Octane: Westside

My cortado, made with the Petunias house-blend, at Octane: Westside in Atlanta.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.

May 2021: Octane: Westside has closed, along with most of Revelator’s other locations across the USA, although the Revelator in New Orleans is still going. I did, however, meet one of the baristas who served me in Black Fox Coffee in New York a couple of years later, which was neat.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Despite an address of West Marietta Street, Octane: Westside faces Howell Mill Road...
  • ... although the left-hand side of the building (where the parking is) is on West Marietta.
  • Back to Octane, the door is on the left, with a window on the right...
  • ... and a small, wedge-shaped outdoor seating area with four concrete tables beyond that.
  • It may look small from the front, but Octane continues around the corner...
  • ... and down Howell Mill Road, where there's a second door at the far end.
  • Returning to the front, and this is the view from just inside the door.
  • The corridor off to the left of the counter leads to the toilets by the way.
  • It's directly opposite the door, which is in the front, left-hand corner.
  • Next comes the retail shelves, then there's a four-person window-bar...
  • ... followed by the takeaway station next to the corner.
  • After a roughly 135° turn, the seating continues with six two-person tables underneath...
  • ... the windows. Each has a chair on the far side, with a pair of benches next to wall.
  • Finally, there's a solitary armchair with a single coffee table...
  • ... followed by a short flight of steps to the door in the back, right-hand corner.
  • The view back across Octane from the steps in the far corner.
  • There are two more armchairs next to the stairs...
  • ... which are followed by this eight-person communal table...
  • ... next to the exposed brick of the right-hand wall.
  • Another view of the eight-person table, looking back towards the door in the corner.
  • Beyond the table, at the far end of the counter, are two tall, round cocktail tables...
  • ... an extension of the bar seating, the bar forming the second part of the counter.
  • The final seating is another communal table, this time a 10-person one with low stools.
  • The view down the table towards the back door...
  • ... and the view the other way, looking towards the front door.
  • Despite all the windows (and a skylight at the back), there are plenty of lights.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • And here's a bonus reflection of a light fitting shot, seen in the marble bar top.
  • There's also a glitter ball, because, let's face it, who doesn't love a glitter ball?
  • There's limited parking out front, but at least it's free (if you follow the directions).
  • The exposed brick walls are covered with works of art, all of which, I believe, are for sale.
  • The obligatory retail shelves are next to the door, with the usual selection of coffee kit...
  • ... and retail bags of beans. This includes various house-blends...
  • ... such as the Petunias blend which you'll find on espresso, along with Revelator's...
  • ... single-origin offerings. This Kainamui from Kenya was one of the two pour-over options.
  • To business. You order at the counter, which faces you as you enter (from the car park).
  • First up is the food, with the baked goods on top and other offerings underneath.
  • The full list of yummy stuff.
  • There was plenty of choice, including bagels...
  • ... hand pies and muffins.
  • The rest of the counter stretches off to the right...
  • ... and around the corner to the well-stocked bar...
  • ... although this misses out the La Marzocco Linea which is on the corner itself.
  • Amanda and I visited on Monday morning. This was our full spread.
  • I had a cortado, made with the Petunias house blend...
  • ... which came in a dinky little cup.
  • I paired this with a cinnamon bagel...
  • ... which I had toasted with cream cheese.
  • Amanda, meanwhile, had the Kainamui as a pour-over, an excellent coffee, which she...
  • ... paired with an equally good apple & cinnamon hand pie, which is where we'll leave you.
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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!

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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