar last year with respect to their inventive summer elixirs (I visited Gilly Brew Bar approximately two weeks after their grand opening). More recently, I went back to Gilly Brew Bar in March to capture some more scenes from the coffee shop as well as to sample the Winter elixirs that were slowly being unwound from the menu in preparation for the release of the Spring elixirs.

A few of the photos from the visit in March appeared in this Instagram post (with the focus on the drinks). However, this blog post showcases a few more behind-the-scenes photos with Daniel performing his magic behind the bar.

An inspiring print at Gilly Brew Bar. The “Create something” like speaks to what Daniel is doing every day at Gilly Brew Bar.

Daniel Brown behind the bar at Gilly.

Getting ready to make an iced elixir.

The finishing touch! Thank you to Winnie for joining this outing to Gilly Brew Bar and performing the pour so I can capture this photograph.

A matcha elixir.

Nitro shots!

The slow pour.

Almost ready.

Daniel putting on the finishing touches.

Chilled and ready.

Daniel steaming the milk.

An interesting story about the image below. After I captured it, I realized in post-processing that there was a chocolate drop that slowly cruised down onto the wooden ledge. On Instagram DMs, I asked Daniel whether he thought the drop was distracting (I also have a version where I cleaned it up in post), but he agreed that it worked for this particular image. I also liked it. And so this was the version I shared on Instagram. I think the metaphor here is that sometimes progress isn’t perfect but nevertheless beautiful. What do you think?

The drop that sparked a conversation.

Another elixir in the making. There were about a dozen customers this particular afternoon (who found out about Gilly Brew Bar through word-of-mouth or some other channel).

More elixirs at the ready.

A bit of a serious tone here.

Last image in the series, which I think is representative. If you visit Gilly Brew Bar, you’re likely to find Daniel smiling or cracking jokes. He takes the craft of making amazing elixirs seriously while having fun. A vibrant personality such as Daniel’s adds to the experience (in every sense of the word) that you are likely to have when you visit Gilly Brew Bar.

Congratulations Daniel on being nominated to the Sprudge Twenty! So well-deserved!


If you haven’t yet checked out Gilly Brew Bar in Stone Mountain and what Daniel and his team are executing there, what have you been waiting for? I hope you make the trek to sample the Spring elixirs that are now on the menu.

Gilly Brew Bar
Web | Facebook | Instagram

5329 Mimosa Dr.
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Google Maps link

A Unique Experience of Art, Coffee, and Community at Docent Coffee in Atlanta

One of the most interesting and unique coffee shops in the Atlanta area is Docent Coffee, located in the Old Fourth Ward / Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta. This coffee shop has a unique mission in making coffee and art accessible, without being snobby or pretentious. The coffee shop—which also does an incredible job roasting coffee beans in-house—partners with local artists and puts their artwork on every coffee bag they sell in store and online.

The co-founders of Docent Coffee have a diverse set of experiences in coffee and art, bringing their passions, knowledge, social networks, and synergies into one coherent space, branding, and mission. As they explain:

We think specialty coffee should be more approachable, which is why we have taken it upon ourselves to make great coffee, and the community it has traditionally been associated with fostering, accessible everyone. We at Docent feel that you can roast and serve seriously amazing craft coffee, without taking yourself, and the entire endeavor, too seriously. After all, the hip branding, the carefully curated social media content, and all the other already well-trodden 'coffee cliches' relating to specialty coffee aren't going to make that coffee you're drinking taste any better or why hang your hat on that stuff? 

So we just try to be ourselves. This simply involves roasting the best coffee we can, forging personal relationships with coffee farmers from around the world, sourcing the best teas available, seeking out/promoting great local art, and doing our part to support the communities we feel passionate about. 

Similar to how a docent at a museum is there to guide you, the team at Docent Coffee aims to do so for both coffee and art—they are there to helpfully navigate you in discovering something new in coffee and in art. It’s an amazing concept that is truly unique not just in the city of Atlanta but in the greater United States.

I visited Docent Coffee in February and had multiple interactions and discussions with the co-founders. As a result, this blog post is the lengthiest I’ve published to date, but it is because there is so much to cover. Those of you who appreciate both the technical and the artistic/creative will enjoy how the co-founders’ vision meshes together at Docent Coffee.

For your convenience, this blog post is organized into the following sections (hitting the links below will navigate you directly to the corresponding section in this blog post):

Please enjoy!

The Space

Docent Coffee is located in the Old Fourth Ward / Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta at 381 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312. The space was previously occupied by Cafe Velo. The coffee shop features ample seating inside, and there is a wonderful patio/courtyard adjacent to the shop that offers plenty of seating as well and is pet-friendly. There is also a covered patio on the second floor, accessible via back stairs.

The front of Docent Coffee on Edgewood Avenue. Photo courtesy of Docent Coffee and used with permission.

Interior at Docent Coffee looking toward the Edgewood Avenue front entrance.

Interior of Docent Coffee. The view through the window is toward the outdoor courtyard (patio) of Docent Coffee.

Interior of Docent Coffee.

A view of the courtyard at Docent Coffee. There is plenty of outdoor seating and the space is pet-friendly! Note the stairs on the left leading to the second-floor patio with a covered roof.

The patio at Docent Coffee captured during summer. Photo courtesy of Docent Coffee and used with permission.

The covered patio on the second floor at Docent Coffee.

The interior of Docent Coffee. There is a full espresso bar. Docent Coffee also offers various sandwiches which are all named for famous artists.

Interior design of Docent Coffee. The coffees seen on the two shelves are profiled in this section.

Interior of Docent Coffee. That is Andy Warhol drinking a cup of coffee seen on the back wall.

Interior coffee vibes at Docent Coffee.

Another view of the interior of Docent Coffee.

Wide-angle view of the interior of Docent Coffee. The coffees on the two rows are profiled in this section.

The blue accents work well inside Docent Coffee.

The Menu

The menu at Docent Coffee features pour-over coffee, drip coffee, cold brew, and the classic espresso drinks like a cappuccino or a cortado (see the full list of coffees in this section). There are also loose leaf teas (from Rishi Tea) on the menu. Light snacks/meals include bowls, toasts, and various pastries (such as croissants, cookies, and muffins that are baked fresh daily).

The menu at Docent Coffee.

Most interestingly, Docent Coffee also has sandwiches on the menu which are all named after famous artists: Warhol, O’Keefe, Banksy, Twombly, Kahlo, de Kooning, and Rothko are currently on the menu. A selection of rotating/season specials (such as the lavender latte and the tomato soup) rounds out the menu (PDF).

The Coffees

The following are the coffees that are currently available at Docent Coffee. Because Docent Coffee is both a coffee shop and a roaster, each of the coffees profiled below is roasted in-house (Docent Coffee is closed on Mondays for roasting).

Click through the links to go to the individual pages on the Docent Coffee website for additional details.

  • Jaguar is a Costa Rican single origin, honey-processed coffee with notes of pomegranate, roasted almond, and cane sugar; it is a light to medium roast. I have personally tried the Jaguar in my espresso machine at home and highly recommend it. The artist featured for this coffee is Kelly McBride (Etsy | Instagram).

  • Conceit is an Ethiopian single origin, naturally processed coffee with notes of honey, concord grape, blueberry, and pineapple; it is a light roast. The artist featured for this coffee is John Tindel (Web | Instagram).

  • Miscreant is a Zambian single origin, wash-processed coffee with notes of watermelon, apricot, and lime; it is a light roast. This coffee would be excellent for a pour-over. The artist featured for this coffee is Sarah Emerson (Web | Instagram).

  • Cloud Walker is a Papua New Guinean single origin, peaberry-wash processed coffee with notes of chocolate, honey, and fig; it is a light roast. The artist featured for this coffee is Craig Dongoski (Web | Instagram).

  • It’s Classified is a Kenyan single origin, wash-processed coffee with notes of mango, red berry, burnt sugar, and meyer lemon; it is a light to medium roast. This coffee is also excellent for a pour-over. The artist featured for this coffee is Craig Dongoski (Web | Instagram).

  • Snarf Snarf is an Ugandan single origin, wash-processed coffee with notes of red apple, black tea, caramel, and fig; it is a medium roast. The artist featured for this coffee is Amelia Carley (Web | Instagram).

  • Ayahuasca is a Peruvian single origin, wash-processed coffee with notes of chocolate, walnut, and apple; it is a medium roast. The artist featured for this coffee is Kyle Brooks, aka BlackCatTips (Web | Instagram).

  • Cream + Sugar is a Brazilian and Guatemalan blend coffee (natural and wash-processed, respectively) with notes of cocoa, burnt sugar, strawberry, and rose; it is a medium to dark roast. The artist featured for this coffee is Trendz (no link to social media presence as he is private/anonymous).

  • Meander is a triple blend coffee from Tanzania, Peru, and Indonesia (wash-processed from all three origins) with notes of berries, chocolate, and raisin; this coffee blend is a dark roast. This blend is great for both espresso and drip coffee. The artist featured for this coffee is Jeff Demetriou (Web).

  • Inconceivable is an Ugandan and Colombian blend coffee (wash-processed for both origins) with notes of brown sugar, caramel, and dried cherry; this blend is medium to dark roast. (Editor’s note: pay attention to the Inconceivable link; I hope the reference makes sense). The artist featured for this coffee is R. Land (Web | Instagram).

  • Counterfeit is a Colombian single origin decaf coffee with notes of cherry, citrus, and cane sugar; it is a medium roast. The artist featured for this coffee is Miya Outlaw (Web | Instagram).

  • Epiphany is a Colombian single origin wash-processed coffee with notes of chocolate, cherry jam, and plum; it is a medium roast. The artist featured for this coffee is Angie Jerez (Web | Instagram).

  • Abstract is a Guatemalan single origin wash-processed coffee with notes of strawberry, honey, and cream; it is a light to medium roast. (The artist featured for this coffee has chosen to remain anonymous)

A selection of coffees at Docent Coffee. From left to right: Cloud Walker, It’s Classified, Miscreant, Abstract, and Snarf Snarf.

The coffee bags available for purchase at Docent Coffee. In focus at the far left: Epiphany.

A selection of coffees at Docent Coffee. From left to right: Counterfeit, Cream+Sugar, Meander, and Inconceivable.

The Espresso at Docent

The espresso at Docent Coffee is the Meander: a triple blend of coffee beans from Tanzania, Peru, and Indonesia (in a 40/30/30 ratio by weight). Hailing from the Kilimanjaro, Amazonas, and Sumatra regions, respectively, this dark roast blend allows for an incredible tasting cappuccino, cortado, or other espresso-based drinks that Docent Coffee offers. I had the chance to try the cappuccino, and I was blown away by the quality and taste. For more about why Docent uses a triple blend of beans for its espresso (rather than a single origin coffee), read the Q&A with Nolan below.

A video of the cappuccino being prepared by Nolan from Docent Coffee is below, followed by a few photos.

The cappuccino from Docent Coffee.

The cappuccino from Docent Coffee.

The cappuccino from Docent Coffee, next to the Meander triple blend (Tanzania, Peru, Indonesia) coffee bag.

Another view of the cappuccino next to the Meander.

Events and Partnerships at Docent Coffee

Docent Coffee is currently partnered with the Museum of Design Atlanta which has an ongoing exhibition called Passione Italiana, chronicling the evolution of the espresso machine. This exhibition, which opened on February 24, runs through June 9, 2019.

Passione  Italiana  chronicles the  evolution of the espresso machine and documents technological and industrial design developments.  The  exhibit   showcases  espresso  makers  used  in  Italy  during  the  mid-twentieth century—alongside inventive coffee sets and unique crockery—and traverses through  the  decades,  highlighting  the  influence  designers  such  as  Aldo  Rossi,  Toyo  Ito,  Richard Sapper and Massimiliano Fuksas have had on classic and contemporary models.

Appealing to both design lovers and coffee enthusiasts alike, the exhibition surveys the social and historical impact coffee and coffeehouses have had around the world,  including  the  role  of  cafés  as incubators in social justice  movements and how they  have helped fuel everything from literary and musical achievements to political revolutions.

There are some incredible items on display at this exhibit at MODA, including an espresso machine made of concrete!

Docent Coffee will work with MODA to bring coffee cupping/tasting events both at MODA and at their coffee shop throughout the months of March and April; check the MODA calendar for details. The joint event with MODA and Docent Coffee that was held on March 9 was at full capacity.

Finally, Docent Coffee will soon unveil monthly cuppings and brew classes (tentatively scheduled to begin in April 2019). As spring brings warmer temperatures, there will also be pop-ups and other events hosted on the patio of Docent Coffee. Best way to keep track is to follow the Docent Coffee Instagram account or check the Atlanta Coffee Shops events page.

