If you live in Asheville, you’re quite lucky: you can start your day with the thrill of stepping out onto the streets of Asheville’s colorful downtown in the crisp morning air while you gaze up at the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. The only thing that would make that morning better is a dynamite cup of coffee in your hands. And what luck! Asheville is home to dozens of funky and eclectic, independent coffee joints that make a stellar cup of coffee and offer a charming and chill ambiance in which to relax. The only thing you have to decide is which to try first.
BattleCat Coffee Bar
For a vibe that’s truly and uniquely “Ashevillian” (and a delicious cup of Joe to boot), try BattleCat Coffee Bar. This quirky converted home offers a welcoming (albeit unorthodox) atmosphere, with a host of cozy chairs in which to lounge and a beautiful fireplace that’s almost always roaring. Through their artwork, the owners of BattleCat display their love of (what else?) cats. Some are cuddly and some you could very easily ride into battle with – it’s an eclectic mix of feline art that fits nicely with Asheville’s generally “colorful” character. But what’s perhaps more important than the décor is the coffee; rest assured that BattleCat’s is excellent every time.
Like BattleCat’s, Izzy’s showcases the unique works of Asheville’s local artists. With what is now two locations (one in the heart of downtown and the other in West Asheville), Izzy’s seems to have only grown in popularity, and it’s no wonder: the coffee is treated as its own work of art. Baristas take delicate care with their creations and every beverage is served piping hot and fresh brewed. And if the ambiance at BattleCat’s is a little too eclectic for your tastes, Izzy’s might be more inviting: its warm décor and cozy furnishings make Izzy’s an ideal place to sit back and unwind.
High Five Coffee
For a café that cares a little less about its ambiance and instead puts all of its energy into its brews, think High Five Coffee. While High Five certainly hasn’t neglected the need to provide a cozy and inviting atmosphere, their dedication to the art of coffee making is what guests remember most. High Five is among the top-rated coffee shops in western North Carolina on Tripadvisor: employees care greatly about every cup poured and even go so far as to provide beverage recipes on the café website (per customer demand). High Five is exceedingly popular, and so you might battle a bit of a wait at any one of its three locations (two in Asheville and one in Woodfin), but their high-quality coffee is well worth a wait.
Pennycup Coffee is similar in its attention to detail and focus on quality. Pennycup provides only small-batch brews: a move which ensures a better cup of coffee every time. Perhaps this is why Pennycup is (like High Five) among the top-rated coffee shops on Tripadvisor. Or perhaps it’s that Pennycup orders only fresh coffee beans in accordance with what’s seasonally available then mixes and roasts the coffee according to its own internal standard. Each cup is brewed to order, ensuring that your morning cup of Joe is super fresh and oh so good.
If Pennycup and High Five are just too busy (and they very well might be given their popularity), try Summit Coffee. A local chain based out of Charlotte, Summit’s baristas, as well, have a proclivity for creating a great and thoughtful cup of coffee. Though lacking in the ambiance of a BattleCat’s or Izzy’s, Summit Coffee is no less worth the visit. It’s located in the wildly colorful, graffiti covered River Arts District. Excellent for photo ops!
Trade and Lore Coffee
For a return to the stellar ambiance, visit Trade and Lore Coffee. This shop and its coffee are quintessential “Ashevillian” in style. The building has exposed brick walls and low-hanging copper light fixtures that evoke a feeling at once cozy and urban-industrial, and the drinks are stellar. Trade and Lore Coffee deals in what they call “experimental coffee,” dabbling in unique brewing methodologies (and unusual flavor profiles). If you’re feeling adventurous, or just in the mood for a coffee that will encapsulate the sentiment of Asheville, be sure to visit Trade and Lore Coffee.
Firestorm Books and Coffee
Ready to curl up with your cup of Joe and a good book? Firestorm Books and Coffee is the place for you. This quirky shop is at once both a coffee shop and bookstore and is delightfully weird (the shop mascot is a bunny carrying an axe). Here you’ll find books covering the most obscure and meaningful of topics, and find community meetings weekly that aim to change the status quo in the world around them. However varied the current sentiment might be, the coffee is always of the same great caliber you can count on.
This bright and airy shop has deep Asheville roots. The owner has a very strong relationship with the area (being himself a native-born Ashevillian) and prioritizes volunteerism and community involvement across his business. He also prioritizes stellar coffee (it shows with every cup). Browse the unique arrangement of quirky items and novelty collector pieces while you wait, or play a game of giant chess or connect 4 outside!
Finally, if you’re ready to take a break from coffee and try something a little different, head to Dobra Tea. These beautiful and authentic tea rooms (there are two) offer visitors a tranquil respite from the hubbub of downtown. Sample a wide variety of loose leaf teas brewed to order, purchase the loose leaf for brewing at home, or even stay for lunch: Dobra has a large and diverse menu with some truly delicious, aromatic dishes. You can even take a tea class at Dobra! Truly, spend all day if you want: it would be a wholly relaxing and entertaining day spent.
No matter where you find yourself in Asheville (be it BattleCat’s for a funky vibe, Fractals for a return to Asheville’s roots, or Dobra for a much-needed tea break), there’s no question that you’ll have found a friendly place to unwind and enjoy yourself.
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