Chattanooga boasts its share of entrepreneurs, a daring cadre of spirited individuals who follow their dreams while paying the bills at sometimes mundane jobs that more often then not interfere with their primary pursuits.
Not so for Kent Baumhover. Not only does the café owner’s “day job” pay the bills, it takes him all over the world to exotic locales, where he can soak up the ambiance and adapt ideas for his own business back home.
If you’re a downtown denizen who eschews chain coffee bars and instead opts for the quirky comforts of a local bistro, you’ve likely encountered Baumhover’s Coffee Crafters Toast Café on Vine Street. But if you also travel on a fairly frequent basis, you might also have spotted the genial café owner whisking through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport en route to some far-flung destination in his role as a Delta Airlines flight attendant.
Baumhover opened Coffee Crafters in 2003, but since 1990 he’s been flying the friendly skies with Delta, juggling the responsibilities of his business here with the demands of a globetrotting jet setter.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition, but there are connections beneath the surface.
Baumhover’s extensive time spent traveling Europe influenced his decision to launch his own café, as he was spending significant downtime in coffeehouses around the world. And his travels allow him to sample coffees and menus he’d otherwise never experience.
“Spending time in cafes around Europe really gave me a love not only for coffee itself, but the culture and community that cafés bring together,” he says. “I wanted to do that here.”
Baumhover’s original site was a block further down Vine, but he has recently moved the business into a significantly larger space in the former Chad’s Records, which he’s transformed into a bright, open-yet-cozy space he modeled after an Italian café he was particularly fond of.
“There was a little café in Milan that I visited often,” he says. “It was about the size of my former location and it was the center of daily life for the surrounding neighborhood. That was very influential.”
Up in the air: Kent Baumhover
• Favorite movie featuring an airport? “Airplane! I know that might sound cliché but I love slapstick comedy.”
• Favorite city to enjoy an espresso? “Prague. Always Prague. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world.”
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Coffee Crafter’s Cafe Toast
326 Vine Street
Daily: 7 a.m-6 p.m.
Weekends: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.