Coffee Roasting at Docent

Docent Coffee is closed on Mondays as this is the day of the week when they roast the coffee. I had a chance to visit Docent Coffee on one of their roast days and spoke with Nolan, the master roaster at Docent Coffee, about the roasting operation. At the heart of the roasting operation at Docent Coffee is a Diedrich Roaster; Nolan has complemented the hardware (the roaster) with an open-source software to precisely monitor the temperature profile of the beans as they are roasted. For those curious, there are a few open-source roasting applications available on GitHub.

During my visit, I saw the Cream + Sugar (Brazil and Guatemala) blend and Miscreant (Zambia) being roasted. For the coffee blends, Nolan uses a simple 50/50 split by weight to combine the beans after roasting.

During my extensive conversation with Nolan, I was really impressed with Nolan’s technical background (he has a mechanical degree from Georgia Tech) and his passion for roasting coffee. On the (very?) nerdy side, as we discussed the technical details of coffee roasting (the science aspect of roasting compared to the art aspect of roasting), topics such as concavity and differential equations came up in our conversation. I was thrilled to have this conversation because, as someone with a technical background as well, I could relate to what Nolan was discussing. As you read through the Q&A with Nolan about his experience, you’ll learn how Nolan built his own coffee roaster during his time at Georgia Tech and how his experience has ultimately shaped him to become the master roaster at Docent Coffee.

A few photos from the coffee roasting day at Docent Coffee are below.

Nolan getting ready to put some coffee beans sourced from Brazil into the hopper for roasting.

First batch of coffee beans is roasted!

Nolan getting ready to start roasting the Guatemalan coffee beans.

Nolan getting ready to start roasting the Guatemalan coffee beans.

Freshly roasted! The coffee roasting software is seen running on the laptop in the background.

Freshly roasted! Look at that smoke!

Macro detail of the freshly roasted beans.

Detail from the beans getting cooled.

Final step before mixing the beans and packaging—collecting the cooled beans.

Q&A with the Docent Coffee Co-Founders

Following is a Q&A with Docent Coffee co-founders: Mr. Docent and Nolan Hall. The first set of questions is for both Mr. Docent and Nolan, the second set of questions is with Mr. Docent (aka, artist-in-residence), and the final set of questions is with Nolan. [Editor’s note: I made some minor spelling/grammatical changes during the transcription of this Q&A]

Q: Can you tell me more about how Docent Coffee came to be founded and how you two met each other? Did you have any connections to the owners/team at Cafe Velo as you transitioned into their space?

Docent Coffee: We met each other through a mutual friend (who was also in coffee) after we both expressed an interest into putting together a different kind of coffee roasting business and shop. We each brought different things to the table, and those different things happen to mesh very nicely to form a very cohesive and solid brand/concept. Nolan’s focus would be all things coffee, while mine was more in the branding, creative, and outreach departments. We often use the Apple analogy of Nolan being the Steve Wozniak component of Docent and myself being the Steve Jobs component.

Aside from providing Cafe + Velo with their coffee the last several months they were open, we did not have a connection with them.

Q: In my conversation with Nolan, one highlight was that the staff that used to work at Cafe Velo is still employed at Docent Coffee. Can you comment more on this detail?

Docent Coffee: Yes. Initially the most of the original staff came onboard with us; however, a couple of our employees moved out of state a couple of months after we opened, so now we have one remaining Velo employee.

Q: What are your favorite coffee drinks? 

Docent Coffee: Black coffee is our number 1 of course, but I think it’s safe to assume cortados and cappuccinos would be our 'espresso-based drink’ favorites.

Q: Can you talk more about your membership plan for coffee? It sounds like a really great deal. What was the impetus for this decision and was this something you've wanted to do from the start?

Docent Coffee: It is a really great deal if you’re even an average coffee drinker. We just figured it would be a better way to get more people engaged with better coffee at a fraction of the price they would pay elsewhere piece-meal.

Q: Do you have any events that you are hosting on a regular or semi-regular basis? If so, what are they? If not, do you have any plans?

Docent Coffee: We plan on offering monthly cuppings and home brew classes very soon. Probably starting in April. March—April we will be doing this type of programming with MODA and their current Passione Italiane espresso design show (both at MODA and at Docent).

Lots of pop-ups on the patio are in the pipeline as well.

Q: What have been some of your biggest challenges in running Docent since opening up your coffee shop?

Docent Coffee: Probably the biggest is just getting out there enough so that people know you exist, and where you are. After that hurdle is overcome, you’ve got to get them to taste the coffee. When you have a coffee scene so dominated by convenience and style, it can be difficult for carefully crafted premium coffees like our own to get the recognition and reception we feel they deserve.

Q&A with Mr. Docent

Q: Can you briefly talk about your experience with art and how you envisioned incorporating coffee and art into a coffee shop? Who are your favorite artists/inspirations? Do you follow any art blogs?

Mr. Docent: I’ve been a career artist for over 20 years, and I noticed very similar parallels with regard to how both art and specialty coffee are perceived, presented, and approached by the general public. In my opinion, they both suffer from the same 'perception problem’ and/or cliches often associated with the two that prevent a large majority of the population from even considering in learning more and/or having deeper experiences of the two. Quite simply, the pretense, and the air of exclusivity surrounding both, creates an unnecessary ‘barrier-to-entry’ for a lot of people; something that an analogous industry like, say, craft beer doesn’t have. We are both very passionate about coffee and art, so I thought Docent would be the perfect vehicle to utilize in bringing what we felt are enjoyable and expansive experiences to more people in more places…without the pretense.

Q: Do you have a strategy for finding local artists whose work goes on the coffee bags? Is it personal connections you've made over the years, strolling through Instagram looking for inspiration, or something else?

Mr. Docent: I have a strong network of local artists I know to whom I initially reached out to be involved, but we also receive submissions as well. It’s combination of our own discoveries, submissions, and suggestions that all get filtered through a curatorial process.

Q: Is it correct that the only non-local (Atlanta-based) artist featured on your coffee bags is a South-Carolina based artist Kelly McBride with the Jaguar design?

Mr. Docent: Yes. Given that we felt the subject matter for that coffee/bag needed to be more literal, we sought out artists we felt would work well for the label.

Q: Who are your favorite artists?

Mr. Docent: My favorite artists are Cy Twombly, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, and Janet Echelman.

Q: Is there anything else that you'd like to share about the art + coffee theme that others reading this Q&A would appreciate?

Mr. Docent: We encourage people to check out more different kinds of art and our more different kinds of coffee. Getting more engaged in either community is very rewarding and eye-opening. You don’t need to ‘know anything about art (or coffee)’ to appreciate or like it. Picasso once remarked that he didn’t need to understand a sunrise for it to move him. In my opinion, this view captures the essence of appreciation for really anything. At its core, it’s the visceral experience of person that’s the most pure, powerful, and honest one. It’s when you start passing it through the filter of your mind and unrelated qualifications that you can convince yourself its something entirely different.

Q&A with Nolan

Q: We spoke about your coffee experience during your days at Georgia Tech, how you came up with your own coffee roaster, which led to some seed money to begin TopTime Coffee. Did you foresee yourself going in the direction where you currently are (co-owner / head roaster) compared to the degree you received? Was there a moment where you knew for certain that one day you'd open up a coffee shop of your own?

Nolan: I definitely didn't see myself roasting coffee when I started school. Like many of my friends at Tech, I thought I would end up with an engineering job at a lab somewhere. As I got further into my education, I realized my love of building machines. During my second year, I received some grant money to invent a product that would solve a problem, so I 'solved' the problem of home coffee roasting by building a prototype roaster. I turned this project into a year of research about the coffee roasting process to improve my designs. This project sparked a fascination with the coffee industry, building roasters, and eventually led me to start Docent with Mr. Docent.

Q: TopTime Coffee, your coffee start-up/cart at Georgia Tech, is going to open a second location soon. How passionate is the coffee community at Georgia Tech? Do you foresee expanding to other parts of Georgia Tech or perhaps to other universities?

Nolan: From four years of personal experience and now running two shops on campus, I can say with certainty that those students live on coffee. The coffee community at Tech is fairly large and well-versed, so I've always been surprised at the lack of good, accessible coffee to students/faculty. One of my goals when I graduated was to open a shop on campus so I could solve that problem, and we are now opening our second one a year after the first. 

Editor’s note: TopTime Coffee launched its second location in the Van Leer Electrical & Computer Engineering Building on March 4, 2019.

Q: I think we are in agreement that the coffee roasting process can be both an art and a science. Can you comment on how your engineering degree has informed your views on the technical/science part of it?

Nolan: Absolutely—and for me more of a science than an art (but don't tell Mr. Docent!!). Studying heat transfer and thermodynamics in school really helped open my eyes about potential problems with roasters on the market and how changing your roasting parameters can alter the chemistry inside the beans dramatically. I think that with any craft such as this, the person in control should fundamentally understand every process which takes place and why it occurs. Of course there is also an art in creating a beautiful temperature curve and cupping a delicious end result—I'm just better at speaking nerd language.

Q: For the coffee aficionados of the world, you mentioned that coffee beans used in espresso should not be single origin but a blend. Can you elaborate more on your stance?

Nolan: Some roasters will hate me for this, but I believe that espresso should always be a blend. In my experience with single origin espresso, I find that the flavor profile tends to be too one-dimensional. If a coffee has a bright, fruity profile, I don't want that to be the only thing I can taste. To me, espresso should tell a story. I blend three different coffees in our espresso that offer a wide variety of flavors. When dialed in correctly, the shot should come in three phases: floral, chocolate, and berry. I am the type of person that can't appreciate a good steak without a side of potatoes and green beans. I don't think espresso should be treated any differently.

Q: Is there anything else that you'd like to share with a wider audience about coffee, favorite coffee shops, your interests, etc.?

Nolan: I think naturally processed coffees are underrated and deserve a chance. I love coffee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Guatemala (Ethiopians and Kenyans are great too but those already get too much love). My favorite coffee shops are ones that I make friends at. My girlfriend and I foster pit bulls from Fulton County Animal Shelter. We have adopted two of them so far. 


Docent Coffee has an amazing concept and vision. The coffee is some of the best I’ve tasted in Atlanta. The partnerships that Docent Coffee has forged with artists are wonderful; Docent Coffee embodies how a local business can and does support other locals in creative fields.

If you haven’t already, put Docent Coffee on your must-visit itinerary for a one-of-a-kind experience. If you like what you see (and taste), you can become a patron of Docent Coffee for $50/month for unlimited espresso coffee drinks and teas (there is also a yearly patron option if you’re seriously committed). In my opinion, Docent Coffee in Atlanta is a coffee shop that deserves much more awareness and recognition than it has garnered so far—I hope you visit, taste the coffee (and view or talk about art), and hopefully agree with this assessment.

Docent Coffee: helping you discover something new about coffee and art, without pretense. In the wise words of Steve Jobs: that’s who they are—that’s what they are about.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds in store for Docent Coffee, and I hope you do too.

Docent Coffee
Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Sweet Auburn/Old Fourth Ward ☕ Atlanta ☕ ITP

381 Edgewood Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
Google Maps link
ph: 404-254-3267

Hours of operation:
Monday: closed (roasting day)
Tuesday-Friday: 8AM to 3PM
Saturday-Sunday: 9AM to 3PM

Coffee Roaster / Roasting Partner:
Docent Coffee (themselves)

Books, Music, and Coffee Off-the-Beaten Path: Cafe Rothem in Duluth, GA

What coffee shop(s) come to mind when you hear the words books and coffee? There are a few in Atlanta, perhaps the most well-known is Read Shop in Vinings (previously profiled here). Today’s post aims to spotlight another coffee shop in the metro Atlanta area known as Cafe Rothem.

This coffee shop is not known widely known and, in fact, may be considered well off-the-beaten path. When I first entered the coffee shop, I was taken aback by the large bookshelves here and the abundant space inside this coffee shop. After I placed my order, I spoke with the owner, James, about this coffee shop and what makes it special. You can browse the books during your visit, of course, but Cafe Rothem also has a yearly membership plan (it’s called Book Club) similar to a local library for those that want to borrow a book for an extended period of time (up to a year, apparently).

During my visit, James escorted me around the space and showed me some highlights: for instance, there is a large conference room at Cafe Rothem that can be rented daily or by the hour for business meetings. Cafe Rothem is also known as a place for music and Open Mic night—it’s held every first Monday of the month (the next one is happening on Monday, March 4!). Note the grand piano inside Cafe Rothem as you scroll through the photos below.

