The 30 Best Coffee Shops in the Southeast

Did you know there are more than 23,000 coffeehouses in North America, where 65% of North Americans consume coffee? In this post, RAVE takes a look at the top cafes and coffee houses in the Southeast.

Even more interesting than the number of coffee drinkers in the region is the history of coffee in the United States. Following the Boston Tea Party to protest Britain’s tax on their most popular drink, coffee quickly became the preferred beverage in colonial America. 

With the colonization of America came the coffee house. Businesspeople used to meet at these coffee houses; this is how and why the New York Stock Exchange is located in the old Tontine Coffee House. The coffee parlors quickly spread throughout New England and have been multiplying ever since. Today coffee shops are common gathering spots located all over America.

The southeastern United States’ coffee shops sing a different melody than the rest of the country. It’s not uncommon to see beer and wine on the menu, as well as a shot of bourbon in your coffee. Sweet Ice Tea and Pecan Pie are classic menu items with authentic Southern flavor. Patios and gardens are also commonplace. 

There are few large-scale and corporate businesses in this area. Each of the coffee shops on our list is privately owned and operated, with the bulk of them run by family members. Many of the coffee businesses listed here give back to the community by providing money or work, and they all utilize Fairtrade beans.

The Methodology of Rating the Best Coffee Houses in the Southeastern United States

The specialty cafes and shops featured in this article have been chosen out of hundreds of possible candidates, and each has its features and qualities that make it unique. In addition, we’ve looked at several other “best of” lists, publications, travel guides, user-based rating sites, and coffee-lovers forums to discover the most-loved places for coffee in the Southeastern United States. 

We narrowed the list down to 30 choices, ranking them using five different factors. Each establishment can get up to 20 points per factor, so a 20 in any one factor equates to a perfect score for that coffee house.

Important! There is no ranking order for these businesses. It would be nearly impossible to rate one over the other since they are so unique. If you want a great cup of coffee, all 30 places will be infinitely satisfying. Since so many factors go into the rating scale, you could very likely find a coffee shop halfway down the list that meets the criteria you are looking for better than those at the top. Be sure to read through the whole list before you plan your next coffee-drinking road trip!

The following factors were used:

1. Nostalgia factor – how well it reflects the local region’s attributes and culture

2. Popularity factor – how popular is it based on sales and word-of-mouth

3. Scarcity factor – how difficult it is to obtain the particular coffee the shop offers

4. Variety – how many options are available for customers to choose from

5. Destination factor – how guest-friendly it is, and whether its a desirable place to visit

This scale, once tallied, allows you to look through the list by the total score for an overall “best” or break down each score to sort through the coffee shops by the factor most important to you. In addition, they are arranged by state to make it easier to find what you are looking for. 

Best Coffee Shops in the Southeastern U.S.

These coffee houses vary in style, atmosphere, size, and number of fans, yet each has something special that keeps people coming back for more. Most importantly, each business represents the best of what its state offers to Southeastern coffee drinkers and visitors alike. 

Love Cafe

South Hill, Virginia

The first coffee shop on our list lives up to its name with friendly and attentive service. Love Cafe, located downtown in the small country town of South Hill, Virginia, was opened mid-pandemic and hasn’t missed a beat. 

The coffeeshop decor is a hippie-esque blend of old-meets-new in the early-century Hotel Lincoln. Doors from the original hotel serve as backrests for chairs, and the ceiling tiles and windows, also from the old hotel, are used to display family photos from the early 1900s to the 1990s. The outdoor Breezeway is cozy with open-air but covered seating, decorated with plants and vegetables grown for menu items. While guests enjoy the Breezeway, fresh veggies are often on display to munch on. 

Perhaps the unique aspect of this coffee shop is the vast and ever-changing menu with items like tacos, smoothie bowls, and homemade Italian soups. Make sure to try the most popular drink at Love Cafe, the Dragon Iced Coffee, alongside a build-your-own Love Bowl.

Nostalgia – 17

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 17

Variety – 19

Destination – 18

Agora Downtown Coffee Shop

Fredricksburg, Virginia

The Agora Downtown Coffee Shop in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, is located in a building that dates back to 1787 and doubles as a used bookstore. The Stone sister’s dream of owning a coffee shop and bakery became a reality in 2015 when they opened Agora. Today they roast their beans and sell Macarons by pre-order. 

