Chattz -1010 Market St., (423) 756-8890, chattanoogacoffeecompany.com, M - F, 7 am - 5 pm; Sat, 7 am - 1 pm
Greyfriar’s Coffee & Tea Co.
The name evokes misty images of some sort of medieval English tavern at the end of a cobbled street, and that is exactly what Greyfriar’s Coffee & Tea Co. is to Chattanooga, opening in 1993 (the medieval ages of coffeehouses in Chattanooga) and the city’s oldest coffee bar. While roads are now (mostly) paved, this coffee shop is still a beacon of light, thanks to the purple and white mural proclaiming the wonders of Rare Coffee inside. Before crossing the threshold, you’ll see a shield-shaped sign reminding customers that the brew of coffee beans they’ll be drinking is made with as much pride as a brew of barley from the local pub. The menu boasts various takes on traditional coffee, offering both distinctive flavor combinations and unique serving methods. Traditional brewed coffee is available, but Greyfriar’s also offers a beautiful “pour-over” and the posh French press method for those who want to explore the bold taste of European-style coffee. Dark wood, grey marble and pure white cups provide a clean backdrop for Rare Coffee, which is the starring in-house roast. RareCoffee.com supplies coffee beans “roasted with genuine knowledge, thoughtful experience and creative artistry” to coffee houses like Greyfriar’s. Whenever you need a mini-vacation or trip back in time, stop by this coffee tavern for a taste of simplicity.
Greyfriar’s Coffee & Tea Co - 406-B Broad St., (423) 267-0376, M-Th, 6:30 am - 5 pm; Fri, 6:30 am - 8 pm; Sat, 7:30 am - 8 pm
The Ice Cream Show
An ice cream parlor amidst coffeehouses? Heresy, you say! Wait. Here’s the deal: Enjoy dinner on North Shore, stroll across the Walnut Street Bridge and snuggle into a lounge chair at The Ice Cream Show to watch the boats glide down the Tennessee River. What’s with the name? Exactly what it says—a show of ice cream, and delicious coffee, a blend of hot and cold starring the best elements of each sensations. Watch as the friendly and helpful staff put your ingredients (not toppings) of choice into a machine that cranks out a perfectly proportioned, deliciously smooth product of ice cream. For those craving a combination of espresso and ice cream, try the Barrel Racer, a vanilla or chocolate shake with a shot of espresso. Located on the city side of the walking bridge, the shop’s quirky signs and colored string lights make for a fun atmosphere. Bring your homework, or even a date, and chill out (or warm up) with a cup of gourmet coffee from their roaster in Seattle.
The Ice Cream Show - 105 Walnut St., (423) 702-5173, theicecreamshow.com, M - Sat, 9 am -11 pm; Sun, 1 pm-11 pm
Starbucks Read House
If the ubiquitous chain’s Hamilton Place location offers a cozy fireplace and its Hixson and Brainerd branches are basically drive-thru outposts, the downtown Starbucks sits adjacent to the handsome confines of the historic Read House Hotel. Ever low-lit and utilitarian, Starbucks is the McDonald’s—no, the Fuddrucker’s—of coffeehouse chains, and downtowners addicted to the mermaid are drawn by its magnetic appeal for consistently fresh, tasty coffee at a known price and the familiar strains of light pop and jazz music, if not the added value of being a source for The New York Times. If there’s comfort in familiarity, Starbucks has cornered the market and its breakfast and lunch offerings are a notch above most. Baristas are friendly and we always enjoy the atmosphere of the Read House lobby. Travelers expect an in-house Starbucks, but local workers are its true clientele.