The final Coffee Spot from last October’s mid-American road trip is, appropriately enough, from our last stop, Chattanooga, before we arrived home that evening in Atlanta. Velo Coffee Roasters was on my original list of places to visit and I’d planned to call in when we stopped in Chattanooga on the drive out. However, we arrived too late, making the chance discovery of Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery instead. On our return, I was determined not to make the same mistake, reaching Chattanooga with time in hand.
Velo Coffee Roasters is one of Chattanooga’s speciality coffee pioneers, having opened in 2009 before moving to its current location, just down the street from Neidlov’s, in 2015. Both coffee shop and roastery, Velo has a large, sheltered outdoor seating area and a quirky, multi-faceted interior, with the bonus of a barbershop upstairs at the back. Returning to coffee, the Boneshaker blend is offered as default for milk-based drinks, along with a single-origin option, while there are two single-origins on pour-over through the AeroPress, Chemex or Kalita Wave filter, one of which is also available on batch brew. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are freshly-baked cakes and pastries from Chattanooga bakery, Bread & Butter.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Velo Coffee Roasters occupies part of a long, brick-built two-storey building on the left-hand side of Main Street as you head east, away from the Tennessee River. It’s about a five-minute walk from Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery, literally just across the railroad tracks which, in true American fashion, run unguarded through the city. To reach Velo, which is well-signposted from the street, just turn left and follow the side of the building until you come to the door in the concrete wall which encloses Velo’s generous coffee garden.
This stretches off to your left, offering a range of seating from picnic-style tables with benches to individual tables with chairs for two/three. In all you could probably seat 25 people: there’s even a giant Connect 4 game at the back. The concrete wall, by the way, turns into a fence shrouded in plants along the back, where there’s a separate gate to the street/train tracks, and a wooden fence on the far side. There’s even a lean-to style structure on the far side to provide shelter from the rain.
The door to Velo is on the right, about halfway down. You need to go inside to order, although your coffee will be brought out to you. Alternatively, you can sit inside where what could have been a large, cavernous space has been cleverly split into multiple areas, including the roastery and a barbershop on a mezzanine level. A series of corridor-like spaces run through the building, connecting the different area, starting at the door, where a long corridor runs towards the back of Velo (assuming the door is at the front). To your right is the counter, with its La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine, a row of four tall chairs beyond that providing the first of the seating. To your left is a first, tantalising glimpse of the roastery, followed by a set of retail shelves housing coffee-making equipment.
Confusingly, although the menus are on the walls behind the counter, the till, where you order, is at the far end of the corridor, facing you as you come in. You’ll also find cold drinks in a chiller to the left, plus cakes and pastries in a large display case beyond that. The corridor continues after a 90° turn to the left, with more seating provided by a row of stools on the right, while there are three more on the left.
This corridor ends in a T-junction. Turning right takes you to a final seating area, where four two-person tables run along a bench to your right. Alternatively, turning left brings you to the stairs to the barbershop (on your right) and the roastery (ahead and to your left). You’ll also find another set of retail shelves here, this time holding boxes of coffee, from the Boneshaker blend through to Velo’s range of single-origins.
Velo offers one of these alongside the Boneshaker on espresso, while two more are offered for filter, the specific coffees changing every two weeks or so. During our visit, a naturally-processed Kayon Mountain from Ethiopia was on espresso, with two washed coffees as filter options. The Kenyan Kiambu was available as both batch brew and pour-over, while the Lima from Peru was just on pour-over.
I had the Kiambu, while Amanda had the Lima, both prepared using the Kalita Wave filter. I found the Kiambu to be the brighter, more acidic of the two, developing a pleasing sweetness as it cooled, while the Lima was more rounded and mellow. Amanda, meanwhile, got notes of tobacco leaf, vanilla and bourbon from the Kiambu, and blackcurrant and caramel for the Lima.
|509 E MAIN STREET #3 • CHATTANOOGA • TN 37408 • USA|
|https://velocoffee.com||+1 423 529 2453|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Velo Coffee Roasters (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Counter, Tables; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Payment||Card + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||13th October 2022|
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