Previously a residence, the yellow siding on the building makes Agora fit well in the residential neighborhood where it sits. Once inside, guests are greeted with the smell of fantastic coffee, smiling baristas, and colorful interiors. Liquored coffee is famous here, with drinks like the Black Mamba Mocha. If you’re arent the drinking type, browse the bookstore for a classic read while sipping a Butter Coffee or grab a Curry Tuna Sandwich.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 20

Scarcity – 19

Variety – 19

Destination – 18

Rappahannock Coffee

Arlington, Virginia

This no-frills coffee shop, located in Arlington, Virginia, has limited seating but not limited quality. Opened in 2001, Rappahannock Coffee runs with only four employees and serves approximately 130 customers per day. Guests enjoy classical music flowing from the shop’s speakers while the owner, Paul, is often spotted behind the counter striking up friendly conversations. 

One of the most impressive aspects of Rappahannock Coffee is the information found on its website. A look at the Roasting, Bean Guide, and Ecology sections of the website shows the shop’s deduction to roasting their beans and quality coffee. They go as far as to include a section on the different grind types and a paragraph on the kind of water best for brewing. They believe: “brewing only freshly roasted coffee is the only way to extract the true flavor of a coffee bean. Since a roasted bean’s flavor degrades fairly quickly, we only roast what can be freshly brewed, preserving the true flavor of coffee in our store or your home”. 

Despite the obvious care that has been lavished on the site, No online sales make their coffee exclusive to the cafe, which necessitates an in-person visit. Crowd favorites include the Honey Vanilla Latte, Quiche, and Panini.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 17

Variety – 18

Destination – 20

Heirloom Brewshop

Raleigh, North Carolina

The last coffee shop on our list is truly unlike any other on this list or in the nation. With its Asian-inspired food, drinks, and aesthetics, Heirloom Brewshop is eager to impress Raleigh, North Carolina visitors. There are waves of wood lattice atop the ivory walls and ceiling, which give way to a lot of foliage, making the room feel lively, open, airy. It’s an ideal spot to unwind from the busy season with a relaxing break. 

During the fall of 2018, the owners traveled across Asia, gathering research for their grand opening. In addition to serving delicious drinks, Heirloom seamlessly blends the various cultures it incorporates into its menu with items like the Curry Tofu Gravy + Biscuit and Mochi Donuts. During your visit, enjoy a sake cocktail or a pour-over coffee and soak up the ambiance of Asian-American fusion.

Nostalgia – 20

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 20

Variety – 19

Destination – 20 

Caffe Driade

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Caffe Driade may have the most charming setting on our list. Located off Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this coffee shop is tucked in with trees and surrounded by luscious green gardens. This espresso bar, wine bar, and teahouse has been serving up its delicacies for over 25 years. 

Founder Scott Conary travels worldwide, establishing relationships with small producers and farmers. Many of these Direct Relationship coffees are served in the cafe and many other bargains from Scott’s coffee buying adventures. Frequent guests stroll directly from the Bolin Creek Trail to enjoy a Ginger Beer Cold Brew on one of the patios. The baristas here are experts at pour-overs, and the Chickpea Tartine is one of a kind.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 19

Destination – 20 

Double D’s Coffee & Desserts

Asheville, North Carolina

Our next coffee shop is inside a bus. That’s right, a red, British, double-decker trolly. Double D’s Coffee & Desserts in downtown Asheville is a landmark in this North Carolina city. The coffeehouse (or should we say coffee bus) has been serving espressos and locally baked goods for over 20 years. 

For a truly unique coffee experience, Double D’s offers seating on the top half of the bus. There is also a gorgeous courtyard patio with about ten tables for outdoor seating. The doors don’t open until 10 am, and payment is by cash only, but the service is speedy and very friendly. Sought after specialty drinks from Double D’s are the Lavender Honey Latte and the Red Hot Chili Mocha.

Nostalgia – 20

Popularity – 20

Scarcity – 19

Variety – 17

Destination – 20 

Coffee Underground

Greenville, South Carolina

“’HOT coffee. COOL vibe,” written in large bold text on the website of Coffee Underground, describes this coffeeshop to a tee. Since it opened in 1995, it has been a thriving cultural hotspot. Founded to bring Seattle-style coffee to Greenville, South Carolina, Coffee Underground serves delicious coffee from beans roasted on-premises. 

