[A report, after four days of intensive investigation, punctuated here and there by "apartment-hunting."]
1. You can buy Blue Bottle beans at Star Provisions on Howell Mill Road. When I saw the Bella Donovan I nearly wept with relief.
2. Steady Hand on North Decatur (right by the Fox Center!) brews Intelligentia, which is respectable. I don't know what their funky apparatus is, but it produces a clean brew that does a good job of revealing the character of the bean.
3. Octane on Marietta brews Counter Culture, and I was favorably impressed; it is, like the coffee from Steady Hand, nuanced third-wave stuff. But they brew it in a French press, apparently with a finer grind than is really appropriate for a press, and the result is a rather muddy brew even after you've let it settle. Good coffee, but advantage goes to Steady Hand for texture.
4. I want to like the local roaster, Batdorf and Bronson, and they seem, you know, perfectly fine. But so far I'm not thrilled by it or ready to adopt it as my new local coffee. Aurora and the Bakeshop brew it and dispense it in an air pot—which is to say, it's morally okay to put this coffee in an air pot. This is, I would say, perfectly acceptable coffee, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.
5. Urban Grind's coffee, I am sorry to say, is a disappointment.