The coffeehouse. Two words. Four syllables. Fifteen characters that somehow manage to convey any manner of disparate meanings depending on the bearer of the phrase.
What any one person looks for in a coffeeshop is as varied and wide ranging as what any one person looks for in a job, in their friends, or even in their life long partners. Indeed, the relationship one has with one’s local purveyor of caffeinated beverages can be no less intimate than the one you have with the person you wake up next to every morning.
Over the past few decades, the needs of a prospective Hampton Roads coffeeshop patron have become as diverse as the region in which we live. Some seek a home away from home with a vibrant community of arts, poetry and live music. Others scatter like pigeons as soon as they realize there’s going to be noise – fleeing to quieter shops with plenty of comfortable seating and a fast wifi connection to get some work done. Caffeine snobs might look for a locale wherein they can watch the beans that will fashion the next day’s latte get roasted right before their very eyes. Others are perfectly content with Folger’s in a paper cup so long as the place is a block from their house.
Whatever your preference, the Seven Cities possesses a wide breadth of establishments to choose from. Some of these brew houses are places I might as well have a brass plate permanently affixed to a table stating it’s reserved. Others, while I haven’t been to in person, we know people who highly recommend them.
In these troubled economic times, coffee spots come and go – So I took time to verify that each of these shops are as of the date up top, still in business. All of these should be ready and waiting to serve you up with a hot steaming cuppa joe, but if you’re seeing this a few months down the line, use the phone number to check on their operational status before making the drive. Wherever possible I provide a summary of the environment you might expect when crossing these thresholds. I know that the denizens of the 757 can be highly passionate about their preferred cafe. Social media fueled wars rage on and on with each combatant militantly exclaiming that their house is the King of Beans – So I’ll try to be neutral as possible here.
I’m focusing exclusively on independent, locally owned shops here, so no chiming in with “Hey, you forgot Starbucks!!!” A pox on your Starbucks. Buy local or go home!
1907 Colonial Ave, Norfolk, VA 23517 | 757-625-0461
Run by husband and wife duo Mariusz & Stella Pomianek, this delightful cafe is located in the heart of historic Ghent. The food is consistently excellent on a level that is rarely seen outside of fine dining. The coffee is to my taste the best in the region – they roast their own beans! They host the occasional music / poetry event. Full disclosure: This is my personal favorite coffeehouse and I can usually be found here in the mid to late evenings. A Polish immigrant, Mariusz’ is a world removed from your average indie proprietor and a breath of fresh air in a industry filled with safe, corporate minded owners who only express themselves through the filter of PR spokespersons and finely crafted commercially viable business personas. I really can’t be all that neutral about Stella’s to be honest. It’s my home.
4416 Monarch Way Norfolk, VA 23508 | 757-440-5800
Independent coffeeshop that serves as a staple of ODU off campus gatherings. They often hold literary events in concert with the university, as well as occasionaland meet-ups and music acts. They’re tucked away just behind the Ted Constant Center.
223 E City Hall Ave, Norfolk, VA 23510 | 757-623-5282
Situated just across from MacArthur Center in downtown Norfolk, Java Surf offers a wide range of blended coffee drinks and light fare.
999 Waterside Dr #109, Norfolk, VA 23510 | 757-623-6434
A bit off the beaten path, Cafe Crema is inside Dominion Towers. It’s clientele is fiercely devoted to this spot, and I’ve heard wonderful things about how positive, friendly, and professional the staff is. They’re known to host lunch specials that change from day to day, so it’s a great idea to call ahead and see what they have cooking before heading over.
Zeke’s Beans & Bowls
800 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510 | 757-963-5220
616 Norfolk Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 | 757-963-5155
This NEON District trailblazer features a healthy menu of Acai bowls (essentially a chunky smoothie topped with a variety of options) and Poke Bowls (Basically.. kind of sushi / salad usually made with raw tuna). In addition to gourmet coffee that’s fresh brewed for every cup, Zeke’s also pleases with smoothies, fresh juices, and a small variety of baked goods.
Cure Coffeehouse And Brasserie
503 Botetourt St, Norfolk, VA 23510 | 757-321-0044
Cure offers a highly educated and knowledgeable barista staff who are trained through their roaster’s (Counterculture Coffee) special program. The shop doubles as an art gallery with regularly changing exhibits for you to feast your eyes upon while enjoying sandwiches, salads, coffee and espresso, specialty and exotic sodas, craft-brew beer, wine and spirits.They offer both house-made options (pastrami, smoked chicken, etc..).as well as vegetarian & vegan options.
