Spilling the beans: Jackson coffee shops offer variety

Senior nursing majors Jordan Fry (left) and Lauren Smith study at Green Frog Coffee Co. | Photo by Ebbie Davis

By Rachel Golias and Allison Little

As the weather cools and days get shorter, coffee becomes a necessity for many. Throughout Jackson, there are several places to fulfill caffeine cravings, ranging from fast and convenient to cozy and relaxing.

The New Comer: Gusta Java

The newest coffee shop in Jackson, Gusta Java, at 669 Carriage House Drive, is quickly gaining popularity for its “caffeinated compassion.” The drive-thru café is handy for those on the go and a walk-up window is available for those who want to enjoy the patio. The outdoor seating is surrounded by the drive–thru and lacks greenery, but the furniture is plentiful, making it a good hang-out spot. However, the outdoor environment is not conducive to computers and Internet is not available.

Anna Worley, manger of Gusta Java, said their mission is to connect the Jackson community to coffee-growing regions around the world through quality products and impeccable service. Portions of their proceeds support the physical, economic and spiritual needs of the local community, as well as the regions the beans come from. Worley said baristas want to get to know their customers and build a community around the coffee shop.

While the café offers a variety of drinks made from locally roasted coffee beans, mochas seem to be a favorite paired with a New York bagel, apple fritter or cinnamon roll. Prices are reasonable, with hot drinks running only 15–20 cents more than Barefoots Joe, while frozen drinks, $4.20 for mediums, are closer to Starbucks prices. Specials, announced on Facebook and the shop’s giant coffee-cup sign, are offered on Mondays. Gusta Java’s hours are limited compared to other coffee shops. They are open Monday–Friday, 5:30 a.m.–8 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

The Get-Away Spot: Green Frog Coffee Co.

Green Frog Coffee Co., which has two locations in Jackson, brings Southern charm and local ingredients to their coffee shop.

Their main location at 112 East Baltimore in downtown Jackson is a 15-minute drive from Union, but offers a break from campus. The quaint shop has several plush couches arranged around gas fireplaces for group gatherings, as well as plenty of tables for studying. Customers can feel comfortable hunkering down to study or work, and free Wifi is offered. The downtown location is open Monday–Thursday, 6 a.m.–9 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 6 a.m.–11 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

Closer to campus is Green Frog’s location at 2184 Hollywood Drive. Although it offers the same menu, the shop is set up for convenience inside the Flash Market Travel Center and has a drive-thru. There are several couches and tables but they do not have Internet. The shop is open Sunday–Thursday, 6 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Friday–Saturday, 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.

A barista at the Hollywood location said Green Frog’s unique drink flavors satisfy people with a sweet tooth. They are best known for their “Dirty Snowman,” a latte with white chocolate and toffee nut favoring. Frozen mochas, $4 for a medium, are cheaper than Gusta Java and Starbucks, but their coffee and specialty mochas are more expensive than others. Green Frog offers a variety of sandwiches and sweets, but prices are high.

The Homeboy: Barefoots Joe

Although Barefoots Joe is familiar to most, it is far from boring. The artsy feel and large size makes it  perfect for gathering with friends. Large tables, oversized couches and an expansive patio provide a variety of seating. Concerts and movie viewings on weekends provide entertainment, but they can overwhelm clients.

Sarah Brubaker, senior social work major and barista, said their white mochas are popular.

The drinks at Barefoots Joe are the cheapest in town at $1.50 for a coffee, $3.50 for a mocha and $4 for a FroJoe Blended Mocha. A small selection of homemade baked goods are available. The shop is open Monday–Thursday, 7:30 a.m.–11 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m.–midnight; Saturday, 1 p.m.–midnight; and Sunday, 7 p.m.–11 p.m.

The Trendsetter: Starbucks

The instant one steps inside Starbucks at 907 Vann Drive, he or she is hit with the hustle and bustle of this streamlined shop. The energetic feel and constant flow of customers is conducive to people-watching. The small tables are hard to come by at times and although free WiFi is available, only two plug strips keep electronics running. The patio, surrounded by flowers, is spacious but close to the busy parking lot.

Once customers interpret the Starbucks lingo, he or she will discover the widest-ranging menu available. Drinks tend to have a stronger, bitter taste. Three baristas instantly agreed the white mocha is their most popular drink. Starbucks coffee and frappuccinos are more expensive, but the options are worth the cost for many people. Many natural pastries are available but they cost nearly twice as much as those from other locations. Customers who register their gift card online can earn perks and receive a birthday drink. Starbucks is open Monday–Thursday, 5 a.m.–10:30 p.m.; Friday, 5 a.m.–11:30 p.m.; Saturday, 6–11:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 6 a.m.–10:30 p.m.

The Old Classic: Dunkin’ Donuts

Once customers get past the cold store front, they are welcomed to Dunkin’ Donuts by the scent of coffee and the sight of row after row of sweet treats. Known by the slogan “America runs on Dunkin’,” this is a fast-food take on coffee shops. They are open Sunday–Thursday, 5 a.m.–11 p.m. and Friday–Saturday, 5 a.m.–midnight to satisfy wake-up calls and late-night munchies. While their doughnuts are fresh and delicious, the atmosphere is stale in the Jackson location at 638 Old Hickory Blvd. Aged booths  in the small dining area as well as the lack of Internet encourages customers to grab and go.

Glazed doughnuts are popular, but flavors are endless. Dunkin’ Donuts has tried to branch out into specialty drinks, but their regular coffee is more popular. Combos are a good deal. Two doughnuts and a coffee is $3.29. For enthusiasts, DDPerks on Dunkin’ Donuts’ website is a way to find deals and get a free birthday drink.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.