Some of us require coffee and some of us simply love coffee, but we can probably agree that not all coffee is created equal. Each carries its own flavor based on where the beans are grown.
In the world of wine, that’s called “terroir,” which Oxford Dictionaries defines as “the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.”
The same applies for coffee beans.
Paul Gregutt wrote “The Wine Lover’s Guide to Coffee” in 2014 for Wine Enthusiast, and he identified three regions of coffee: The Americas, Africa/Saudi Arabia, and Pacific Islands. Each has its own flavor profile: “sweet and mild,” “the most acidic, but least bitter,” and “thick, often with an almost syrupy texture,” respectively.
In addition to the terroir of the coffee beans, roasting impacts flavor, and we have great in-house roasting occurring in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
So what’ll it be? Do you want a simple cup o’ joe or are you seeking a single origin, organic beverage?
- Cello Coffee House & Cafe
- Chris's Coffee & Custard
- Fincastle Cafe
- James River Drip
- Little Green Hive
- Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea
- Morning Brew Coffee Company
- One Love Coffee House
- RND Coffee (Roasters Next Door)
- Smith Mountain Lake Coffee House
- STEAM Coffee & Eatery
- Sweet Donkey Coffee House
- The Whole Bean Coffeehouse
- Biking Bonus: Roanoke Roasts Bicycle Route
Cello Coffee House & Café | Downtown Roanoke
Turkish coffee is the specialty at Cello, a Mediterranean café in Downtown Roanoke. Roasted Brazilian beans are ground espresso-fine and mixed with cardamom spice.
Josh Birch of WDBJ7 suggests the Turkish Nutella latte, calling it “super, super good” and noting its creaminess.
Cello’s food menu ranges from hummus and gyro to sesame fudge and shawarma. Indeed, all three meals of the day – plus dessert – have been considered.
Learn more: Cello Coffee House Facebook Page >
Chris’s Coffee & Custard | Southeast Roanoke
A new arrival to the coffee shop scene, Chris’s Coffee & Custard opened in March 2021 but has quickly become a local favorite.
The menu features unique coffee & custard creations and the story behind the business is wonderful – they focus on providing meaningful employment to people from the special needs community and want to offer a welcoming space to everyone.
For a fun beverage that you’ll definitely want to post about on social media, try their special “Selfieccino,” where you can upload a picture and watch it be turned into a piece of latte art on top of your drink!
Learn more: Chris's Coffee & Custard Website >
Fincastle Café | Fincastle
Located in Historic Fincastle, Fincastle Café has its own “Fincastle Blend” of coffee, wouldn’t you know.
It’s a special roast by Shenandoah Joe Coffee Roasters in Charlottesville and you can take home a bag of your very own. They’re happy to sell you whole beans or grind them to your liking.
Be sure to enjoy a slice of a sweet or savory pie by The Pie Lady from The Pie Shoppe.
Learn more: Fincastle Cafe Website >
James River Drip | Buchanan
James River Drip is another new addition to the coffee shop scene in Virginia's Blue Ridge and it's located along Main Street in the historic Town of Buchanan in Botetourt County.
You can try a variety of different coffee drinks, which pair well with delicious options for breakfast and lunch, as well as sweet treats featuring Homestead Creamery ice cream.
Learn more: James River Drip Facebook Page >
Little Green Hive | Downtown Roanoke, Grandin Village, and Daleville Town Center
Fair trade organic coffee is the center of Little Green Hive’s sourcing endeavors, and they work with Red Rooster Coffee Company in Floyd to acquire and roast it.
Their food menu is comprised of excellent local ingredients, so you’ll not only drink well but eat well.
Little Green Hive, which is woman owned and family operated, features three locations in the region – Downtown Roanoke in the Crafteria building, Grandin Village (pictured above), and the Daleville Town Center in Botetourt County.
Learn more: Little Green Hive Website >
Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea | Downtown Roanoke, Starkey Road in Roanoke, Downtown Salem, Daleville
Established in 1990, Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea is regarded as the OG of the Roanoke coffee shop scene, and their quest to surpass good and better to reach best is never ending.
Their brews begin with 100% Arabica beans and their in-house roasters hand-roast the beans to serve you coffee from all over the world, including organic Ethiopian Amaro Gayo, Honduras San Marco, and Papua New Guinea Peaberry.
According to MMCT, “on a rare occasion a coffee tree will produce cherries with only one bean inside, this is known as a peaberry.” Peaberries are manually harvested, are richer in flavor (and favored by coffee connoisseurs), and account for only about 5% of a crop.