The dim-lit underground shop is eclectic, hip, and comfortable. Red walls, cement floors, and exposed ductwork make the decor unique. More unique, however, is the theatre room showcasing weekly stand-up comedy, local musical artists, independent film screenings, and occasional TedX salons. Guests can order from the beer, wine, and cocktails menu while enjoying a show or try the fan-favorite Mexican Mocha. 

Breakfast is served any time of day, as is the Strawberry Cake. Hop on the website and click Coffee Facts to learn about the detriment that is corporate coffee and why shopping local is vital.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 19

Variety – 18

Destination – 19

Vintage Coffee Cafe

Mt Pleasant, South Carolina

Vintage Coffee Cafe is an adorable addition to Mt Pleasant, South Carolina. Opened in 2015, this coffee shop used to be a cottage. The white and turquoise decor gives way to rustic and beach vibes, complete with a white picket fence. An antique truck is the primary focus of a play area for children, and the cafe features a spacious outdoor seating patio.

There is an additional area, separate from the restaurant, where pizzas are baked and served in the evening. 

Vintage Coffee Cafe always seems busy but keeps its laid-back vibe. Serving Counter Culture brand coffee, pour-overs are common here. Homemade Apple Cider Donuts sell like hotcakes, as does the Avacado Toast. For a healthy drink, try the Turmeric Ginger Chail Latte, or if you are looking for a mood boost, have a Mimosa.

Nostalgia – 19

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 17

Variety – 18

Destination – 20 

smallSUGAR

Columbia, South Carolina

Tucked away in a Columbia, South Carolina alleyway, smallSUGAR can be hard to locate, but the search is well worth it. Owned and operated by a Chef and his wife, smallSUGAR is a coffee shop, but its delectable food menu makes it more of a restaurant. This small cafe is comforting with its recycled wood decor and the scent of warm baked goods. Seating is also available on the outdoor covered porch. 

Also impressive is the community outreach; smallSUGAR provides over 700 meals a week to local non-profit organizations such as Palmetto Place Children’s Home, North Columbia Youth Empowerment Community, and those on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, the company pays its employees a living wage instead of accepting gratuity. 

This coffee shop restaurant specializes in “Carolina Cuisine,” which offers fresh, seasonal ingredients mainly sourced from smaller farms in the Carolinas. All bakery ingredients are made from scratch using whole grain flours grown and milled locally. The menu dons items like the Pork Loin Sandwich, Sals-for-Breakfast, and various Tartines. If you’re there for the coffee, add Chrysanthemum flavoring. If tea is more your style, order the Charleston Fog.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 18

Destination – 17 

Harbinger Cafe & Bakery

Charleston, South Carolina

Located on the renowned King Street in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, stands the olive green building, Harbinger Cafe & Bakery. Opened in 2017 by two best friends, this coffee shop is well-loved by the locals. The inky blue accents, the pink tints, and the vintage furniture hand-picked by the designer make this coffee shop a quirky-cool place to take a load off. Even more enjoyable is the small patio seating area under trees. 

Order a Rose the Riveter or Berry Chocolate cake online as the bakery here in the heart of the business. Commendably, each month, Harbinger donates proceeds from Spice Girls sales to the YWCA’s Eliminating Racism Program and proceeds from candles to the S.C. Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network.

The veggie-centric menu features locally sourced ingredients and seasonal inspirations. Grab an Early Bird Granola Bowl followed by the Smoke Show oatmeal cookie paired with an iced Jack Rudy Espresso Tonic.

Nostalgia – 19

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 18

Destination – 18 

The Coffee Fox

Savannah, Georgia

The popularity of our next coffee shop makes it as bustling as the historic downtown Savannah, Georgia area it calls home. The Coffee Fox features a sticker-slapped wall with a large golden antelope bust hung in the middle, which says something about the rest of the ambiance. 

Busy with long lines, this corner store carries a hipster feel and great coffee. Enthusiastic and talkative baristas are skilled at Chemex pour-overs and espressos. The Coffee Fox proudly brews local PERC brand coffee, fresh pastries, and craft beer. Rare is the 96-ounce to-go coffee that serves 8 to 12 people. Check out the Tex-Mex cuisine like the Huevos Rancheros Quiche or the Cuban Panini and sip on an Horachata latte. 

