Metro Atlanta’s coffee scene is growing by leaps and bounds. Within that scene are several new coffee ventures from Black entrepreneurs forging a new path within a mostly white space. The new Black Atlanta coffee scene is anchored by both tradition and modernism. This scene contains several traditional east African venues, alongside a mix of traditional, bespoke, and experimental shops, upending the standards set by national coffee chains. If Atlanta truly influences everything, it’s time to add coffee to that list.

And while the scene is still growing, there are entire sections of the metro such as South Cobb, South Fulton, Clayton, Gwinnett, Rockdale, and Newton counties that are still in need of both quality and a greater quantity of Black-owned coffee venues.

This list features the five best that the metro has to offer alongside a listing of the people and players to watch out for in the Black Atlanta coffee scene. This ranking of shops is done with the help of several additional taste testers, coffee recommendations, and scouring reviews of Black-owned shops within the metro. This ranking aggregates coffee beans, flavors, degree of difficulty, price, location, menu, restaurant experience, and signature items.

This ranking includes venues currently opened and does not include still-in-development venues such as the highly anticipated Portrait Coffee in the West End. Nor the upcoming coffee venue for floral shop Nourish Botanica in the Joyland section of South Atlanta. These 5 shops are head and shoulders above the fray, representing the best of what we have to offer. 

Editor’s Note: An extended Top 25 version of this story will be available online at theatlantavoice.com

Gilly Brew Bar is the brainchild of Daniel Brown, a child of Jamaican immigrants who moved to Atlanta in 2009.
Photo by King Williams/The Atlanta Voice

#1 Gilly Brew Bar 

Gilly Brew Bar is the brainchild of Daniel Brown, a child of Jamaican immigrants who moved to Atlanta in 2009. Brown named the coffee shop after his late grandfather, a man who sparked his interest in coffee. The location is in the old Stone Mountain Mayor’s House in the historic Stone Mountain Village. The building is a pre-Civil War home built by enslaved Africans and is one of the oldest buildings in the state of Georgia. Now owned by Daniel and his wife, two-time Food Network champion baker Shellane Brown.

Gilly is closer to a bespoke, chef-driven restaurant rather than a traditional coffee shop, hence its moniker, ‘more than a coffee shop’, that has for the last four years put craft-making into craft coffee. Gilly is one of the leaders of metro Atlanta’s craft coffee movement, a movement that prioritizes innovation over convention. Its seasonal menus of coffee and tea-based beverages dubbed ‘elixirs’ are a revolving fresh interpretation of coffees and teas, featuring 5 brand-new beverages that are only available for the season.

Gilly creates a brand new set of drinks every three months that do not repeat, creating a hypebeast-like culture of its new releases. 

This is paired alongside its rotating food program from its own in-house chef, Nico Shumpert (as seen on the Food Network series Chopped). The 100% local food menu is also offered in limited quantities and can vary slightly from week to week depending on the availability of items. 

While other shops are about serving coffee, Gilly is about redefining the status quo, prioritizing flavors, and techniques, and pushing new ideas within the world of coffee. Gilly is not only the best Black coffee shop in metro Atlanta but is one of the best in America. 

The company looks to expand this year, opening a second location in Castleberry Hills at Peters Street Station, the new creative hub from City of Ink tattoo shop founder Miya Bailey. In anticipation of the move to Castleberry, the company is re-releasing its very first elixir series entitled ‘Hey Beth’, short for Bethlem, a winter series of coffees and teas inspired by the birth of Jesus. 

Location: Stone Mountain/5329 Mimosa Drive, 30083

Hours: 9am-4pm Sun-Thur, 9am-5pm Sat/Sun

Price: $-$$$

Signature item: Seasonal Elixirs, plus Brooklyn Moss and Sorrel + Oxtail tacos

Best Experience: Sitting at the bar and defining your coffee via cuppings and taste pairings, is an expensive but highly recommended experience to understand coffee. 

______________________________

#2 Hodgepodge Coffee

Hodgepodge coffee is located in East Atlanta off Moreland Avenue. The shop is a literal hodgepodge of various people and communities in Atlanta. Hodgepodge is the jumping-off point for the coffee novice, pairing traditional Italian-based beverages with a blend of those wanting a signature drink or those more familiar with the syrupy beverages of larger chains. This extends to its snack menu which pairs both the savory and sweet, including beef, patties, and biscuits, hodgepodge is the in-between for people who want to be both serious and chic. 

Hodgepodge also is the much sought-after third space, a place not home or work that operates as everyone’s traditional neighborhood shop. Hodgepodge is for everyone and everyone is for Hodgepodge. The coffee shop also serves as a hub for various artists and artisans who use the shop as a marketplace. 

