The fine art of bean brewing is on the rise all over the South, but in Atlanta, coffee culture has officially reached its Enlightenment era. Coffee obsessives have been putting down roots in communities across the city, serving up superlative brews and tasty treats in beautiful, welcoming spaces. To help you find your way, we designed a tour of some of our favorite cafés around town, perfect for gathering with friends or a spot of solo inspiration.
Portrait’s airy, plant-filled café, located in the historic West End neighborhood, operates from the midcentury Lottie Watkins Building, named for its longtime owner and Atlanta’s first Black real estate broker. “We wanted to open a coffee shop that reflected the history and culture of the neighborhood,” says Aaron Fender, Portrait founder and CEO.
Portrait roasts its own beans in the basement, which it sells wholesale to several other coffee shops. Upstairs you’ll find heavenly handcrafted espresso drinks and baked goods from Colette Bakeshop. Outside, a spacious patio is perfect for warm afternoons with latte in hand.
If you like your caffeine with a side of breathtaking natural vistas, then the Chattahoochee Coffee Company’s riverside location on Akers Mill Road is not to be missed. The café, located in the Walton on the Chattahoochee apartment complex and accessible to non-residents only on weekdays, opens onto a sloping hill leading down to the Chattahoochee River. Grab an outdoor table and enjoy the view. And with coffee and espresso drinks made from Durham-based Counter Culture beans, your sip will be as smooth as the sights.
You can find locations closer to the city center, but Land of a Thousand Hills’ original spot in Roswell is worth the trip. Built in a shotgun-style house, the wood-paneled interior has plenty of cozy nooks for working or reading, and the sprawling backyard garden is perfect for caffeinating with friends.
Thousand Hills’ coffee is not just spectacular, it’s deeply ethical: The company bypasses middle-men coffee brokers to purchase beans directly from Rwandan farmers. “We call it collaborative trade,” manager Erin Dillon explains. The beans are roasted in Atlanta and brewed into superlative pour-overs and espresso drinks; if you’re lucky, you can pair yours with a ham and cheese croissant from Mission Bakery before they sell out.
Stone Mountain’s downtown district is having something of a renaissance, thanks in no small part to Gilly Brew Bar, which serves up cocktail-worthy coffees and teas out of a grand old two-story house (double-decker wraparound porch included). “We really tried to create a ripple effect around us,” founder Daniel Brown says; his wife Shellane’s Woodstone Bakery provides the café’s baked goods.
At Gilly, Brown and co-owner Nephthaly Leonidas blend world-class coffee culture with the kind of Southern hospitality you’ll never want to leave. And with a new brunch menu out now, featuring dishes inspired by Brown’s Jamaican heritage, you’re sure to find reasons to linger.
Perc started in Savannah, but the company’s whimsical vibe and impeccable brews have become a staple of the Atlanta coffee scene. Head to their East Lake location on Hosea L. Williams Drive to enjoy a sunny, high-ceilinged café with spacious indoor and outdoor seating. Grab a signature latté—the fall-inspired My Morning Jacket is always a hit—best enjoyed with a made-in-house sandwich or bagel.
Perc has also perfected the seemingly impossible task of artisan instant coffee: Their packs of instant craft crystals, in signature Wild or Mild brew strength, are a camping game-changer.
Christine Ahn’s family emigrated to this south-of-Atlanta town from Korea when she was a teenager, and her family has run various businesses in a single commercial block ever since. JPresso’s lively, warm interior is truly a family affair: Ahn’s husband, an interior designer, built the gorgeous wooden furniture and shelves, while her kids helped supply the antique knickknacks on the walls—available for purchase if you’re interested. “People kept asking if things were for sale, so we put price tags on them!” Ahn says.
At the counter, you’ll find a full espresso and coffee bar, plus drinks like strawberry boba smoothies and dragonfruit tea-freshers. A full menu includes lox bagels (featuring Emerald City bagels) and hearty soups and salads, often sourced from Ahn’s garden on the café patio.
Old Fourth Ward
This queer-owned coffee shop just opened its new location adjacent to Historic Fourth Ward Park; it shares a spacious, well-appointed café space with the Iris O4W building. Treat yourself to one of Finca’s delicious rotating specialty drinks, often designed in collaboration with local Atlanta organizations like Georgia Organics and Trees Atlanta.
Founder Kayla Bellman has a master’s in development practice, but her professional interest in coffee eventually turned into a full-blown business. “Slowly I just gave into thinking about coffee all the time,” she says with a laugh. Finca to Filter partners with Unblended, a global initiative to nurture the next generation of coffee farmers, and sources their beans through Southeast queer and BIPOC roasters (Portrait is a major supplier). It’s part of a larger commitment to supporting the community through coffee,” Bellman explains. “We like to say we celebrate humanity’s finest through specialty coffee and feel-good spaces.”