Nostalgia – 17

Popularity – 20

Scarcity – 17

Variety – 18

Destination – 17

Taste and See Coffee Shop & Gallery

Macon, Georgia

Located in Macon, Georgia, Taste and See Coffee Shop looks like an art gallery in the woods. The unique interior includes a coffee counter made from logs and stone, leather bar stools and couches, wooden floors, and a stone hearth fireplace. Freestanding dividers display nature photography, as do the walls. 

Taste and See is involved in many missions to do its part in making the world better. Food for the Poor, OM Costa Rica, Feed Haiti, and Samaritan’s Purse are just a few. 

This coffee shop brews Safehouse Coffee brand while the sauces, syrups, and baked goods are made in-house using natural ingredients. The Liquid Gold, a double espresso with steamed milk, caramel sauce, and honey-vanilla syrup, is a favorite of regular customers. True to its Southern roots, the menu includes a Peach Cobbler Muffin and a Bacon Cheddar Scone. Don’t miss out on the delectable Iced Honey Vanilla Latte when visiting.

Nostalgia – 20

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 19

Variety – 18

Destination – 20 

Urban Grind

Atlanta, Georgia

Since 2007, Urban Grind has provided authentic coffee house culture to Atlanta, Georgia’s West Midtown area. The proudly black-owned coffeeshop dons red walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. The picture-perfect interior is the filming location for Real Housewives of Atlanta and other Holywood productions. Soft, comfy couches and readily available board games add to the hip and homey environment. 

While it’s sometimes a challenge to find a close parking spot, the experience is worth it. Evenings are filled with art exhibits, poetry readings, and discussion groups with open Mic Nights featuring comedy, music, and spoken word/poetry every week. Locally-roasted coffee blends and single-origin roasts include the Urban Grind Blend and Westside ATL Blend. The menu also features many loose-leaf teas such as Rooibos Peach and Citron Green. Finally, satiate your hunger with a Grilled Alaskan Salmon Sandwich and a White Raspberry Mocha.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 19

Variety – 19

Destination – 18

The Clever Cup

Sarasota, Florida

A local favorite and a big part of the Sarasota, Florida community is The Clever Cup. The lattes come with adorable coffee art in huge cups adorned with the company’s fox logo. The design of the coffee shop is clean and crisp. Turquois, clear, and yellow chairs line the wooden tables while pillows are strewn throughout the long booth. 

The walls are decorated with the works of local artists, and local musicians play at the open mic on Friday nights. Thursdays are craft nights. By donating to local charities, sponsoring local school activities, and participating in community events, The Clever Cup is dedicated to supporting the local community. 

The shop uses Fairtrade organic coffees from local Black Gold Coffee Roasters are brewed, and downtown Sarasota’s Sift Bakehouse curates the pastries. The Honeycomb Latte shows up frequently in good reviews, as does the Caramel Oat Bar and the Tumeric Golden Latte.

Nostalgia – 19

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 18

Destination – 19 

Bold Bean Coffee Roasters

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

We love coffee shops that source and roast their own beans, and Bold Bean Coffee Roasters does just that. Founded in 2007, Bold Bean offers specialty coffees and intentional service to Jacksonville, Florida, and beyond, all sourced from sustainable growers. 

This company travels the globe to source ethical, fair trade, organic, quality coffee. You won’t find dark roasts here as this coffee shop believes in retaining the original flavor, true to the bean, keeping to lights and mediums. Catch their video for a “peek behind the certain” at Bold Bean’s roasting process. 

Located three blocks from the ocean shore, this coffee shop has a light and airy feel with mint green accents and a minimalist design. The menu features the Americano, an espresso-toped coca-cola, and the Matcha Sunrise, a sparkling water with O.J., vanilla, and matcha on top. Sign up for a coffee subscription and have Bold Bean Coffee delivered monthly to your door.

Nostalgia – 17

Popularity – 20

Scarcity – 17

Variety – 18

Destination – 20 

Boston Coffeehouse

DeLand, Florida

Step into colonial Boston in DeLand, Florida, at the Boston Coffeehouse. Housed in a historic downtown building, brick walls, low ceilings, and dark wood furniture create a nostalgic and Irish pub-like setting. The hum of the espresso machines and the chatter of patrons fill the air at this buzzing shop.

The excellent service and an extensive menu keep guests coming back to enjoy more. Crowd favorites like the Pesto Breakfast Ciabatta and the P3 Power Protein Plus are served all day. True to the Boston theme, the menu showcases drinks such as the Yankee Doodle, Crazy Colonial, and Nutty Irish Lady. If you’ve got an appetite, try the Turkey Reuben and leave satisfied.

