When you think about coffee, what city comes to your mind? If you’re like most folks, you’d say Seattle, or possibly Portland. A few people may list Chicago, San Francisco, or New York. Living in Georgia, when I think about coffee, I think about Atlanta.
You may not realize it, but Atlanta is considered by many in the specialty coffee industry to be the coffee “hub” of the Southeast. Recently, I took my family to Atlanta, and “managed” to squeeze in some visits to a few places, while also doing some sightseeing and fun family stuff.
One of my first stops was the Batdorf and Bronson Roastery, located west of I-75, just above the I-75/I-85 merger. Batdorf trainer and social media giant Jason Dominy was hosting a Pacific Northwest Coffee Tour, showcasing 16 coffee he’d brought back from a recent trip to Olympia, WA, Batdorf and Bronson’s base of operations. B&B operates two roasteries, enabling them to provide fresh-roasted coffee across the nation, in a matter of a day or two. However, this event WASN’T about B&B’s excellent coffees, but about other independent roasters, as seen here. The event was nicely attended, and the well appointed brewing lab was packed as baristas and coffee enthusiasts mingled, including my youngest daughter, Lindsey.
Using primarily Clever Coffee Dripper and the Hario V60 pourover dripper, we brewed each coffee, some of them twice, sampling them out, sipping, and comparing our impressions. All of the coffees were very good, some were exceptional. Dan Mueller, barista extraordinaire from Aurora Coffee, thrilled my daughters with lovely latte art in their hot chocolates. Then he made my wife a delicate cappuccino with a latte art tulip. Alas, I didn’t get a picture of it before she drank it. It was a great evening, and I even was able to bring home samples of 6 coffees from 5 different roasters in the PNW. WIN!
The next day, after a visit to IKEA, I stopped by Octane Coffee at the Jane, located in the Grant Park area, about 2 miles from the Atlanta Zoo. Octane Coffee started out with a location on Atlanta’s trendy West Side, and a few years ago, began launching other locations. Currently, Octane is operating in their original location, in the Bank of America building as the Octane Pocketbar, and has just held the soft opening of their newest location at the Jane. The Jane location is a very different concept from the other two cafes, while still focusing on quality product and excellent customer service. One difference is the presence of the Little Tart bakery, located immediately to your left as you enter. You can see through windows into the back where the bakery staff is working on various pastries, both sweet and savory. Another difference is the cocktail bar at the other end of the large, airy, light-filled room. They’re still waiting on their alcoholic beverage license, at this point. The most exciting thing, at least to me, is the plan for Octane Coffee to begin roasting their own coffee. The Jane location will be home to their roastery, and will service all their locations. This is a big step for Tony Riffel and the rest of his team, who have worked with coffee powerhouse Counter Culture Coffee for years. I’m expecting great things; Brett Burton of Primavera Coffee, in Birmingham, AL and Dave Delchamps, formerly of 1000Faces Coffee in Athens, GA, both gentlemen seasoned roasters, will be taking on the roasting challenge.
The new Octane has some nice features: a large table that general manager Diane Riffel found in an antique store, with numbered stools; plenty of tables and chairs; a patio area just for Octane customers; a manual brewbar for by-the-cup brewing; an elegant set of still water and sparkling water taps; and an inordinately cool La Marzocco Strada MP! And, obviously a great feature: PARKING! Take a look at some pictures I snapped while visiting…
Filtered still and sparkling water taps!
V60 brewbar; very classy!
Manual pressure-profiling the espresso.
Dave Delchamps, left, and Dustin Mattson, right, displaying their synchronized brewing skills.