If you’ve taken the time to read my bio below each post I write, thank you. You may have noticed I mention I’m still taking classes – such is the life of an arts and sciences major. After undergrad, grad school! Between working at Smart Furniture and class I’m pretty busy, especially towards the end of each semester. As such, like any good grad student, I’ve become quite familiar with the coffee shops in the area. While I’m by no means the office expert – that title is reserved for our “dirty hippie” Melanie – I can give you the scoop on where to go if you’re in or around Chattanooga.
Located over by the Choo Choo, the Camp House is a unique blend of coffee shop, community space and music venue. Sure, it’s not the coziest environment but the coffee is great and it’s also a good place to hear some local music. In fact, our very own Mark Rico will be playing with a few friends in the coming weeks. And, every Thursday they host an open mic night of original music and poetry that showcases local talent. If you’re looking to get a taste of the Chattanooga cultural scene and enjoy a fine cup of coffee the Camp House is one place you need to visit.
Their coffee is good, their pancakes and biscuits are AMAZING. True, Aretha’s would be considered by some to be more of a restaurant but we’re including it here because they still have a coffee shop feel. The coffee is good and the food is unreal. Like “wait for hours just to have a bite of that monstrous pancake” unreal. If you make it here on a weekend and the line’s long, we’d recommend walking up to the bar and ordering a cup of java as you wait. And trust us, it’s worth the wait.
On this one, I’ve deferred to a much more experienced coffee connoisseur. According to Ms. Silva, Mean Mug has the best coffee in town, hands down. They use an uber fancy, Italian espresso machine that is used at the world barista championships. What sets this high tech piece apart from the rest is its semi-automatic setting, a feature unique to Mean Mug. By using semi-auto, the barista can control how much water goes into the beverage, a degree of control and personalization other coffee shops on this list can’t match. Mean Mug also gets points on the local scale too, using locally roasted coffees in their delectable brews. Sure, the service may be slow but Mean Mug treats their work like a craft, ensuring the utmost quality on each pour. Open 7am-5pm, they don’t have the best hours – but their coffee is worth rearranging your schedule for. Or, if you’re like Melanie, driving across town past three or four other locations on this list.
Located just across the Tennessee River, Stone Cup is a great coffee shop for those in a rush. The coffee is always good and the service is speedy, a rare feat for a coffee shop. It always amazes me how slow service can be at coffee shops with all the caffeine flowing through there (drink a cup of what you sell, you’ll work faster). Stone Cup bucks this trend by getting you the beverage of your choice in what has to be record time for a coffee shop. The staff is friendly, the service is great, and the coffee is good; Stone Cup is a great option if you’re fading fast and need a quick pick me up. Also, the back patio overlooks Coolidge Park, the Walnut Street Bridge and the Tennessee River, giving it by far the best view of any place on this list.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth to satisfy (and a caffeine tooth?) then Rembrandt’s is the place for you. Their coffee is very good, but it’s really their pastries, desserts and other delectable offerings that set Rembrandt’s apart. Seriously, skip a meal to cut calories and go binge on some of the deserts that Rembrandt’s has to offer. Other pros? They’re located in the Bluff View Art District; on a nice day their patio is a great spot for lunch (they have a full menu too). Word of warning, on weekends it can get pretty crowded, so time your visit accordingly. If you don’t have time for lunch or would rather skip the crowds, we strongly encourage you to stop by one evening.
Yeah yeah, we included a chain. The coffee doesn’t measure up to everything else on this list, but it feels like they’re always open, which is nice if you’re in a bind. They’re even open on holidays, which is a little soulless, but hey, when you need coffee you need coffee.
Just one block away from the Smart Furniture office, Greyfriar’s offers quality coffee and the staff is always nice. They have plenty of tables if you need to get some work done (still a student…) and the staff always seem to put a smile on your face. Greyfriar’s also gets points for the local roasting factor, and the coffee is always fresh. It’s tough to beat the convenience for us, but more than that Greyfriar’s offers a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere in the heart of downtown.
Oh my, another chain!?!? We put this one on here out of respect to Matt and TJ. TJ always seems to have a Panera coffee cup in his hand and I’m not sure Matt would survive without Panera just across the street to satisfy his mid-afternoon cookie craving. Primary pro? You know what you’re getting. It’s consistently … Panera?