Bellissimo Espresso Café
9475 Bacon Ave, Norfolk, VA 23511 | 757-444-4033
Bellissimo primarily caters to sailors as an attachment to the MWR Liberty Center located near Terminal Avenue. While the menu is small, it’s consistently excellent and provides a needed alternative to the bar scene for the Navy, keeping young sailors out of trouble.
321 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510 | 757-625-2326
Set right in the middle of downtown’s Granby Street aLatte boasts an expansive, spacious location where finding comfortable seating is almost never an issue. They feature some whimsically named coffee creations (try the Thor Latte) and host local art and the occasional acoustic musician.
806 Baldwin Ave #2, Norfolk, VA 23517 | 757-640-2899
The oldest indie coffeehouse in Norfolk, Fairgrounds has survived to become something like a cool grandfather of the Ghent cafe scene. Located on the second floor of Texture’s they have transitioned successfully from their founder’s retirement and sale of the business to employees. They specialize in coffee drinks made from 100% fair trade, organic beans and offer a selection of vegetarian / vegan options as well as pastries. They offer a music heavy open mic every other Thursday that occasionally borders on brilliance, often featuring local musicians like Skye Zentz, Will Huberdeau, and Ronnie Talman.
Taste of Europe
738 W 22nd St, Norfolk, VA 23517 | 757-480-0070
Taste of Europe is a quaint, Eastern European whole foods / grocery that also serves coffee with an emphasis on Russian fare. Regular patrons I’ve chatted up when I went in to check it out liken the spot to a neighborhood grocer from the old country. This probably isn’t the place you’re gonna stop into to soak up wifi while sipping mocha, but if you’re looking for a different coffee bean experience, try them out!
109 E Main St, Norfolk, VA 23510 | 757-622-9223
This isn’t really a coffeeshop, but rather one of the longest running independent bookstores in Norfolk. They just happen to also host a small cafe that serves coffee / blended coffee drinks along with light sandwich fare. Stop in when you have a few extra bucks to spend, and pick up something you wouldn’t ordinarily read to enjoy with a testy caffeinated beverage.
The Coffee Shoppe
6300 High Street Portsmouth, VA 23704 | 757-391-9191
Billed as an “old fashioned” cafe, the Coffee Shoppe is convenient to Olde Town in Portsmouth. It has been described to me by regulars as cozy, with a nice comfortable ambience. They specialize in expresso drinks both iced and hot, smoothies, and a variety of amusingly named blended drinks. Try the “Irishman in Paris!”
JoJack’s Espresso Bar & Cafe
Churchland Shopping Center, 5700 Churchland Blvd #39, Portsmouth, VA 23703 | 757-483-1483
A full dining experience, Jojack’s is a family friendly environment where you can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner. At the same time they’re wifi friendly and offer spots for those looking to spend a few hours sipping cappuccinos away from the home office. JoJacks boasts a comfortable atmosphere with longtime regulars and a friendly, totally non-hipster staff.
The Well Coffeehouse
4351 Portsmouth Blvd., Portsmouth, VA 23701 | Facebook
This isn’t a business, per se – More of a non-profit Christian outreach that operates as a coffeeshop during events and meetups. If you’re of the faith and looking for like minded folks to sip a latte with, this might be the spot for you. They regularly feature Christian musicians from all over the country.
Aromas Coffeehouse Bakeshop & Cafe
706 Town Center Dr #104, Newport News, VA 23606 | 757-240-4650
Serving breakfast / lunch at the Newport News City Center, Aromas really shines by offering gluten free as well as vegan desserts alongside their in-house roasted coffee. This also serves as the official meeting place of the Word 4 Word Poets.
Ethereal Cupcakes And Coffee Shoppe
3150 Allainby Way, Hampton, VA 23666 | 757-223-0300
Situated in the Peninsula Town Center, This is a fun expresso bar and bakery that also offers custom made cakes and breakfast lunch. This is the kind of place that encourages regulars to hang out, with fast wifi and a selection of movies that patrons can enjoy.
5705 Lynnhaven Pkwy #108, Virginia Beach, VA 23464 | 757-502-0000
A traditional coffeeshop experience that includes both tables and a few sofas, Cafe Moka is particularly famous for its “Christmas Cortado” blended drink: • espresso, milk, cranberry, ginger, rosemary, orange zest, and honey topped off with a beautiful flower design in the foam. They feature coffee drinks made with all manner of techniques appreciated by the snobbiest of coffee lovers. The staff is expert and knowledgeable.
