For the days I can’t decide which coffee to stick in my face, I’ve compiled a top-five list of worthwhile coffee houses, shops, dens, bars and whatever else coffee places wish to title themselves.
To start with, there’s Battlecat Coffee Bar for when you find yourself in West Asheville, smiling upon a coffee house looking more like a neighbor’s bustling front yard than a store front.
Inside, a fireplace mantel displays painted gin bottles with faceless gents, laser-eyed ladies and blue demons with really long tongues in acrylic. They stare at you while you sit and sip.
In the world of seating, a bunch of sofas and seats sprawl around with folks talking about hikes and shows. The whole place is a living room your grandma would’ve wanted to wrap in plastic, as to ensure coffee stain protection.
The best place to sit is outside. I loiter on the front porch, sip iced Thai coffee and count the many dogs sniffing my backpack every hour. Most days, the count reaches roughly six.
I go to Battlecat for their many coffee-shop rants written on the bathroom walls. The caffeinated notes verbalize thoughts completely day from night in comparison to drunk scribbles in usual bar bathrooms. It’s refreshing to see hyper-literate graffiti.
High Five Coffee Bar exists for those liberal arts college students who don’t feel up for traveling completely downtown from campus. It’s where the studious crammers finds themselves squeezing in as much gourmet coffee and knowledge as their two-hour Wi-Fi allows.
They have a sweets-filled ordering space where teas from Dobra await their tasty fates in square glass jars that describe their attributes, with the folks behind the bar maintaining a sweetness all the same.
You have to know which tables to sit at in the middle of the day, because the place is filled with so many windows. The noonday sun glares on every laptop screen without a care of how badly you may need to see the computer to study.
Glossy bark tables are perpetually stocked with jittery note-takers, all roaming pages of the Internet seeking answers to endless wormholes of questions, between drinks.
The place just drips with intellectual conversations and coffee jargon. Dedicated coffee connoisseurs learn about their favorite drinks and order grounds by the bag, even changing their bean variety each week.
The baristas know their stuff and tell you whatever you care to learn about each brew. Each one of the staff have their names framed on the wall, stating their Counter Culture certification.
As for downtown, World Coffee Cafe prevails. The top-notch place to get lost in, the place is a maze of different colored rooms with secluded corners to cozy up to, flowery lavender lattes in hand.
I enter their bay window storefront, with its dainty French tables and Tibetan prayer flags dangling, saying salutations to the perpetually-caffeinated bookworms sitting outside with their hourly cigarettes and half empty mugs.
There, I hide in the lime-painted back room with the piano and the big windows and down as many chapters as silence allows.
When no one’s looking, I sit on their windowsill, looking down at Wall Street while reading from behind the yellow sheer curtain.
World Coffee Cafe is my labyrinth of meditation or concentration.
Double D’s Coffee and Desserts follows suit. They serve their espresso in a double decker bus with ceilings too low for folks of normal height or higher to walk upright.
A pretty distinct cafe, they somehow manage to maintain a cash-only policy in a downtown full of credit card-preferring tourists.
Inside and up the spiral stairs, alligator print lines the floors and copper-colored plates cover the ceilings. Robin’s egg walls match the flowery print going up the spiral stairs where funky color schemes join with a blue and green bead chandelier for tall people to hit their heads on.
This is the place high schoolers go for first dates, usually fitting under the low ceilings just fine before their growth spurts.
A little patio area rests outside the bus, with flower pots surrounding the double decker’s flat tires. Red ash trays cover the center of every Roman table set and waterfalls flow out of fountains in front, great for ambiance but terrible for after you’ve had a cup or two and have to pee after hearing every drop.
The hidden tables out back make for good sunny reading spots. I recommend the red hot mocha latte.
Izzy’s Coffee Den can’t be left out. The quintessential hole-in-the-downtown-wall cafe shelters the buskers, artists and freight hoppers in a space of coffee binges and cigarette breaks. It’s not the place for the clean-cut conservative types.
The cracking brick walls and bare cement floors embrace the grunge. Inside, the hodgepodge of seats surround walls of local artists’ framed work, embodying the Izzy dynamic.
The most radical conversations occur here, or at least to my accidental eavesdropping knowledge. Every vegan friendly, dreadlock growing, grungy local frequents this place.
Originally known for its fantastic counter-culture folks, Izzy’s 11-year-running atmosphere recently houses more clean-cut folks who don’t know the drill, but loyal patrons stick around, because a classic’s a classic.
Regardless of where to go, the caffeine rush awaits.