Milli Coffee Roasters should be your new study spot

With plenty of seating, a unique atmosphere and delicious food, this coffee shop beats even your very favorite library on Grounds

lf-MilliJoe-Marlena Becker

If you are looking for something more substantial, I highly recommend the brie panini with green apple and pesto. Served on perfectly toasted fresh bread, this sandwich was oozing with melted brie and excellent pesto. 

Marlena Becker | Cavalier Daily

To the naked eye, Milli Coffee Roasters may seem like any of the other countless coffee shops in Charlottesville, however, after spending a rainy Saturday afternoon there, I can guarantee that it is better than most.

Located on the corner of Preston Avenue and McIntire Road, Milli Coffee Roasters already has something that none of the coffee shops on the Downtown Mall do — free parking. Although only a 10 minute drive from Grounds, this coffee shop’s indie vibes and the diverse crowd it attracts makes it feel far from the Corner. 

The space itself is a winner. There are big windows, a small patio out front and lots of seating. With couches, arm chairs and tons of tables, you will never have to fight anyone for a spot near an outlet. The atmosphere is pleasant, and the baristas are all very welcoming. The mismatched furniture and beautiful art on the walls give the place its one-of-a-kind mood and made me feel immediately at home. The ambiance is very conducive to studying — many of the other customers were cozied up with a book or laptop and seemed to have been there for hours. However, it was not so quiet that my friends and I felt at all awkward talking at a normal volume. 

The art of coffee and espresso is the main focus of Milli Coffee Roasters, and they pride themselves on highly trained baristas. Their T-shirts read, “Machines don’t make coffee, humans do,” and the humans here appear to be the best of the best. The latte art is exceptional, and they even have their own small batch in-house roastery so you are guaranteed fresh and full bodied espresso and will actually be able to taste the difference. If espresso is just a little too fancy for you, they also make excellent pour over coffee. But if coffee is not your thing, don’t despair — they also have a huge loose leaf tea selection and a fully stocked fridge case. 

For better or for worse, pretty lattes, an in-house roastery and a slightly pretentious T-shirt still aren’t enough to really set Milli Coffee Roasters apart from the other coffee shops in Charlottesville. Their food, however, is. Although their menu is small and consists of only waffles, a few paninis and a soup du jour, it is hard for me to imagine anyone leaving unsatisfied.

The “special” waffle immediately caught my eye. It is a warm, homemade waffle with brie, apple and honey, and as someone who has a long lasting love affair with brie, I couldn’t not order it. When it was ready — probably about seven minutes later — it did not disappoint. 

The waffle itself was delicious although it was smaller than I had expected. It was dense and flavorful, and I even detected a slight hint of cinnamon. These “liege style belgian waffles” are much cakier than a typical waffle you would get at a diner, but I ended up preferring them. They were very generous with the brie (thank God), and it was as buttery and rich as it should be. The green apple slices added a nice bite, and the drizzle of honey tied everything together. For only $4.50 this was the absolutely perfect snack and has given any other waffle I eat from here on out a lot to live up to. 

The waffles can also be topped with your choice of strawberries, bananas, Nutella or peanut butter. My friend ordered a waffle with strawberries which, as it turns out, is really just a waffle with strawberries — no butter, syrup, powdered sugar or anything. And although I found this a little lackluster, she swore it was exactly what she wanted, and the waffles themselves are flavorful enough to go without any real toppings. 

Although I am reluctant to criticize anything about the waffles, I will say that the presentation could have been much better. I know that Milli Coffee Roasters is just a coffee shop, and I was not expecting anything fancy. That being said, my waffle was falling apart to the point that it looked like someone had already taken a bite out of it, and the strawberries — which were incredibly underripe — had clearly been thrown on the waffle without any care. Also, we both agreed the portions were a little small.

If you are looking for something more substantial, I highly recommend the brie panini with green apple and pesto. Served on perfectly toasted fresh bread, this sandwich was oozing with melted brie and excellent pesto. I had never considered this flavor combination, but it works excellently and is a nice savory alternative to the “special” waffle I had ordered. It is also much more food for only a dollar more, and the brie melts beautifully, which I preferred to the cold brie on my waffle. 

Milli Coffee Roasters is also open later than any other coffee shop — they close at midnight — and serves wine and beer, so you could easily transition from studying to hanging out without leaving your comfortable spot on the couch. 

So, next time you feel absolutely repulsed by the idea of studying at Clem, I recommend giving Milli Coffee Roasters a try. Just don’t be surprised if you end up staying hours longer than you expected.

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