Nostalgia – 20

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 18

Destination – 19

Cafe DuMonde

New Orleans, Louisiana

The next coffee shop on our list needs no introduction, and if this list were ordered by rank, it would likely be close to the top. Cafe DuMonde in New Orleans, Louisiana, is renowned for its award-winning café au lait and even more so for the coveted beignet. 

The most well-known shop on our list, Cafe DuMond is also the largest with its open-air dining area of 250 seats and the oldest with an opening date of 1862. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, just two blocks from Bourbon Street, the patio is more often than not filled with the jazzy sounds of street musicians. The lines here are often long, the menu is limited, and only cash is accepted as payment, but it’s all part of the experience. 

Their famous chicory coffee sells quickly in stores nationwide, but the taste of a fresh cup brewed on-site can’t be duplicated. Visit Cafe DuMonde anytime as they never close except on Christmas Day and for the occasional Louisiana hurricane. Don’t wear black as the square fried dough beignets are covered in powdered sugar.

Nostalgia – 20

Popularity – 20

Scarcity – 20

Variety – 17

Destination – 20 

Jet Coffee

Lafayette, Louisiana

The youngest coffee shop on our list opened in 2019 but will be around for a long time. Jet Coffee strives to serve excellent quality at jet-speed service without sacrificing taste and quality. 

Housed in Lafayette, Louisiana, this no-frills shop has a clean and crisp feel streamlined with bare white walls and primarily empty countertops. Baristas wear t-shirts printed with the chemical composition of coffee and big smiles. Jet Coffee is the only coffee shop on our list and perhaps in the country to include printable coloring pages on their website. 

There is no food menu here; Jet Coffee focuses on the java, evident in its flavor. Drinks like the Bomber and Cloud 9 fit the shop’s name perfectly. Order a Green Apple Smoothie for yourself and a kid-size one for the toddler at the extremely fast drive-thru.

Nostalgia – 19

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 17

Destination – 17

Vibe Coffee

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

History starts here with tours of downtown Elizabethtown, Kentucky beginning at the location of our next coffee shop. Vibe Coffee moved into the historic jewel-in-the-rough building in 2013 after nearly 50 years as a dress shop. The classic coffehouse vibe (see what we did there) with exposed brick walls, dark wood furniture, soft music, and brightly colored wall art feels welcoming. 

The enthusiastic baristas are happy to give samples of the coffee flavors, all brewed from locally roasted beans. All the syrups, sauces, and cookies are homemade on the premises, as are the pastries and sauces. True to its Southeastern home, Vibe offers waffles and banana bread. Take a seat at one of the few tables out front and watch the bustle of the city while enjoying an Acai Chocolate Bowl and an Orange Cinnamon Latte.

Nostalgia – 17

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 19

Destination – 20 

Spencer’s Coffee

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Spencer’s coffee deserves its spot on our list primarily because of its excellent coffee. Spencers is located in downtown Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Fountain Square. Though always busy, it isn’t hard to find a chair with seating for up to eighty and more in the delightful courtyard out back. This coffee shop has a classic, open feel thanks to its arched doors and windows, high black ceiling, and exposed brick. 

Spencers sources fresh-crop coffees from around the globe, paying above-market prices to bring home only the best. The whole beans are available in twelve-ounce bags, but sipping a freshly brewed latte in-house is unrivaled. The in-house selection changes weekly, along with the rotating selection of seasonal espresso drinks and craft beers on draft. 

The 95-ounce Brew Box To-go is offered complete with cups and condiments to serve up to eight people. Customers rave about the Lavender Latte, Harvest Focaccia, and Quinoa Bowl.

Nostalgia – 17

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 18

Destination – 18 

Third Street Stuff & Coffee

Lexington, Kentucky

We have to be honest here; we had a hard time choosing the word for the next coffee shop on our list. Quirky, bright, artsy, whimsical, nostalgic, colorful, and cute all fit the bill. Third Street Stuff & Coffee looks like a child’s dream but for grown-ups with its brightly colored chairs, tables, and walls to its floors hand-painted with stars and hearts. As impressive as the decor is the quality coffee and great food. 

With regular donations to community organizations like God’s Pantry and Sunrise Movement Tornado Relief, Third Street does its part to make the world a better place. The commitment to the community continues with serving locally roasted and Fair Trade Organic Certified coffee and locally baked goods. In addition, the website proclaims the coffee shop as an LGBTQI safe zone. 

