Coffee shops in Memphis, TN
This relative newcomer to the Midtown scene is advantageously located smack-dab between two Memphis institutions: Overton Park and Rhodes College. Café Eclectic ups the ante with Illy coffee and a menu that’s based around organic and locally sourced food. The ambiance offers something for everyone: Soccer moms sip espressos while their kids slurp down old-fashioned Nehi, served in a retro glass bottle, while in the next booth, Rhodes students cramming for a philosophy final might be chowing down on a Cajun-seasoned Herbivore Wrap. Come for the dark Italian roast, but stay for the comfort food, like Roasted Taters, homemade donuts, and Nanna’s Mac & Cheese.
Tiny, yet tremendous, Java Cabana has ruled the corner of Cooper and Blythe for nearly twenty years. Packed with Presleyana like an Elvis impersonator shrine and a Viva! Memphis wedding chapel in its early days, when barista Mary Burns took over in 1998, she shifted the focus toward a more traditional eclecticism. These days, Christmas lights dominate the décor while the coffee menu features a wide variety of organic fair trade drinks. On Wednesdays, diners and drinkers can participate in Tarot card readings and dream interpretations. Every Thursday evening, Burns hosts open mic poetry readings. Weekends, Java Cabana features live music from the likes of folkies such as up-and-comers Valerie June and Holly Cole, flamenco guitarist Mark Allen, and bluesman Robert Belfour.
One of the bastions of the fast-growing South Main Arts District, Bluff City Coffee serves fresh brewed Italian style espresso drinks, ranging from the traditional Americano to the more exotic Chai Tea Latte. The delicious roasted aromas mingle perfectly with the scent of herb and olive oil focaccia bread, which is baked in house. Looking for a quick breakfast before you hop on the trolley for your morning commute? Be sure to order the “Duffin,” a donut and muffin hybrid, or the sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, which puts any fast food breakfast sandwich to shame. If you have time to linger, go for a slice of frittata and a window seat, from which you can watch the endless parade of horse-drawn carriages, electric trolleys, and cars and trucks that whiz down South Main.
Located just around the corner from Bluff Street Coffee, the Cheesecake Corner offers a sugary rendition of the typical South Main coffee shop. Open from 3 p.m. until late in the evening, this small, European-styled restaurant serves dessert coffees that perfectly complement chef/owner Kevin Matthews’ decadent cheesecakes. A delicious way to cap off a night of art openings or an evening performance at the Orpheum Theatre, the Cheesecake Corner can get quite crowded on weekends, when sweet-toothed Memphians line up out the door for slices of made-from-scratch goodies like Key Lime Pie and Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake.
Unlike most other Memphis coffee shops, the crew at Republic roasts bean varieties onsite. The resulting brew is strong and heady, only tamed by the vast selection of syrups offered on the menu of specialty drinks. The casual, dimly lit dining room was originally a mainstay for Internet junkies who take advantage of the free wi-fi. In recent months, they’ve become outnumbered by the plethora of avid cyclists stopping into Republic for espressos served up in recycled corn to-go cups before rolling onto the Greenline, located just a hop, skip and a jump from Republic’s front door. Open from 6 a.m. to midnight.