The tagline of Cafe Rothem is apropos of the space: Books. Music. Coffee.

What’s in a Name?

The first question people ask: what is Cafe Rothem named after? Helpfully, there’s a page on Cafe Rothem’s site with an explanation:

Our name comes from the Rothem tree, the Hebrew name for the juniper tree, which makes many appearances in the Bible. (--although it's technically the white broom tree.)

 The rothem tree is common in the deserts of the Middle East, from Jordan down to Egypt.  Although its leaves are very small and sparse, simple, and linear, it nevertheless forms a very agreeable shade in desert regions. In some parts of the desert, it is often the only bush that affords any shade…

I think you'll get what we're all about from our favorite story of the Rothem tree:

In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah was fleeing for his life from Jezebel and King Ahab, who were furious at him. Exhausted and weary in the desert, he rested under the shade of a rothem tree, praying for death. There, he was visited by an angel, who gave him the courage to go on.

So Cafe Rothem’s intention is to be your rothem tree to get some rest in your busy life.

The Space

Cafe Rothem features high ceilings, plenty of seating, and a large selection of books on the shelves. The place is like a scavenger hunt—as you approach various shelves, you’ll never know what you’ll discover! Pro tip: if you have children, Cafe Rothem would be a great place to bring them for some exploration.

Cafe Rothem features high ceilings, plenty of seating, and a large selection of books.

Books and more books. The books are in both English and Korean.

Detail from a bookshelf at Cafe Rothem.

There are cute little spots throughout Cafe Rothem. The next two photos show my favorite little nooks inside the coffee shop:

Cute decorations at Cafe Rothem. I like that book-end holder.

A beautiful, cozy corner at Cafe Rothem. This photo was featured on the Atlanta Coffee Shops Instagram page.

Does anyone remember Encyclopedia Britannica?

Some vintages atlases for your viewing or reading pleasure.

Another view of the interior of Cafe Rothem.

Hello, gramophone.

There are vinyl records in the coffee shop as well. This is where the music part of the coffee shop shines. There’s also light ambient music playing in the background.

The Menu

Cafe Rothem features a selection of food and drink options. On the food menu, there are waffles, pastries, sandwiches, rice bowls, and bingsu (Korean shaved ice dessert). On the drinks menu, there are traditional coffee drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes, as well as a nitro cold brew. Cafe Rothem is partnered with the local coffee roaster Phoenix Roasters. You’ll also find tea options and a great selection of smoothies (which I can personally recommend).

Nitro Cold Brew!

The menu(s) at Cafe Rothem. Coffee drinks, teas, smoothies, waffles, and even ice cream are available.

Detail of the menus at Cafe Rothem.

Exit, stage left. (There is a conference room that can be rented out in the back which I didn’t photograph for this series).

Final Word

If you find yourself in Gwinnett County and want to explore a coffee shop off-the-beaten-path, I highly recommend a visit to Cafe Rothem in Duluth, GA. The owner, James, is attentive and very friendly. And if you spend a little time exploring the various bookshelves, you’ll certainly discover something new or interesting along the way.

And for the book lovers of this world: if you are seeking a place filled with books where you can get away from the hustle-and-bustle of the city for a few hours and enjoy some peace with coffee (or whatever your beverage of choice), Cafe Rothem certainly delivers. What a cute and cozy coffee shop destination in the suburbs of Atlanta!

Cafe Rothem
Web | Facebook | Instagram

3585 Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Suite #128
Duluth, GA 30096
Google Maps link
ph: 678-878-3780

Hours of operation:
Monday-Saturday: 10AM to 10PM
Sunday: closed

Coffee with a Higher Mission at Independent Grounds Cafe in Kennesaw, GA

On a chilly winter afternoon, I drove to Independent Grounds Cafe in Kennesaw, GA. This was a different kind of coffee excursion where I wasn’t interested in tasting great coffee but rather learn more about the coffee shop and its wonderful story. I spent about three hours at Independent Grounds Cafe and spoke with Lorna Heid, as well as four baristas/employees at the shop: Ben, Emma, Alexis, and Kathryn.

The mission of the shop is to empower adults with disabilities by giving them a chance to work at the coffee shop, to interact with the local community, and to inspire the customers who come in through the door to think differently (in a positive light) about adults with special needs.

Coffee with Heart

The mission of Independent Grounds Cafe is to serve great coffee while hiring adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Lorna Heid, the owner of the shop, sought to fulfill this mission because her own daughter, Emma, suffered a traumatic brain injury at birth. Emma is now one of the baristas employed at Independent Grounds Cafe.

In a report issued in June of 2018, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics cited that in 2017, only about 19% of persons with a disability were employed. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 65.7 percent. In my conversation with Lorna (the owner of Independent Grounds), she mentioned how people with disabilities want to work and take on responsibility. Independent Grounds fulfills its mission by hiring about a dozen staff with special needs. As Lorna Heid explains:

Our goal is to put a smile on your face and give you an amazing cup of coffee. We want you to feel at home here, to get to know our team and maybe inspire you to think differently about the world of special needs.

Photos from the space are below, but I want to emphasize that my visit was more about getting the message about what Lorna and Independent Grounds Cafe is doing. Of course, it helps that Independent Grounds has such a beautiful space and serves Rev Coffee!

The Space

Independent Grounds Cafe is fully contained inside a building which used to be either a dentist’s office or some other local business. The space is massive, complete with a large outdoor deck and, in addition to the main space, there are three separate rooms which are more like “quiet rooms” if you want to get some work done in peace (scroll down for those photos).

The exterior of Independent Grounds Cafe.

Another entrance to Independent Grounds Cafe.

The front patio at Independent Grounds Cafe.

The main dining space at Independent Grounds Cafe. So much natural light!

Continuation of the main dining space at Independent Grounds Cafe. The front counter where you can order coffee is at center left.

View toward the other side at Independent Grounds Cafe. Plenty of space to relax.

Beautiful tabletop decorations at Independent Grounds Cafe.

The Menu

The drink menu at Independent Grounds Cafe consists of hot and cold coffee beverages (the cafe is partnered with Smyrna-based coffee roaster Rev Coffee for their beans), frappes, tea, and smoothies. The cafe offers light snacks and desserts; Independent Grounds Cafe is partnered with Remedy Bake Shop to offer gluten free cookies. Finally, Independent Grounds Cafe has a partnership with King of Pops ice cream.

The menu at Independent Grounds Cafe. Independent Grounds Cafe is partnered with Smyrna-based coffee roaster Rev Coffee for their beans.

Muffins and other desserts on sale. The cafe is partnered with Remedy Bake Shop to offer gluten free cookies.

You can sign a guest book at Independent Grounds Cafe. I shuffled to a blank page to take this photograph.

Ben, one of the baristas working at Independent Grounds Cafe, prepares a strawberry smoothie.

Ben warming up the milk for a coffee drink. All smiles here!

Muffins at Independent Grounds Cafe.

Another highlight: there is a pop-up box with King of Pops ice cream! So many great partnerships at Independent Grounds Cafe.

One of the rooms inside the cafe where you can retreat to study or read quietly.

Another room inside the cafe where you can retreat to study or read quietly.

And yet another room inside the cafe where you can retreat to study or read quietly. So much space!

Merchandise for sale.

Friends Gather Here — a great message at Independent Grounds Cafe.

Interior decor at Independent Grounds Cafe.

An Inspiration to Others

In my conversation with Lorna, she mentioned how her coffee shop has become a destination for parents with disabled children/young adults all over the Southeast. Here, the parents come with their children and the parents can proudly show to their children that their disability shouldn’t be an excuse to slow down; in fact, places like Independent Grounds Cafe show that it’s possible to have a disability but feel empowered and provide a benefit to society.

A Message to Readers

This blog post is certainly not the first to shed light on Independent Grounds Cafe. Previously, Barista Magazine did a feature on Independent Grounds Cafe. Beth McKibben, writing for Eater Atlanta, spotlighted Independent Grounds Cafe at the top of her article, “Atlanta’s Essential Coffee Shops.”

Nevertheless, I feel like these spotlights have been few and far between, and the purpose of this blog post is to shed some additional light on what Lorna, her staff, and Independent Grounds Cafe stand for and do on a daily basis.

During my conversation with Lorna, she lamented that the hardest thing for her business is still getting foot traffic through the door. Too many people still find it inconvenient to get out of their cars and therefore they choose to stay in their vehicles and go through the local Starbucks drive-thru. The mission of this website and blog is to profile independent coffee shops that deserve your business, and I hope I am able to convey this message about Independent Grounds Cafe. As I recently observed on Instagram, coffee is one of those elements that provides us with an opportunity to slow down. I only wish people would take this message to heart and divert even a few minutes out of their day to stop at Independent Grounds Cafe, enjoy the coffee, interact with the wonderful employees there, and perhaps learn something new or even gain a new perspective about employees with disabilities.

If you found this message inspiring, the best thing you can do is drive up to Kennesaw and spend your hard-earned money by purchasing drinks and other treats at Independent Grounds Cafe. If you live in the surrounding area, then I hope you make an effort to get to Independent Grounds and support this local business. My general rule-of-thumb is that select coffee shops are deserving of the extra drive no matter where you live in the Atlanta area, and Independent Grounds Cafe certainly belongs on this special list.

Of course, the other thing you can do is to share this blog post with your friends and family via email, text, or on social media, letting the awareness grow about Independent Grounds Cafe and its honorable mission. After all, Independent Grounds Cafe is a coffee shop with ❤️.

The logo. Independent Grounds Cafe: a coffee shop with heart.

A special thanks to Ben, Emma, Alexis, and Kathryn for keeping me company during my visit and chatting about all things coffee; and a heartfelt thank you to Lorna for taking the time to speak with me, but more importantly, for executing her mission with Independent Grounds Cafe.

Independent Grounds Cafe
Web | Facebook | Instagram

3900 Legacy Park Boulevard, Suite #A100
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Google Maps link
ph: 678-695-7132

Hours of operation:
Monday-Saturday: 8AM to 5PM
Sunday: closed

Coffee Roaster / Roasting Partner:
Rev Coffee Roasters (Smyrna, GA)

Closer to Home: East Pole Coffee Company in Atlanta

East Pole Coffee Company, located in lower Buckhead (at the cross-section of Armour, Brookwood Hills, and Piedmont Height neighborhoods), is becoming one of the favorite coffee spots in the Atlanta area. And for a good reason.

East Pole has many elements that make it one of the top coffee destinations in the greater Atlanta area: an incredibly bright and spacious interior, floor-to-ceiling bleachers in the lobby of the building, a cohesive and beautiful theme (read more about it under “The Nautical Theme” heading in this blog post), very friendly and knowledgeable staff, and of course, incredible coffee. (Seriously, it’s some of the best coffee I’ve had in Atlanta). The coffee is roasted in-house at East Pole, so the coffee shop is also a coffee roaster.

I’ve visited East Pole several times in order to write this more comprehensive post. This post is organized into three parts:

  1. Photos of the East Pole exterior and interior, including some details from inside the shop.

  2. Photos from a cupping event I attended in February.

  3. Interview with Jared Karr, one of the co-owners of East Pole Coffee Company, about the shop’s history, design, coffee partnerships, and more.

Please enjoy!

The Space

Located at 255 Ottley Dr NE, Suite #105, East Pole Coffee Company is located inside a retail/coworking space (the Coyote sign up front is just as prominent as the COFFEE sign in front of the space). Readers familiar with the Atlanta beer scene will be happy to learn that East Pole is located several hundred feet away from Sweetwater Brewing Company. There is plenty of free street parking across from East Pole or in a dedicated retail lot adjacent to the building.

Exterior of East Pole Coffee Company located on Ottley Drive.

In a testament to great and unpretentious design, COFFEE is the dominant sign up front, rather than the name East Pole.

Interior of East Pole Coffee Company. There is plenty of seating.

Interior of East Pole Coffee Company (opposite view). The bar area on the right offers plenty of natural light.

Details from the front counter at East Pole Coffee Company.

Coffee preparation at East Pole.

The Nautical Theme

One of the unique elements about East Pole is the prevalent theme found throughout the shop. A brief backstory: Jared Karr, one of the co-owners of East Pole, was living in Indonesia with a friend; they hosted a video blog to just their friends, their church, and their family what they were up to in Indonesia. They repeatedly called Indonesia “The East Pole” because… it was the farthest east they had ever been. The name stuck and became the name of the coffee shop we know today.

As for the interior, it’s a (subtle) theme on a nautical universe. There is the diver helmet, squid paintings, and bluish tones throughout. Read the Q&A with Jared at the bottom of this post for more details.

Details from East Pole Coffee Company. The golden diver mask was purchased from an Army Navy store.

