Let me start this off by saying that, when it comes to coffee, I am spoiled, snobby, and snooty. It started when I got my first job out of law school, working in downtown Chicago right across the street from one of Intelligentsia Coffee’s flagship locations. It got worse when I finally took the plunge and bought my first espresso machine. More than almost any other food or beverage, I obsess about the quality of my coffee to a degree that might be diagnosably crazy. In fact, I don’t often go out for coffee, both because the average place is unlikely to meet my fussy expectations and because I get a weird meditative satisfaction out of making beautiful latte art at home.
All that being said, I’ve recently started going out for coffee more often, and Atomic Coffee is the reason. Atomic Coffee is delivering serious, third-wave specialty coffee service to Tallahassee at a consistently impressive level. If you haven’t been there already, you are missing out.
So, the only kind-of-bad thing I can say about Atomic is that their Tennessee Street location means that their outdoor seating is not exactly charming. Of course, the upside is that they are really easy to get to from downtown or campus. There is parking in the back, although not as much as you would like.
But enough about the trivial details; let’s get to the coffee. Atomic is a multi-roaster cafe, part of an emerging trend of establishments that feature the best work done by different roasters across the country rather than tying all of their service to a single supplier. Depending on when you show up, they might be pulling shots of Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Analog Espresso, Stumptown’s Hairbender, or Counter Culture Coffee’s Toscano blend. Of the three, my favorite is the Toscano. Atomic offers beautiful little ristretto shots of this coffee, which will fill your mouth and nose with flavors of sweet caramel, dark chocolate, cloves, and stone fruit.
Of course, one of the true joys of high quality coffee service is getting milk drinks with pretty designs poured into them. Well, Atomic does not disappoint, offering a creamy and beautiful cappuccino to help you get through a difficult morning.
But these espresso drinks, to my mind, actually take a back seat to Atomic’s pour-over service. They have a deep menu of coffees from around the world, each of which they will prepare individually to order. These coffees are constantly changing as different offerings go in and out of season, so you could go there pretty regularly without getting bored.
The last time I was there, I was blown away by their preparation of the Kenyan Grand Cru, which the barista accurately described as reminiscent of a good red sangria, with mingled aromas of red wine, citrus fruit, and flowers. This was among the top five cups I’ve drunk all year, which is really saying something considering some of the coffee I’ve been brewing at home or sampling on the road.
Of course, not everyone obsesses about coffee to the exclusion of all else. Sarah has confirmed that some of their sweeter concoctions, like the iced chai, are good for people who are into that sort of thing. Mike has had positive things to say about their breakfast sandwiches (which I haven’t tried), and I can confirm that their croissants are good, if not life changing. It’s also a nice and cosy place to sit and linger over a laptop, if you are so inclined.
All in all, if you love high-quality coffee, Atomic is well worth a visit.