The Red Cat

To get a good cup of joe.

by Jason Horn

The Red Cat

It’s a rare coffeehouse that does brisk business both before work and after the sun goes down, but this Pepper Place spot is packed from open to close most every day. It also roasts its own beans on the premises. Even if you don’t like coffee, come by for the Friday afternoon happy hours and live acoustic concerts at night.   2901 2nd Ave. S. 205-616 8450;

Urban Standard

The downtown hot spot may have grown to encompass table–service dinner, gourmet Sunday brunch, decadent baked goods, hearty soups and excellent sandwiches, but it got its start as a hip urban coffeehouse. There’s a full complement of well-made espresso drinks to keep the creative types that spend whole days there caffeinated.

2320 2nd Ave. N. 205-250-8200;

Trattoria Centrale

Behind the counter at this artisanal pizzeria sits a four-foot-tall Italian brass espresso machine topped with a magnificent eagle. It’s a sight to behold, but it also dispenses expertly pulled coffee. The drinks make an ideal accompaniment to Trattoria Centrale’s excellent breakfast menu of scones, biscuits and omelets.

207–A 20th St. N. 205-202-5612;

Primavera Coffee Roasters

It sources java to some of the best restaurants (and coffeehouses) in town, but Primavera coffee is at its freshest at the small shop in Cahaba Heights where the beans are actually roasted. It also sells high-end coffee-brewing equipment like Chemex flasks and Baratza grinders.

4133 White Oak Dr. 205-969-1177;

Crestwood Coffee Company

With art exhibits, open mic nights, and musical performances every week, Crestwood Coffee is one of the main cultural hubs for its neighborhood. It also serves a rotation of fresh-made soups and from-scratch entrees every day for lunch. Oh, and it makes great coffee, too.

5512 Crestwood Blvd. 205-595-0300

Forest Perk Coffee

The Birmingham coffeehouse with the puniest name, Forest Perk brews Higher Ground coffee, which is roasted in Leeds. It also sells beans to use at home—at lower prices than the Piggly Wiggly next door. Don’t miss the house-baked cookies and other pastries, either.

3328 Clairmont Ave. 205-453-9237

Coffee Shoppee

That’s not a typo: Coffee Shoppee has an extra “e” on purpose. The quirky Five Points West shop is part coffeehouse and part community center, with local art adorning the walls, open mic nights and jazz concerts, and even networking events for small business owners.

2145 Bessemer Rd., Suite B. 205-202-5602

O’Henry’s Coffees

With five locations and availability at Publix and Piggly Wiggly, this local chain is highly visible in Birmingham. It was also one of the first places in town to roast beans purchased directly from growers around the world. The Brookwood and Regions locations also serve an extensive menu of sandwiches.

Various locations;

Lucy’s Coffee & Tea

This charming place has been meeting the hot-beverage needs of UAB’s medical staff and students for 18 years now. Try the Cafe Viennese, an iced mix of espresso, chocolate and half-and-half. Chances are, Lucy herself will make it for you.

2007 University Blvd. 205-328-2007;

LeReunion Coffee Café

Coffee in the suburbs is dominated by Starbucks, but there are a few indie bright spots, including this Helena café, which serves a lengthy menu of hot and frozen java drinks, as well as house-made baked goods and lunches. Try one of the dessert-y frozen frappes, like Reese’s Reunion, made with espresso, milk, chocolate and peanut butter. 4085 Helena Rd., Helena.


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