Location: East Atlanta, Ga/720 Moreland Avenue SE, 30316

Hours: 7am-4pm Mon-Thur, 7am-7pm Fri/Sat, 8am-7pm Sun

Price: $-$$

Signature item: Slap Yo Pappy + assortment of Jamaican-style patties

______________________________

#3 The James Room

The James room is located on the Atlanta Beltline’s eastside sitting within walking distance of the Krog Street Market and the Krog Street tunnel. While primarily known as a hip after-hours venue for cocktails, the company is open throughout the week via its Beltline-facing cafe, serving both coffees and baked goods as well as a rotational menu of selected specialty coffee and tea-based beverages. 

Focusing on quality versus quantity, The James Room takes the same spirit of its craft cocktail bar and brings it to its morning/daytime menu. The bites available during the daytime feature standard sweets and savory alongside a rotating brunch menu. The James Room is for those looking to spend well and eat well. The cafe/bar is expanding into Buckhead later this year for its second location.

Location: Beltline/661 Auburn Ave NE Suite 280

Hours: Cafe: 8am-5pm Sun-Sun, Bar: 5pm-12am Tue, 5pm-1am Wed-Sat, 5pm-10pm Sun

Price: $$-$$$

Signature item: Non-Alcoholic: Lavender London Fog, Rosemary Cappucino, Alcoholic: Espresso En Noir, A Matcha Made In Heaven (all when available and subject to change)

______________________________

#4 La Rayia’s Bodega

La Rayia’s Bodega is a micro coffee shop located within Ponce City Market. This AfroLatino coffee shop pairs arguably some of the best design aesthetics of any shop in the metro, with a specified menu to match. As an homage to the bodega culture of New York, in addition to the African-American and Latino cultures that frequent them. 

The shop is three primary types of drinks, smoothies, teas, and of course, coffee. Blending a cacophony of Latino, Caribbean, and traditional Italian specialties, this is the coffee shop with a kick. For those wanting to see a newer set of textures and tastes not normally associated with the Atlanta coffee scene, this shop is for you. 

This is all in addition to being one of the most vegan-forward and plant-based coffee shops in the city. The location offers grab-and-go vegan salads, sandwiches, and snacks. The organized chaoticness of its location is in service to its bodega-like cacophony of merchandise + wall of beverages adoring inside the tiny storefront as a true bodega would. 

Location: Ponce City Market/675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, 30308

Hours: 9am-7pm Mon-Thur, 10am-9pm Sat, 10am-9pm Sun

Price: $$-$$$

Signature item: Como La Flor, Platano Barrio (contains nuts), John Cold-Trane

______________________________

#5 (tie) Lambadina Cafe/Desta Ethiopian Kitchen 

Coffee originates out of East Africa and this shop may be the closest to pairing the traditional experience without compromising for western audiences. For Lambadina, its Clarkston location pairs the traditional coffee experience of Ethiopia/Eritrea with Italian favorites.

A trip here is also one that is a great introduction to the cuisine of East Africa, including injera bread and tibs. The restaurant is also a bit of a throwback to a time before mobile payments, social media, and million-dollar interior designs. 

The company largely is not on the web, so exploring the menu will require a discussion with the staff. This is a trip worth taking for exploring a new culture located within the metro. You must ask for traditional coffee, which will take time to prepare. 

While Desta Ethiopian Kitchen offers a much more robust assortment of traditional foods including breakfast. Desta’s two locations, Brookhaven and now West Marietta street, offer an opportunity to experience a traditional meal.

Location: Clarkston/3652 Market Street, 30021 (Lambadina)/3086 Briarcliff Rd NE, 30329

Hours: 12pm-12am Mon-Sun (Lambadina)/11am-9pm (Desta)

Price: $-$$

Signature item: Traditional East African Coffee + Beef Tibs

#6 Just Add Honey 

This Atlanta Beltline location offers a pleasant surprise for those who are ardent drinkers of both coffee and tea. What separates this is the overall versatility of the staff and their ability to render a coffee just as good as any traditional shop in Atlanta. Using beans roasted from the Black-owned Portrait Coffee in the West End, Just Add Honey prioritizes fresh, local ingredients in its coffees to the same extent as it does its teas.

Location: Beltline/684 John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, 30312

Hours: 7:30am-6:30pm Mon-Fri, 10:30am-5pm Sat/Sun

Price: $-$$

Signature item: ODB, Dirty Chai

______________________________

Coffee and Eggs is a newer brunch and coffee shop located at 261 Peters Street in Castleberry Hill. Photo by King Williams/The Atlanta Voice

#7 Coffee & Eggs

Coffee and eggs is a newer brunch and coffee shop located in Castleberry Hill. If the Netflix series Bridgerton was set in Black Atlanta, this would be the coffee shop. As a result, Coffee & Eggs is one of the most immersive interiors of any Atlanta restaurant. 