Details inside East Pole Coffee Company. Little known fact: the artist who created these two paintings actually used real squid, dipped them in white ink, and placed them on wax paper to get the final result seen here. Thank you to Jared for highlighting this cool fact in the interview.

Details from inside East Pole. The cyan/light blue espresso machine bolsters the nautical theme inside East Pole.

Details from inside East Pole Coffee Company.

A drink being prepared at East Pole.

The Menu

The drink menu at East Pole Coffee Company is straightforward: six to seven coffee drinks (with coffee beans roasted in-house, of course), plus tea. The seasonal drinks change every quarter or so; the current winter seasonal drink is the “Winter Citrus” latte, which consists of blood orange, dried chilis, sage, and black corns. East Pole is partnered with Atlanta’s The Chai Box if you want to try out some authentic Chai.

The food options are also light: waffles, energy bites, danishes, muffins, and a sweet potato biscuit (a personal favorite!).

The coffee (and tea) menu at East Pole Coffee Company.

East Pole offers a very light food menu. Recommended: the sweet potato biscuit!

A cappuccino I ordered at East Pole.

Interior of East Pole. Lots of natural light during the day!

During one of my visits to East Pole over the holidays, the coffee shop was beautifully decorated! So festive, right?

Outdoor patio at East Pole. On the day of this capture, it was a rainy day, so every customer was inside.

Front sign at East Pole Coffee Company.

East Pole adjoins a retail/coworking lobby where you can find additional stadium seating. This lobby was designed by Smith Dalia Architects, and I think the design is gorgeous (see more here). It is the same design as found in Copper Coin Coffee in Woodstock.

The lobby area just outside of East Pole. The stadium seating is on the left.

The lobby area and stadium seating just outside of East Pole’s doors.

Details from the lobby area outside of East Pole.

Coffee Cupping Events at East Pole

East Pole offers free coffee cuppings every Saturday morning at 10AM. Their recently published blog post explains what happens during this event:

A coffee cupping is a universal baseline for evaluating coffees. We add 13 grams of medium-fine ground coffee to a 7.5 oz. cupping bowl and we fill it to the brim with ~200 degree water. Three to five minutes later, we will use specific deeply-concave spoons to break the crust of coffee grounds, and evaluate its aroma. As the coffee progressively cools and the grounds sink to the bottom of the bowl, we use those spoons to take tablespoon-sized slurps of the coffee, evaluating its quality:  flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance, sweetness, uniformity, and cleanliness.

We cup coffees multiple times a week to know what to buy from farmers and importers, what to tweak, what to feature, and… what to take home for ourselves!

I went on one of these coffee cuppings myself, during which the theme was Guatemalan an Ethiopian coffee varieties and the differences between them. This coffee cupping session was led by Whit who is a guru in all things coffee. I and several other attendees asked him a few questions during the event and he had thorough responses for every question.

Preparing the coffee cupping event at East Pole.

Coffee cupping in process.

Jared filling the cups with hot water.

Getting ready to taste some coffee!

Coffee cupping at East Pole. Whit, holding the two spoons, led the event.

Coffee with crust.

Details from the coffee cupping event. Whit, seen in the background, is smelling the fresh coffee.

These coffee cuppings events at East Pole have been going on for over a year. I inquired more about the cupping events, and they may range from the very novice (i.e., you’re totally new to coffee and don’t know that it’s a plant) to intermediate coffee drinkers (you know the various coffee separation techniques, can differentiate various subtle flavors among coffee beans, etc.). The serendipity in what you may learn from these events is very cool.

Interview with Jared Karr, Co-Owner of East Pole

I have been so intrigued about East Pole Coffee Company and wanted to get some additional information about the company, the background and design elements, and more. I reached out to Jared Karr, one of the co-owners/co-founders of East Pole Coffee Company, about an interview. Below is a slightly edited transcript of this interview. [Editor’s note: don’t miss the question and answer about one amazing customer experience near the bottom of this post!]

Question: In my conversation with Whit [during the coffee cupping event], he mentioned that your path to coffee was very unconventional -- you went overseas and were training to become an FBI agent in Indonesia. Can you share a bit more of that story? How did you go from there to becoming a co-founder/co-owner of a coffee shop? 

Jared: I wanted to work for the FBI. I was not training for the FBI! After graduating from The University of Georgia with a major in International Affairs I was eager to apply for the FBI. I noticed at that time that they had a high need for someone who was fluent in the language Bahasa Indonesia. During my time at Georgia, I had studied that particular language and had even been to the country Indonesia on a missions trip with a local church and had established some relationships there. In order to hone in on my language skills I decided it would be a good idea to go live in the country for 6 months to really get immersed in the culture and the language with the intentions of returning home to apply for the FBI being fluent in Bahasa. I reached out to a company that I visited once and asked for an internship, to which they agreed. I was working for this company and was also sent by my local church (which is how I was able to afford everything!). I lived there for 6 months and during my time there I was thrown into all kinds of wild adventures. One of which was helping the company pioneer a new partnership with coffee farmers. We were set to pay local farmers a higher price for their product than what they would get at a local market. Small gig really. Because of this I met with a lot of coffee farmers during my time there and every encounter left me a little more eager to learn more about this world of coffee. The farmers were incredibly kind people, generous in sharing information as well as their homes and meals. I slowly fell in love with coffee and decided by the end of my time in Indonesia that I wanted to work with farmers all over the world. And in order to do that I would need to start a roastery. I returned home to the states and started working in coffee to get a feel for the industry. I worked at a roastery and then moved to strictly a coffee bar in Atlanta. From there I roped in a couple of my good friends Jules Tompkins and Matt Chesla to help me start what is now East Pole.

Question: According to a few previous stories, the name East Pole is a nod to a video blog you hosted while in Indonesia, "the East Pole" of the world. For the very curious people of the world, are there archives of this blog still available on the web?

Jared: The name certainly comes from what I called Indonesia! I was living there with a friend of mine and we would host a video blog mainly to just show our friends, our church, and our family what in the world we were doing there. We continually called Indonesia The East Pole because, well, it was the farthest east we had ever been. The name stuck. When I was thinking about what to name this company I thought it would be a good idea to give a nod to where I fell in love with coffee.

Question: Can you comment on some of the interior decor inside East Pole? For instance, is there a story behind the images of the squid? Also, is there a significance to the giant golden aqua helmet on the shelf? [Editor’s note: Any gamers out there? The diver helmet reminds me of the game Bioshockone of the few games I played].

Jared: Our interior should be a subtle play at a nautical theme. Hence the squid paintings (my wife actually found these at a garage sale in Atlanta. The girl who painted these actually used real squid, dipped them in white ink, and placed them on the wax paper!), the diver helmet that we purchased from an Army Navy store, and the other little nautical nods around the shop. It's just something we liked and went with! 

Question: I've commented in a Q&A with the owner of Copper Coin on the similarity of the spaces between East Pole and Copper Coin -- who was the designer/architect of East Pole that brought some of these similar elements into fruition? 

Jared: As Randy mentioned, it's purely coincidental. The East Pole team had the liberty of designing our space the way we wanted. The lobby (the area you are referring to) was designed by Smith Dalia, an architectural firm. They were inspired by several spaces in L.A. 

Question: You guys are partnered with several Atlanta-area coffee shops (Copper Coin) and restaurants (such as Full Commission, previously profiled here)—are you still aiming to grow your partnerships or are you happy with where you are right now?

Jared: We will continually be looking to grow our partnerships! We care greatly about the shops (and businesses and restaurants) that are booming in Atlanta. We love this city and want to see our current and future partners thrive. We believe we can help by providing great coffee, tech services, and training for all of our partners. We are also keen on throwing some pretty fun events with our partners ; )

Question: East Pole offers a free coffee cupping event every Saturday at 10AM (I attended the one last Saturday). How long has this program been running? Do you have a list (full or partial) of the previous "themes" covered in these tastings? [Whit mentioned that some events are really beginner-level while others are more intermediate in nature].

Jared: We have been doing cuppings consistently for a little over a year now. We believe this is a great way to bring people in and taste our coffees in a relaxed, yet educational environment. Whit has done a great job of curating "themes" for each class. We do not have a collection of these themes currently. 

Question: Are there any interesting or spectacular stories that come to mind with some of the customers that have visited East Pole to date?

Jared: One thing comes to mind that I really enjoyed. I may end up not getting all of the details right, but so goes it. There was a couple who had been trying to get pregnant for quite some time with no luck. One day, the wife emails us and asks if she can bring in her own special mug and if we could serve her husbands latte out of this cup. She wanted to bring the cup in on a Friday so that she could bring her husband on a date Saturday morning. We agreed to this. We served his latte in the cup and they enjoyed their date. Upon finishing his latte he noticed a few words written at the bottom of the mug. The words read: "you're going to be a dad". The two were ecstatic and to me that was a really fun moment to be let into. 

Question: What are your and Sara's personal favorite coffee drinks? [Editor’s note: Sara, the director of wholesale at East Pole, is Jared’s wife]

Jared: My personal favorite drink is: black coffee. Sara's favorite drink: a well made cappuccino. 

Question: What's been your biggest (or one of your biggest) challenges running East Pole? 

Jared: That's hard to say. I guess learning how to be a boss to a group of kids who are not much younger than me? It's an interesting dynamic because you spend so much time together and become friends and can forget that there is a boss aspect to it. I will say this though: while this is what I am listing there really isn't much struggle here. We have an incredible staff. Everyone that works here is hospitable, knowledgable, fun to be around, and good at what they do. Having business partners (in Matt and Jules) who can crush what they do helps me be able to focus on the coffee bar and roastery. I would say that has been vital to the success of East Pole. 


You know how there is a high school yearbook award called “Best All Around” given to one or two students? Well, I think East Pole Coffee Company would get this award in the Atlanta area for its amazing coffee (roasted in-house), incredible design and decor within its interior, strong partnerships with coffee shops and bakeries around Atlanta, and impeccable customer service.

Run, don’t walk, to East Pole Coffee Company if you haven’t yet visited this coffee shop gem.


Many thanks to Jared Karr for taking the time to answer my questions to accompany this blog post.

Editor’s note: In case you are wondering about the title of this post: 1) East Pole Coffee Company is closer to home for Jared when compared to his time away in Indonesia 2) The coffee shop is located just a few miles from where I live and 3) East Pole’s fairly central location inside the Atlanta perimeter means that East Pole is one of those coffee shops that should be accessible regardless of where you live in the metro Atlanta area.

East Pole Coffee Company
Web | Facebook | Instagram

255 Ottley Dr NE, Suite #105
Atlanta, GA 30324
Google Maps link
ph: 404-939-6498

Hours of operation:
Monday-Tuesday: 7AM to 3PM
Wednesday-Friday: 7AM to 5PM
Saturday-Sunday: 8AM to 4PM

Japanese-Inspired Drinks and Desserts at Momo Cafe in Midtown Atlanta

Located in Midtown Atlanta, Momo Cafe is a Japanese-inspired cafe that offers specialty coffee, tea, pastries, and other desserts. Located within Momonoki restaurant, Momo Cafe is located on two levels, with the second floor overlooking the nearby I-75/I-85 exchange. I had the chance to visit Momonoki and Momo Cafe twice in the new year and my impressions are below.

Photos from my visit are below.

The Space

Momonoki (Momo Cafe) is located at 95 8th Street NW, Suite #100 in Midtown Atlanta—about three blocks away from Georgia Tech’s Technology Square. The front door takes you inside Momo Cafe and Momonoki; the cafe is on the left and the counter from which you order at Momonoki is on the right (Momonoki is a counter service restaurant, where you order up front and then can take a seat anywhere you would like inside the restaurant).

During my first visit, I ordered both from Momo Cafe and from Momonoki—the barista brought out my cappuccino to the main dining area of Momonoki. I ordered the Filet Mignon bowl (served with shallot ponzu, fried garlic, poached egg, scallions, mix green, wasabi, and rice)—it was a delicious lunch.

On my second visit, which I had pre-arranged with the staff at Momonoki, I focused on Momo Cafe. During this visit, I was able to sample a couple of the specialty coffee drinks on the menu at Momo Cafe as well as chat with the General Manager of Momonoki, McKenzie, about the cafe’s service offerings, what’s in their pipeline (hint: dedicated lunch offerings from Momo Cafe are coming in March 2019), and more.

The front of Momonoki/Momo Cafe. An outdoor patio is seen at left, but it was not occupied during my visit because of the cold weather.

Another view of the front of Momonoki. Highway I-75/I-85 is seen in the background.

