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8 great (off-beat, eclectic, down-home) places to sit back and savor a cup of coffee in East Texas

Writer and Photographer: TAMRA BOLTON | Sept./Oct. 2017

 

I love coffee. I drink coffee whether it’s 10 degrees or 100 degrees outside. I drink coffee every day and so do a lot of other folks.

Coffee brings people together. Coffee-lovers enjoy everything that surrounds the experience. The ambiance of a coffee shop and baristas and servers who know how they like their cup add up to pure coffee love.

Almost all drinkers agree that where they enjoy a brew is almost as important as the quality of the coffee itself. That’s what led to my quest to find cool places to enjoy coffee in East Texas.

All on this list provide a wonderful experience.

THUMPERS

New to the Nacogdoches coffee scene, Thumpers is a Christianbased coffee shop, bookstore and gift store on the main drag, North Street.

The name is derived from the expression “Bible thumpers.” While it is unabashedly Christian in its theme, Thumpers is welcoming and inclusive.

From the circus-themed children’s play area to humorous gift items, it has something for everyone. The cozy environment is perfect for a friendly game of chess while enjoying delectable chocolate zucchini muffins or biscotti.

Don’t forget to look up. Part of the ceiling is covered by a beautiful mural that is reminiscent of the stately manors and castles of Europe.

THE FOUNDRY

Downtown Tyler has a jewel

in The Foundry coffee house. The edgy industrial décor is inviting. It looks like it belongs in Seattle or Austin.

Recently featured in Texas Highways as a “must-do pick” for Tyler, the energetic place is a favorite of college students and appeals to coffee aficionados of all ages.

On Fridays, The Foundry celebrates “Pie Day” by bringing in pies from the Dallas dessert spot, Emporium Pies. Beginning at noon, it sells pies by the slice until they are gone, which usually happens rather quickly.

THE DAILY GRIND

The only thing I don’t like about The Daily Grind is that it’s 30 minutes from my house. If it were closer, I’d be there every day. This is a must for coffee-experience seekers.

I enjoyed an amaretto latte that was perfectly balanced.

Just off the Cherokee County Courthouse square in Rusk, Texas, The Daily Grind has overstuffed couches and chairs and

a plethora of nooks and crannies.

The local artwork covering the walls is a feast for the eyes. The Daily Grind prides itself on being an integral part of the community and offers a showcase of talent in this small town.

The Daily Grind also offers cakes and cupcakes for special occasions.

CENTRAL PERKS

For the best coffee in Marshall, there’s only one place. Located steps from the famous Harrison County Courthouse, Central Perks offers coffee, dining and shopping.

The historic Weisman Center is the perfect backdrop for the antique displays that customers are encouraged to browse through while waiting for their orders.

At a table by a window, I enjoyed a black raspberry chipotle pork sandwich and coffee. Its vegan menu includes black bean or veggie burgers, salads and smoked tofurky sandwiches.

THE JOURNEY

Just off Interstate 20 on Highway 110 is a coffee spot you don’t want to miss. An unpretentious space with plenty of comfortable places to sip your favorite brew, The Journey is run entirely by volunteers.

Proceeds go to Youth with a Mission. If the volunteers don’t know how to make something, they are willing to learn.

“Being so close to the interstate, we get requests all the time for new and different drinks,” says Mary Bryant, who along with her husband, Bruce, run the coffee house. “We try our best to make our visitors happy.”

BRADY’S COFFEE SHOP

Close to downtown Tyler, Brady’s has been a neighborhood institution for 22 years. With a plain storefront and a quirky sense of humor, Brady’s is a favorite of professionals. Most mornings, you’ll find customers wearing everything from Italian suits to coveralls. James Brady, owner and barista, treats everyone the same.

The interior is a clever hodge-podge of religious symbols, popular culture memorabilia and mismatched seating.

The laid-back atmosphere beckons you to stay and chat.

 ANCHORAGE CAFÉ

The headquarters of Mercy Ships International in Garden Valley is an unlikely place to find a prime coffee experience but the tranquil setting invites you to linger and enjoy the slower pace. This lovely country spot on Highway 110 is a short drive north of Tyler.

Towering pines and hardwoods grace the entrance and the soaring beamed interior and banks of windows bring the outside in. A sweeping staircase and colorful stained-glass give a feeling of grandeur without pomp.

Friendly servers make you feel right at home.

Look for the massive anchor at the entrance to Mercy Ships. The café is the first building on the right.

MOOSEHEAD CAFÉ

At this café on the downtown square in Crockett, all you’ll get is a plain cup o’ joe. It’s the atmosphere and friendly service that makes Moosehead worth a visit.

Every morning, locals gather around battered wooden tables. The day I wandered in, they entertained me with stories about “the old days” in Crockett.

With its smiling servers, tasty home cooking and eclectic décor, this little place is straight out of a Southern storybook.

Its pancakes are as big as your head and the bacon is nice and thick. Lunch selections are good and the desserts are even better. Even if you only have time for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee, Moosehead Café is the place to go.

EDITOR’S PICK: STRADA CAFFE

The newest addition to the coffee scene in Tyler is Strada Caffe on Front Street. It bills itself as an espresso bar and bistro and offers breakfast and lunch selections (soups, salads and sandwiches), pastries (scones, cakes, pies and veggie muffins) and teas and juices as well as premium coffees.

With exposed brick and large art on the walls,the atmosphere is a bit funky and gives off arelaxed vibe that invites

people to hang out and talk.

Strada also occasionally hosts live performances.

Tamra Bolton is a freelance writer and photographer based in East Texas. Her stories also are available at parade.com (put her name in the search engine).

OTHER COFFEE HOT SPOTS

PANTHER COFFEE: Miami, Florida

Panther Coffee in Miami’s hip Wynwood neighborhood is only a quick 90-minute flight from Guatemala City. The easy access to Latin America makes developing direct-trade relationships with farms easier, and also means a diverse clientele of international coffee lovers. Inside the shop, along with the hum of a vintage pre-World War II Probat coffee roaster, you can hear so many languages that it’s easy to forget you’re only a few minutes from Miami Beach.

From Food Network

TOBY’S ESTATE COFFEE: Brooklyn, New York

Australian roaster Toby Smith, who cut his teeth in Brazilian and Guatemalan coffee institutions plopped down in New York (with four locales). His first in Williamsburg, gives his rich, strong beans their powerful flavor profile. Opt for the signature Flat White with two shots of espresso, textured milk (sans foam) or order a cup of cup of Brazilian Monte Alegre.

From Food and Wine magazine

RITUAL COFFEE ROASTERS: San Francisco, California

Ritual Coffee Roasters operates in a small shipping container in San Francisco’s Mission District. In the same lot, you can grab pizza, beer and ice cream — practically heaven for anyone who loves comfort food.

From Business Insider magazine

BALLARD COFFEE WORKS: Seattle, Washington

Although the city is the home to the original Starbucks outpost, there are a band

of scattered boutique cafes for the less-corporate-inclined coffee drinker. Ballard Coffee Works, located on North West Market Street, is a family-run shop that initially began as a roasting house. The cafe is divided into two sections: “The Express Bar,” geared to the on-the-go crowd, and the “Slow Tasting Room,” which is where you can sit and enjoy the flavor like a fine wine.

From Men’s Journal magazine

 

 

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