I have a confession. I’m a stereotypical twenty-something creative person with a soft spot for independent coffee shops. It’s hard to find a coffee shop these days without someone like me sitting at a table with his or her laptop slowly sipping on expertly crafted iced coffee. Where can you find such a place in Jackson? As of this past summer: Alba.
Alba is a traditional coffee shop focused on hand-making quality drinks. They serve an assortment of teas produced by a British friend of Cole Sanders, the owner. If you come in looking for something to eat, you can choose from pastries, ice cream, and café-style sandwiches and wraps. Items range from a $1.00 canned drink from the fridge to an $8.00 artisan sandwich-and-side meal. Alba has quickly become known for making high quality traditional coffee drinks (lattés, cappuccinos, etc..), but there are several “house drinks” in the works that will surely become staples in the Jackson community!
The evolution of Alba has been a bit confusing to me, so I want to provide some clarity if you’re easily stumped like me. Green Frog became Ugly Mug, which became Alba . . . sort of. Green Frog was purchased by Ugly Mug, and Cole was hired as general manager after working in I.T. for ten years. After beginning a remodel process, the owners decided to move the business elsewhere, and Cole had the opportunity to take over.
You might be wondering, “So what’s different?” After reopening the shop as Alba, Cole says, “We rearranged the layout of the drink and food production lines, as well as tidied up the look and feel of the interior. We also installed new equipment for drink making. We have a brand new espresso machine and grinder, as well as coffee brewer. I specifically chose equipment that would empower the barista to be technical when creating a drink. All shots are measured by hand and all milk is steamed by hand the traditional way.”
This is why you get such great quality at Alba! A delicious, expertly made coffee drink enjoyed in a friendly, inviting atmosphere—it doesn’t get much better than that. Since the grand opening, I have tried both the BLT wrap and the New Southern club sandwich, and both have been fantastic! I have yet to make it over in the morning to try a fresh pastry, but I hear they are wonderful. You can follow them on Instagram to get a preview of what’s being served.
Cole’s background in the coffee business didn’t begin with Alba. While attending University of Northern Alabama in Florence, Alabama, he worked at Rivertown Coffee Co., which was opened by a good friend of his in the early 2000s. The community surrounding Rivertown is something that he strives to recreate with Alba.
“We knew our customers by name and we knew what they would order before they ordered it. We had a family instead of a customer base,” he explained. “We want to be the place where you can clear your head for a little while—before, during, or after work. Alba should also be the place where good conversation is sparked and great things are created.”
To help connect with the community Alba is hosting several album debut parties, and they also spin vinyl and host live music events. The walls will also display art and illustration by local artists.
I see Alba as a place that can serve everyone. It’s perfect if you want a place to sit and work while you drink your coffee or if you just want to grab a sandwich on your lunch break. I’m sure I’ll be there many more times working on Hello Jackson posts, so I hope to see you there!
Kristi Woody is a photographer and storyteller for our Hello Jackson features about locally owned retail stores and restaurants. She also works as the university photographer for Union University and owns her own wedding photography business, Woody & Pearl Photography. In her free time, Kristi enjoys spending time with her husband and rambunctious beagle, Rhett and Chipper respectively. If you can't find Kristi in Jackson, you'll find her in her second favorite place: Disney World!
tags Jackson TN, Tennessee, Kristi Woody, Hello Jackson, Alba, coffee, tea, food, local business, local, local restaurant, local food, coffee shop, Cole Sanders, pastry, sandwich, cappuccino, latté, Green Frog, Ugly Mug, Florence AL, University of Northern Alabama, Rivertown Coffee Co., art, music, concert, local band, local music, local art