When I broke into the newspaper business in the late 1980s, coffee shops, as we know them now, didn’t really exist.

You bought coffee from a vending machine, or brought it from home, or had it with a meal at a diner or restaurant.

There were no lattes, mochas or other gourmet beverages to be had.

Today, coffee houses are everywhere, especially in areas -- like the Haymarket -- where people congregate. They’ve become almost as popular as bars on the social front.

I can’t imagine now starting my day without a walk to one of the downtown shops -- many of which roast their own beans.

I visit the top five on my list frequently. Each one has something going for it that sets it apart from the others. 

-- Jeff Korbelik

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