NFK is home to a vibrant coffee shop and cafe culture that so many of us rely on for our daily fix. Whether you’re looking to grab n’ go, catch up with your pals over breakfast and brew, hash out a business deal, or find a cozy corner to write your fan fiction manuscript, there’s a spot just for you.
Hard to say if Cure is more beloved for their well‑worn food and drink or for the perfectly picturesque surrounding that is the Freemason District and directly across the street from the historic Botetourt building. The vibe inside is constantly changing from laptop hustlers to board game and open mic nights and back again. Get your caffeine fix from Cure and then get a cobblestone pic for that social media self‑esteem fix.
Started by two twin brothers (the Kopack Bros), this shop is still relatively new yet already making a big impact. They’re slinging lattes that are a magnitude beyond what our town’s used to. They’re on the up and up too, with a new and improved location on 21st Street in the works. Go with the Ko.
Equinox Coffee Co.
Every bad brew up in Equinox, I need to know right now if you a freak or not. No one knows what it beans, but it’s provocative. And even though it’s not a French-ass restaurant, they’ll hurry up with the damn croissants. ‑A review by Kanye West In all seriousness, Equinox is pretty dang great.
Cova Brewing Company
Ocean View (OV) was hungry for more culture and they got it. Mostly known for their plethora of beer to satisfy the craft masses, Cova also makes mean brews of the coffee variety. . There’s a food truck onsite and they keep the schedule stacked (tune into NFK Currents for more). Grab some coffee before your morning walk on the beach and fill up your growler on the way back; just one of the perks of Norfolk beach living, brought to you by Cova.
Named after Ocean View’s historic (and definitely missed) Rocket roller coaster, this cafe is serving up some old school community vibes with mouth-watering breakfast and excellent coffee to match. But what sets Coaster apart from other cafes in OV is the steady flow of community meetings and events that are hosted on premises . It’s become quite the hub for progress on the North side of town.
The sister restaurant of Blanca Food+Wine, its high-class food culture is evident in everything they craft. Word on the street is they have the best breakfast sandwich and pastries in Norfolk’s historic Riverview neighborhood. Despite the Old World street cred, the staff are immensely welcoming and down to earth. Cafe Blanca also has an expertly curated selection of retail wine available to take home and enjoy.
A long-standing caffeine institution in the heart of downtown Norfolk, aLatte carries a devout fan base. Their quality brunch fare and assortment of coffee-based beverages are top-notch but won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Their continuous support of the local arts and community further establishes aLatte cafe as a mainstay on Granby Street. Also, take notice of the giraffes adorned all over the shop, they’re pretty cool.
Prescription Coffee Lab
Prescription Coffee might actually be the smallest and newest coffee shop on this list. Sharing a quaint, black brick storefront next to the Colley Ave underpass with Local Bike Shop, you can get your gears oiled while you fuel up on top shelf bean juice And in case you’re wondering: Yeah, their coffee is medical-grade dank.
An adorable creation of love by its owners (a husband and wife couple), Cafe Milo comes with hand-painted flooring and a delightful wall mural. The coffee scratches the itch, but the vegan menu will make you a return customer. (and keep you in good terms with the Buddha).
Vessel Craft Coffee
Vessel coffee has been known to fuel an entire market full of small businesses as well as all of City Hall. The pour overs are worth the wait, but if they sold an IV drip of their cold brew, they’d have to stock more beds than Norfolk General.
Cafe Stella’s downtown location found its niche in this cozy corner of Granby Street. It’s the perfect stop in between downtown meetings or Saturday wanderings. If you stop and sniff closely you may even be able to smell the cigars of days long ago when the space formerly belonged to Emerson’s Cigars.
Springing from waffle‑loving origins, this cafe has become a perfect spot to sneak a brunch away from the nearby biscuit crowds. Unassuming from the front, the mellow interior invites you to indulge in one of their inventive drinks, pastries, or small plates. ‘Mea Culpa’ is a Latin expression used as an ‘acknowledgment of having done wrong’ You’d be doing real wrong to yourself by not checking this place out soon. Suggested brew: iced blackberry oat milk latte.
An anchor of the NEON District, Zeke’s coffee has fueled the artist pursuits of many. This long-adored establishment doesn’t just stop at coffee: Acai bowls, poke bowls, and hidden back garden seating mean Zeke’s punches well above its weight class. They also sell PBR in a can for super cheap.
A true Ghent OG. This is the place to bathe in the tantalizing scent of freshly roasted and ground coffee. You can thank their in-house roaster for the constant smell-goods. Not just a morning spot, Cafe Stella has been home to many small acoustic sets over the years, so stay late and indulge in some wine. Their desserts are stellar and you can even buy whole pies.
A story you don’t hear often: ‘LOCAL COFFEE SHOP REPLACES STARBUCKS’. A true victory for the local economy and your taste buds. Their small footprint does not translate to small kitchen skills here. Get your coffee however you like but be sure to pair it up with a Panini.
Elliot’s Fair Grounds
Fairgrounds features one of the most comprehensive coffee menus that also includes around a dozen frappes. l. Find a back corner and a board game with a friend and chat the night away. Fairgrounds is more of a living room that’s also a place of business, so you’ll feel right at home here.
Paul Stetson Rice
Paul is the creator of NFKVA.com. He was born and raised in Norfolk, graduated from Virginia Tech, and narrowly avoided law school. Chat with him about economics, entrepreneurship, hip-hop, and hiking. When he's not working on five different projects, you'll catch him sharing a beer with friends at a local brewery. Go Hokies!