Southern Ground: 5 Independent Coffee Shops I Love


I love coffee. I first started drinking it regularly during my summers at Rockmont, but this infatuation did not start in earnest until I graduated college. Coffee has become a welcome daily ritual, something warm, and a drink to gather around. I’ve begun to even have particular roasts and regions I’m fond of, developing a bit of snobbery around it. Hey, if you’re gonna drink it, enjoy it.

Since I travel a good bit, I also have come to enjoy the coffee shop, especially local places with funky art on the wall and banana bread from down the street. I’d much rather give them my $2. It’s great to track these places down, and return each time I visit the city. To go back gives a sense of place that helps me settle in. Along with a cup of coffee.

Here are the top 5 I have frequented over the past 3 years.

Dynamite Coffee, Black Mountain, NC:

This is my hometown roaster and shop. It’s a small place, because most of the building is dedicated to the roasting process. Fine with me, because it smells fantastic. Favorite blends are Suplicar Clemencia and Winter. They take mail orders if you’re interested.

The Frothy Monkey, Nashville, TN:

Frothy is the best coffee house I’ve been to, meaning the actual building, warmth, and decor. They also make great specialty drinks, like the banana hot chocolate. It’s located in the fantastic 12 South Neighborhood of Nashville, I could spend all day there shuttling between Frothy Monkey, 12 South Taproom, Burger Up, Mafioza’s Pizza, and Corner Music.

Jittery Joes (on Broad St), Athens, GA:

Athens is perhaps my favorite college town, even slightly moreso than my beloved Gainesville. There’s good food, the music scene is great, and locally focused. Jittery Joe’s is one of the big reasons for that, you must swing by and grab a cup if you’re in town. I recommend the main roasting site on Broad St, because of the smell, the building, and it’s not overrun by college students. Plus they make the best coffee labels, great art!

Grassroots Coffee, Thomasville, GA:

I really like this place. It’s in the historic district of Thomasville, very old, comfortable spot where I can relax and get plenty of work or reading done. Like most of these places, they also roast their own coffee, giving the shop a great vibe. Last time I was there, they also had a book-borrowing service set up, which I like.

Volta Coffee, Gainesville, FL:

A fantastic and modern coffee shop in Gainesville, FL. As you can see from the picture, Volta has a very clean, sharp look that facilitates stuff getting done. The folks at Volta take their coffee very seriously, which I am a big fan of. The other great thing? They are involved with UF and their community, hosting Pecha Kucha nights and UF MFA poetry readings. Gotta enjoy that.

Honorable Mention:

That’s my list, what’s yours? I would enjoy hearing about some places that I have missed.

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