Bluegrass Java concocts a bevy of barista beverages, smoothies, and pastries inside of its compact, double-drive-thru coffee-stop quarters. Specialty drinks, such as mochaccinos ($3.75) and lattes ($3.60), please taste buds, and easily can be paired with fresh muffin selections ($1.50). With multitasking talents, the coffee specialists at Bluegrass Java accommodate drivers and walkers with signature "animal kingdom" drinks, named after their appearance, such as the chocolate-and-caramel-sauce Cheetah and the white-chocolate-and-caramel-sauce Giraffe. All drinks are made to order, and all orderly citizens are welcome to hitchhike along the highway of super information courtesy of Bluegrass Java's complimentary WiFi.
Between the open mic nights, art shows, and caffeine-fueled student study sessions, you might say there's a bit of a buzz at Blend Coffee. But that's nothing compared to what goes on in the cafe's kitchen. There, chefs spend hours perfecting dishes that are made entirely from scratch and with local ingredients. Morning see the staff whipping up breakfast popovers, maple wraps, and muffins while lunch brings their focus to the crafting of paninis, barbecue pork tacos, and bacon-encrusted fried zucchini sandwiches. A few specialty items even take all day, such as the raspberry chipotle wings, which staff brine, smoke, and sauce in-house. Of course, between all this, the baristas never stop brewing up premium cups of coffee, which helps ensure that the shop's chefs, patrons, and espresso machines stay productive.
"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way." This quote, from author E.L. Doctorow, is one of the many phrases, excerpts, and anecdotes Roebling Point Bookstore scrawls across its chalkboard, embedded snugly in the building's brick exterior. After absorbing the daily dose of chalk wisdom outside, the shop's visitors venture inside, where they find themselves surrounded by shelf upon shelf of equally perceptive words. Snacks, coffee, and tea keep fingers busy between page turns, and a community meeting space hosts groups that gather to discuss parts of their favorite books or tactics for turning their least-favorite books into fibrous breakfast shakes. Back outside, amid the historical ambiance of the Licking Riverside district, bike racks are available to those who prefer two-wheeled transport, which the bookstore awards with discounts.
At Derby City Espresso, the espresso drinks are derived from either a single or double shot of its espresso, which is made from its La Marzocco Linea espresso machine. A Cubano, which is just a sweetened version of espresso, runs $2 for a single and $3 for a double. DCE’s beer menu appeals to the senses of a beer lover's suds-soaked dreams, with premium craft beers that fall within the affordable price range of ($4–$8). An expansive menu of more than 50 loose-leaf teas completes the selection.
During his nearly 15 years in the bean-brewing business, James Linton has learned precisely what it takes to beat out the larger, corporatized chains and their assembly-line lattes. "What separates us is customer service … really getting to know your customers, their families, talking to them," he says, recalling a daily customer who lengthens her morning commute substantially just to stop in for her cappuccino. A&J Coffee Shop's baristas prepare their premium lattes and cappuccinos, customizable in 70 flavors, out in the open, allowing the customer to note the care and blown kisses that go into each cup.
James estimates the café's favorable location, within the University of Louisville Health Care Outpatient Center's lobby, generates foot traffic of 3,000–4,000 passersby each day, many of whom stop in, intrigued by the complex aromas of top-shelf espresso beans and fresh café fare. Catering services include a mobile coffee bar that encompasses every coffee drink permutation possible and, all served on elegant, delicate china.