The 2009 United States Barista Championship in Portland not only singled out the top espresso craftspeople in the country, it also identified several coffeehouses that might be worth visiting. Eight months later, this is how we arrived at Westside Arts District.
The spacious industrial-chic interior hosts multiple counters, worn black couches, communal black-and-wood tables and an opaque boomerang-shaped screen over the back bar. If caffeine isn’t strong enough, Octane also sells bottled craft beer and glasses of wine.
Octane hosts one of the more fashionable menus, with coffee colored letters filling an entire wall.
The centerpiece of Octane’s bar is undoubtedly their tricked out La Marzocco espresso machine.
Octane uses beans from Durham’s Counter Culture Coffee, including 21st de Septiembre, a single-origin coffee from Zaragoza in Oaxaca, Mexico. The espresso had a spicy chocolate flavor, minimal bitterness and sported tan crema.
Octane offered four French press options, including Shakisso, an Ethiopian from southern Sidamo, in the Dewa Valley. The murky brew had some citrus notes and was fairly satisfying, but not as rewarding as the espresso.
We returned to Octane on November 30 to work before our flight home. The Cappuccino ($3.35) gave us a chance to experience the 21st de Septiembre with local organic Sparkman’s milk. The milk contributed to a sweet, creamy cappuccino, though the milk may have overshadowed the espresso’s flavor. FYI: At Octane, every espresso drink is automatically served as a double.
The Octane concept seems to be working. Not only was almost every seat filled at the original location, but they opened a branch at Emory Village two months ago. The next time I’m in Atlanta, I’d gladly fill one of their seats again.