Coffee House menus tend to be similar: a roundup of espresso drinks, brewed coffee, cold brew, and pourover; and there likely will be scones and sweet rolls and breakfast sandwiches.
That is why rigorous Roadfood standards, which extol a restaurant because of its unique regional character, would preclude most coffee houses. But who wants to be so rigorous? When we come across a place where the coffee and pastries are fresh and the personality is friendly, we want to tell others about it. There’s little need to make note of a worthy coffee house in a million+ population city. Happily, they’re common. But coming across an especially good one in Corbin, Kentucky (population 7,304), is cause for celebration.
I wasn’t sorry to get brewed coffee. Made with beans from a North Carolina outfit called Counter Culture, it is robust and sophisticated. However, when I saw the barista scrupulously making a pourover cup, I vowed that next time, that’s the way to go.
In addition to nice homey pastries, the food menu includes such stylin’ sandwiches as caprese grilled cheese, a brie and apricot jam croissant, and hot ham and cheese made with shaved country ham on sourdough. There’s a good measure of cultural dissonance to find fried bologna (thick cut) and cheese sandwiched in a length of artisan French bread, but it works: an epicurean Appalachian breakfast sandwich.
The storefront is cavernous and comfortable with miscellaneous accommodations and grandma’s-attic decor. Starting at 7am, it is a dandy opportunity to open one’s eyes before a trip through the Cumberland Plateau.