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brash coffee

Have you heard of fika? Fika is a concept in Swedish culture with the basic meaning “to have coffee” and I read a little more about its cultural significance in a lovely book one morning at Brash.

“Fika demands that we create space in our lives for a break. It discourages getting a cup of coffee to go and drinking it in solitude in front of a computer. Fika is about slowing down, getting together with friends, and spending a moment completely present in the company at hand. As any Swede will tell you, life without fika is unthinkable.” 

8 arm

When a new coffee spot in town opens up, you know you’ll find me there drinking lattes like there’s no tomorrow. Typically I visit a new place just once or twice to take pics and feel the vibe, but with 8 arm I’ve already been there like 5 times since I first visited it a month ago. Is that insane? I very rarely find a place I love as much as Octane but this one is right up there.

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First of all, how come no one knows about this spot? It’s right on Ponce, in that spot that used to have all the scooters. It’s open morning until night and has a breakfast lunch AND dinner menu. While the pricing is a little too high to be my every day spot, everything I’ve tried there is delish. Atlanta magazine claimed that 8 arm now has the best biscuit in Atlanta, but the item I’m dying over is the CINNAMON BUN. Go get it. The dining room is flooded with natural light and a weekday is quiet enough to sit and really enjoy the morning.

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 This particular morning that I went, I was feeling really down, out, and tired.

coffee in charleston

Earlier this week, I spent two-and-half days in Charleston. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but if you know me then you know that I can pack in a whole lot of sightseeing into one day. This was my summer mini holiday and so I wanted to go somewhere new and do all the things I love with the person I love. Those things include: eating, drinking, walking, marveling, and taking photos of it all. I’m breaking down my trip into categories so I can share every little bit of inspiration with you! And one of my new goals for the rest of this year is to make more time for short trips to nearby cities so that I can continue finding beautiful places and sharing them here.

Anywhere I travel, I have to visit coffee shops. Multiple coffee shops. Partially because I need coffee to function, but also because coffee shops are local cultural landmarks. No matter where I go, if I find the right coffee shop then I can get a glimpse into what it would be like for me to live in that city. So in a way they make me feel at home.

I would never consider myself a sophisticated coffee connoisseur, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. I visited a total of 4 coffee places in Charleston (narrowed down from many internet searches) and here’s what went down.

Black Tap Coffee
The vibe: quiet neighborhood, minimal interiors, a place to sit and work/read on your computer
What I got: black julep (a refreshing espresso, honey, mint concoction) & a blueberry lemon scone
How it made me feel: not cool enough. It was extremely quiet and anonymous inside; there were plenty of people around, but everyone was into their own space which is really good if you want to stay and linger for some peace. Great natural light coming in.

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Would I go back again? Yes. I didn’t try their traditional coffee drinks because I had read about the Black Julep online prior to the visit. I would probably go back if I were alone and wanted to sit and think. They do play music so it’s not silent, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable having a private conversation in the shop.

The Daily
The vibe: easy parking, more of a market/lunch place, meeting up with friends for a chat
What I got: cold brew and a cherry pistachio pastry… thing

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How it made me feel: Casual. Definitely a great weekend spot or breakfast meeting place. They have a wide array of items for your pantry and dishes made to order, but it seemed bustling and perhaps a little more tourist-y. Loved the little patio seating area outside (but it was too hot to partake) and the decor shops right next door.

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Would I go back again? Definitely. Delicious delicious pastry – which makes me think the rest of the food will probably done just as well. A place to go with family or friends to enjoy brunch and browsing.

The Rise
The vibe: Accidentally happened upon this while walking around sightseeing. Found out it was actually a hotel cafe (there are many in Charleston), attached to The Restoration.
What I drank: another cold brew! it’s an easy go-to.

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How it made me feel: I don’t know how I feel about hotel cafes. It was a lovely small space, completely empty and seemed like maybe only made for tourists or hotel guests.
Would I go back again? Probably not. My drink was sufficient due to my need for refueling, but it’s not a coffee destination for me. Totally acceptable though!

