Who doesn't love a good, strong cuppa joe? (Photo courtesy: ThinkStock)
In honor of National Coffee Day, here's a roundup of the best coffee spots in Richmond from our January 2015 "Best Brunches and Breakfasts" issue.
Whether coffee is a thoughtless part of your morning routine on par with teeth-brushing or it’s a fetishized ritual akin to wine tasting, somewhere in the 804 there’s a cup with your name on it. Our city boasts many these coffeehouses, but RVA’s entire scene can be broken down into three classes of perk joint: Geek Out, Gack Out and Hang Out. Forget blind loyalties and hit the right one according to each day’s particular kind of java jones.
Geek out: More wine bar than coffee shop, these are the master sommeliers of beans. They treat coffee with poetic and scientific respect. Expect single-origin coffees, pour-overs and Instagram-able latte art, and try a cortado, a kind of small latte or less-foamy cappuccino with exacting ratios.
Lamplighter Roasting Co.
Even Alton Brown gets his Richmond coffee here. Lamplighter didn’t invent brew, but it was the first in Richmond to tout serious coffee consciousness and that Portlandia-like obsession with sourcing and preparation known as the Third Wave coffee movement. Zip into the Addison Street or Morris Street locations for a quickie cup to go, but hit Summit Avenue when you want a contemplative cup to stay; the bar is set up for witnessing the precision of pour-overs and marveling as each perfect shot gets pulled. 1719 Summit Ave., 447-2648 or lamplightercoffee.com
The Lab by Alchemy Coffee
Take one look at the Tom Brickman-built sorghum bar and tables or the wall charts of grind settings and brew times, and you’ll know you’re in the hands of artisans. Eric Spivak, who years ago left Altria to launch a mobile coffee cart, opened this brick-and-mortar over the summer. Blanchard’s Coffee Co. roasts The Lab’s house blend and Counter Culture provides its Reserve series coffees, but whatever the bean, you’ll find the coffee experience educational, approachable and memorable. Don’t miss the 4-foot-tall Yama Cold Brew Drip Tower for a 12-hour showstopper. Craving something sweet? Many of The Lab’s munchies are baked by The Rogue Gentlemen’s Drew Thomasson. 814 W. Broad St., 608-9873 or alchemycoffeerva.com
Gack out: There’s lots of love in the cup, but they also know that sometimes it’s for effect. At these spots, expect house-roasted beans, a broad vocabulary of preparations and well-pulled shots from someone with a master’s degree in barista-ology. Order an espresso doppio (double shot).
Adbibo Coffee Co. Roasterie & Coffee Shop
With Pescado’s and Adbibo, in-town food snobs are going to have to stop knocking Chesterfield and Midlothian. Here at Adbibo, they roast their own beans and offer a score of single-origin coffees as well as baked goods, sandwiches to-order and tons of gear and gizmos for the home barista. Adbibo’s bright lights and office-break-room-style furniture won’t endear itself to indie slackers, midday rendezvousers or romantic canoodlers, but that’s not Midlothian’s MO, anyway. 10825 Midlothian Turnpike, 464-2919 or adbibocoffee.com
Black Hand Coffee Co.
Richmond loves its neighborhood spots. Whereas Starbucks eyes strip malls and busy thoroughfares, Black Hand’s Museum District locale means you won’t run into tourists or the khaki set, but it does mean you should allot five extra minutes for small talk with the two pals you’ll inevitably run into. Beans are roasted on-site with a lighter touch, which — contrary to the “dark roast equals high-octane” perception — means higher potency. The shop is small but the flavors are big, and the breakfast bagels are cheap and tasty. Pop in now for a Black Eye (one-third espresso, two-thirds coffee), but beware the up-at-3 a.m. red eyes later. 3101 Patterson Ave., 855-0800 or blackhandcoffeeco.com
Hang out: C’mon, it’s just coffee. In these joints, coffee isn’t a solo act, but part of a larger ensemble of drinks, food, tunes and community. Order the house blend and enjoy copious free refills.
Captain Buzzy’s Beanery
It’s a neighborhood meet-up spot with fresh, hand-pressed orange juice, and beans roasted daily to a chocolatey dark. Chill out with a newspaper and fill up with hot joe or hot gossip; this is the coffee equivalent of Church Hill’s beer-and-a-shot hideaway, Poe’s Pub. And before you play some cornhole out front, read comic books in the big sunny window or settle into deep conversation with a friend, don’t quibble over what to order — nothing’s sucky, nothing’s sublime — instead, mutter without irony your best When Harry Met Sally impression: “I’ll have what she’s having.” You can’t go wrong. 2623 E. Broad St., 377-6655