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Huntsville’s Craft Coffee Trail offers a caffeinated tour through the city

For one of the tastiest tours in Alabama, follow Huntsville’s Craft Coffee Trail.

If they didn’t know any 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 Huntsville’s Craft Coffee Trail, you’ll find yourself in cafés inspired by chocolate and confectionary art, vinyl records, and the Apollo space program. So start your espresso engines. There’s a barista ready to take your order. Here are 5 highlights of the trail.

1. Pizzelle’s Confections

Display of chocolate bars

Chocolate bars are among the sweets available at Pizzelle’s Confections.

A longtime favorite at the bustling Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment facility, Pizzelle’s proves that not all masterpieces are painted on canvas. Take your pick of house-made truffles and other delectable sweets paired with coffee or drinking chocolate. It’s a welcoming place to take a break from browsing the 100-plus studios in the former cotton mill.

What to drink: The Shot in the Dark is what hot chocolate wishes it could be when it grows up. Unlike mocha, which is coffee flavored by chocolate, this is melted chocolate cut with a shot of espresso. The drink is topped with house-made marshmallows in a choice of flavors (go with cinnamon), then crowned with whipped cream, which, believe it or not, helps lighten it.

What to eat: Whether you order truffles, macarons, cakes, or the namesake traditional Italian cookies (pizzelle), your sweet tooth will be happy here.

You may also like: 16 sweet spots to get your sugar fix

2. Olde Towne Coffee

Bagel sandwich with bacon and egg beside a mug of coffee topped with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Pair a cup of coffee with a bagel sandwich at Olde Towne Coffee.

If the TV show Friends had been set in Huntsville instead of New York City, this place would have been Central Perk. The city’s oldest full-service coffee shop welcomes a colorful parade of regulars, from the customer with a pet duck to the 2 chess players who face off every afternoon to the young woman sitting sideways with her feet hanging over the armrest as she works on her screenplay. You come here for the atmosphere as much as the coffee.

What to drink: Choices abound. The shop roasts about 15 types of beans. Enhance your drink with the “coffee sauce” (sweetener) at the creamer table.

What to eat: Sandwiches and breakfast items like bacon, egg, and cheddar on a croissant keep customers fueled up.

You may also like: Why you should visit Huntsville, Alabama

3. The Moon Bakeshop

Two women chatting over coffee at a small table

The Moon Bakeshop is a perfect spot to catch up with friends over coffee.

The Moon Bakeshop seamlessly combines small-batch pastries with specialty lattes. Decor nods to NASA with atomic-style light fixtures and Apollo-era posters, but it keeps things homey with colorful rugs on the polished concrete floor.

What to drink: The emphasis is on high-quality beans and traditional offerings, from straight-up coffee to lattes, cappuccinos, and cortados.

What to eat: Food is no afterthought here. Feast on fresh sandwiches and, on weekends, dig in to house-baked chocolate croissants and hot cinnamon rolls. 

You may also like: 8 unique places to stay in Alabama

4. Honest Coffee Roasters

An everything bagel sandwich

Food options at Honest Coffee Roasters include sandwiches, burritos, and acai bowls.

This high-energy joint with white brick walls and a polished concrete floor bustles with everyone from moms pushing strollers to lawyers grabbing a coffee between hearings. Laptop-friendly seating areas are generously supplied with outlets and USB ports, and are favored by students who type away next to informal business meetings and Bible study groups.

What to drink: Try the Bootlegger, a latte with house-made bourbon caramel sauce, served hot or iced. Honest’s sister store in Franklin, Tennessee, roasts the beans.

What to eat: You’ll find an extensive menu with acai bowls, breakfast burritos, and sandwiches. Vegans can top a bagel with a house-made “egg,” spinach, onion, and cream cheese alternative.

You may also like: An Alabama road trip every foodie should take

5. Piper & Leaf Tea Company, Constitution Park

Piper & Leaf Tea Company

Need a break from coffee? Order an iced tea at Piper & Leaf Tea Company.

Even on a coffee trail, there’s room for tea. This specialty business with multiple locations knows it’s in the South and offers 32-ounce mason jars of iced tea blended with local herbs and fruit.

What to drink: Most customers come in for iced tea, but there’s also hot tea and even coffee. You’ll probably want to buy one of the custom jars, which come with a lid and a metal straw, for $15. Your first tea is free. After that, refills run $5.

What to eat: Don’t overlook the scones. The feta and spinach scone pairs effortlessly with any beverage.

Freelance writer Larry Bleiberg is a fan of everything caffeine, but these days he’s been gravitating toward matcha lattes.

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