UNA Spotlight: Rivertown Coffee Co.

Rivertown Coffee in downtown Florence brings in a wide variety of customers, including UNA students, lawyers, politicians, business owners, musicians and artists for the coffee, food and entertainment.

Andy Thigpen Student Writer

On Seminary Street in downtown Florence, right next to the Shoals Theatre, there is a place called Rivertown where the atmosphere is right and the coffee reigns supreme.

Rivertown Coffee Company, which opened in October 2004, is a familiar place to local residents and college students at UNA. For many, Rivertown seems like a home away from home, with its vintage furniture, stacks of records from local musicians, books lining the old bookshelf and steady stream of music playing overhead.

John Cartwright, owner and founder of Rivertown Coffee Company, believes that one of the biggest reasons for this connection is the coffee. Cartwright thinks the love of coffee is something that is shared by anyone who frequents a coffee shop, and that Rivertown does it well.

“If you don’t provide a good product, obviously you’re not going to be successful in what you do,” he said. “That said, it’s not all about the drink in your hand, but about the experience you create.”

Ever since he moved from Corinth, Miss. in 2004 with the intention of opening a coffee shop, Cartwright has been working hard to create those experiences.

The Rivertown experiences are shared by a diverse group of people, including lawyers, small business owners, local politicians, high school students, musicians, artists and UNA students.

One of Rivertown’s familiar lunch-goers is former Miss UNA Erica Gholson. Though she doesn’t drink coffee, she enjoys many elements of the Rivertown experience.

“The coziness makes for a great hangout, day or night, and the frappuccinos would put Starbucks to shame,” she said. “I can’t imagine what the real coffee tastes like. It’s understood that we’re all there for good coffee and good company.”

Another long-time familiar face at Rivertown belongs to UNA student Zack Cox.

“I’ve been going to Rivertown for years,” he said. “I’ve pretty much grown up there. It’s a positive place to eat, drink a coffee, to do homework at or just hang out. It has it’s own mysterious aura that keeps me coming back. No matter who’s there, or if anyone’s there at all, I always find myself hanging out there.”

By acting as a venue for local musicians to sell and play their music, and for local artists to showcase their work, Rivertown has developed into a hub for Florence culture.

“Aside from the fact Rivertown has the best coffee in town, I am connected with the shop itself,” Cox said. “I have countless memories that are from college and pre-date college from hanging out at Rivertown. I’ve never had as many positive experiences at other coffee shops as I have had at Rivertown.”