21 Buzzworthy St. Louis Coffeehouses

Article excerpt

What attracts you to a coffeehouse? Are you a coffee fanatic, always on the hunt for a new bean or a new preparation? Or is it the companionship? Do you like it when your coffeehouse doubles as a community center?

In these days of telecommuting, consulting and freelancing, sometimes a coffeehouse becomes a remote office. And then there are the coffeehouses that are best described as eclectic, drawing a diverse mixture of sippers, readers, Net surfers and loungers.

We recently visited 21 independent St. Louis coffee shops. We know there are probably another 21 that we didn't get to, but we had to stop somewhere, if for no other reason than to decaffeinate.

Capsule impressions of each shop follow. We asked which roasting house provided their beans, and we timed each coffeehouse from order to delivery of an espresso-based drink.

And depending on how you answered the questions above, we also grouped them into categories that best matched their atmospheres.

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COFFEE SHRINES

Appeal to the fanaticwho drinks coffee as if it's wine, dissecting all those subtle attributes of raspberry jelly, plums and cocoa butter. These places damn well better get the Kopi Luwak if it's ever available locally.

222 Artisan Bakery

222 North Main Street, Edwardsville * 618-659-1122, 222bakery.com

Formerly sharing the same ownership as the great Goshen roasting house, this downtown Edwardsville storefront still does excellent brews using Goshen and sells both regular Goshen blends and single- origin beans on-site. The great coffee is complemented by excellent pastries and breads from the namesake bakery.Beans Goshen * Wait 1:06

Alaska Klondike Coffee Co.

3200 North Lindbergh Boulevard, Florissant * 314-830-3488, alaskaklondikecoffee.com

The clutter in this store and its seen-better-days strip mall belie the fact that this is still one of the best places in town for serious coffee. Owner Steve Richards has been roasting microbatches for at least 15 years now, and he'll gladly engage you in a conversation about his art and craft. But he's not a purist: His lengthy coffee-drink menu includes all sorts of adulterations in addition to the basics.Beans Roasted on-site * Wait 0:56

Cafe di Organo

1221 Locust Street (Shell Building), downtown * 314-678-2000, cafediorgano.com

Although we ordered our standard espresso-based drink here, the house specialty comes from one of five siphon-brewers on the counter. The siphon method makes a strong cup with no sediment, and when you choose that method, you also can choose from about a dozen organic, fair-trade, single-origin beans. A cozy space with tables and a TV area in the Shell Building is supplemented by lots of caf seating in the lobby.Beans Special-ordered organic fair-trade * Wait 1:32

Comet Coffee

5708 Oakland Avenue, Cheltenham * 314-932-7770, cometcoffeestl.com

Open for a year in the Highlands development across I-64 from Forest Park, this sleek space appeals to coffee fanatics with beans from a rotating, eclectic group of high-end suppliers, including Sump locally and Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia from across the country. Multiple single-bean choices are available. "Please allow 4 to 5 minutes to prepare" the brewed coffee, which is all hand- brewed to order.Beans Sump, Roseline, Beansmith and others * Wait 1:36

Kaldi's

700 DeMun Avenue, Clayton * 314-727-9955, kaldiscoffee.com

Arguably the starting point for the coffee revolution in St. Louis, this corner storefront continues to appeal to coffee connoisseurs with a handbrew bar and featured single-source selections, such as the Costa Rica Finca Salaca available when we visited. Sepia photos of coffee and a full range of coffee gear make it clear that the original Kaldi's location is focused first and foremost on its product.Beans Their own * Wait 3:58

The Mud House

2101 Cherokee Street, Marine Villa * 314-776-6599, themudhousestl. …