Kudu Coffee
The vibe: Easygoing. It makes you want to stay a while, except there’s no wifi.
What I drank: vanilla latte

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How it made me feel: really really good. As the last coffee visit in Charleston, it ended up being perhaps one of my favorites. The side patio is absolutely darling and this spot could easily become a staple in my life if I lived in Charleston.
Would I go back again? Definitely for sure. The patio was lush and serence, and my latte was just what I wanted.

That’s all I got! Did I hit all of the good spots? Probably not. But I think for two days, four coffee shops is definitely a good run. Next time I visit Charleston, I might find it hard not to go back to some of these!

bread & butterfly

It’s been high time that I try some of the new spots round Atlanta! Bread & Butterfly was at the top of my must-try list, knowing that a) I love breakfast and b) all pastries I’ve had from Proof Bakeshop are finger-licking good. These folks know how to do baked goods right and I’m so glad that more and more we’re seeing established Atlanta restaurants spread their wings into different neighborhoods.

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This Parisian-inspired cafe is open like all day long – perfect for lingering – and switches up their tastefully small menu at strategic times of day. My friend Alicia and I made it right as the breakfast menu was coming to a close. It was the perfect start to a weekday off; with time to really savor every item, it was simplicity that I sought and simplicity that I got. It was a Wednesday morning so the place was absolutely empty save for two loners. So if you’re near Inman Park and needing a new quiet place to hole up and read, study, whatever… here’s your new spot! It was way too cold to sit outside but I imagine once we warm up again, the patio will be just divine.

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I will warn you, the prices aren’t as casual as I had hoped. It’s the perfect place for a day date, a nice brunch, or treating yourself with your girls. But everyday pit stop it is not. Should you need to go somewhere a bit more friendly to the wallet, I’d recommend Amelie’s.

The food itself was carefully made and I took my time in eating it. It was worth enjoying the moment, the flavor, the textures. You could probably go there and spend less than I did if you just ordered regular coffee and a pastry. But if you’re going to indulge in a nice breakfast, just let it happen. I’m pretty happy I did.

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joseph and co

I could have never imagined that after five years I would have cultivated such a vast and diverse network of colleagues and creatives here in Atlanta. I’m starting to get used to living in a state of constant awe for the work that people do. There are just some of us that have a unique vision for an enhanced life, a simpler way of living beautifully. My friend Joseph is one of those people.

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How do I describe Joseph? I’m always challenged when I try to capture the essence of people in words, but obvously I have to try. Joseph is someone who understands the many ingredients it takes to have a lovely experience; he appreciates the home-made, the genuine, the warmth of sitting down with someone to share a meal. I think he and I became friends because we both see potential, in the world and in others. There’s really nothing more beautiful than taking the time to make something (for me, art and for him, food), imbue it with care and love, and offer it to someone to better their lives.

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I was thrilled to see that he has created a platform for everyone in the neighborhood to enjoy his vision at Joseph and Co. Nestled in the corner of Glenwood Park, his store is like a model for a well-loved kitchen and pantry, stocked with local food goods as well as baked treats by Joseph himself. When you come in, order a coffee and stay a while.

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Perhaps that’s really the thing I love the most about Joseph and his shop – it’s an open invitation to take a moment and stay a while. The lofty windows and array of provisions begs you to slow down, be inspired, and take a piece of that charming experience home with you. Oh, and the delicious buttery flaky croissants don’t hurt either.

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intelligentsia coffee

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When I travel, I make it a point to find out where the locals have their coffee. Sometimes it’ll be a quaint little anonymous neighborhood cafe and other times it’ll be a nationally recognized coffee roaster. Of course with Chicago, it was the latter. I was lucky enough that Intelligentsia had a small locale nearby my downtown hotel, perfect for two visits in less than 24 hours.

