“I like that I can sip coffee and have a conversation without feeling like people are listening in. It’s a cozy atmosphere but plenty of room.”
Just off the highway the Allman Brothers made famous is a precious gem worth the drive. Manchester, Tennessee, sits between Nashville and Chattanooga, a still small but growing town with origins along the main drag, otherwise known as Highway 41 South. You can take this highway all the way from Copper Harbor, Michigan, to the Everglades. If you do, I suggest you stop off at Coffee Cafe for a whole bunch of reasons.
Lisa and Geoff Moreland run the place, which some call “Manchester’s best kept secret.” I was looking for a coffee house open on Sunday; their hours correspond to a brunch crowd and the church rush. I wasn’t looking for great food the day I went, just a place to have coffee and catch up with an old friend; our schedules are tough to accommodate, given that she’s night shift and I’m days.
The smiling server brought up vegetable omelets with all-natural ingredients, the kind of dish that is more of an experience than a meal. The food was of a caliber I’ve only seen in much fancier places, the kind with folded napkins and waiters who speak French. There’s none of that at Coffee Cafe, and thank the Lord for it. The staff made me a custom latte with honey and cinnamon, brought us light desserts, and didn’t rush us along as we lazily spooned up lemon pie.
Even though their food is Five-Star, the best thing about Coffee Cafe in Manchester is the family that owns it. The Moreland’s daughter waited on us, and it was clear she had an abiding interest in repeat customers. We kept a running conversation going as she hovered among the tables. That’s how we found out about the pride of family ownership that goes into every plate and every latte. Try getting that kind of personal touch at Starbucks.
Not everyone will have occasion to meander along this Southern route among the foothills and small towns that dot the landscape headed Southbound to Lookout Mountain and points beyond; but if you should find yourself with the luxury of time and a craving for friendly, personal service, not to mention gourmet southern fare, Coffee Cafe in Manchester is the place for you. Coffee Cafe is located at 105 W. McClain Street; they are closed on Monday and open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. You may contact the owners at firstname.lastname@example.org