Coffee Springs is located in north-central Geneva County in the extreme southeast corner of the state. It has a mayor/city council form of government. Coffee Springs has the distinction of being one of only four towns in Alabama with circular town limits. Professional football player Jim Bowdoin, who played college football for the University of Alabama and played on three NFL championship teams with the Green Bay Packers, was born in Coffee Springs.
Coffee Springs was named for its cold-water springs and for Gen. John Coffee, a commanding officer during the Creek War of 1813-14 who is believed to have camped by those springs during his campaign through Alabama. Native Americans lived near the springs as the water provided rich mineral deposits and also extensive fishing. The lush vegetation surrounding the springs as well as the deer, turkey, and squirrel hunting in the nearby forest benefitted the Native Americans as well. Local historians believe the soldiers in Coffee’s regiment who died during the march through Alabama are buried in mounds not far from the springs.
The first European settlers in the area arrived around 1830. According to 1850 and 1860 census records, the Hatton and Crumbie families were the first to settle in the area. Even before the town existed, people visited the mineral springs for their supposed curative powers. The first structure in town was a hotel for people coming to bathe in the waters. Visitors often took home large quantities of the water, and it was later bottled and shipped from a nearby resort. Over the years, camp and tent meetings were held there, as were political speeches.
In 1889, the Central of Georgia Railroad constructed a line that ran from Albany, Georgia, to Lockhart, Covington County, through Coffee Springs. It soon was running four passenger trains daily. The town incorporated in 1900. Timber became the main industry after the railroad provided a ready mode of transportation, as the town was in the middle of a pine forest. By 1906, the town had two drugstores, four lumber companies, and a turpentine distillery. A few years later, it also claimed a bank, blacksmith shop, cotton gins, cotton and fertilizer warehouses, and livery stables. Between 1907 and 1910, Coffee Springs was known for hosting the “Amateur Champions of the World” baseball team, which travelled across the United States and played every amateur baseball team in the country. In 1914, two spring-fed concrete pools and changing houses were constructed.
The town’s decline in population began when a fire destroyed several downtown businesses in 1920; no efforts were made to rebuild them. Coffee Springs again suffered from the Great Depression, local crop failures, and the closing of the bank, prompting officials to discontinue its railroad connection in October 1941. Coffee Springs High School burned in December 1994, and county officials decided not to rebuild it, sending students to other Geneva County schools instead.
Coffee Springs’s population according to the 2010 Census was 228. Of that number, 96.1 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 3.1 percent as two or more races, and 2.6 percent as Hispanic or Latino. The town’s median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $37,206, and the per capita income was $19,899.
According to the 2010 Census, the workforce in Coffee Springs was divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (33.0 percent)
· Manufacturing (19.1 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (17.0 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (9.6 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (8.5 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (6.4 percent)
· Public administration (6.4 percent)
Students in Coffee Springs attend Geneva County schools; no public schools are located within the town limits.
State Highway 27, running north-south, is located a mile east of Coffee Springs.
Events and Places of Interest
In 2015, the town sold the mineral springs to a private enterprise. It is now operated as an outdoor-recreation park called J&J’s Place at the Springs. In addition to maintaining the pool for public use, the site hosts live music and other activities throughout the year.
Farris, Rochelle T., and Lavinia Jordam Helms, eds. Coffee Springs, Alabama: A History. Montgomery, Ala.: Herff Jones Yearbook Publications, 1982.
Geneva County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Geneva County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.