A Guide To the Most ‘Brew’-tiful Cafes

Typical college students wake up, slam their alarm clock, throw on clothes and grab their Emory card to purchase their first, most essential nutrient of the day — caffeine. From the moment they take their first sip of coffee, they are reassured that they can handle the day, or at the least manage to stay awake during their first class.

For me, the magic of coffee doesn’t evolve from the taste nor the vigilance rewarded from consumption, but rather through the experience. Given a choice, I would much rather sip on a vanilla latte in a nearby coffee shop than anxiously chug standard coffee in Club Libs or fight for a table in Kaldi’s or the on-campus Starbucks.

The beauty beyond coffee shops, as a concept, is that anything is possible. Beyond the Emory bubble, there are higher chances of making new friends, receiving job offers or even reducing the seemingly interminable pile of schoolwork.

Here are a handful of my favorite coffee shops near campus:

ChocoLaté Coffee

ChocoLaté is the closest coffee shop to Emory’s campus, lodged between the local record store and Saigon Cafe. From the moment you step in, you are reminded of the familiar setup akin to the set of Central Perk Square from the famous TV. show, Friends. ChocoLaté seems to be the ideal location for friends to meet and chat for a few minutes, but it can be challenging to study there at certain hours of the day due to the noisiness.

Although the background noise may make it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork, the friendly crowd paired with the café’s dark ambience and eclectic, tasteful music make for a small, cozy shop.

Chocolaté’s coffee selection is tasteful, but in my opinion, the best item on the menu is the Café Romina. Unfortunately, the cappuccinos and lattes taste as though they come from a vending machine. Several pastries offered at the café are provided by local farmers and are switched weekly. If you are interested in a study site with dark, earthy vibes close enough so you don’t miss your classes, make sure to swing by ChocoLaté.  

Comfort: 4/5   Ambience: 3/5

Accessibility and Amenities: 5/5

Coffee Satisfaction Rating: 2/5

Anmol Mahtani/Contributing
Anmol Mahtani/Contributing Latte art brings style to hot drinks at the Dancing Goat.

Dancing Goats Coffee Bar (Decatur Location)

The Batdorf and Bronson coffee selection at Dancing Goats will leave you itching for more. The coffee quality is pristine, and the latte art will excite all of your Snapchat friends. Unfortunately, the colder the beverages are, the less satisfactory. Although the hot beverages at Dancing Goats leave you warm and satiated, the iced coffees and lattes from Dancing Goats leave the remnants of a suboptimal, milky-water aftertaste, rather than the savory, desired flavor of coffee. The coffee shop, styled with a modern finish and the playlist consisting of mostly Latin music, continuously attracts its customers with its notorious sugar-coated donuts and morning pastries.

Conversely, this coffee shop may be better more of a grab-and-go location, rather than a place to sit down for longer periods of time since the amount of seating options and outlets are limited. Dancing Goats has a second location at Ponce City Market where seating is more readily available and the tastefully furnished outdoor ambience attracts customers. However, if you are in a crunch for time or don’t want to drive as far, Decatur’s Dancing Goats fulfills the basic needs.

Comfort: 2/5  Ambience: 4/5

Accessibility and Amenities: 1/5

Coffee satisfaction rating: 3.7/5

Good Karma Coffee House

Ignore what Starbucks says; Good Karma Coffee House offers the best pumpkin spice latte in town. Located in the Avondale Estates, Good Karma prepares coffees with organic, unprocessed ingredients. The coffee shop prides itself on the motto “we eat free.” The franchise serves a variety of delicious pastries and aromatic breakfast items without gluten, egg or soy. The ingredients used in the food and coffee are also provided by local farmers, rather than the average commercialized establishment, which is what makes the pastries taste so good.

Although Good Karma may be one of the furthest coffee shops on this list, their Instagram account is updated daily to convince coffee consumers to make the lengthy venture. The Good Karma employees showcase the menu and freshly baked pastries daily. The hidden spot is lauded for the selection friendly for those folk with allergies, yet is humbled by the average quality and presentation of the regular coffee items.

From my experience, Good Karma’s vanilla latte tasted below satisfactory and lacks the basic presentation of latte art, and the regular coffee is exactly that: regular. Additionally, the number of tables and charging outlets may be abundant, but the downfall of Good Karma are its limited hours of operation. Usually, the café is only open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Comfort: 4/5    Ambience: 3.5/5

Accessibility and Amenities: 5/5

Coffee satisfaction rating: 4/5

Taproom Coffee and Beer

Taproom Coffee and Beer is my favorite location to do work. This brightly lit café, illuminated by LED lights and artwork, gives you the most bang for your buck. The richly flavored coffee comes in large quantities at a reasonable price: for four dollars, you can either purchase an entire vat of drip coffee or a teapot filled with warm water and fresh tea leaves (and a free re-steep). The endless variety of drinks caters to several types of people. Taproom serves coffee, drip coffee, tea and beer. Although Taproom does not serve proper meals, the store offers snacks and pastries, and other restaurants are located within walking distance. Taproom reminds me of the library with the vibrant, white walls and the tenacity of the other customers working on their assignments minus the contagious anxiety found at the library. This is the place to go if you plan on working in one location for several hours.

Comfort: 4/5  Ambience: 5/5

Accessibility and Amenities: 5/5

Coffee satisfaction rating: 5/5

Refuge Coffee Co.

This is the ultimate coffee stop for the caffeine-addicted philanthropist. Located in Clarkston, Refuge Coffee Co. serves coffee from a red coffee truck. Finding parking is extremely convenient, and the outdoor seating is scenic. However, it is the employees that make the company special. Newly arrived immigrants are employed at the truck, allowing them to earn money and learn English. Apart from helping the community and receiving service with a friendly smile, you will be served delicious coffee and pastries. On a first purchase, customers may also receive a free coffee coupon.

Comfort: 4/5  Ambience: 5/5

Accessibility and Amenities: 4/5

Coffee satisfaction rating: 5/5

Conclusion

Atlanta is a quickly growing culinary hub, with trendy new coffee shops popping up on every corner. Although it may be easy to rush into the nearest Starbucks, Caribou Coffee or any other chain, consider embarking on a caffeine adventure and supporting local businesses that offer high quality coffee. This list is by no means comprehensive; other coffee shops that were not mentioned in this article include Octane, Hodgepodge or Drip. While venturing to off-campus coffee shops may not be the easiest on your wallet, studying in a novel location surrounded by hearty beverages is definitely rewarding.

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