The interior of Momonoki. Since there is no place to sit inside Momo Cafe on the first level, you’re welcome to bring your coffee/tea/desserts here. There is also a dedicated second floor for Momo Cafe customers.

Front counter of Momo Cafe.

Momo Cafe features beautiful design elements throughout its space. For example, the gorgeous table display at Momo Cafe, seen below, features porcelain china. At top, a gold-colored triangular pot. At the edge of the table are coffee beans for sale from one of the roasting partners of Momo Cafe, Methodical Coffee. I think this partnership meshes well, as Methodical Coffee also has a beautiful design aesthetic (both on its coffee bags and in its brick-and-mortar presence). Momo Cafe also has rotating partnerships with other roasters, which include or have included in the past: Verve Coffee, East Pole Coffee Company, and Stumptown.

A table at Momo Cafe. Bags of Methodical Coffee are available for purchase.

Wide view of Momo Cafe. Behind the glass pane in the back is the seating area of Momonoki.

The front counter of Momo Cafe.

Details from inside Momonoki.

Details from Momo Cafe.

Details from Momo Cafe.

Detail of tea leaves on the front counter of Momo Cafe. Though I have not tried the teas on my visit, the menu consists of three Japanese-sourced teas and three Taiwanese-sourced teas.

A view of the Momo Cafe/Momonoki space on the way to the second floor, reserved for Momo Cafe customers.

View from the second floor of Momo Cafe (looking south).

Details from inside Momo Cafe, looking through the window pane toward Momonoki.

Momonoki means Peachtree in Japanese, which, of course, is unique to Georgia and the city of Atlanta (fun trivia: there are 71 variants of the word “Peachtree” in street names in the city of Atlanta).

Building on the Momonoki name, the logo at Momonoki is a representation of a peach with the Kanji character “wood” written in the interior. This logo represents Atlanta’s I-285 (perimeter) with the I-75/I-85 through Atlanta’s middle and I-20 bisecting the city east and west:

Momonoki’s logo is a nod to the Peach State and a representation of the major highways that are found in Atlanta.

The Drinks

Momo Cafe offers specialty coffee drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes, as well as teas that are sourced directly from Taiwan. During my visit, I watched as the baristas prepared three drinks: the black sesame latte, an iced strawberry matcha, and the iced Okinawa brown sugar latte. I want to thank Dorothy and Summer, baristas who were working at Momo Cafe the day of my visit, for preparing the drinks and guiding me through the preparation process of these drinks.

Grinding the beans in preparation for the black sesame latte. Methodical Coffee was used on this day.

A brief video of the latte preparation at Momo Cafe, with Dorothy the barista behind the espresso machine:


Preparation of the iced Okinawa brown sugar latte.

The iced strawberry matcha drink at Momo Cafe—prior to mixing.

Latte preparation in the works while the iced strawberry matcha enjoys the spotlight on top of the espresso machine.

The iced strawberry matcha latte after thorough mixing was quite delicious. It’s hard to describe its taste profile, except that the sweetness of the strawberry syrup complemented the less sweet matcha; no additional sugar was needed to be added, per recommendation of the barista, with whom I agreed after tasting. Highly recommended.

The strawberry matcha latte after mixing.

Dorothy, the barista, in the latte art process.

The black sesame latte at Momo Cafe is like a work of art. I love the final presentation, including the use of the elegant porcelain cup in which the latte is served:

The black sesame latte at Momo Cafe.

Another view of the black sesame latte.

The iced Okinawa brown sugar latte at Momo Cafe.

A section of the coffee, tea, and dessert menu at Momo Cafe.

The Sweets

One of the co-owners at Momonoki/Momo Cafe, Ching Yao, is the baker at Momo Cafe who whips up the light and fresh-baked pastries daily. As with the coffee drinks, sesame and matcha play a key role in the ingredients of some of the pastries available daily at Momo Cafe.

The homemade matcha croissants are one of the most popular dessert items at Momo Cafe (and, I think, in the Atlanta area).

Desserts at Momo Cafe. At front: the black sesame croissant. At left: the chocolate citrus croissants. At back right: the matcha croissants.

The chocolate citrus croissant at Momo Cafe.

Homemade cookies at Momo Cafe. Flavors include matcha, dark chocolate, and chocolate chip walnut. Yum!

Finally, another unique element at Momo Cafe is the soft-serve ice cream. There are two popular flavors, as you may have guessed: matcha and black sesame. I tried the combination and it was fantastic:

Soft serve ice cream at Momo Cafe. You can’t go wrong with the matcha and sesame combination.


Momo Cafe is a wonderful addition to the specialty coffee shops in the Atlanta area. The drinks are prepared with precision and are elegantly presented. The staff are very welcoming and knowledgeable. If you go, you could combine your visit to Momo Cafe and Momonoki (as I did previously, getting coffee and lunch). Certainly, if you are a coffee aficionado, Momo Cafe deserves a spot on your to-visit itinerary for the unique Japanese-inspired drinks that you can taste there.

Finally, in some exciting news, Momo Cafe will begin to have lunch offerings of its own beginning in March 2019 (i.e., these lunch options will be separate from what is already on the menu at the adjoining Momonoki restaurant). Keep an eye out on their Instagram page for details of the announcement.

Thanks again to Momo Cafe and its staff for the visit and opportunity to profile them here on the Atlanta Coffee Shops blog.

Momo Cafe
Web | Facebook | Instagram

95 8th St. NW, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30309
Google Maps link
ph: 404-390-3025

Hours of operation:
Monday-Saturday: 8AM to 9PM
Sunday: 9AM to 9PM

Coffee and Community at Copper Coin in Woodstock, GA

Located in suburban Woodstock, the spotlight in today’s post is Copper Coin Coffee.

The coffee shop occupies a sizable space on Chambers Street in downtown Woodstock and attracts a devoted crowded to its location daily. There is, of course, coffee (Copper Coin is partnered with East Pole Coffee Company)—but also breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Copper Coin is tightly integrated with the community and there are all kinds of events that occur there on a frequent basis, such as hosting a local knitting group, an art history class, and other special interest events including pop-up art shows, and a number of photo shoot and TV/movie productions. There are live shows/concerts on the weekends; see the events calendar for details.

In the summer of 2018, Copper Coin received a liquor license and has been serving beer/wine (and a few months later, alcohol).

The photos from Copper Coin are from the Woodstock location (there were previously two other locations in the Atlanta area).

NOTE: At the bottom of this post, you can read the responses from the owner of Copper Coin Coffee, Randy Altmann, to the questions I had about the shop, some of its challenges, and more. I think Randy’s responses are very insightful, and I am thankful for Randy sharing his thoughts.

Exterior of Copper Coin Coffee in Woodstock, GA.

Interior of Copper Coin Coffee. Adjacent to the brick wall in the back is where live music/performances may be heard at Copper Coin,.

Inside Copper Coin Coffee. There are coffee options: the basics, espresso drinks, and manual brew coffee.

At Copper Coin Coffee.

Art on the walls at Copper Coin.

Stadium seating at Copper Coin Coffee. Please take a look at the interview questions with the owner at the bottom of this post.

Coasters for sale.

Since Copper Coin is partnered with East Pole Coffee Company, you can buy their freshly roasted beans at Copper Coin,

Front counter.

Ambient light. Plenty of seating.

Tables and booths are options at Copper Coin.

Copper Coin has a community room which you can reserve by the hour ($35/hour of $100 for a 3 hour block). The rate is $10/hour for any non-profits that would like to reserve this community room.

Risk, anyone?

Lots of board games to choose from at Copper Coin.

A cappuccino.

If you’re in the Woodstock area, I highly recommend checking out Copper Coin for coffee (the fact that they’re partnered with East Pole Coffee Company, one of the Atlanta’s best specialty coffee shops and roasters is an added bonus). And if you’re not a coffee person, you can always check out Copper Coin for their breakfast/lunch options and/or their numerous live events.

Interview with the Owner of Copper Coin

Following is a condensed interview with the owner of Copper Coin, Randy Altmann:

Question: When was Copper Coin founded? Was it founded at the same location as the current one? 
Answer: This is the Third location for the shop.  It started as the Woodstock Coffee Shop almost 15  years ago. The original location was next to where the Sprouts Farmers Market is currently located in Towne Lake. Nine years ago, the former owners purchased the shop.  They did a deal with ACRU, a loan institute, that was in this site and became “Copper Coin Coffee”  inside the bank.  Over time they took over more and more of the space and 3 years ago, the bank (by then Bank of the Ozarks) moved out and Copper Coin took over the entire site.  They also opened up two other locations, Brookhaven and Cumming, which were full-out restaurants that closed in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The former owners announced in October of 2017 that they were closing the Woodstock location.  We purchased the assets from the bank.  They closed Oct 31 at 9 PM and we re-opened Nov 1 at 6:30 AM.

Question: Since its opening, has Copper Coin undergone any significant renovations or expansion? 
Answer: We have expanded to a fairly functional, good sized kitchen.  We also have renovated the old bank offices and rent out cubicles or offices by the hour, day, week or month.


Question: Did Copper Coin serve beer/wine/drinks from the beginning or was this an expansionary move per customer demand?
Answer: We added Beer/Wine in August of 2018 and the first Alcohol in December 2018.

This was part of our business plan to expand the CC from a Daytime Coffee Shop/Gathering Place to expand “The Flip Side of the Coin” to be a place where adults  could come and relax in the evenings but feel comfortable having their children with them.

As part of the transition we greatly expanded the kitchen offering to include more Breakfast and Lunch items. A lot more desert offerings.  We are just now beginning to offer lite food in the evenings.


Question: There are some similarities in the architectural space with East Pole Coffee Company (with whom you have a partnership) -- I am thinking of the stadium seating, for example. Is that just a coincidence? 
Answer: Purely a coincidence other then the original designers of both spaces wanted the “gathering space”


Question: Can you comment on what your clientele is like? Is it people who come in regularly every day to get some morning coffee and/or do some work? Or is it a varied mix of customers? 
Answer: Daytime we are a gathering place for a lot of Woodstock.  Coffee out Mom’s, business meetings, home away office.  Afternoon and Evenings are more students.  We have begun live music 4 days a week.  This brings a different weekend crowd as we feature an eclectic mix of music types.  Jazz, R&B, Classical, Old Blues, Americana.  Our Jazz Lunch on Sundays has become a packed house place to come and relax after church or a lazy morning.

The Fri/Sat music includes local and Atlanta based talent as well as touring indie acts from Nashville, Washington, Indiana and even Italy so we are becoming a quasi-concert venue.

With the addition of board and card games we also are getting everything from Scrabble to Uno games most nights.

We also host a local knitting group, an art history class and other special interest events including pop-up art shows, and a number of photo shoot and TV/movie productions.


Question: Do you have any partnerships or outreach with any non-profits or other local organizations? If so, which ones and how do you partner together?
Answer: We support a number of local worship places by donating/discounting coffees for their major events (Xmas, Easter).  East Pole Coffee Company also supports us in this by grinding the beans for free for these events.

We support most of the local School PTA groups and offer discounts to their teachers and families as well as support their newspapers etc.  We also work with the Lions Club as a collection point for winter clothing.


Question: What are some of your biggest challenges in running your business today? What, if anything, would help you operate more successfully?
Answer: Keeping and Training a staff is the lifeblood of what we do.  They are the frontline and are a contact point for ALL our customers.  Teaching them to make a great cup of coffee is “easy”.  Teaching them to make every customer experience fantastic is a never ending challenge.  To encourage our staff to stay, we offer supplemental insurance through AFLAC and a simple IRA program that we do matching funds to.

Managing the evolution from a “simple” Specialty Coffee Shop to a full day and night gathering place for the community is a huge challenge.  Older regular customers got upset as we brought in live music because they felt it was a distraction. New customers come in because we offer a new type of entertainment.  Adding alcohol to support the evening business without becoming “A BAR” is a Rubik’s Cube.

But the history books are full of great businesses Large and Small that have gone out of business by not changing what they do and meeting the changing needs and expectations of their customers. Woolworth’s and Sears both had the tallest buildings in the world at one point, and are both out of business (or close to it).  Independent businesses usually fail because the owner either does not understand business, or how to match their passion for the business with the customer’s needs.

Question: Is there anything else you'd like to share with a wider audience about Copper Coin?
Answer: Our focus is on the community.  We want community groups to come and use our conference room (Community Room) and offer discounts to them.

We are dedicated to supporting the arts. Live music, Local artists.

We host Coffee with a Cop and are starting up “Friday with a Fireman” to encourage better understanding within our area. 

And, I am not allowed to make any coffee.  My first week, I was learning to make our drip coffee (as do all starting team members).  Everything went well but the coffee came out REALLY weak. The barista I was training with pointed out that next time I should grind the beans first!

