Virginia-Highland Area Torn By Brutal Coffee Shop Feud

Va-Hi baristas are locked in bitter struggle over the right to be smug. PHOTO: Doug Wheller, Flickr

VIRGINIA AT HIGHLAND–Competing coffee houses are locked in battle to win hearts and minds of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

Reporters spoke with Todd Rupley, neighborhood homeowner and coffee drinker.

“It’s devastating. Like any bitter struggle, it’s been devastating,” Rupley said. “And there’s no end in sight.”

Rupley, who consented to be interviewed as he was walking his one-year-old child around the neighborhood in a stroller, has seen the war unfold firsthand.

“Basically what you have is a territory war between Aurora and San Francisco coffee shops,” he said. “Aurora has the better location, right here at the intersection of Virginia and Highland, but San Francisco has two locations at either end of the neighborhood and slightly less hipstery employees.”

“Personally, I’m an Aurora man,” Rupley said, indicating an Aurora sticker on part of his child’s stroller.

“Go to hell, Aurora filth!” A voice then rang out across the quiet street. Reporters and Rupley then turned to see a man wearing a San Francisco Coffee Roasting tee shirt across the street.

“Shut your hole, Vance Maryland! You wouldn’t know a Sumatra from an Ethiopian Harar!” Rupley yelled back, making a rude gesture with his fingers.

The normally-quiet neighborhood has seen too much of this kind of homeowner-on-homeowner violence in the past few weeks. Experts expect the conflict to simmer down as the heat of the summer goes up, but to get even worse in the fall.

“Yeah, it’s like, been a problem, or something?” agreed Lanier Hudson, local barista, ending declarative sentences with a rising tone normally reserved for questions, “but you’ve probably never heard of it?”

When asked what role the Starbucks location at Monroe and Virginia, or perhaps the location on Moreland might play, Hudson was nonplussed.

“I guess some people call that coffee?” he admitted, “But around here you are OR or nothing? Original roast, son.”