Little-Known Locales: The best area coffee shops that aren’t Starbucks

8 Little coffee shops you never knew you were missing. 

For many students, coffee is a mainstay for studying. Let’s be real, most of us wouldn’t make it through finals or midterms without the java juice. Some of us are passionate coffee connoisseurs, while others of us just like something that’s sweetly caffeinated to power us through our days. Thankfully, Regent is centrally located in Hampton Roads and there are a lot of great coffee shops to check out. If you’re tired of the same old Starbucks routine, and want to branch out to more local stuff, try these. There’s something for everyone on this list:

CONVENIENT & CLOSE TO CAMPUS

Café Moka

Café Moka is about a 5 minute drive from campus, tucked into a little residential shopping strip, quite unremarkable from the outside, but they house some of the best coffee in Hampton Roads inside. Café Moka is passionate about coffee. Their menu includes hot, iced, and frozen drinks. They have a huge selection of syrup flavors and they also serve fruit drinks as well. When you step inside, you will find modern industrial décor and a lot of Regent students hanging out. If you want some of the best coffee in town, this is the place! I recommend a latte, you might even get some art if you’re patient.

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Pros: amazing coffee, tons of variety, private study room available, convenient location

Cons: it’s Regent Central, meaning if you want to avoid humanity, stay far away from here. You’re bound to run into people you know. Also, you have to renew the WI-FI every hour. Gets pretty annoying when you’re in study mode.

ECLECTIC VB TOWN CENTER

Daily Grind

What makes the Daily Grind one of the best coffee shops in the area? The people. You get such a great mix with the working professionals, art school students, tourists, locals, and everything in between. The Daily Grind is centrally located in Virginia Beach at Town Center and is a “regular” for so many who frequent the area. Mark, an “original hipster” and one of the Daily Grind’s regulars claims that the place is more like a “family community” where people actually linger and talk to each other. The friendly Russian baristas are so engaging, you feel like you already know them when you walk in. If you’re lonely, (or perhaps conducting a survey for a class) this is the place to go. Sitting alone in silence just isn’t an option; someone will say hi and introduce themselves to you. Isn’t that what coffee shops are really about?

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Mark (top right), is a regular at the Daily Grind and an "original hipster."
Mark (top right), is a regular at the Daily Grind and an “original hipster.”

Pros: Community encouraged, good location, huge selection, sweet eats, high quality tea.

Cons: Parking at Town Center is tough when it’s busy, social spot, lots of traffic.

HIPSTER-VILLE AKA: GHENT, NORFOLK

Café Stella

If you feel like venturing away from the suburban streets of Virginia Beach, you may find yourself at a quaint little coffee shop called Café Stella. This coffee shop is a local favorite for the tight community in Ghent. They are one of the few coffee shops around that roast their own coffee in-house. There are tons of little nooks and window seats to lose yourself in. The owners, wife & husband Stella & Mariusz, exude hospitality, and Mariusz loves to impress new visitors, so if he’s working the bar be sure to tell him you’re new! He may even give you some freebies, and you better believe he will be bragging about the homemade pastries baked by his beautiful wife (the café’s namesake, Stella). Beware, those pastries (especially the macaroons) are addicting! Stella also serves fresh juice, wine, beer, and café food. Go ahead, make a day of it.

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 Pros: Unique décor, trendy vibe, homemade pastries, family owned and a friendly owner. Also, the lavender mocha is the bee’s knees; you must try it.

Cons: Parking is difficult in the city, it’s often crowded and seating is limited.

Fairgrounds Coffee

This article would be incomplete without mentioning Fairgrounds Coffee in Ghent. Fairgrounds is a cozy little coffee shop known for encouraging a tightly-knit community in Ghent. Fairgrounds has been a part of Ghent for over 13 years. The baristas “keep it real” with you and the coffee is delicious and made fresh. When you walk upstairs it feels like walking into a snug living room, complete with area rugs, floor lamps, oversized chairs, and a homey hearth! Fairgrounds also has a shelf packed with a plethora of board games, making it a great place to bring a crew and socialize over tasty coffee. Just be sure to carpool; city parking is no joke.

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Pros: Cozy home-like atmosphere, well established and community-minded company.

