I love Starbucks, I really do. It’s an extremely visible, beacon of light on my dreary days. It provides energy, calm and is often a focal place to meet friends before we go on our barely-over-mediocre adventures. Unfortunately, I am not the only “Memphian” (I use this term lightly and merely because I currently reside in this general area when I’m not in college) to enjoy the coffee chain called Starbucks. Every soccer mom, middle school girl, wanna-be hipster, rambunctious teenager and stereotypical businessman/woman in the Memphis area does, too.
Early in the morning, Starbucks is full of suits galore; in the afternoon, soccer moms/just moms in general sip their non-fat, no-whip, half-cream/half-milk, quarter squirrel, one-fifth boiled water caramel machiatto, easy on the atto while playing the “my kid is better than your kid” game in between bouts of gossip. In the evening, rambunctious teenagers pretend to be the shee-it as they loudly talk about how cool their (insert whatever annoying topic/thing here) is and the latest dramatic encounter they had with their significant other. Wanna-be hipsters infiltrate Starbucks at all hours, acting angsty while drinking their black coffee or unique concoction and listening to a band nobody has ever heard of, or wants to hear of, for that matter.
Granted, I’m exaggerating the characteristics of Memphis Starbucks customers, but I still prefer to venture away from the chain as other coffee places and cafes usually have a cozier, more charming atmosphere.
For those of you who also enjoy expanding your coffee horizons, I have visited various coffee places in Memphis and have chosen some to suggest to you.
Located in Midtown (arguably the best part of the actual city of Memphis), this is a fantastic place to get coffee or meet with friends. There are a bunch of little rooms with comfortable chairs and couches. It’s probably the quirkiest coffee shop I’ve been to, primarily because of the atmosphere. There’s a lot of interesting, original decorations throughout the store, and the overall aura is a bit mix-and-match, but it’s not overwhelming and sloppy. Otherlands has magnificent coffee, which they bring to you in adorably homey mugs. There are a ton of other items aside from coffee though, such as sandwiches, other food items, and other beverages such as French Soda and Italian Soda. One of their signature items is their cinnamon toast, which is absolutely divine and can be ordered either on wheat or sourdough. Another thing I love about this place is the water station, which has mason jars and other little glass jars to fill with water, which is awesome. And watery.
To find them on the interwebs: http://www.otherlandscoffeebar.com/
2. Cafe Eclectic
Also located in Midtown, Cafe Eclectic has a more “cafe” feel as opposed to the Otherlands’ social-yet-chill atmosphere. It’s intended to follow a “European Style Cafe,” so that makes sense. In addition to their tasty coffee, they have fantastic lunch/dinner items. Everything they make is made with local ingredients and is homemade in the restaurant. While I’ve never been here for breakfast, they have plenty of breakfast items as well. On par with Otherlands, I also really enjoy the decorations of this cafe. The art is interesting and the layout is broken up into two rooms that are divided by a wall with a hole (intentional, like a window without glass) so it doesn’t feel too separated, but there are varying atmospheres. One room is merely for eating while the other room holds the entertainment. Cafe Eclectic also has another location in Harbor Town. I haven’t been there, but I doubt it’d be much different in terms of quality from the excellence of the Midtown location!
To find them on the interwebs: http://cafeeclectic.net/
3. Republic Coffee
On my way to intern over the break, this is where I stopped almost every day. It was on my way and it’s delicious. Frequented by MPD, it’s a surefire place to stay safe! Only joking, that (safety) wouldn’t really be an issue regardless. Anyway, Republic Coffee has perhaps a “louder” atmosphere. It’s a giant open space with booths and tables, so of the three it has the most restaurantey aura. There are multiple meal options, as it is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, second breakfast, elevensies, afternoon tea and supper (happiness for all the Hobbits). Contributing to their nice-break-from-Starbucks, they have a top hat as their logo. That’s raw. They’re also open until midnight, so it’s an excellent place to go for some late-night nomz. Personally, I’d suggest getting the banana mocha or their peppermint tea.
To find them on the interwebs: http://www.republiccoffeememphis.com/cg/rc.pl
For those of you who live out in the suburbs of Memphis, i.e. more like Germantown/Collierville, Square Beans is probably a better coffee shop for you in terms of location as it’s located in Collierville Square. I prefer the others over this coffee shop, but Square Beans still makes for a nice variation from Starbucks. It was a little more pricey (about a dollar more on average) than the others, but they have cake that’s supposed to be really good. I personally didn’t try it, but hey, it’s cake.
Interweb location: http://www.squarebeans.com/