Shop for handmade jewelry and gifts while savoring a Cinnamon White Hot or have a seat at one of the hand-painted tables and enjoy a Curry Chicken Sandwich.

Nostalgia – 20

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 19

Variety – 18

Destination – 20 

Mississippi Grounds

Cleveland, Mississippi

Mississippi Grounds, which has taken over the emptiness of an old service station, is the go-to coffee shop for Cleveland and Delta State University. Located across the street from the Cleveland courthouse, this coffee shop has been buzzing since 2011. The walls here are mostly glass with windows galore, attributing to the light and ambiance. A barbeque pit sits in front of the building for frequent dinner service. 

The friendly baristas at Mississippi Grounds know their trade and practice it well. Menu items like the Ruth Wren, a chicken salad with dried cranberries and celery on a hoagie bun, keep customers coming back. Take a load off inside or out and indulge in a specialty Hot Chocolate with your choice of 18 flavors.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 19

Destination – 19 

Coffee Fusion

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Coffee Fusion is located on the Gulf Coast in Ocean Spring, Mississippi. Specializing in gourmet coffee and Asian milk bubble tea since 2003, this coffee shop is also open for supper, earning it the label of “restaurant.” 

Bright orange, yellow, and green colors welcome you as you enter a modest yet lovely room. The owner is frequently present, and guests have come to expect nothing less than excellent customer service.

Everything on the menu is created in-house. Add Boba or Jellies to any cold beverage. The Cranberry Walnut Salad and the Caribbean Steak Wrap are fan favorites, and the Cafe Sua Da drink is a must-try.

Nostalgia – 17

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 19

Variety – 19

Destination – 18 

Church Street Coffee & Books

Mountain Brook, Alabama

Serving the Birmingham, Alabama Community Since 2011, Church Street Coffee & Books welcomes coffee lovers and book enthusiasts alike. The interior decor of the place? Books. Books line the walls, filling every nook and resting on the service counter. 

This coffee shop serves coffees, teas, baked goods, and, you guessed it, books. Guests can borrow a used or new book to read while lounging or purchase one for take-home. If a particular book isn’t in stock, the helpful baristas will happily place an order for it. 

There are regularly scheduled author reading events, and Church Street Coffee is a great place for little ones too. In fact, this coffee shop is a great family outing destination featuring a reading area and a menu for children. 

It’s impossible to mention Church Street Coffee & Books in Birmingham without mentioning The Breakup Cookie. The famous chocolate chip cookie with sea salt is available by the dozen or individually. The Breakup Cookie recipe can be found on the New York Times website, along with a video on Food Network on the preparation of the cookie. So sit for a spell and read the newest bestseller while enjoying a locally roasted by Octane Coffee brand latte or the coveted Church Street Chai.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 18

Destination – 19 

BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets

Orange Beach, Alabama

Our next coffee shop is as excellent as its name. BuzzCats Coffee & Sweets, located in Orange Beach, Alabama, has a cool cat vibe from its purple and turquoise walls to its black ceiling and purple menu. Ample seating is available inside as well as out. 

The legend goes that the BuzzCats owners fell in love with coffee shops on a trip to Belgium and decided to bring the quality and style to the U.S. This is evident in the fantastic taste of the made-from-scratch waffles. The locals revere BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets as the best breakfast around. The bakery items are top-notch, curated, and baked by a Pen College grad with a degree in baking and pastry. 

The coffee is brewed from locally roasted beans, and the pop tarts are made in-house from scratch. Pecan Praline Cinnamon Rolls are king here. Stop in on Flap Jack Monday or Tortilla Tuesday to indulge in the daily special.

Nostalgia – 19

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 17

Variety – 18

Destination – 18 

Rooted and Grounded Coffee House

Mobile, Alabama

One of only two not-for-profit coffee shops on our list, this next coffee shop is also the newest, recently opening its doors in 2020 in Mobile, Alabama. Rooted and Grounded Coffeehouse is a small and somewhat secret coffee shop that made its way to our list because of its unique mission. This Christian-based coffee shop aims to foster faith and community. 

The white building could be mistaken for a house since there is no advertising other than the meek signage and the black silhouette of a tree with roots painted on the front. However, inside, you’ll encounter a peaceful atmosphere created by the worship music playing in the background. It’s the perfect place for studying or catching up with friends. 