I live within my limitations.

Copper Coin
Web | Facebook | Instagram

400 Chambers St.
Woodstock, GA 30188
Google Maps link
ph: 470-308-6914

Hours of operation:
Monday-Thursday: 7AM to 8PM
Friday: 7AM to 10PM
Saturday: 8AM to 10PM
Sunday: 8AM to 8PM

When Harry Met Atlanta: Exploring Harry Bakes Cafe inside Caravaca Market in Midtown Atlanta

Today’s spotlight is on Harry Bakes Cafe, a unique coffee shop located inside Caravaca Market Hall in Midtown Atlanta.

The owner of Harry Bakes Cafe is Harry Pagancoss, a Puerto Rican native. Harry is a celebrity chef who’s traveled the world widely in search of culinary adventures. Harry's culinary training began when he was just 8 years old and has taken him around the world to countries like Peru, Italy, and France. Harry’s first book, Pure Pleasure: Spellbinding Recipes is available on Amazon.

Harry’s career in television began as a guest chef on Telemundo's international morning show, Levantate, which was seen in over 26 countries. From there, Harry appeared as a guest on the Morning Show on the CW Network, followed by being a host on TV Azteca’s Mananeando. Harry has also collaborated with MTV Tr3s, with audiences in all of Latin America and the United States. Most recently, Harry was host of Turner's Latin American travelogue called GPS: Guided by Flavors. This latest venture is what brought Harry to Atlanta.

For the curious, there are many videos on Harry’s YouTube channel; below are highlights of Harry enjoying coffee in Puerto Rico and one of Harry’s talent videos.


Harry Bakes Cafe in Atlanta

Harry Bakes Cafe in Atlanta is actually a continuation of Harry Bakes Cafe which first opened in Miami, FL in 2008. After Harry moved to Atlanta about five years ago to work with various media, he began thinking about opening up a restaurant of his own in Atlanta. Harry expanded on the Harry Bakes concept with Harry Bakes Cafe integrated into Caravaca Market, alongside World Taste Bar and Remember Billiards & Lounge (an event space from which you can order food from World Taste Bar or Harry Bakes Cafe).

Today, Caravaca Market is a “culinary sanctuary of the city of Atlanta boasting restaurants, bars, and the best world cuisine around.” In case you are curious, Caravaca Market is named after Caravaca de la Cruz, a holy city in Southern Spain. Harry Bakes Cafe, World Taste Bar, and Remember Billiards & Lounge are separate branded entities within Caravaca Market, but they are all located under one roof and seamlessly connected with each other. When I spoke with Harry, he explained that all of his worldwide travels and culinary experiences have led to this culmination for the creation of Caravaca Market.

The day I visited Harry Bakes Cafe, I didn’t have a set plan to meet Harry. However, as I sat down to enjoy a cup of cappuccino and a Mallorca sandwich, Harry saw me with my camera gear and came by to say hello. Coincidentally, during my visit, a food blogger named Kristen Dior Abdus-Salaam (better known as Atlanta Food Guy, or AFG) was also visiting Caravaca Market / Harry Bakes Cafe / World Taste Bar. I saw Atlanta Food Guy getting a tour of the space and during a short break, I introduced myself. This introduction led to Harry chatting with us for about an hour, talking about his travels and culinary experience, how Caravaca Market came to be, and more. During this time, Harry also pointed out some special items on the menu and asked if we wanted to sample anything. I opted to try one of the cocktails on the menu at World Taste Bar—the drink I chose, “Berry Peaceful,” was light and refreshing. (Thanks, Harry, for this tasting!).

I then went on a mini-tour of the space with Harry, who explained the concept of Caravaca Market, Harry Bakes Cafe, and World Taste Bar. Caracava is meant to be a one-place stop: a small grocery store for items like wine, cheese, and pasta; a coffee and pastry stop at Harry Bakes Cafe; a lunch/brunch and/or cocktail spot at World Taste Bar; and finally, a place to relax and/or play pool at the far edge of Caravaca Market (it’s called Remember Billiards & Lounge). It’s an amazing concept and I highly recommend you check it out for yourself. The slogan “Eat. Drink. Play. Shop” is apropos for this space.

Photos from my visit are below. I highlight the spaces within Caravaca Market in the captions.

The counter and menu at Harry Bakes Cafe inside Caravaca Market.

A chicken sandwich on Mallorca bread, topped with powdered sugar, at Harry Bakes Cafe.

Cappuccino at Harry Bakes Cafe inside Caravaca Market.

The tables at World Taste Bar inside Caravaca Market.

Various cheeses for sale inside Caravaca Market.

Canned items, juices, and other goods on sale inside Caravaca Market.

The interior of Caravaca Market—there is plenty of space to enjoy a meal or to drink coffee to start your day.

The counter at Harry Bakes Cafe inside Caravaca Market.

Tea for sale at Caravaca Market.

Wide view of the tables at Caravaca Market—the front of World Taste Bar is to the back of this scene.

Desserts in the counter at Harry Bakes Cafe inside Caravaca Market.

Desserts in the counter at Harry Bakes Cafe inside Caravaca Market.

Taking in the surroundings at Harry Bakes Cafe inside Caravaca Market.

Details from Caravaca Market.

The Bodega inside Caravaca Market has wine and other goods for your shopping convenience.

Comfortable chairs next to the Harry Bakes Cafe. Note: Harry may be seen in the background of this image at left.

Wide view of the Caravaca Market interior.

Front of the World Taste Bar inside Caravaca Market. Come here for lunch, brunch, or cocktails.

The Beer Bar and pool hall inside Caravaca Market. The pool hall inside Caravaca Market is a separate space called Remember Billiards & Lounge.

On the scene: Atlanta Food Guy conducting a live Instagram interview with Harry Pagancoss, owner of Harry Bakes Cafe and Caravaca Market.

Keep Calm and Caravaca Market.

If you’re in Midtown Atlanta, I definitely recommend checking out Caravaca Market and its various offerings: from the coffee and delicious pastries/snacks at Harry Bakes Cafe to the cocktail and lunch offerings at World Taste Bar. And if you happen to meet Harry during your visit, say hi. Harry is one of the friendliest persons I have met in the Atlanta dining scene.

NOTE: Parts of Caravaca Market are still under development, and in fact, a larger Harry Bakes Cafe is currently under construction just a few feet away from where the pool hall/Remember Billiards & Lounge is located inside Caravaca Market. This new front of Harry Bakes Cafe is slated to open in late February 2018.

I’ll update this post with an update when the new Harry Bakes Cafe is unveiled!

Harry Bakes Café (Inside Caravaca Market)
Web | Facebook | Instagram

782 Peachtree Street NE Suite B
Atlanta GA 30308
(inside Caravaca Market)
Google Maps link
ph: 404-565-0580

Hours of operation:
Monday: 8AM to 5PM
Tuesday-Thursday: 8AM to 10PM
Friday: 8AM to 11PM
Saturday: 10:30AM to 11PM
Sunday: 10:30AM to 6PM

Books and Coffee at Read Shop in Vinings

If you’re a fan of both coffee and books, then you should add Read Shop by the Merchant in Vinings, GA to your itinerary.

Read Shop was founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Dan Collier, who is known for his other businesses such as Atlanta's The Merchant, Collier Candy Company, and Archer Paper Goods.

Inside Read Shop, you may find bestseller books that make it to the New York Times list, as well as numerous fiction, non-fiction, garden books, cookbooks, children’s literature, and coffee-inspired books. The store also cycles through seasonal offerings of stationary and greeting cards.

With a similarity to Brother Moto, Read Shop didn’t serve coffee at the outset. As I learned from my conversation with the General Manager, Read Shop added the capacity (or evolved) to serve coffee within its premises (as a way to bring in extra foot traffic through the door). The concept has worked well and Read Shop is now a favorite among locals in Vinings and the surrounding Cobb county for great coffee, pastries, and books. A thank you goes out to Justin, a Manager at Read Shop, for making my cappuccino and speaking with me about the Shop.

Photos from my visit are below. As you can see, Read Shop is one of the cutest and coziest coffee shops in Atlanta.

Exterior of Read Shop by the Merchant. The outdoor patio is nice during warmer weather.

Plenty of free parking at Read Shop.

Interior of Read Shop.

Cozy interior of Read Shop.

Various books and cards for sale at Read Shop.

The greeting card display at Read Shop.

It wouldn’t be a true bookstore/coffee shop hybrid if books about coffee weren’t for sale.

Looking out toward the entrance at Read Shop.

Bestsellers and magazines on display at Read Shop.

These books are a bit harder to reach…

During my visit, I was impressed by the decor inside the shop and the neat coffee counter. Read Shop is partnered with Stumptown Coffee and traditional coffee beverages are available, as well as cold brew. There are also seasonal drinks, such as lavender latte and lavender chai latte, on the menu. If you’re a tea drinker, Read Shop has a selection of teas on the menu as well.

The coffee counter at Read Shop. Traditional espresso drinks, cold brew, nitro col brew, tea, and seasonal drinks are on the menu.

Order: cappuccino. Major props to Justin, a barista at Read Shop, for his friendly smile and coffee prep.

Chocolate croissant and cappuccino at Read Shop.

Some light reading.

Reading about cappuccino at Read Shop.

A comfortable setting.

Read Shop, of course, offers free Wi-Fi for its customers. The Wi-Fi password is Readmorebooks (how clever!).

The books at Read Shop are carefully curated by the owner—you can read more about that concept in this blog post. If you’re a book lover who happens to enjoy coffee, then definitely check out Read Shop in Vinings.

Read Shop by the Merchant
Web | Instagram

4300 Paces Ferry Rd SE #125,
Atlanta, GA 30339
Google Maps link
ph: 678-742-7853

Hours of operation:
Monday-Friday: 7AM to 7PM
Saturday: 8AM to 7PM
Sunday: 8AM to 6PM

The Evolution of a Coffee Shop: Motorcycles and Coffee at Brother Moto

When I first approach the counter, I smirked at the sign: “We accept cash / card / motorcycles.” As I was walking around the coffee shop, I thought maybe the owner of the shop had some kind of fascination with motorcycles and decided to use them as props at the store.

It wasn’t until I started talking with Zac, the General Manager, that I began to understand the story. Namely, that Brother Moto wasn’t a coffee shop in the beginning but rather a garage and community space for those in the Atlanta area with motorcycles who didn’t have the space and/or the tools to perform motorcycle maintenance. Brother Moto filled that void by providing motorcycle owners a space to work on their motorcycles or store them for a small monthly maintenance fee. As Zac explained, the owners of these motorcycles would spend a lot of time in the shop and some of these folks wanted to drink coffee in the morning or as they were working on their bikes. The owners of Brother Moto (Jared Erickson and Bobby Russell) experimented with opening up a coffee stand (this was in a previous location of Brother Moto in East Atlanta Village) and it took off. When Brother Moto moved to its current location in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta (at 670 Memorial Drive), of course the primary focus was the do-it-yourself motorcycle garage and storage space, but the coffee shop migrated as well.

I think this theme of coffee revolving around a community is so strong, and Brother Moto encapsulates it. People came together for a common purpose, and stayed for a little longer because there was great coffee. Today, Brother Moto is a motorcycle community garage, lifestyle goods brand, and a coffee shop blended together. This is why I think Brother Moto is an evolution of a coffee shop: its purpose wasn’t to be one initially but it has evolved into that role over time.

You don’t have to know anything about motorcycles, however, to enjoy the space that Brother Moto offers to its patrons.

Photos and descriptions from my visit to Brother Moto are below.

Inside Brother Moto in Cabbagetown.

A simple menu at Brother Moto. Espresso, cortado, cappuccino, latte, and regular coffee.

Another view of the coffee counter.

Coffee at Brother Moto.

The interior of Brother Moto is massive. During my visit, there was a group of five or six people that was working together on some kind of project, occupying one of the large desks. There are also couches and two-person smaller tables near the entrance to the building.

The interior of Brother Moto. There is plenty of space to get work done.

Half + Half.

The GM of Brother Moto, Zac, switching channels.

On display at Brother Moto.


Funny at first, but it makes sense:

Brother Moto is a community based Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y.) Garage , coffee shop and motorcycle lifestyle goods brand in Atlanta GA. Our goal is to allow for people of all skill levels to have the ability to work on their own bikes with the right tools at a low monthly membership cost. A by-product of this shared space has been an amazing community of all ages and walks of life that find a common ground in motorcycles. We provide a lifestyle retail experience and coffee program to encourage the general public and moto-curious to come into our space and for us to remain inclusive and open to the public.

