Monday, July 16, 2012

Octane at Last. Great Coffee in the ATL.

Waiting three years for a chance to visit, my expectations for Octane were unreasonably high. Last week, after a heated argument with a very confused GPS, I managed to get myself to the newest outpost - in The Jane in the Grant Park neighborhood on the East side of Atlanta. It did not disappoint.

Like so many fantastic coffee places, Octane occupies a reclaimed industrial space with weathered beams, giant factory windows and enormously tall ceilings. All of this history leaves a patina that contrasts beautifully with the shining chrome and porcelain of the coffee gear. The space is shared - about a third belongs to the brilliant A Little Tart bakery, about a third to Octane's coffee operation, and about a third to a well-stocked full bar. Beer. Coffee. Cake. I could be happy here for days.

Coffee is roasted in house, thanks to a recent merger between Octane and Primavera coffee roasters. The outcome is amazing - on par with the coffee coming out of the very best places I've been - with a punchy, citrus-forward espresso, and a good selection of farm-specific pour-over coffees. Frankly, it's getting harder for coffee places to stand out on this basis alone. Everyone has their Strada dialed in. Everywhere has competition-level Baristas pouring gorgeous latte art with local milk. Everyone either scours the world for the perfect coffee bean or has a partnership with someone who does. What I was sipping wasn't the heart stopping moment of that first sip of Handsome Burundi or Cuvee Chachunda, but it was every bit as good as the best of everything else.

So where do you go when you're clearly the best coffee in your town, maybe the best in your State? You go to food. This, for me, was where Octane really shined. The combination with The Little Tart - a bakery focused on finely crafted, traditionally prepared, locally sourced sweets and savories - is nothing short of brilliant. This is where every other coffee place I've been falls short. There's just never a kitchen. Here, in this cavernous warehouse, there is space a plenty, and a subway-tiled commercial kitchen is hanging out behind the coffee churning out buckets of amazing.

I wasn't kidding when I said I could live here happily for a while. The almond cake was simple, fresh and moist, with a delicate crumb; the almond nuanced - an echo more than a flavor. The cakes you find nearly everywhere else - cakes stowed in a cooler, shlepped across town, pre-sliced - simply can not match this. This is what expert cake tastes like when it's born and it is as good a compliment to a rich cup of coffee as you're likely to find.

Octane is beyond a good coffee shop, it's a worth-scheduling-an-extra-long-ATL-layover-coffee-shop. It was worth every minute of the years I spent waiting to find it.

  Octane at the Jane on Urbanspoon


EWojcik said...

FYI: Intelligentsia opened up something in Atlanta. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet.

Also, you are shoot me an email when you will be in Atlanta.

christyluv said...

Hey Eli- It's Christy from I am helping Cooking Planit, the Austin based website sponsoring our AFBA cookbook with a launch party on August 29. If you are interested in attending, please email your contact info at Thanks!


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