“This is actually a coffee house. I mean, it almost looks like someone’s home.” My coffee drinking buddy was right. Unlike most of the cafes these days, with their hard-backed seats and community tables and sometimes you’re just lucky to get a seat on a sanded stump (we’re looking at you, Loyal), Kairos Coffee House stands firm against the Third Wave trend of austere, minimalistic and contemporary design. Instead, the pass-through fireplace crackles. The bar gleams of rich mahogany and brass fitting. Tufted wingback armchairs and deep leather couches abound. Nooks and corners and half walls are seemingly everywhere, allowing for more private conversations, more intimate coffee dates.
A large, well-appointed living room, that’s what Kairos’ cafe feels like — spacious, yet snug at the same time.
Kairos exists with one foot firmly planted still within the traditional world of coffee culture, with whiffs even reminiscent of Viennese coffee houses. This is primarily due to the origins of the space itself. 505 Popes Bluff Trail used to be the address of the old Park Plaza by Hilton. The 200 room hotel boasted a restaurant built out sumptuously in the New York steakhouse style. Brass elephant heads continue to secure the bar’s bar with their mighty trunks. Large stones remain the fireplace’s facade, scaling the heights of two stories. Classic black and white mosaic tiles pave much of the floor. And the ceiling endures as stamped tin tiles in all their ornate detail.
An admirable job has been undertaken in the preservation of the original look and feel of the establishment. What Kairos has also masterfully done is insert a strong coffee program into the midst of this Viennese-meets-steakhouse ambiance. This is the type of space in which patrons are only too eager to pay for their three-hour fireside study session with the price of a latte.
A recent Tuesday morning had us perched upon the armchairs immediately beside the gas fueled fireplace. “Yeah, we could sit here all day,” Luke sighed contentedly. And with well executed drinks in hand, we were in full agreement. Normally loyalists to classic espresso beverages, such as the standby cappuccino, we were helpless to resist the offering of a cookie batter breve latte when we learned it was made with a speculoos (read: spiced shortcrust biscuit) flavoring, and of course, breve. Diet busting decadence.
If you’re feeling less sweet, you’ve still come to the right place. Kairos has partnered with local rosters of the highest caliber, including Building Three and Hold Fast. The washed Ethiopian on batch brew delighted with lively candy notes of berry and citrus and floral. “Not like any ol’ cuppa coffe, huh?” my companion mused. Not at all. Just like this coffee house — not like anything else in town.