Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chattanooga Coffee Shops

Not only does Chattanooga have a wealth of local restaurants, the city has the same entrepreneurial attitude towards coffee. Some local have commented that Chattanooga in many ways seems a little like Portland, OR; or Boulder, CO; only 5-10 years behind. In regards to Chattanooga's local coffee culture, this is definitely true. Starbucks franchises are few and far between, as are other coffee and cafe standards like Panera Bread. More common are mom and pop coffee shops, many of which roast their own beans, which are served not only on the premises but at many of the restaurants and groceries around town. Here are some of your great options whether you need a jolt in the morning, a place to get work done, or somewhere to enjoy a little non-alcoholic socializing.

A barista at Greyfriars
Copyright © Greyfriars Coffee
Greyfriars Coffee is one of Chattanooga's oldest coffee shops and roasters. Like 212 Market and a few other downtown pioneers, Greyfriars was one of the first businesses to set up in the newly revitalized downtown area during the 1990s. The current roasters here know their beans and have decades of experience. A past roaster went on to open his own roasting company in Seattle, testing what he'd learned in Chattanooga on the coffee capital of the world's refined pallet. The atmosphere is quiet and chill, making it a great place to work or study in peace. For information on their widely distributed blends, visit

Stone Cup Coffee Bar is another one of Chattanooga's long standing coffee institutions. It's been a part of North Chattanooga for over 15 years. Their approach to coffee is best summed up by the Turkish proverb that's been emblazoned on their chalkboard for all that time, "Black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love." They are also a major coffee roaster, with more information on that aspect of their business at They have a large seating area and one of the biggest patios of any coffee shop in town, overlooking Coolidge Park and the Tennessee River. With a 10 PM closing, Stone Cup is open much later than other spots in town, making it perfect for those who want to partake of the local nightlife without a beer buzz.

Fresh baked goods at Pasha's Coffee and Tea
Copyright © Pasha Coffee and Tea
Toast Cafe, formerly known as Coffee Crafters, has been a student coffee shop classic since 2003. It is just down the street from the center of UTC's campus and only a block from one of its largest dorm complexes. They recently moved a few doors down from their original location to a spot with more seating and better capacity for their roasting business. It's long been lauded by local coffee fanatics as one of the very best roasters in town, beating out even the older coffee shops.

Pasha Coffee and Tea is an excellent coffee shop in St. Elmo, with a unique subtle Mediterranean/Middle Eastern theme. They offer Turkish coffee, a rarity in Chattanooga, as well as an optional side dish of stuffed grape leaves (doulmas) and paninis with hummus. There is seating in both the busier front room and in a generous back area, making it perfect for both quiet moments of productivity and running into friends, neighbors, and fellow regulars. They don't roast their own beans, but they do prepare all their baked goods in house. Keep an eye on their social media accounts for the ever-evolving lineup of creative pastries, muffins, and more.
A seating area at Mean Mug
Copyright © Mean Mug
The Camp House is new to the coffee shop scene-- it's part of the newly trendy Southside neighborhood. They offer more than the typical coffee house, however, in that they are also a community hub and entertainment venue, offering a variety of evening events from concerts to movie nights to worship services. Camp House recently hosted a screening of Facny Rhino's hugely successful film Build Me a World, on the comeback of the once-troubled local Howard school. They also regularly open their doors to professional events, such as social media seminars.

Mean Mug Coffee is one of the newest additions to the Chattanooga coffee scene. It's owned and operated by the same folks who have opened three wildly successful local pubs, The Honest Pint, Hair of the Dog, and The Terminal. Mean Mug shares its siblings attention to menu detail and atmosphere. It's been described by regulars as "a step back into the 90s" and "a lot like places in Seattle." They have fresh, innovated specials each day, often involving their made from scratch house-recipe bagels or seasonal soup and sandwich pairings. Mean Mug doesn't brew its own coffee, but does get its roasts from local roaster Velo, which is located just a few blocks down Main Street.

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