Learn more: Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea Website >
Morning Brew Coffee Company | Taubman Museum of Art - Downtown Roanoke
Located in the Taubman Museum of Art in Downtown Roanoke, Morning Brew is a black-owned business serving Charlottesville-roasted Grit Coffee in all ways possible, as well as loose leaf teas, healthy smoothies, wine, beer, and food, too.
Pick up a specialty hot dog, sandwich, charcuterie board, or maybe even a doughnut.
You’re definitely going to love the patio situation regardless of what you imbibe.
Learn more: Morning Brew Coffee Website >
One Love Coffee House | Botetourt County
Coffee and ice cream. YES! Coffee and anything, really, but ice cream? Sold.
One Love serves up shaken laced with espresso, if you want, or you can be more traditional and take your coffee as a drip, iced, latte, etc.
Keep an eye on the Monthly Employee Drink menu, too, featuring flavor mashups like lavender and vanilla, a.k.a. Purple Haze.
Oh, and if you see a face-sized sticky bun, call dibs.
Learn more: One Love Coffee House Facebook Page >
RND Coffee Lounge | Wasena
Another black-owned business, RND (short for Roasters Next Door) is probably making the most creative coffee drinks in the region.
If we need to prove it to you, watch this from owner and chef, Quincy Randolph, who once appeared on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” with Guy Fieri.
RND roasts their own coffee beans. One of their more unique coffees is the Barrel Aged Costa Rica, which is a combo of Costa Rica and Ethiopia Guji aged in a used bourbon barrel from nearby Barrel Chest in Roanoke. The result is flavors of pistachio, green apple, pear, pineapple, and Gin.
Learn more: RND Coffee Website >
Smith Mountain Lake Coffee House | Bridgewater Plaza - Smith Mountain Lake
Coffee with a view is one of the biggest draws to SML Coffee House as their deck overlooks the dock where boats come and go at Bridgewater Plaza.
The owners have chosen other Virginia-based makers to round out and enhance their menu, like Lexington Coffee Roasters for beans and Homestead Creamery for dairy.
Sweets like cake pops & cheesecakes and savories like ham and cheese rolls make the Coffee House a great stop any time of day.
Learn more: Smith Mountain Lake Coffee House Website >
STEAM Coffee & Eatery | The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center - Downtown Roanoke
We know there are die-hard Starbucks afficionados out there and we’d be remiss to not include the cream of the crop Starbucks purveyor in Roanoke: The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.
Grab-and-go through STEAM (named for the 611 steam locomotive often parked on the other side of the railroad tracks at the Virginia Museum of Transportation) as you pick up homemade sandwiches, salads, and pastries, as well as the Starbucks beverages you know and love.
Learn more: STEAM Coffee & Eatery Website >
Sweet Donkey Coffee House | South Roanoke
You may not recognize Sweet Donkey as a coffee shop when you first approach, but give it a sec.
Tucked cozily into a house near Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, it may offer the best atmosphere of any listed here. It feels like home – a backyard cook-out, maybe – with a great patio that hosts live music during warmer months.
About the coffee at Sweet Donkey, the owners “want you to experience the natural citrus, vanilla, chocolate, or even raspberry flavor that often seeps into each cup or espresso or French press coffee.” They don’t meddle with the beans.
Learn more: Sweet Donkey Coffee Website >
The Whole Bean Coffeehouse | Rocky Mount
Sit a spell and work if you have to. Or veg. Just get comfy; that’s the idea at The Whole Bean. Enjoy the drips and espressos featuring Red Rooster Coffee and Homestead Creamery dairy products.
Tart-sized cheesecakes (you don’t have to share if you don’t want to!), paninis, colorful salads, and mouthwatering blueberry scones top off any visit, because sometimes you do need more than coffee to get you through the day.
Learn more: The Whole Bean Coffeehouse Website >
Biking Bonus: Roanoke Roasts - Coffee Bicycle Route
For an exciting coffee tasting adventure in Virginia's Blue Ridge, check out this special Roanoke Roasts self-guided bicycle route that was created in partnership with RIDE Solutions. It's an 11.7 mile bicycle ride through Roanoke that includes stops at 5 local coffee shops.
Where do you love to get coffee and why? Sound off on our Instagram page to tell us what we’ve been missing, dear coffee #trailsetter.
In the meantime, sip well, sip often, and do take your time to savor the moments as they come. Cheers!