I am not a morning person. Ask those closest to me. Funny, of course…Charming, like the Prince…a morning person, not a chance. I need a solid hour to myself and a good ole cup’a’joe (locally roasted Nigerian blend, perhaps a triple latte) to blossom into my afternoon self. Luckily, if I’ve run out at home, I can pop out my front door and choose from myriad local options to get my fix. Maybe it is my beverage bias to wine and cocktails, but I had never really taken the time to analyze Savannah’s coffee prowess…and I love/need coffee.
From the local gems: Foxy Loxy, The Sentient Bean, Gallery Espresso, The Florence – to the corporate giant that occupies a rather important corner on Bull and Broughton Streets, Savannah has, in the words of our local celebrity crush Hugh Acheson, a “Great coffee scene…which is something I adore.” I second that, Hugh.
Savannah’s downtown area is now home to more than a half dozen dedicated coffee shops and several other fantastic eateries/bakeries that offer a full coffee bar. Foxy Loxy, and its sister coffeehouse the, appropriately named, Coffee Fox, offer local roasts, as well as creative “cocktail-like” beverages on their menu boards. Need an afternoon pick-me-up and a beer at the same time? Try the Eye Opener – a double shot of espresso with Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout. Or perhaps you really need some dessert, head over to Gallery Espresso and try the White Chocolate Cappuccino: self proclaimed to be “deliciously sweet.”
And many of these establishments have different coffee varieties from local and/or regional roasters. Savannah is home to some very successful coffee roasters, two of which are PERC Coffee and Savannah Coffee Roasters.
PERC Coffee, the love child of Philip Brown, has been roasting away in Savannah since the summer of 2010. After eleven years at a friend’s coffee shop in Athens, Philip, his wife Geneva, and their cats moved down to the Hostess city, welcomed a baby boy, and became Savannah’s most in-demand roaster. You can purchase PERC beans at Whole Foods stores around the south, other local outfitters, and sip on their delicious juice at some of the Lowcountry’s greatest restaurants. In addition to roasting awesome coffee, they have recently partnered with Southbound Brewing Company to produce a coffee stout! Well played, PERC, well played.
PERC’s new home on Broad Street is also home to weekly events, such as “cuppings”. I recently attending a Perc “cupping” hosted by Foxy Loxy. A “cupping” is the coffee equivalent of a wine tasting – and it’s fascinating. As someone well versed in wine tasting and culture, I thoroughly enjoyed learning not only about the coffee itself, but the (and I use this term loosely) rules for tasting. I, and a handful of other participants, were guided through the process of tasting used by Philip and other roasters around the world, and given just a small insight into the multi-billion dollar industry that is coffee production.
On the other end of town, Savannah Coffee Roasters has taken over a vacant warehouse on West Liberty Street and set up quite a shop. Not only can you view the roasting process through the glass tower at the heart of the building, but you can enjoy a delicious pastry from Culinary Institute of America at Greystone trained chef, Susan Goodman. It’s not the worst way to spend an afternoon. Savannah Coffee Roasters is actually the oldest coffee roasting company in Savannah, and one of the oldest surviving roasters in the southeast. Founded in 1909, it has seen a resurgence due to the 2011 acquisition by husband and wife team, John and Lori Collins. John and Lori have taken their love of coffee, combined it with their business acumen, and thrown it into the giant cup that is Savannah to re-create a powerful brand with a wonderful space for enjoying their product.
Hugh Acheson himself has added the newest coffeehouse to the scene, with his coffee shop as part of The Florence compound. Open all day, the shop serves the student crowds in the morning, and provides full coffee and espresso service for the restaurant and bar in the evening, as well as maintaining a separate lounge area for a quick pastry. With a rotating list of roasts from North Carolina based Counter Culture Coffee, and an extremely well informed staff, this has become my favorite new spot to sit relax or have a quick caffeine-induced chat.
So why are there so many coffee shops and roasters in Savannah? Philip says coffee is “the perfect blend of science and art.” And, well, you could say the same thing about Savannah. So tomorrow when I unhappily pull myself out of bed and force myself out of the house, I will pop into the Sentient Bean and purchase myself some art…in a cup…an extra large cup…with a shot of espresso too.
Photos Credit: Jon Waits Photography