A portion of the store that sells branded materials.

Another view of the interior of Brother Moto.

The Brother Moto Lifestyle Goods Store

As mentioned, another component of Brother Moto is the lifestyle brand and accompanying store. There are helmets, t-shirts, books on sale in the physical store. Many items not featured in the physical store may be bought online.

Mimi and Moto.

T-shirts and other goods on sale at Brother Moto.

On display at Brother Moto.

Interior of Brother Moto showing the space; the coffee stand is in the background.

The Motorcycle Shop at Brother Moto

One of the coolest experiences I had inside Brother Moto was getting the backstage tour of the garage. Thank you to Zac, the GM, who kindly showed me around and explained the membership structure of Brother Moto and answered my questions about Brother Moto.

Inside the members-only garage at Brother Moto.

Inside the members-only garage at Brother Moto.

Inside the members-only garage at Brother Moto.

Inside the members-only garage at Brother Moto.

Loved this sign: KEEP YOUR COOL.

Helmet display at Brother Moto.

On display in front of the coffee counter at Brother Moto.

Brother Moto is one of the unique coffee spots in Atlanta. Come for the coffee and explore the wall and floor displays.

Brother Moto has an awesome Instagram page where you may find scenes from Brother Moto and a lot of photos of motorcycles and motorcycle culture. Brother Moto also features prominent slogans/catch-phrases such as “The Place We All Go,” “Motorcycles are Dangerous,” and “Be Fast or Be Last.” A few of my favorites for the #motocurious are below.

You don’t have to own a motorcycle to love Brother Moto.

Final verdict: Brother Moto is a must-visit coffee shop in Atlanta1.

Brother Moto
Web | Facebook | Instagram

670 Memorial Dr SE, Unit C
Atlanta, GA 30312
Google Maps link

Hours of operation:
Monday-Saturday: 8AM to 7PM
Sunday: 10AM to 6PM

1 I don't make this observation lightly; in fact, I waited until I have visited at least 50 Atlanta-area coffee shops to make this claim.

Valor Coffee: A Pop-Up Coffee Shop in Alpharetta, GA

Valor Coffee, located in Alpharetta, is the vision of three friends (Riley Westbrook, Ross Walters, and Ethan Rivers) who decided to open up a coffee “pop-up” shop that caters to small businesses, weddings, parties, or any other event that desires great coffee. As they explain on their Kickstarter page (successfully funded!) and accompanying video, they created Valor Coffee to bring the community around good coffee.

I visited Valor Coffee in late 2018 and had a nice conversation with Ross and Ethan. They were very welcoming and explained the concept behind their pop-up coffee stand (technically, one could also call it a cart, because it is on wheels) and their future plans. Right now, the business is located inside the Thrive Coworking space in Alpharetta; however, the founders of Valor plan to move to a more permanent brick-and-mortar location somewhere in Alpharetta later this year. (UPDATE: a couple of days after publishing this post, Valor Coffee announced that they have secured a lease in front of the building in which they currently reside at 44 Milton Street with an opening sometime in the summer of 2019).

As I chatted with Ross and Ethan, I was struck about their deliberate message and their core set of values. For instance, one of the values is “Listen and Respond,” where the Valor employees will cater the coffee to a customer’s preferences:

This value is all about adjusting to fit what a customer wants. Customer needs are golden opportunities that, when creatively addressed, build trust and brand loyalty. By intentionally listening, we pursue opportunities to ‘wow’ our people in personal, unique, and unexpected ways.

Scroll through the rest of this post to read about other values espoused by Valor Coffee.

Photos from my visit are below.

Front of Valor Coffee in Alpharetta, GA. The garage door opens to let a lot of natural light in.

Outdoor seating at Valor Coffee’s location, sharing it with the Thrive Coworking space.

Imagine sipping coffee on one of these swinging chairs.

Inside the Thrive Coworking space where Valor is currently located.

Inside the Thrive Coworking space where Valor is currently located.

Inside the Thrive Coworking space where Valor is currently located.

Interior of the Thrive Coworking space where Valor Coffee is located.

Details from the Valor coffee stand/cart. You can order Valor’s roasted beans in their online store.

An interesting perspective from Valor Coffee is their emphasis on transparency:

We are an open book. In order to build and maintain healthy relationships with our associates and customers, we maintain a high level of communication about our business. Internally, we share our financials with our associates, we’re honest about areas that need improvement, and we show our weaknesses. Transparency breeds trust. We are open about the quality and production of our ingredients, we share our ideas and methods with anyone (no trade secrets), and we personally open up to customers in order to build relationships. 

The VALOR logo—nicely illuminated.

The Valor Coffee cup. Very cool branding/design.

The coffee crafted at Valor is excellent. Which brings us to another core value at Valor: Excellence & Empathy:

This core value is about crafting products at the highest level while prioritizing approachability and empathetic service. This is especially relevant in specialty coffee. We are passionate and knowledgeable about our product, but not in a snobbish, unapproachable way. People are the priority, whether they know about specialty coffee or not!

Excellent and down-to-earth.

Speaking of Excellence & Empathy: if you are a podcast fan, you can learn a lot more about Valor Coffee on the Cat & Cloud Coffee Podcast (here’s the link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts); the subtitle of the episode is “Excellence and Empathy,” which is one of the core values that Valor Coffee espouses.

Cappuccino that I ordered. It was excellent. Highly recommended.

Another core value at Valor Coffee is “Put on a Show,” as explained here:

This core value revolves around the “stage” (any place where we are interacting with a customer). When we step on stage, we recognize that we are performing a very intentional and curated customer service experience. Just as a band plays in sync with each other, we work as a team to put on a show that blesses everyone we come in contact with. When we are on stage, we are “always on”— proactive, professional, and focused.

Minimalist elements on the menu. Also, some Valor swag.

Valor t-shirts for sale. Also available in their online store.

Books and philosophy. In case you are wondering, the following books are on the shelf: 1) Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen 2) Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win and 3) The Monk of Mokha

Plenty of outside space at Valor Coffee. Bring your dog and sip on a coffee in the wonderful courtyard.

By the way, Valor Coffee has a great Instagram account. Here’s one of my favorite photos:

If you’re in Alpharetta, pay a visit to Valor Coffee for some delicious brews. And if you’re a small business, consider hiring these guys to cater at your event.

Watch this page for updates as Valor Coffee expands and moves to a more permanent brick-and-mortar location later this year!

UPDATE: a couple of days after publishing this post, Valor Coffee announced that they have secured a lease in front of the building in which they currently reside at 44 Milton Street to open up a full cafe (complete with food offerings). The opening is set for summer 2019.

Valor Coffee
Web | Facebook | Instagram

44 Milton Ave
Alpharetta, GA 30009
(Inside the Thrive Coworking space)
Google Maps link
ph: 706-452-3329

Hours of operation:
Monday-Friday: 7AM to 5PM
Saturday: 8AM to 5PM
Sunday: 8AM to 4PM

Sessions Stand: A Taste of the Coffee and Pastry Community in Marietta, GA

Sessions Stand, located about a half mile north of busting Marietta Square, is a walk-up coffee and pastry shop in a quiet residential area.

I visited the shop on a cold, dreary day in January; however, the weather certainly didn’t stop the locals from stopping by to enjoy a coffee on the warm patio or to get a coffee to go.

The space is a building painted in mostly white, accented with blue hues. The storefront has some items (such as the fresh baked sourdough bread) on display through the windows.

Photos from my visit are below.

The front of Sessions Stand in Marietta, GA.

View of Sessions Stand from the street.

Back of Sessions Stand.

The perimeter of the Sessions Stand patio is adorned with flowers.

The menu at Sessions Stand is compact and fits on a single board in front of the register. The coffee partner (roaster) at Sessions Stand is the nearby Rev Coffee Roasters. Below is the full menu at Sessions Stand:

  • Coffees:

    • Cold Brew Coffee

    • Drip Coffee

    • Espresso

    • Americano

    • Flat White

    • Cappuccino

    • Macchiato

    • Latte

    • Mocha

  • Other drinks

    • Juice

    • Tea

    • Chai latte

    • Hot chocolate

    • Kombucha

    • Smoothie

  • Food

    • Soup

    • Cheese Toast

    • Power Bites

    • Overnight oats

    • Avocado toast

    • Chicken salad

    • Lunchable

    • Selection of daily pastries

I ordered the cappuccino and cheese toast (In case you were curious: I asked, and avocado toast seems to be the most popular food item on the menu). The cheese toast was a good late breakfast pick-me-up, served warm and delicious.

With respect to the fresh pastries, Atlanta Magazine profiled Sessions Stand, and its owner, Katie, in spring of last year:

Katie makes her pastries from scratch every day. While savory quiches, muffins, and chocolate croissants rotate on and off the menu, the shop’s standbys are fruit danishes and whole wheat croissants. Danish fillings vary depending on what’s in season—currently, the buttery dough is filled with a slightly tart cream that balances out fresh sweet strawberries and an apricot glaze. The croissants are made with spent grain that Reformation Brewery presses out of their beer during the brewing process. Katie coats the spent grain onto the dough so that it’s layered like butter, giving the croissants a nutty flavor...

And when the warmer temperatures arrive, I think Sessions Stand will stand out for another element you won’t be able to find in many coffee spots:

Visitors can also buy bouquets arranged by local floral company Dianthus & Co. Florist Megan Dunlap sources flowers like peonies and ranunculus locally when possible. The flowers have been a surprising hit at the stand, selling out almost every day. In the summer, there will also be fresh produce on sale from local growers like Tucker Farms and Straight From the Backyard Farm.

Pro tip: If it happens to rain while you are visiting Sessions Stand, your coffee is free with a purchase of any pastry. It does have to rain while you are ordering at the counter (i.e., it’s not just forecast for rain, or that it rained ten minutes ago). This neat policy keeps people coming when business would otherwise grind to a halt, since there is no indoor seating at Sessions Stand.

Table decor at Sessions Stand. Sadly, the plants have seen better days (freezing temperatures did not help).

Sessions Stand logo on the cappuccino cup.

Warm cheese toast!

Front counter of Sessions Stand. The space heaters are a necessity in the winter months.

Walking by Sessions Stand. (Notice one dog in the arms).

A really thoughtful touch by the Sessions Stand crew is the availability of warm blankets for guests to use during the cold days. Since there is no interior (only an outdoor patio), the blankets are an extra bonus to stay warm and sip on the coffee in comfort.

Warm blankets are available for Sessions Stand customers.

Ring for service!

All of the lights.

Sessions Stand exterior.

I really enjoyed my visit to Sessions Stand. I think it’s one of the cutest independent coffee spots in all of Atlanta. The coffee is great, the patio is warm and inviting, and the staff are friendly. If you are in the Marietta area, definitely make a tiny detour to check out Sessions Stand.

Sessions Stand is open Monday through Friday, 6AM to 6:00PM, and Saturday through Sunday from 7:30AM to 4PM.

One last thing about Sessions Stand: there is no official website for the shop. The only social media presence is via Instagram, which seems to be sufficient to entice locals and newcomers alike. (I am a big fan of the Instagram account myself). The hashtag to use in your social media posts, should you desire, is #coffeepastrycommunity.

Sessions Stand

380 Sessions Street NW
Marietta, GA 30060
Google Maps link

Hours of operation:
Monday-Friday: 6AM to 6PM
Saturday-Sunday: 7:30AM to 4PM 

Coffee and Beignets at Caffé Bela in the Westside Neighborhood of Atlanta

There aren’t too many places in Atlanta where you can get authentic New Orleans beignets. Luckily, you can get your coffee fix and try out delicious, made-to-order beignets at Caffé Bella, located in the Blandtown neighborhood in the Westside/West Midtown of Atlanta (within the Apex West Midtown apartment complex).

I visited this unassuming place in 2018, and had a wonderful experience chatting with the owner, Stephanie Thomas. Stephanie spent eight years studying the art of coffee sourcing and preparation (including time spent in Nicaragua) before opening up Caffé Bella. Stephanie’s training was at the Bellissimo Coffee School in Portland, OR and Counter Culture Coffee in Atlanta, GA.

While coffee, tea, and beignets are the focus of Caffé Bella, there is also a lunch menu as well as a wine and beer bar. You can peruse the entire menu here.

Photos from a visit to Caffé Bella are below.

Exterior of Caffé Bella in the Westside neighborhood of Atlanta. There is free parking inside the Apex Apartment complex.

It is hard to be at $5 beignets!

Interior of Caffé Bella. There is plenty of light inside the space.

Interior of Caffé Bella.

Details from inside Caffé Bella.

