From one-of-kind specialty drinks to live entertainment, my local coffee tour of more than a dozen places was filled with fun surprises. Here are five of my favorite locations for a wintertime coffee break.
Why it is on my list: Amazing customer service and knowledgeable staff who like to “talk coffee.” Café Eclectic also serves a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner specialties. They are currently turning a former dry cleaning business (next door to their Midtown café) into a central warehouse and bakery to accommodate soon-to-be three locations: Harbortown, Midtown, and a new location to open this spring on Highland Street in the University District.
Locations: Midtown, 603 North McLean and Harbortown, 111 Harbortown Square
Be sure to try: The Mayan Cappuccino, made with one shot of espresso, steamed and frothed milk, with spicy chocolate, topped with a dash of cayenne pepper—truly “cappuccino with a kick!”
Why it is on my list: Customer service and engaging staff—It is an original, the place you tell a tourist about if they want to go to a spot that is uniquely “Memphis.” Java Cabana has been serving coffee and munchies in Cooper-Young for 20 years. Live music on the weekends and Open Mic Thursday Nights (their trademark poetry reading event) add to the eclectic charm of Java Cabana.
Location: Cooper-Young, 2170 Young Avenue
Be sure to try: The Mystery Train, made with vanilla, hazelnut syrup, a double shot of espresso, topped with steamed milk and fresh whipped cream. As the menu says, “Oooh, it’s good!”
Why it is on my list: Dependable customer service and relaxing simplicity; no bells and whistles, just a traditionally tasty selection of French pastries and light lunch items. This is a place Memphians love (recently saw Mayor Wharton there!) for a coffee break or light meal.
Location: Chickasaw Oaks Village, 3088 Poplar Avenue
Be sure to try: A French pastry and a cup of Southern Pecan coffee.
Why it is on my list: I swing through on most days for a daily dose of caffeine at Poplar Perk’N. It is a small respite located at one of the busiest intersections on Poplar, and a perfect segue to whip in and out of the drive-through. While you are there, buy a bag of McCarter coffee for home brewing. The fresh taste is distinctly local. My favorite McCarter coffee is “Uganda.”
Location: 4610 Poplar Avenue
Be sure to try: Coffee in any form made with locally roasted McCarter Coffee Company beans.
Why it is on my list: Because my nine-year-old son, Mac, said, “Mom, it’s really cool in here!” In addition to fun coffee drinks, Square Beans Coffee is known for their gelato and sorbetto. And if you are staying for lunch, their chicken salad is another popular menu item. They often have musical entertainment on Saturday afternoons.
Location: Collierville, 103 North Center Street
Be sure to try: The Turtle Latte, a pleasing blend of caramel, chocolate and nutty flavors—turtle candy in a cup.