Navigating Bardstown Road's non-Starbucks coffee culture

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While it's not going to be confused with Paris's Left Bank any time soon (except maybe by Mayor Jerry), Louisville's Bardstown Road has a great coffeehouse culture. On a 3.2-mile stretch, there are seven local coffee shops (albeit four of them are Heine Brothers), all offering free Wi-Fi. Here's a quick rundown of them (all assessments of drinks are based on iced skim lattes, my addiction drink of choice). Day's Espresso & Coffee 1420 Bardstown Road www.dayscoffee.com Serving the best iced latte of the bunch (and tied with M.E. Swing in Washington, DC, for the best iced latte I've ever had, anywhere), Day's attracts a mixed crowd but seems to be Louisville's preferred coffee shop for gay men. Heine Brothers 1295, 1449, 2200 and 3060 Bardstown Road www.heinebroscoffee.com What Starbucks is to the United States, Heine Brothers is to Bardstown Road. The latte is milky, but the little foam on top is a nice touch. It seems every coffee shop along Bardstown Road has its niche--except the ubiquitous Heine Bros. That's not to say Heine Bros. has nothing to offer: all four of them have better outdoor seating than their competitors and the straight espresso is ok. But with milky lattes, an inferior iced tea selection and the buggiest Wi-Fi network of the bunch I don't understand why Heine Brothers are busier than many of the other coffee shops on Bardstown Road. Highland Coffee 1140 Bardstown Road www.highlandcoffee.com Attracting the younger, bohemian set, Highland Coffee's iced latte is excellent, if not quite as good as Day's. (If Day's latte is Bruce Springsteen, Highland Coffee's is John Mellencamp). And its energy bars make for a great afternoon pick-me-up for after the caffeine buzz wears off. Ray's Monkey House 1578 Bardstown Road www.raysmonkeyhouse.com With its vegetarian menu, cups made from corn starch and posters of Cindy Sheehan and Hugo Chavez, Ray's attracts Louisville's leftists (and will most likely be where the revolution takes place, if it ever gets going). The lattes were ok, not great, but live entertainment, a quirky beer selection and a delicious grilled avocado and cheese sandwich makes Ray's Monkey House worth a visit. For more information: Louisville has excellent coffee shops that aren't on Bardstown Road. Read about them in Navigating Louisville's non-Bardstown Road coffee shops.
About Zach Everson
Travel news/travel buzz editor at MapQuest. Previously, I was a freelance writer, contributing to The Wall Street Journal, Air Canada's enRoute, Eater, USA Today, Condé Nast Traveller, BlackBook, Curbed, Gridskipper, Deadspin, and Fox News. I also was the founding editor of Eater Louisville and the director of content and editorial strategy for Louisville.com.
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