168 Central Park Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 | 757-228-3907
Experiencing a relatively recent management change, this go-to for Town Center caffeine aficionados has made leaps in bounds when it comes to providing top notch service and fantastic coffee creations. They’ve also committed heavily towards supporting their community, offering the space for local groups to meet at no charge. They also host a monthly poetry reading that’s been picking up steam lately.
The Belvedere Diner & Coffee Shop
3601 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 | 757-425-0613
One of the best kept secrets of the Oceanfront. This tiny, but mighty diner serves one of the best breakfasts in all of Virginia Beach. Not really for hipsters, but they’ll serve them if they behave. The staff has been there for ages and is known to be competent and super friendly. This is a coffeeshop in the grand tradition of the morning stop in and get out spots. Note: They’re closed for the season, but plan on opening again in 2017.
Perked Up! Coffee Cafe
3198 Pacific Ave #134, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 | 422-0032
Locals rave about this place. From what I can tell it’s more of a breakfast / lunch spot – not really a hangout or cultural counterpoint, but if you live on the beach and need a place to grab a cuppa joe and some breakfast, this might hit the spot. Get there early though – they close by 4 in the afternoon.
Three Ships Roastery and Coffee Counter
703 Mediterranean Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 | Facebook
Three Ships is primarily a roaster, but they’ve recently opened a shop on the Oceanfront. A small operation by design, they nevertheless make an outsized impact on the local coffeehouse scene by supplying beans to many of shops on this list. Interestingly, they appear to sporadically run a number of pop-up cafes through the conveyance of a roving food truck.
Roast Rider Coffee + Tea
1554 Laskin Rd #116, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 | 757-227-3454
Roast Rider is passionate about third-wave coffee and committed to sourcing local vendors for their food. A practitioner of the three phase “Trifecta” brewing method, they serve up reportedly excellent coffee in a spacious and airy shop.
The Tar Roof
1791 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, Virginia | 757-655-5005
Nestled way out in Pungo, this newly opened addition to the scene doubles as a gallery and offers works for sale from local artists.
Java Surf Café & Espresso Bar
1807 Mediterranean Ave, Virginia Beach, Virginia | 757-963-6600
The scene on the Oceanfront has experienced a resurgence in recent years, and Java Surf is at the forefront. Regularly features artists and musicians from the surrounding area. The location has recently moved, so double check the address when you map it out. I’m told the Big Kahuna sandwich is tasty!
Chesapeake & Suffolk
I don’t live in Suffolk and rarely have a reason to visit, but the three places that I was able to find appear to have all gone out of business? Do you live in Suffolk? Where do you like to go for coffee? Drop me a comment about it? Chesapeake is yet another city that seems to be experiencing a paucity of indie caffeine rebels: It looks like Boss Daddy Starbucks owns these towns, unless you want to go to Wawa!
Sunrise Breakfast Shop
222 N Battlefield Blvd, Chesapeake, VA 23320 | 757-436-9534
Open 7 days a week, 6am-2pm and on Friday nights for dinner 4:30-8pm, Sunrise Breakfast Shop is a greasy spoon where you an grab a cup of joe, and not strictly speaking a coffeeshop as we tend to think of the term. But I hear that the coffee is above par. This looks to be the kind of place common in coffee circles fifty or sixty years ago.
South Norfolk Memorial Library, 801 Poindexter St, Chesapeake, VA 23324 | 757-
This is an interesting little shop in that it’s located inside a public library. They serve coffee, expresso drinks, and light sandwich fare.
That’s pretty much the shops I know of. Did I miss your favorite java slingers? Drop us a note and we’ll check ’em out. Until next time? Never forget. Never forgive. Corporate Coffeshops burn their beans. And if you’re gonna drink fried beans at four bucks a cup rather then support indie businesses right here in your hometown? Really.. Just get your joe from the fast food drive-through.
About the sponsor of this article: Rose & Womble Realty Co. was born and bred in Hampton Roads – our owners live and work here in the Seven Cities. We are a family owned and operated business – with multiple generations working at all levels, from agents to managers. Our agents have access to the owners for guidance and advice. Our mangers meet regularly with the owners, face-to-face, to discuss real estate in Hampton Roads. Our Board of Directors members are consistently asked to speak about local real estate issues. The leadership within the company is LOCAL – not out of state – but right here in Hampton Roads.We believe that people are more important than houses – it’s our motto because it’s true. We live it everyday when we see a family close on their first house, or help a military service member move his family across the country. We live it when a new REALTOR© joins our firm or when we celebrate the 25th year of business for one of our established agents. Our administrative staffs have low turnover, which means our REALTORS© know who is supporting them throughout the transaction.