Mom-and-pop coffee shops provide perfect ambiance for a stressful day, visit with friends or take a break. Supporting local coffee shops helps the community recover from the hardships faced during the coronavirus pandemic. Each of the featured cafes differs greatly in style, but all offer welcoming staff, excited to serve the best cup of coffee.
Illuminating the corner of 19th Street and Mediterranean Avenue—in bright orange—Java Surf is a coastal cafe and bar that unabashedly reflects and supports the contemporary ViBE district it belongs to. A few blocks from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and near the VWU campus, it’s the perfect place for a post-beach meal, or a caffeine fueled study session. Interiorly, the cafe is decorated with surfing paraphernalia, between large windows allowing sunlight to filter in over the urban metal walls and art gifted from the community.
Open between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily, their vast menu offers breakfast, lunch, coffee and drinks. If you’re looking for vegan options, or have dietary restrictions, many of the selections would suit your healthy or indulgent cravings. Whether you’re in the mood for a signature French toast latte, a protein smoothie, or creating your own hearty breakfast sandwich, you’ll leave satiated. If you’re planning to study with a group of eight, or on your own, your seating options aren’t limited. Take advantage of the warm Virginia Beach weather on their wrap-around seating porch, or the back patio wrapped in murals. Whether you sit inside in the AC, or outside in the sun, just remember to order your food and drinks online, or in the back at the bar.
Colorful mosaics and creative murals welcome you to Norfolk’s oldest independent coffee shop. The bright yellow building resembles a home, making customers feel cozy and comfortable. An old wooden front porch with outdoor seating leads inside where the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans swirls through the air. As you ascend the stairs to the main level, local art and newspaper clippings cover the walls, highlighting the coffee shop’s involvement within the community.
Mis-matched furniture fills the cafe, creating space for studying, socializing and coffee sipping. A doorway is marked with the intervals of a child’s growth, highlighting the history of the building and the homey atmosphere. Chalkboards hang above the register to display the many coffees, teas and food options. Baked goods such as muffins, bagels and vegan doughnuts can be seen in a case by the counter. Sandwiches are also offered, including a vegetarian option.
Fair Grounds Coffee is located in a residential part of Norfolk and was first opened in 2001. Since then, the establishment has earned its title as the “soul of Norfolk.” When Starbucks opened across the street, they were no match for Fair Grounds’ service, quality and hospitality, closing in only a matter of time. You can experience the delight of Fair Grounds Coffee from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 11:00 p.m. on the weekend.
A fresh brick storefront, on 21st Street, is home to the newest coffee shop in Norfolk. Kobros Coffee first opened in March of 2020, before it had only existed as a pop-up shop with a large Instagram following. Down the street from the Chrysler Museum, this modern gothic shop thrives in the Ghent neighborhood with its sleek presence and community-driven mindset. As you enter, the dark atmosphere captivates you; a motorcycle is displayed against the walls next to a bright orange couch. Abstract paintings, copper light fixtures and trendy electric signs add some pops of color.
This coffee shop is the epitome of the latest style, selling swag such as shirts, hats and stickers. A large table sits on the right side of the cafe in front of the window front, seating approximately eight people. This space creates an opportunity for students to form study groups or complete assignments, if the limited seating is available. Red lights hang above the register, and a metal oval ceiling fixture displays the cafe’s many coffee cups. As soon as you enter, your eyes land on the counter’s glass case, filled with various delectable unique desserts from croissants to creme pies. There is a drink for everyone at Kobros, including specialty flavored lattes changed weekly—the most recent being caramel miso—cold brew, matcha, and tea. You can enjoy Kobros most days from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., however it is closed Wednesday and has shorter hours on Sunday.
By Katie Baker & Sasha Saxon