I need to start off by saying that I take my coffee very seriously. I’m of the view that coffee is as much an experience as it is a beverage. My wife and I (individually and as a couple) have been fortunate enough over the past 10 years or so to experience coffee houses all over the world (between the two of us we can list Turkey, France, England, Germany, Iceland, Qatar, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Kuwait), not to mention all over the United States, from Alaska to Florida. So I’m more than a little surprised myself to be writing about a coffee house in southern Tennessee that is without a doubt among the absolute best of any we have experienced.
I’m not from Tennessee. I have no family or other close connections there that I know of. For the better part of my adult life, Tennessee was simply the shortest leg of a road trip between my home in Louisville, KY and destinations scattered throughout the Deep
South. But nearly three years ago my wife and I (who is from Connecticut, and is as Yankee as they come) almost randomly selected Chattanooga, TN as a good place to start our courtship (which is an altogether different story). Since then, we’ve become enamored with the entire city. The waterfront development along the river, which includes beautiful parks and miles of pedestrian walkways, the history-steeped Civil War sites, the restaurants, and the unique shops offer a lot for couples and families to do. We’ve spent a number of long weekends tromping around everything Chattanooga has to offer, and we plan on going back again as soon as we can.
Set atop a rise overlooking Chattanooga is the Bluff View Art District, about two blocks or so of local museums, B & Bs, art shops, and even a bakery. And resting in the midst of the Art District’s historic neighborhood is Rembrandt’s Coffee. Set inside a French stucco style building, this coffee house offers an immediately comforting environment that any similar establishment worth its salt strives to provide.
The coffee itself is good. I wouldn’t say the local roast is the best I’ve ever had, but when you combine the good coffee with the excellent pastries and food, and place it in the relaxing outdoor terrace (complete with stone fountain and shade trees), you can’t beat the experience. As we’ve enjoyed our coffee and food (one of the menu stand-bys is a tomato-artichoke soup that by itself has motivated us to make the 4 hour trip to Chattanooga) we’ve been surrounded by the kind of eclectic collection of people you’d expect at such an establishment. We’ve spoken with doctors and students, and overheard young people conducting Bible studies and planning for their futures with the FBI. Classic Southern Belles and fitness buffs just finishing a ride around the city all patronize the place. And I might also add that I’ve never had an unpleasant experience with the staff, who are always friendly and polite, even in the heat of a lunch rush.
For coffee snobs, such as my wife and I, I recommend Rembrandt’s as a place that needs to be on your list of coffee houses that you plan on visiting some time in your life. For those who travel down I-24 or I-75 on your way to Atlanta or Florida, who might be tempted to just stop and get a burger and then keep moving, I suggest that you take the time to enjoy this place. You’ll likely find that Rembrandt’s and Chattanooga will become destinations in their own right.