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I really enjoy the way Intelligentsia describes themselves and their various chosen headquarters:

Intelligentsia now has three cities it calls home: Chicago—a city that is brooding, practical and reluctantly beautiful; Los Angeles—a city that views creativity as a birthright, is immensely vast, decidedly impractical and equally messy and marvelous; and New York—a city of paradoxes, hulking but chock full of intimate corners, timeless but achingly current, polished but decaying, worldly yet oddly provincial, all crashing together in perfect cacophony (or is it harmony?).

Honestly, we love all of these places, but for very different reasons. Straight backed-Midwesterness gives us pragmatism and self-discipline, West Coast optimism leads us to believe anything is possible, and the dynamism of East Coast is an unending source of energy. This combination provides the fuel for what we love to do: sourcing, developing, roasting and delivering the best coffee in the world.

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I’m far from being a coffee connoisseur, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. And if I were living in Chicago, I know that this would be one of my go-to spots. I had the chance to enjoy my two standards, latte in the morning and iced coffee in the afternoon. Also, croissant and an oatmeal raisin cookie – all good things in life, all good things from Intelligentsia.

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lady brunch at ladybird

I had been hearing lots of things about Ladybird, so it was time I find out firsthand. Perfect opportunity for a lady brunch, right?

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When you get into your late 20s, brunch unfortunately starts to lose its luster. You no longer have the availability to devote hours and hours on a Sunday to sitting around gabbing over mimosas. But every now and then, it’s necessary to indulge and enjoy the company of other lovely ladies. A couple hours out of your errand-running is nothing compared to to some good-hearted laughs with friends. Ladybird was a great spot to spend some quality time – family-style tables, down-home casual breakfast food, and endless cups of coffee.

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Everything was pretty darn delightful here (company included obviously). Their brunch selection covers anything you might be craving for a cozy weekend morning. I myself went for the savory mexican flavors with a cast iron pan full of chips, salsa, avocado, an egg. You know, tasty stuff. Other delicious choices on our table included the deviled eggs, beignets, farro bowl, hot chicken biscuits, and breakfast flatbread.

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buttermilk kitchen

The upside to working retail is the beauty of my days off. Sure, sure, it would be fantastic to have my two-day weekends back. But sometimes you just have to look at the silver lining and soak in what you can. I get to explore sweet little local places unburdened by crowds and every now and then I’m lucky enough to have the company of women who are quite lovely. This week, Buttermilk Kitchen was our southern brunch nirvana.

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There’s not much I can convey in words to add to what these pictures already show you. The atmosphere was perfect, particularly on the patio with the sun moving up, and the service was extremely on-point. Everything was in a perfect state of balance, very thoughtful but not at all fussy. The menu was pared down and every piece of food on our table was exactly what we wanted it to be. It was fresh, it was rich, and well worth the trip.

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I imagine that the weekends could be overwhelming in a place like this. It’s undeniably awesome and I’m sure the entire neighborhood knows and loves it. If you ever get a weekday off, make a day date for Buttermilk. I swear to you, probably one of the best brunches I’ve had in Atlanta. 

austin: blue dahlia bistro

I’m sure you would agree that a day started with breakfast at a quaint little bistro is going to be a good day. The same is true even in the heart of Texas, where we found the perfect little patio at Blue Dahlia Bistro.

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The back patio at the East Austin location is unbelievably enchanting. Under a wooden canopy draped in greenery, it feels a little bit like a secret garden… which just happens to have tables and chairs and servers. Though it was a cloudy day when we went, it still felt a bit magical. In a place as beautiful as that, it almost doesn’t even matter what they serve me.

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Our table’s order was varied; frittata, crepes, waffles, charcuterie, oatmeal. All the traditional fixins of a wonderful breakfast spread. The photos, as you can see are ridiculous. Everything looked picture-perfect. 

stlou: blueprint coffee

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Coffee can be quite a mystery to me sometimes, and I bet you feel some degree of the same. Much like wine or chocolate, there are mounds and mounds of knowledge that I seem to not have access to, but am very curious about. I worship at the altar of this addictive dark liquid and wonder if my life might be different had my college courses been more focused on roasting beans instead of playing with colors. Here, at Blueprint Coffee, I felt right at home. Well, not home home… more like coffee heaven home.

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