Coffee with Extra Sugar, a Savannah Tradition

Exploring Savannah's coffee culture at The Sentient Bean
Coffee with Extra Sugar, a Savannah Tradition
Elizabeth Haddad

Roaming around Savannah for coffee, one thing was apparent: The third-wave movement hasn’t infiltrated this Southern city just yet. No latte art on my cappuccinos and a few too many cups of over-roasted coffee, at first, left me disappointed. Though I was truly having withdrawals from my perfect morning cappuccino and my afternoon espresso, I was still happy to be in Savannah, strolling under the Spanish moss.

I found a few coffee houses I quite liked, mostly due to the local energy of eclectic Savannahians filling the space. If one can’t have great coffee, good people-watching and eavesdropping is mandatory for a pleasant time. The quirkiness of Savannah, with all its Southern charm, yet equally progressive and artistic, made me want to drink coffee with these people anyway.

At The Sentient Bean, near Forsyth Park, I asked Ronnie Cline, manager of the cafe, if there were any tell-tale sSouthern rituals — specifically in Savannah — involving coffee. The answer? Sugar. Savannah takes their coffee sweeter than most, as would be expected of the South. They also like their coffee iced, seeing as the climate is subtropical.

At The Sentient Bean, a Savannah favorite, cold-brewed coffee is the specialty. "I’d like to think we’ve perfected the art of iced coffee," co-owner Kristin Russell said with confidence. Seeing as I love a good iced coffee, I was even more excited to glance at the menu and discover they served shakerato, something I haven’t come across anywhere but Italy. On an extended stay two summers ago, the strong August sun drove me to this cool, strong drink; espresso shaken with sugar and ice, strained into a glass, with a layer of frothy, sweet espresso settling on top. It’s sweet, yet light.

The Bean’s iced coffee was smooth and clean — the hallmark of the cold-brew method. The beans are roasted by Café Campesino — fair-trade, organic cooperative coffee, roasted locally in Americus, Ga.

The food is vegan and the café doubles as a gallery by day, event space at night. A stroll through the park after the caffeine fix is mandatory.

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