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Beat the Grind

Ah, coffee.

Hot, cold, on the rocks, small or grande, decaf or triple espresso, Americans consume gallons of the stuff every year – more than 300 million cups a day and counting.

And not just any diner will do. Coffee lovers want it from their favorite java joint, where the barista knows you like it half-caf.

For every flavor of coffee shop, Fayetteville has your brew. Create your own drink at Dedeaux’s Java Shop, spell out your order in magnetic letters at Rude Awakening, make copies while the owner makes your coffee at The Copy Bean, sip while folks sing during music night at Coffee Scene, cruise the Internet for free at Mo Joe’s Espresso on Cliffdale or get comfy with your coffee on the couches at Village Coffee House.

Moms with toddlers in tow do the drive-thru at any of the three Starbucks in town – and that doesn’t include the walk-up counters at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Target and Harris-Teeter. Businessmen with laptops and cell phones work the tables at Village. Students cram at Rude Awakening. Those needing a serious sugar overload can get a double scoop and double lattes at the combination Dunkin Donuts-Baskin Robbins on Ramsey Street. And though the traffic whizzes by this coffee spot, it’s a slower pace inside Griffin’s, a best-kept secret tucked beneath the iconic neon sign for Hamont Grill in Haymount.

So take a coffee tour with us, and make that a grande two-pump vanilla non-fat extra hot latte.

The Coffee Scene

In the two-story coffeehouse with comfortable furniture and dim lighting, friends Tammy Stephenson and Michaela Letterlough lounge and drink coffee in this corner of the Westwood Shopping Center.

“I like to come and relax,” Stephenson said. “They have really good coffees. I like to chat with friends. Everybody that works here is really friendly.”

“It’s mellow,” Letterlough said. “It’s dark and relaxing. It’s not loud. It’s peaceful.”

Their conversations range from what is going on in the world to work, friends and plans for the weekend. They look forward to poetry night and music night, events that usually bring in a crowd.

“I like poetry, and I like the fact that the singers have the chance to put themselves out here,” Letterlough said.

On balmy summer nights, people enjoy the music outdoors, Stephenson said. And of course there are the drinks and food to enjoy: the banana split cappuccino frost, for one, and cheesecake, croissants, cakes and pastries.

Kiki Manis owns The Coffee Scene, which has been brewing up java for caffeine cravers since its first location opened in 1996.

“It has been a magnet for the eclectic, intellectual and artistic customer,” Manis said. “It is a genuine coffeeshop with heart, soul and inspiration and continues to be a gathering place and venue for people to socialize and a common ground for Fayetteville’s transient and permanent resident.”

Copy Bean

Jose Torres, owner of the Copy Bean, has blended a wholesome environment with friendliness, a good selection of coffee and a copier. He opened the shop in May 2007 at the Eutaw Shopping Center on Bragg Boulevard.

Quandrell Stephens works for the United States Navy and only has to walk a few steps to the Copy Bean from his military recruiting office.

“You walk in there and you feel like you go into a relative’s house,” Stephens said. “The atmosphere is a relaxing place that you can go to when you can get away.”

Miranda Pharis, who works at the same recruiting office, calls Torres “Grandpa” and “Papi.” “That is just him, he is a great guy and very knowledgeable too,” Pharis said. “You can ask him anything, and he knows about it. The staff is always friendly and always good to talk to. They’re always here and always ready to help me out if I need anything. They are there for me, whether it comes to food or some of the administrative stuff I might need. Sometimes I might need help with some copies – they’ll do that for me. They’ve always been helpful.”

Torres loves to talk shop.

“I love coffee,” Torres said. “I’m a coffee drinker. I love talking to people. I like answering their questions about the coffee. Where was it grown? What makes it different? What is the better coffee? The people are very friendly. They know that we carry very special coffee.”

The Copy Bean has 35 different coffees, including organic coffee, plus sandwiches, breakfast croissants, bagels, pastries, sodas and Italian ice drinks.

Stephens’ favorite drink is the strawberry-banana smoothie. “Sometimes during the day you just need a nice cold drink, and it’s almost like a dessert,” he said.

Pharis likes the hot mochas and bagels.

And there’s good conversation, of course. Stephens teases Torres about his days in the Marines.

“Jose would have been a lot better man if he would have joined the Navy instead of the Marines,” he said, “but we’re not going to hold that against him.

Dedeaux’s Java Shop

Some say the best coffee is made at home. Short of hiring a personal barista, this homey spot is the next best thing.

Walking into this shop on Ramsey Street feels like stepping into a neighbor’s living room. You’re just as likely to see young children working on their homework as students from nearby Methodist University working on theirs. You might even see the children of the owner, Darrell Dedaux. The coffee shop offers the city’s largest supply of flavored syrups. It also holds regular coffee “cuppings” – think wine tastings for coffee – where aficionados may sample roasts that ordinarily fetch prices of $50 a cup and more. You can even create your own drink here. Recipes from the regulars fill binders. Our favorite: Crazy Irish Grandmother.

Rude Awakening

Before downtown was cool again, there was Rude Awakening.

Bruce and Molly Arnold purchased the brick building on Hay Street in 1998 and opened for business a year later. The Arnolds kept the original storefront and its spirit, too. For years, 227 Hay was home to Brady’s Soda Shop. The signature leaded glass panel is a testament to its past – the neon sign a nod to its hip flair. Inside, old and new blend seamlessly. Prints of Fayetteville landmarks line the walls not far from the whiteboard where modern poets may compose a line of verse with magnetic letters. And there’s plenty of coffee, too, not to mention desserts and Rude Awakening’s famous brown-bag lunch.

The Village Coffee House

Americans, alas, weren’t the first to come up with the coffeehouse concept, something Greg Kalevas knows well. He owns the Village Coffee House with Steve Zahran and their families. Kalevas, who also owns Chris’s Open Hearth Steakhouse, decided to open a coffeehouse in Fayetteville nine years ago after noticing all the coffee shops in different cities across the United States and in his native Greece. His dad was another influence, having a coffee shop in their native country in the 1970s.

“Every time I would go out of town with my wife we would go to coffee shops,” Kalevas said. “We are from Greece and in Greece we have a lot of coffee shops. My wife and I got together with some partners and we decided to open a coffee shop.”

The regulars at Village appreciate it.

Amy Pochinsai and friends like Anna Blackburn gather at the coffee house. “We talk about daily events, music and current events in the world,” Pochinsai said. “The Village Coffee House is quiet, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.

“It is a small intimate place,” she said. “Every time we come in here, they know what coffees and drinks we like, so they just start making it when they see us walk through the door.”

Blackburn said the atmosphere immediately puts her at ease. “It’s relaxing, it feels real homey and most of all people are very nice here,” Blackburn said. “You are ready to unwind, so it’s nice and calming.”

The Village Coffee House serves coffees, teas, cappuccinos, espressos, lattes, smoothies, plus Danish, muffins, croissants and Greek desserts such as baklava.

The friends catch up on work and current events from the time they come in until closing.

“We’re always here at seven, and we usually close down the place,” Blackburn said.

“People are there drinking coffee and reading newspapers every day,” Kalevas said. “You see doctors, lawyers, construction workers, office people, everyone in there. I enjoy going there because many of the same people come there all the time. Of course, I get to go in and talk with the guys, so I am having fun with it.”

Crazy Irish Grandmother

1 shot of white chocolate

1 shot of Irish cream

Add to 1 part espresso and 1 part whole milk

Mix ingredients and top with whipped cream.