A Cup of My Own: One Girl’s Serious Search for the Perfect Memphis Coffee Shop Otherlands

Posted on February 2, 2015


By: Sarah Barnes


The white noise here is comforting. It soothes my ears as I look out of the huge picture window to the foggy rain on the street. Jazz music unfurls, flower-like, from the speakers and reverberates off of colorful photos that occupy every possible inch of blue-green wall. I take a sip of my coffee and look around the room, taking in the jumble of light, color, and humanity. An affectionate couple rests, perched atop cheetah print barstools, waiting for the hot drink that will take the edge off the cold day. Hat wearers are crammed around a square table playing chess. I’m too far away to see which side is winning, though. This coffee shop is huge, the largest I’ve ever seen. The sheer size is both intriguing and overwhelming at the same time. Places of repose are ubiquitous. Sets of tables and chairs are strewn everywhere, cozied up to fish tanks, resting under maps, even nestled closely to happy green plants. There are countless tiny wonders to steal you attention, small oddities to entrance the eye. Here, there seems to be hundreds of things going on at once. Here, there is no reason to ever be bored.

At Otherlands, there is a distinct feeling of individuality, of personality. It inexplicably makes a person feel like a “hipper” version of themselves. It is easy to imagine that the coffee scent clouding your clothing for hours after your departure is actually an aura of coolness, grown from time sitting in the same chair. It’s not just the art on the walls or the lighthearted signs that brew this feeling, no, but it’s the fellow café patrons. Otherlands attracts a perplexing mix of coffee lovers and tea enthusiasts alike, and it houses a dedicated group of regulars as colorful as the place they frequent. On any given day, you can see balding men crammed in next to studded punk-y looking twenty somethings. This café truly brings Memphians together.

When it comes to drinks, a very important part of a coffee shop, Otherlands does not disappoint. The café boasts an ample menu of espresso concoctions, as well as brewed coffee, smoothies, and an interesting assortment of teas. The chai is delicious; it’s made in-house and delights in every spicy way possible. On a chilly day, it’s perfect way to warm up. The coffee is pleasant, flavorful, and the first refill of the hot brewed kind is free. As an added bonus, Otherlands also serves beer for those times when something stronger than coffee is required.

With good people watching, a fun atmosphere, and lovely coffee, this place is nearly impossible to resist. So don’t. If you haven’t (and even if you have) already visited, put Otherlands on your must do list. You’ll be glad you did.

Posted in: Arts