If they didn’t know better, visitors to Huntsville might think that NASA’s rockets were powered by caffeine. How else to explain the galaxy of coffee shops in the city?
As you sip your way along the 10-stop Craft Coffee Trail, you’ll find yourself in cafés inspired by bicycles, cupcakes, and even the Apollo space program. One shop resides in a modified shipping container and another in a former school classroom.
“You don’t get a homogenized experience,” says Chad Emerson of Downtown Huntsville, which sponsors the trail. “It’s not starving artists selling coffee, it’s people who could do anything they wanted to do.”
And now, as the world emerges from pandemic isolation, Alabamians are eager for the community and connection that shops can provide. “People are clamoring to get out. They’re feeling more the need for social interaction, which most have gone without for a year,” says Victor Burlingame, owner of Gold Sprint coffee shop, where you can also pump up your bike tires or order a craft beer.
The coffee stops reflect modern-day Huntsville: They’re kind of nerdy with a touch of hipness but, above all, friendly. “They’re a third place between work and home,” says Burlingame.
Those up to the caffeine challenge can score a trail mug by visiting all 10 stops and collecting stamps on a coffee trail card, which you can pick up at any participating java joint. But even if you’re not ready to grind though a latte marathon, the trail offers an unexpected perk: a tour through a city renowned for its ingenuity.
So start your espresso engines. There’s a barista ready to take your order. Here are highlights of the trail.