Until Monday, I’d never been to Atlanta. The closest I’d come was passing through Peachtree Station en-route to New Orleans two years ago. I also managed a brief stop at the airport in January on my way to Portland. However, on Monday this week, Amanda and I stepped off Amtrak’s Crescent Service (the very same train that I caught to New Orleans) and I was in Atlanta. Naturally, our thoughts to turned to coffee, and where better to start than with Octane?
Octane was a pioneer of Atlanta’s speciality coffee scene until it was bought in 2017 by Revelator Coffee, much to the consternation of many. Octane had several locations in the city, but the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Octane: Westside, is, I believe, the original and the only one to retain the Octane name.
Located in a converted garage, it’s a large, spacious place, with a small amount of outside seating and limited parking. The Petunias blend is on espresso, with two single-origins on pour-over via the Chemex. If you want something stiffer, there’s a full bar, offering a wide range of drinks from 11:30 each day. If you’re hungry, there’s a broad selection of cakes and savouries.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Octane, which first opened in 2003, is now part of Revelator, the roaster/coffee shop chain that started life in 2014 in Birmingham, Alabama and has spread rapidly through both organic growth and acquisition. I first came across Revelator in New Orleans, while it also had locations in New England (courtesy of Revelator’s purchase of Wired Puppy) and Los Angeles (which opened in 2019), although these have both since closed.
Octane: Westside is on West Marietta Street, on the west side of Atlanta, not far from the sprawling Georgia Institute of Technology. Despite its address, Octane actually faces onto Howell Mill Road, occupying the right-hand side of a low, single-storey building that used to be a garage. There’s a limited amount of (free) parking in the small, triangular space formed by the confluence of Howell Mill Road and West Marietta Street.
Octane has two entrances, one at the front, providing access from the parking lot, with the other at the back on the right-hand side, opening onto Howell Mill Road. If you want to sit outside, there’s a narrow bench to the right of the door and a cluster of four small, square, concrete tables beyond them.
Inside, Octane occupies a boomerang-shaped space with the counter at the back and the well-spaced seating along front and to the right. The counter is ahead of you when you enter from the car park and starts with the cakes and pastries. Next comes the till, then the counter turns by about 135°, where you’ll find the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine and its matching grinders. Finally, the counter transitions into a well-stocked bar, with several rows of bottles lining the wall.
You can sit at the bar, where you’ll find four stools, followed by two tall, round cocktail tables. There’s more seating along the front, starting with a four-person window-bar to the right of the door. The front follows the same line as the counter, with six two-person tables beyond the corner, beneath three wide windows that puncture the wall above. Next is a solitary armchair, then a flight of stairs leads up to the door to Howell Mill Road.
The remaining seating is all in this second section. There’s a pair of armchairs at the bottom of the stairs, opposite the single armchair against the front wall. Beyond this is an eight-person communal table with chairs against the right-hand wall, while in front of the bar is a long, low 10-person communal table with stools. With all the windows, it’s a bright space, aided by a skylight above the bar.
Revelator began roasting in New Orleans, before establishing a large roasting facility in Birmingham. This has recently closed, Revelator moving to a shared facility in Brooklyn, but with a view to open a dedicated roastery in Atlanta. The Petunias and Pale Rider (decaf) blends are on espresso, while there are a pair of seasonal single-origins on pour-over through the Chemex, along with a batch brew option.
I had a cortado, a full-bodied drink with classic dark chocolate notes coming through from the Petunias blend, while Amanda had a rather special washed coffee from Kainamui, Kenya, one of the two pour-over options. I only got a sip of it when it was cold, and it was really juicy, bursting with fruity notes (Amanda says stone fruits rather than the stereotypical blackcurrant associated with Kenyans).
We also had something to eat, partly to compensate for the disappointing breakfast on the train. I had a very fine cinnamon bagel with cream cheese, while Amanda continued her run of superior choices with the apple and cinnamon apple hand pie, topped with cheese. Delicious!
|1009 WEST MARIETTA STREET NW • ATLANTA • GA 30318 • USA|
|Monday||07:00 – 22:00||Roaster||Revelator (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 22:00||Seating||Tables, Window-bar, Bar, Armchairs; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 22:00||Food||Cake, Savouries|
|Thursday||07:00 – 22:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 22:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 22:00||Wifi||Free (with registration)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 22:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||National||Visits||9th March 2020|
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