Cons: City parking and crowding is always an issue. Also, Fairgrounds is a local favorite and you will often (loudly) hear people playing some of the many board games available there—not the best for studying but great if you’re looking for a good time! Tight space.

LAIDBACK VB OCEANFRONT

Bad Ass

When the weather starts to warm up, Regent students come out to play! If you ever find yourself at the oceanfront and in need of caffeine, check out Bad Ass coffee. Bad Ass is an old favorite that the locals try to keep quiet about (let the tourists go to Starbucks, am I right?). This little coffee shop can easily satisfy your sweet tooth with drinks like the Nutty Irishman and Dark Chocolate Haole. Bad Ass coffee originated in Hawaii and it will make you feel like you’re on a vacation! The tropical décor, proximity to the oceanfront, and sweet java selections make it a great alternative to Starbucks at the beach. It’s a very small space inside, so take your drink to go and sip it on the boardwalk. If you do decide to stay, snag a table in the back where there’s less foot traffic. And order a pastry! The gluten-free cheese danish is the richest most delicious cheese danish I have ever tried.

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Pros: It has its own parking lot, which is like gold at the beach. Also they come up with great flavor combos, you will want to try them all.

Cons: Small building, not much study space, locals can be snobby, but they don’t bite.

Zeke’s Beans & Bowls

Zeke’s Beans & Bowls is not commonly known for coffee because the ahi tuna poke bowls steal the show, but make no mistake, Zeke’s is a legitimate coffee dealer! Zeke’s is outfitted in vintage chic décor, complete with old-school Polaroid cameras on display and an antique typewriter to play with. Some may say that Zeke’s trendy vibe is more suited for the city, but the place has its own beachy flair that suits its locale perfectly. They feature a different local artist’s work on their walls each month, and their mantra is to encourage creativity. They have a limited coffee selection and no flavored syrups to choose from, but they discriminatingly curate and serve only the best and most unique beans. They are all about the ethical procurement of coffee that takes care of both the farmers and the consumers. They specialize in pour-overs but the affable baristas can whip up a sublime latte upon request.

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Pros: Ample work space, excellent music selection, no overcrowding, fast WI-FI, high quality coffee, delicious poke and acai bowls.

Cons: A little pricy, no syrup flavors, limited coffee selection.

UPSCALE, SWANKY HILLTOP VB

Bean There

Visit Starbucks? Pshh, Bean There, done that. If you want a refreshing change from the same old, then journey over to Hilltop Shopping center, where the posh white-front stores make you feel like you are in Beverly Hills. Bean There has 2 locations, one in Norfolk on Granby St and one at Hilltop near Virginia Beach oceanfront. Bean There is superior to Starbucks in many ways. They serve Grade A coffee, which only includes the top 30% of all coffee beans worldwide (SB serves Grade B). They also slow roast their coffee, which brings out more flavor (as opposed to shock roasting, SB’s method). Finally, they are very community involved. They host tea parties and coffee tasting classes every month. They also host fundraisers and are a pet friendly store! But most importantly, their coffee is amazing.

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Pros: Community involved, high quality coffee and tea.

Cons: Pricier, uppity area.

Roast Riders

Roast Riders is the newest coffee shop on this list, being only 5 months on the market. They are an ethically minded café with a deep passion for all different roasts. All of their coffee is organic and completely free of chemicals. Get this, they make their own homemade syrups for the coffee, and they are well worth a try! They crafted a Nutella syrup which makes a marvelous latte! Way better than a plain old mocha. Roast Riders is located at Hilltop near the oceanfront. While many of the coffee shops feature local artists, Roast Riders also features local photographers on their walls. They are still new to the community, so you can avoid overcrowding. Bonus: they have fun swivel wicker chairs.

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Pros: Highly knowledgeable about their product, organic, delicious NUTELLA and fun spinny chairs.

Cons: Their hours are short, closing at 6pm on weeknights. Smaller selection of coffee & flavors.

*All photos taken with iPhone 5*

 

 

 

Rachel Sipe

Rachel is a Staff Writer for the Daily Runner and a student at Regent University. She hails from Virginia Beach but frequently daydreams of living on every continent of the world (sometimes Middle-Earth and Westeros find their way in there too). Rachel has many things in common with Winnie the Pooh: soft, cuddly, loves a boy, can't resist sweets, and when the going gets tough, it helps to sit on a log and think, think, think.