This is the most seamless pairing of aesthetics and menu of Black Atlanta coffeeshop. The menu is not a huge departure from those wanting a more traditional Italian coffee or a more syrupy concoction. What separates this from other shops is its own in-house creation of syrups and a menu that’s closer to those who’ve been drinking big chain coffee but want to slowly creep into a craft coffee cocktail. 

Location: Castleberry Hill/261 Peters Street

Hours: 7am-5pm Mon-Sat, 11am-3pm Sun

Price: $-$$

Signature item: Countess Alexandra, Solomon’s Dynasty + Crepes, La Salena Bowl

______________________________

Black Coffee’s Castleberry location is geared towards events, while the Lakewood Heights location (not shown) is more of a traditional coffee shop. Photo by King Williams/The Atlanta Voice

#8 Black Coffee Atlanta

Both Black Coffee locations are one of the brands building the most good faith equity in Atlanta. The Lakewood location is more aligned with those who want their Italian coffees on the sweeter side. The Castleberry location is geared towards events and social gatherings.

Castleberry Hill: Black Coffee in Castleberry Hill is the coffee house you want to take your friends, co-workers, and first dates to. It’s the only venue on this list that is both open early and late 7am-9pm most days, midnight on Wednesday night for spoken word. Black Coffee Castleberry Hill is giving the vibes that many want from Atlanta, the daytime meeting space, the mid-afternoon workspace, and the evening, non-pretentious nightlife venue. 

Lakewood: Black Coffee Lakewood is the more mellow, unassuming shop. It is located next to the IwiFresh day spa and plays as a better compliment to the newer Black-owned businesses in that facility. The drinks are more aligned with the spirit of Black Atlanta in the naming of their espressos and teas.

Location: Castleberry Hills and Lakewood

Hours: 7am-9pm Mon-Sun (Castleberry), 8am-4pm (Lakewood)

Price: $-$$

Signature item: Light Skin Keisha (Lakewood), Salt Bae/Pretty In Pink (Castleberry Hill)

______________________________

#9  Brooklyn Tea

Brooklyn Tea is a very tea-forward experience that offers a solid coffee offering of traditional Italian coffee drinks. The company offers vegan breakfast and brunch all day long, in addition to both vegan and non-vegan pastries. 

Location: Castleberry Hill/329 Nelson St SW, 30313

Hours: 7:30am-6:30pm Mon-Fri, 10:30am-5pm Sat/Sun

Price: $-$$

Signature item: Coffee Tea Latte, Kava Kava, and High Tea

______________________________

#10 Buzz Coffee and Winehouse

Buzz Coffee and Winehouse is the pairing that many have been waiting on. The shop here is for a late lunch or an early jump on happy hour. The pairing of coffee and wine is more for an afternoon conversation between friends.  

Location: Cascade Road (Westside)/2315 Cascade Rd, 30311

Hours: 7am-4pm Mon-Fri, 8am-4pm Sat/Sun

Price: $-$$

Signature item: Buzz Red or Buzz White

______________________________

EDITOR’s NOTE: A previous list has Community Grounds listed as Black-owned, it is not. It has been removed from the list. We apologize for this error.

Donnell Suggs

The top-25:

  1. Gilly Brew Bar – Stone Mountain 
  2. Hodgepodge Coffee – East Atlanta 
  3. The James Room – Beltline, eastside
  4. La Rayia’s Bodega – Ponce City Market
  5. (tie) Desta Ethiopian Kitchen – Brookhaven/Marietta St

(tie) Lambadina Cafe – Clarkston

  1. Just Add Honey – Beltline, eastside
  2. Coffee & Eggs – Castleberry Hill
  3. Black Coffee*  – Castleberry Hill & Lakewood
  4. Brooklyn Tea – Castleberry Hill 
  5. Buzz Coffee and Winehouse – Cascade Rd
  6. Kupcakerie – East Point 
  7. Urban Grind ATL – Marietta St
  8. Garnet Gals Coffee Shop & Bakery – Buckhead
  9. UniTEA and Coffee at 640 West – West End
  10. My Coffeeshop at Eastlake – Eastlake 
  11. Grant Park Coffeehouse – Grant Park and Downtown
  12. Beans & Butter – Lawrenceville 
  13. Love Hot Coffee/Bankhead Coffee – Bankhead/Northside Dr
  14. 404 Coffee – Pittsburgh
  15. Rosie’s Cafe – Northside Drive, South Cobb
  16. My Village Coffee Shop – Little 5 Points
  17. Mzizi Coffee Roasters – East Cobb
  18. Mocha Pops – Downtown