Rooted and Grounded has regularly scheduled worship nights with coffee at 5 o’clock and worship at 6 o’clock. The menu is limited, but the taste is not. Try one of thirteen latte flavors, such as Local Honey Latte or Sugar-Free Peppermint, and eat a gluten-free Raspberry Friand.

Nostalgia – 20

Popularity – 17

Scarcity – 20

Variety – 18

Destination – 18 

Americano Lounge

Nashville, Tennessee

If this were a contest, this next coffee shop would likely come in second. Here, patrons sip coffee in a Depression-Era lounge located in historic Houston Station in downtown Nashville, Tennesee. 

The Americano Lounge bears its name from American and European culture in the 1930s during World War II. This coffee shop feels like an older time, from the grand piano sitting in the corner to the jazzy blues music on the speakers. Check out the website for a history of coffee’s beginning in the U.S. 

Americano Lounge uses only Estate Single Origin A.A. Organic Rainforest Certified Coffee grown to the highest standards of ethical sustainability. True to the 1930s style, the lounge has an impressive alcohol menu featuring coffee cocktails, signature cocktails, and a plethora of variations on classic drinks. Visit at night for jazzy sounds and a Charlie Brown Manhattan or a Sophisticated Lasy Martini. Return in the morning for a Cold Brew Coffee and a Pescado Gourmet Croissant.

Nostalgia – 20

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 19

Variety – 19

Destination – 20 

Ugly Mug Coffee

Memphis, Tennessee

The epitome of a unique coffee shop, Ugly Mug Coffee is anything but ugly. While the shop has additional locations in Nashville and Lenoir City, Memphis, Tennesee is the original and central hub. This coffee shop belongs in Memphis with Elvis-inspired names on the menu, such as the Blue Groove Latte. 

The outside of the building gives that space-age mid-century vibe. Inside, a diverse collection of coffee mugs line the walls. But if you’re in a hurry, at least go through the drive-through and grab the Cuban Sandwich and a Full Moon Frappe.

Buying directly from the farms means that Ugly Mug only roasts coffee grown and traded sustainably for the farmers and the environment. The featured beverage is Ugly Mug’s new Rare Origin Coffee: Myanmar. Cupping notes of blueberry and grape are present in this naturally processed coffee. Notably, rare coffees such as this are exceedingly difficult to obtain and are very limited in supply. 

Nostalgia – 10

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 18

Variety – 18

Destination – 19 

Cadence Coffee Company

Chattanooga, Tennesee

There is nothing ordinary about Cadence Coffee Company, and hence, it deserves its spot on our list. This Chatanooga, Tennessee-based coffee shop employs homeless people to help them get back on their feet. This fact is not immediately apparent when looking at their website, however, since Cadence Coffee instead emphasizes their excellent service over the status of their staff. 

So, in addition to enjoying a delicious Chemex-brewed coffee, you will be helping alleviate Chattanooga’s homelessness issue – and that will help you feel better than any of the great ingredients in your coffee. 

The cozy living room setting is a comfortable and inviting spot where you can snack on a hard-boiled egg or a Sausage and Cream Cheese Popover and follow it with a Cold Brew. 

Nostalgia – 17

Popularity – 18

Scarcity – 20

Variety – 18

Destination – 18 

The Empty Cup

Knoxville, Tennessee

Our next coffee shop is the other non-profit company on our list. It offers not only delicious coffee but also a unique mission. Knoxville-based Empty Cup provides adoption grants with all of its net profit. Its mission is to become a sustainable source for adoption fundraising. 

The large dining area with its plethora of couches, tables, and lounge chairs is an eclectic and cozy way to grab a cold brew. Children’s play areas make for a beautiful family environment. Southern selections like the Pecan Pie Au-lait and ample scone selections are featured on the menu. Listen to live music from the patio while sipping on a Bavarian Chocolate Iced-Coffee or hit the drive-through and choose from over eight Blue Bell ice cream flavors.

Nostalgia – 18

Popularity – 19

Scarcity – 20

Variety – 19

Destination – 18 

You may also like:

Heather Ryerson

Heather Ryerson is a freelance writer who enjoys creating content across a broad range of industries, including travel, education, cannabis, and more. An iced coffee addict and Maine native, she is happiest when she is fully caffeinated, working near any body of water, and hanging out with the fam.