Friday Five: Top Five Coffee and Tea Shops

By Austin Anthony

Although the weather may be sweltering and unbearable, people are still not leaving their houses without a piping hot cup of coffee every morning. If you're anything like me, you can't live without a good cup of joe. If you're really like me, you've been drinking it since you were ten years old and are subjected to a dark abyss of unproductiveness without three cups a day.  

Fortunately, some of the best caffeine spots may be right under our coffee-aroma-seeking noses.

But, before we traverse further into the realm of roasted deliciousness, let us not forget our more collected and temperate counterparts:

Tea drinkers.

When it comes to quality tea, it’s easy to consign expertise to China or England, and while the brewing tradition is indelibly interwoven into the cultural fabric of those locales (and has been for centuries), there’s much to say about the tea tradition in the United States. After all, our country was basically founded on a little incident in Boston that involved 92,000 pounds of the stuff.

For decades, to be a tea lover in the United States was to wander in a barren wasteland.

No longer. Local tea purveyors and tea houses offer a dazzling range of loose leaf teas from around the world, sponsor tea preparation classes and sell artisan teaware.

Chattanooga is filled with coffee and tea lovers and shops that are dedicated to offering the best brews around. From coffee artisans who spent years perfecting their bean blends to tea sommeliers who meticulously pick and blend the best tea leaves, the coffee and tea culture in Chattanooga is truly blossoming. With such a diverse population, there’s a global take on caffeinating here, with shops serving up blends from across the world. Whether you’re looking for a cozy hole in the wall, a locals-only kind of spot, or a cafe that's constantly bustling with people, we’ve got the top five best coffee and tea spots in Chattanooga.

Peet’s Coffee and Tea

Thank goodness this coffee and tea nook is located across the street from the Chamber of Commerce. Complete with comfy chairs to sit in and live music to listen to as you eat and drink, Peet’s Coffee and Tea is perfect for enjoying a bite to eat with friends or for listening to some local talent. The Emeryville, California-based roaster features a range of lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, espressos, teas, cold brew options and hot cocoa. Snack choices of sandwiches, wraps, salads, fruit and parfaits join an impressive pastry roster including pistachio and raisin rolls, black & white cookies, Danishes, muffins, croissants, and the uncommon bonus of caramelized-sugar crusted canelés. As global appreciation for high-quality, conscientiously sourced coffee has skyrocketed, craft-roaster pioneers like Peet's Coffee continue to lead the way. Pure Goodness served daily.

Peet’s Coffee, located in West Village, is open seven days a week.  Peet’s hosts a happy hour every Monday from 4 to 6 p.m., offering half off all beverages to get you through your Monday.
Want to end your week on a positive note? Head to Peet’s for live music by Danimal every Friday from noon to 2 p.m.!

If those deals didn't put enough kick in your coffee, mention this article for a 10 percent discount! For more information, visit their website or Facebook page.

Spice & Tea Exchange

The Spice & Tea Exchange offers more than 140 spices, over 80 exclusive hand-mixed blends, 16 naturally-flavored sugars, an array of salts from around the world and more than 30 exotic teas. Passing through the nautical compass door, guests are immediately immersed in a sensory experience where they can explore a sea of spices and teas, open merchandise and smell, and converse with knowledgeable staff who are truly passionate about what they do. Spices in a multitude of colors line the wall of shelves, from deep, lush reds to pale, illuminating oranges, each glass container is packed with varying aromas of rich seasonings. All spices are custom blended in the shop to create something truly unique and so much more than a typical run-of-the-mill store bought spice.

In an effort to spice up the summer, Spice and Tea Exchange is offering a limited time deal: If you purchase five 1 oz. baggies, you’ll get the sixth one free! It’s Spice and Tea Exchange’s small way of providing an added bonus of flavor to anyone's life. For more information, visit their website or Facebook page.

The Meeting House

This café (also a church on Sundays) launched onto the Red Bank scene in 2015 as a part of Mission Chattanooga, the same parent organization as downtown Chattanooga's Camp House. Every Sunday, the Meeting House transforms into the Red Bank Chapel, and the interior is outfitted interchangeably for worship, Bible study, coffee sipping and dessert indulging. An advocate for local businesses, the café showcases two local roasters: Velo and Mayfly. A cute cafe with directly-sourced coffee that also supports local organizations? Heck yes. I personally enjoyed my hot dark roasted coffee with a yogurt parfait. I had to restrain myself from buying another. While your go-to caffeine fix might just be from the closest shop on your block, this positive vibes emanating locale will certainly add a more special start to your day. For hours or further information, visit their website or check out their Facebook page.

TeLife

Ever since kale was revealed to be the most super of all leafy greens, health-savvy eaters have been patiently waiting for the next big thing in nutritious eating. Avocados and salmon were the leaders in the category for some time, but there's a new champion in the superfood arena that's been around for centuries but has only recently taken the mainstream by storm: turmeric. TeLife specializes in turmeric beverages with all organic ingredients, including cocktail mixers and three varieties of tea: original (sweetened with honey), stevia sweet and unsweetened. The turmeric experts at TeLife are committed to producing beverages that purely help your body heal, crafting a unique formula absent of harmful chemicals and additives. For further information regarding these elixirs of health, check out their website or their Facebook page

Wired Coffee Bar

This quiet coffee shop located in Ooltewah provides a spacious yet intimate setting while supplementing your caffeine and sugar fix. Walking in feels like you're entering the home of an old friend, with comfy seating, light music and friendly service. Wired Coffee Bar has the caffeinated goodness to get you through any hour of the day, coupled with an array of delicious pastries that make you never want to leave. This may be purely semantic, but it is my belief that a neighborhood isn't truly a neighborhood until it becomes home to a great locally-owned coffee shop. For Ooltewah, that great coffee shop is Wired Coffee Bar. For more information, visit their website or Facebook page.


From perusing our top picks of coffee and tea spots in Chattanooga, you may have discovered that, fundamentally, the true appeal of these coffee and tea shops doesn’t reside in their products (regardless of how unique and delicious they are). Their success isn’t built on the coffee or tea, no matter how good it is. What they’re really selling is much more enduring and profound:

Relationships and community.

It’s certainly not news that we’ve become a society of individuals who are constantly on the go, enslaved by appointments, schedules, obligations and the incessant pressures and expectations of the modern lifestyle. In fact, we’ve become addicted to it. We live for the pace, the frantic adrenaline-laced feeling that if we’re going to make it we have to hurry, speed through the light, skip lunch, multitask and eat 80 percent of our meals in the car. As a society, we’ve effectively extirpated the joy of unplanned, relaxed time out of our lives and bought into the myth that the busy life is the best life.

And so we find ourselves drawn to the coffee shops and tea houses. The baristas know our names, and even our favorite drinks. If it’s Friday morning, it must be a grande hot latte with an extra shot of expresso! We enjoy seeing the same people from time to time and hearing about the simple things that make up everyday life. It’s here we feel what life is supposed to be, how it's meant to be. In this caffeinated sanctuary, we seem to matter because of who we are rather than just because of what we do. And whether we realize it or not, the coffee and tea shops are dishing out community, with or without cream. They’ve created a refuge from the ticking clock and filled it to the brim with relationship.

If we’re honest, the coffee and tea has simply become an excuse to come to the oasis for a few minutes to be refreshed by the most profound of human experiences:

Connection.