Park Grounds. The only coffee shop in Atlanta where you can sip an iced beverage (or a cold beer) while witnessing labradors and Pomeranians bro down in harmony. Park Grounds is hidden in the recesses of Reynoldstown, but once you come upon it, you'll see why this place gets packed to the gills on pleasant weekend afternoons. Owner Johnny Gianoulids, whom you might see refilling the dogs' water trough while cracking wise at the dogs, is a no-BS character who's about as tough as the bulldogs romping around in the backyard (but with, I hypothesize, a heart of gold). Don't be a Internet-surfing mooch, either: Park Grounds serves up some mean sandwiches and fair-trade, single origin coffee. While I mourn the loss of the Hot Ham Scram from the menu (Johnny, I beseech you: please bring it back), a delicious Kirkwood on a biscuit is exactly the fuel you need to make your way through your inbox.
Land of a Thousand Hills. The very definition of "off the beaten path," this mountain lodge-esque cafe is tucked way back in the back of a gated apartment community off of Akers Mill Road in Vinings. But believe me when I tell you: it is well work the 20 minute trek (and, yes, open to the public). Land of a Thousand Hills is situated right on the bank of the Chattahoochee, where you can do your work to the sounds of the river and the sights of geese (and let's be honest, the last time you saw any kind of fowl splashing around in a body of water outside a coffee shop, it was probably a fat pigeon bathing itself in a mud puddle in front of a downtown Starbucks). The cherry on top is LoaTH's awesome direct-trade coffee program, which helps to rebuild Rwandan communities by purchasing directly from farmers at fair-trade prices. Doing a bit of good and being able to feel miles away from Atlanta? I'll just tell you from my personal experience: few marathon coffee shop sessions have been as productive as those that've taken place at this spot.
Joe's Coffee. This East Atlanta stronghold is filled with tattooed hipsters and the sweet, sweet scents of Intelligentsia brews. And their secluded little back patio is the perfect spot to get the job done. While not quite the vast expanse of nature as the above riverfront cafe, the outdoor area is a sweet spot to escape all the hustle and bustle of EAV. Friendly baristas, strong espresso, cozy environs, tasty snacking, and an overall mellow, comfy environment make for excellent working conditions, and the feeling of being in on a patio secret doesn't hurt.
Carroll Street Cafe. Know what's almost as good as a vacation in Europe? Pretending you're vacationing in Europe by setting up shop on the sidewalk outside one of the best little cafe/bistros in Atlanta. Hidden in Cabbagetown, Carroll Street has plentiful coffee and wine, grade-A people-watching, and hands-down, the best nicoise salad in the city. Many an evening I've spent lingering outside this fine institution with a glass of Duvel and an ever-shrinking to-do list. And I'm serious about that nicoise.
Estoria 97. Another idyllic Cabbagetown oasis. Don't be the dude who whips out the Macbook at the bar on a Thursday night... but in the afternoons, when things are a little bit quieter at this hipster mecca, there's nothing like kicking it on their roomy patio with a glass or
Dancing Goats. Many a great coffee shop in Atlanta offers a solid patio. Why the sidewalk setup at Dancing Goats appeals to me, I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps it's the feeling of being in a small town (maybe somewhere in Europe? Just maybe?), people-watching the Decaturites and generally soaking up the village-y goodness of downtown Decatur. Plus, we have quite the love affair with Batdorf & Bronson coffee, and the clever baristas at Dancing Goats often whip up rather fascinating seasonal specialty "coffee cocktails" (alcohol-free) that broaden one's understanding of what can be done with espresso and a little creativity. Hopefully for you, that creativity is contagious.
So, there you have it: our picks for where to go when the inbox calls out but the sun's sweet rays are irresistible. Share your tips on Twitter and Facebook... and, in the wise words of Vitamin C, don't forget your sunscreen.