I have a confession to make: I love coffee.
In fact, I may have been coffee in another life. I’m talking Lorelei Gilmore levels of coffee dependency.
If I go back to pinpoint the moment my coffee obsession began, it’s probably later than most others. On sort of a whim in my early twenties, I decided to pack up and move halfway around the world to Hawaii. It was my Eat, Pray, Love moment. While I was there, I had local access to some of the best coffee in the world and it stuck with me.
When I came back to Ohio, I was looking for any job whatsoever, and a friend of mine suggested that I apply at the Starbucks where she worked. I know what you coffee elitists are thinking. How can your love of coffee be nurtured by a mega-corporation? Well, the response is easy. It was a surprisingly great company to work for and it taught me the ins and outs of coffee. The green monster showed me the process of coffee, from the farmers who grow it to the people who roast it.
Luckily for us, Columbus has some AMAZING independent and local coffee shops to choose from. Fair trade and sustainability are “musts” for these companies, which makes it even easier to enjoy their delicious brews.
Located in Old Town East, Upper Cup offers in-house roasting of the best beans in the world along with hand-crafted beverages. Owner Michael Habte, originally from Africa, began selling Upper Cup beans in 2010, and the space on Parson’s opened in 2011. It has a modern but cozy atmosphere that lends itself to both meet-ups with old friends and romantic dates, making it a “go-to” location for just about anybody. The service is friendly and the vibe is chill. What more could you ask for before you’ve had your coffee?
Writer’s drink of choice: You can’t go wrong with the espresso con panna from Upper Cup. The espresso is nutty and delicious, and the cream takes the edge off!
Mission Coffee Co.
If you’ve ever had a deep desire for coffee knowledge, then you may want to hit up Mission Coffee Co. Not only do they offer amazing, in-house roasted beans, but they also offer tons of education opportunities. Coffee is so much more than beans and water, and Mission Coffee proves that the more devotion you put into the process, the better the coffee tastes.
Writer’s drink of choice: The mocha at Mission Coffee is oh so delightful. It is the perfect balance of chocolatey sweetness and boost of wonderful caffeine that will help you make it through the groggiest of mornings (or Friday afternoons).
Originally started in 2001, Cafe Brioso is all about sharing the love. Brioso Coffee, like many of the great local coffee shops in our city, offers not only the chance to drink great coffee but to learn about the process as well. Brioso offers 1 hr classes, teaching you about the history of coffee as well as the labor of love that is making an espresso beverage.
Writer’s drink of choice: The Ohio Honey + Vanilla Latte is the kind of drink you spend the night dreaming about. It’s perfectly balanced and the locally sourced honey is the icing on top of the cake.
Stauf’s is a personal favorite of mine. When the German Village location finally opened, I was overjoyed to have my favorite espresso so readily available near my house. I don’t know the technicality of why their espresso tastes better to me, it just does. It could have something to do with the specific arabica beans they select or the fact that they only roast on gas-powered roasters, or the fact that my brain just thinks it’s awesome. Whatever the reason, Stauf’s is a great coffee experience.
Writer’s drink of choice: A french press of Ethiopia Sidamo from Stauff’s can cure anything that ails me. Medically speaking, that’s probably not true, but emotionally: it hits the spot. It is a medium roast, which I find to be the perfect early afternoon coffee. Who needs to sleep anyway?
One Line Coffee
One Line Coffee focuses on ethical growing and sustainability. After owning different businesses, the owners realized that they had no idea where the coffee they were serving was coming from. That inspired the journey that led to One Line Coffee. Knowing who is growing your coffee, what conditions it’s being grown in, where it’s being grown is becoming more and more important to consumers. Luckily, One Line decided it was important to them as business owners as well. So go in for a cup or maybe a bag of whole beans, and feel like you’re part of a global experience you can feel great about.
Writer’s drink of choice: Enjoy a cappuccino with perfectly pulled shots of espresso at One Line Coffee. The machine, a rare La Marzocco Strada EP, will deliver a flavorful shot and the baristas will do the rest.
If you’re looking for a side of fun with your morning java, you should definitely check out Luck Bros. Of course, they’re interested in fair trade coffees and sustainable bean sourcing, but they do it all with such joie de vivre. Big chains have nothing on them, and you can grab one of 3 outlandish sizes, Awesome (12 oz), Indecisive (16oz) or Party (20oz). I’m a Party kind of girl myself, especially before a long day. If you aren’t quite sure, you can even order the Espresso Flight, which not only comes with 3 great drinks to try but a cookie as well!
Writer’s drink of choice: You’ll find my favorite Luck Brother’s drink under a menu labeled “Basic Espresso”, and I have to admit, my drink is a pretty basic choice. I just can’t say no to the Caramel Bullseye. If you see a girl reading a book in a baggy sweater sipping on one of these bad boys, it’s probably me.
There are days when the only combination of food and beverage that makes sense is coffee and chocolate. And there’s literally nowhere better to combine those two than at Winans. Their handmade chocolates and hand sourced coffee pair perfectly together for the extra edge you may need on a bad day.
Writer’s drink of choice: Get a little fancy and grab a single-origin coffee at Winans. My favorite is the Indian Monsooned Malabar. It’s sweet and mellow with a full body and very low acidity. Not to mention it’s “aged in monsoon air”. Like I said… it’s fancy.
Global Gallery Coffee Shop
Art. Coffee. Free Wifi. These are the staples of any artist life, and they can all be found in one convenient place called the Global Gallery Coffee Shop. Started in the Short North in 1991 as a sort of marketplace for underserved artists, the Gallery has grown over the years. It now calls Clintonville home and supports more than 1,500 artists and producers from around Ohio and the world. And of course, their coffee is sourced from fair trade farms.
Writer’s drink of choice: It’s fall so I would never miss the opportunity to suggest one of my favorite coffee beverages ever to you all: the Iced Spiced Coffee. It’s the perfect blend of cardamom, cloves, sweet and condensed milk, and toddy. Plus it’s great for Ohio days when the weather can go from 60 to 80 degrees in the blink of an eye!
Originally published 9/29/17. Updated 9/26/19.
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