Of course, you have to order the beignets if you come to Caffé Bella. The beignets are prepared in less than ten minutes from your order. The beignets were beautifully presented and were delicious. No need to travel to New Orleans to try authentic beignets!

The beignets at Caffé Bella. Warm and delicious!

Another view of the beignets prepared at Caffé Bella.

Caffé Bella has a rotating coffee menu every week.

One can also order roasted coffee beans to go.

A sample of beer and wine available at Caffé Bella.

Front counter of Caffé Bella.

After chatting with Stephanie during my visit, it was evident that Caffé Bella aims to serve as a community spot for locals who enjoy great coffee and conversations. Stephanie is a woman on a mission, as her coffee cup reiterates. The shop is spacious and the people working at Caffé Bella are so friendly.

If you are looking to taste some authentic beignets, check out Caffé Bella in the Westside district. Don’t forget to use the #CoffeeTeaBeignets hashtag if you are posting any of your photos on social media.

Caffé Bella
Web | Facebook | Instagram

1133 Huff Rd NW Suite F
Atlanta, GA 30318
Google Maps link
ph: 404-549-9116

Hours of operation:
Monday-Wednesday: 7AM to 7PM
Thursday-Saturday: 7AM to 9PM
Sunday: 9AM to 4PM

A Taste of French Authenticity at Café Vendôme in Buckhead

Featured in today’s post is Café Vendôme in the Buckhead/Sandy Springs neighborhood of Atlanta. I had the chance to visit this lovely spot last month.

Café Vendôme is more than just a coffee shop, but a full-fledged bakery in which pastries, baguettes, desserts, and other goods are baked in-house on a day-to-day basis.

During my visit, I spent some time talking with Hamid, the owner of Café Vendôme. One of the things Hamid mentioned is that before founding Café Vendôme, Hamid scoured Atlanta and was not able to find truly authentic French bakeries; his vision came to reality a couple of years ago with the founding of Café Vendôme. Hamid actually spent majority of his career in a technical field (telecommunications) but always had an eye (and taste) for quality food. I asked him if his previous experience working in a technical field was a deterrent for opening up a bakery, and he mentioned that, in fact, it was in many ways advantageous because he built up valuable business experience that translated to owning and running a small business like Café Vendôme.

From the fresh food to the interior decor to the ovens (imported from France) to the counters on which desserts are placed—everything is French (or European) inspired. According to Hamid, the crowds have flocked to Café Vendôme since day one. In fact, the café has been such a popular success over the last two years that a new location of Café Vendôme is opening up at the City Walk in Sandy Springs in late December 2018!

Photos from my recent visit are below.

Exterior view of Café Vendôme. The building entrance is located at the back side of the Belle Isle Square on Roswell Road.

Front entrance to Café Vendôme. The building entrance is located at the back side of the Belle Isle Square on Roswell Road.

Interior of Café Vendôme. Hamid, the owner, is seen in the background.

Interior of Café Vendôme. The macarons decorate a miniature Eiffel Tower near the entrance.

One of my favorite parts about Café Vendôme is the interior decor, but especially the wallpaper adorning the wall below. It is life-size and feels like the room is extending into Rue de Francs Bourgeois at Place de Vosges. That bicycle looks as though it is inside Café Vendôme—alas, it is part of the wallpaper!

Interior of Café Vendôme. The painting in the background is incredible.

Hand-written notes seen inside the café.

Croissants and other freshly-baked pastries on display at Café Vendôme.

Fresh baguettes!

An assortment of desserts.

Tartelettes—a chef’s assortment of delicious tartes.

Various eclairs on display.

Another notable aspect of Café Vendôme is the area where the baking/cooking takes place—open for viewing. This part of the bakery is really popular with kids:

An area at the back of Café Vendôme where visitors can observe the baking process in action. Culinary art live!

Plenty of seating at Café Vendôme including high chairs and comfortable couches.

Fresh baguette ready for consumption!


And in case you were wondering about the coffee: the beans are sourced from Counter Culture Coffee and all of the baristas at Café Vendôme have been personally trained by their team.

A mocha that I ordered at Café Vendôme.

If you’re looking for an authentic French bakery and coffee shop in the Atlanta area, look no further than Café Vendôme. From my conversations with the owner, Hamid, and tasting of the food and coffee here, every effort is made to deliver an amazing experience.

I’m really looking forward to checking out the new Café Vendôme opening up in Sandy Springs City Walk soon!

Café Vendôme
Web | Facebook | Instagram

4969 Roswell Rd, Suite #155
Atlanta, GA 30342
Google Maps link
ph: 404-551-5163

Hours of operation:
Monday-Saturday: 8AM to 6PM
Sunday: 8AM to 4PM

Exploring Grayson Coffee House in Gwinnett County

Expanding on coffee shops located in suburban Atlanta’s Gwinnett County, today’s post profiles Grayson Coffee House in Grayson, GA.

Grayson Coffee House is located in downtown Grayson in a historic house built in the 1940s and has been a popular destination for many locals during the past four years. When I spoke with Cindy (the owner of the shop), she mentioned how there is a strong community that has developed around the coffee shop—church group members, high schoolers studying together for exams, and cycling teams are just a few examples of local devotees of this coffee shop.

Grayson Coffee House offers a selection of coffee drinks, smoothies, teas, and a nice selection of pastries/bagels/muffins on their menu. The roaster with which Grayson Coffee House is partnered is Jittery Joe’s out of Athens, GA.

Photos from my recent visit are below.

Exterior of Grayson Coffee House. Note the little birdhouse up front.

Exterior of Grayson Coffee House. Live music is typical at least once a week.

Interior of Grayson Coffee House. The tablecloths are nicely repurposed.

Life happens—coffee helps. Interior of Grayson Coffee House.

The drink menu at Grayson Coffee House—teas, coffee, and smoothies.

Drink of the month: chaider.

Interior of Grayson Coffee House.

Mugs for sale.

Inside Grayson Coffee House.

Interior of Grayson Coffee House. The bicycle was donated by a member of a cycling team which met at Grayson Coffee House regularly.

It’s coffee-o’clock.

Grayson Coffee House is partnered with Jittery Joe’s coffee (based in Athens, GA).

“Grayson is great” etched on one of the tables.

A side room inside Grayson Coffee House contains ample space for additional seating.

Books and board games for entertainment are available.

Front door of Grayson Coffee House.

As the only independent coffee shop in Grayson, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in that part of the area of Gwinnett County. Keep an eye out on the Grayson Coffee House Instagram page for specials and details of upcoming live shows.

Grayson Coffee House
Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

502 Grayson Pkwy
Grayson, Ga 30017
Google Maps link
ph: 770-837-3448

Hours of operation:
Monday-Friday: 6AM to 8PM
Saturday: 8AM to 8PM
Sunday: closed

Breakfast, Coffee, and More at Full Commission in Grant Park

Initially opened only serving a limited breakfast menu in the summer of 2018, Full Commission is a full-service gastropub (serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and coffee shop located in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta. Full Commission is part of a dozen or so tenants at the Larkin on Memorial mixed-use space.

Full Commission has a full coffee menu; the coffee is sourced from Atlanta’s own East Pole Coffee Co., featuring espresso-based drinks and rotating nitro beverages and more from Phoenix Roasters. 

The space itself is modern and spacious (designed by Atlanta’s Pattern r+d): the interior features a 45-seat dining room with a 10-seat bar, and a fully covered patio (heated for the winter months) provides ample seating for approximately 15 to 20 more people.

Overall, I was really impressed by the design elements, the friendly staff, excellent service, and delicious breakfast and coffee.

Photos from my recent visit to Full Commission are below.

Exterior of Full Commission in Grant Park.

Exterior of Full Commission in Grant Park.

Exterior of Full Commission in Grant Park. Architectural design by Pattern r+d.

The back of Full Commission in Grant Park; a portion of the patio is seen in the background.

Historic elements are located throughout the Larkin on Memorial space.

Interior of the covered patio at Full Commission. The high chairs are perfect for sipping coffee or a cocktail.

During my visit, a number of patrons visited Full Commission with their dogs. Whether making a quick stop for coffee or a having a brunch, Full Commission is very pet-friendly and accommodating.

Full Commission is pet friendly!

On the main sectional couch at Full Commission’s patio.

Full-service bar at Full Commission.

The main counter from which customers make their order.

During my visit between 11AM and noon, many customers were either ordering breakfast or from the brunch menu. I decided to try out “The Northern”—caper cream cheese, smoked salmon & red onion on an "everything” English muffin. It was toasted warm and tasted delicious. For those wondering, there is also “The Southern” on the menu—bacon or country ham, egg & house pimento cheese on an English muffin.

The Northern at Full Commission. Caper cream cheese, smoked salmon & red onion on an "everything” English muffin. Delicious!

Another view of The Northern.

I also ordered a cappuccino to go with the sandwich. It was beautifully presented and brought out to me at the patio:

The cappuccino at Full Commission.

Cappuccino details from Full Commission.

As for the name Full Commission… Full Commission is owned and operated by David Traxler, a Mississippi native and five-year resident of Atlanta; Full Commission is a nod toward David’s past career in sales, from which he saved his sales commission(s) over the years to fund Full Commission’s opening.

Rounding out the Full Commission team is Full Commission co-founder Ben McAdams as general manager; Brandon Peterson, previously of The Federal and Vine & Tap as chef de cuisine; pastry chef Terrence Scott, previously of Café Nordstrom, The Federal and One Eared Stag; and Austin Hewitt, previously of Octane and Bar Cream as the coffee program manager.

If You Go

Full Commission is open from breakfast (the homemade pop-tart looks amazing!) to dinner every day, as well as for Happy Hour on weekdays:

Happy Hour at Full Commission

Monday: All Day. A Boulevard Brisket Sandwich (photo) and your choice of a beer is $12 all day.

Tuesday: 5PM to 7PM. Take $5 off every cocktail on the menu.

Wednesday: All Day. Enjoy select half priced bottles and carafes of wine.

Thursday: 5PM to 7PM. Half-off appetizers!

Friday: 5PM to 7PM. Select beers are $4 every Friday from 5PM to 7PM.

If you still aren’t convinced what to order at Full Commission, peruse their well-curated Instagram feed and you’ll certainly come away feeling hungry and/or thirsty!

Takeaway: one visit to Full Commission is certainly not enough, and I will be making a return visit to try out that home-made pop-tart!

Full Commission
Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

519 Memorial Dr SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
Google Maps link
ph: 404-941-9102

Hours of operation:
Monday-Thursday: 7AM to 10PM
Friday: 7AM to 12AM
Saturday: 8AM to 12AM
Sunday: 8AM to 9PM

Coffee and Waffles at Arte 3 Cafe in Suwanee, GA

Located in a nondescript shopping mall in Suwanee, the Arte 3 Cafe is a Korean-inspired coffee shop serving coffee, tea, bingsu (Korean shaved ice dessert), Korean fish-shaped pastry (bungeo-ppang), and fish bread ice cream. However, perhaps what Arte 3 is best known for are the large, fruit-topped waffles that are freshly prepared.

The Suwanee location of Arte 3 Cafe is the second one to open in Gwinnett County; the other location is located in Duluth, GA.

Photos from a recent trip to the Arte 3 Cafe in Suwanee are below. As you’ll see, the interior is spacious and inviting—two large rooms to get work done with fast Wi-Fi. If you come with a group of six or more, there are reserved, private tables which you can claim without any reservation.

Exterior of Arte 3 Cafe in Suwanee, GA.

Front counter of Arte 3 Cafe. Fish bread, waffles, shaved ice, bubble smoothies, hot tea, ice cream, and coffee are all on the menu.

Preparing customer orders at Arte 3 Cafe.

Interior of Arte 3 Cafe—lots of light from large windows and plenty of lighting.

One of the large rooms with high chairs for setting your laptops, books, etc. To the right: semi-private tables for more privacy.

Interior decorations inside Arte 3 Cafe. Live cacti are a nice touch.

Interior decor at Arte 3 Cafe.

Interior of Arte 3 Cafe—the table on the left offers plenty of natural light during the day. For larger parties (six or more), you can sit at some of the large tables (such as the one seen here in the middle of the frame in the background).

As mentioned, the waffles at Arte 3 are perhaps their most popular dessert. I asked which of the flavors was the most popular from the five options (regular, green tea, chocolate, fruit choco, walnut) and was told the regular was the most popular, which is the one I ordered. The waffle was topped with fresh kiwis, strawberries, bananas, whipped cream, and ice cream. Caramel and chocolate drizzle topped off the waffle. The waffle portion was massive, so I recommend ordering one if you are really hungry or want to share!

A regular waffle order at Arte 3. Note: this is a large waffle.