Independent coffeehouses 

From the Westside to L5P to Inman Park

The fate of the mom-and-pop coffee shop seemed etched in stone. Starbucks' aggressive real estate strategy installed locations on every city block worldwide and hit us over the head with branding. But not all of us were sold. These places prove that independent coffee survives and thrives in Atlanta.

Octane Coffee Bar & Lounge: Expertly made cappuccinos – many of the baristas have competed and placed at national competitions – using Counter Culture coffee beans from a nearby roasting facility pack in the neighboring creative professionals seeking refuge from the confines of cubicle life. There are nibbles to choose from, a good mix of seating options and you can even get a beer if the workweek has been especially painful. 1009-B Marietta St. 404-815-9886. www.octanecoffee.com.

Aurora Coffee: If local music is your thing, you're bound to get a kick out of seeing members of your favorite Atlanta-based bands grabbing a cup of joe at this Little Five coffee house. Professional baristas serve up delicious lattes complete with almost-too-pretty-to-drink foam designs. Pastries are average, but the coffeehouse uses Batdorf & Bronson coffee beans, which is always a plus in our book. 468 Moreland Ave. 404-523-6856. See www.auroracoffee.com for other locations.

Inman Perk Coffee: Though the coffee drinks have never really wowed us (the shop uses beans roasted especially for them), we still have to give this Inman Park mainstay props for longevity and customer service. The new location is a massive improvement thanks in part to the loads of windows and prime positioning for people watching. 240 N. Highland Ave. 678-705-4545. See www.inmanperkcoffee.com for other locations.

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