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Coffee is an essential part of everyday American life. Unfortunately, local coffee shops are often neglected for chain coffee shops like Starbucks — coffee which you can get virtually anywhere, so we want to expose you to some of the coffee shops in Saint Louis. We’ve compiled a ranking for 4 different coffee shops around the St Louis area where we rated each store on atmosphere, pastry, signature coffee and a simple mocha.
Northwest Coffee Roasting Co.
★★★☆☆ | 8401 Maryland Ave, Clayton
First, we headed over to Northwest Coffee, a cafe in downtown Clayton. On arriving, we were immediately greeted by the rich aroma of freshly ground coffee. The interior was bright and friendly, with a new-age/almost bohemian type feel. The counter was in the middle of the shop, and next to the counter, there was a glass display with an array of different pastries. We walked up to the counter and decided that a mocha would be the control –the same drink we order at every place. So, we ordered a mocha, priced at $3.80, along with a recommended pastry– an apple cinnamon muffin, and a specialty drink– a peppermint mocha. There was a discount for students as well. The muffin was handed to us at the counter, so we went and found a place to eat it. It was delicious — not too sweet, the top was deliciously crunchy with cinnamon, the muffin embedded with apple bits. We savored every moment of it. Soon after, our mocha was ready, piled with whipped cream. The mocha was quite pleasant. Sweet, but not unbearably so, it packed a punch where it was needed. It was a classic mocha — nice and simple. Finally, we tried the specialty drink. The mint mocha was nuttier than the regular mocha — a confusing flavor profile — and the mint was overshadowed by the nutty taste. It tasted more like hazelnut or almond coffee rather than a mocha, much less a mint mocha. Although the latte art was extremely pleasing to the eye, the mint mocha failed to meet expectations.
Atmosphere | ★★☆☆☆
Pastry | ★★★☆☆
Signature | ★☆☆☆☆
Mocha | ★★★★☆
Kayak’s Coffee & Provisions
★★☆☆☆ | 270 N. Skinker Blvd, St. Louis
Next, we headed over to Kayak’s, a coffee shop owned by a chain store, Kaldi’s. The adorable cafe is located on Skinker Blvd., catty-corner away from Washington University’s Danforth Campus. We instantly fell in love with the shop’s spacious atmosphere. There were plenty of simple wooden tables for studying or working and the many lights and window spaces dramatically brightened the interior. The brick walls also gave the store a rustic but cozy look. After ordering our default mocha, we decided to go for the Turkish latte, which was a Kayak’s holiday specialty. After a wait of around 10 minutes, our drinks were ready. The presentation of the coffee was very enticing; the airiness of the whipped cream on the mocha and the simple latte art on the Turkish latte beckoned a sip. After trying the drinks, we concluded that the mocha tasted very similar to the one we got from Northwest. The slightly sweet and chocolatey flavor was pleasant, but the drink did not pack a real punch. However, the Turkish latte surprised us with its intense cinnamon taste. The drink tasted like unsweetened chai tea, and we enjoyed how well the spices came through. Finally, for the pastry, we bought a recommended peanut butter-and-chocolate energy bite. The energy bite was a petite, sticky ball that resembled cookie dough. There was also granola inside, which made the snack taste like a granola bar. The bite was not too sweet and had a satisfying peanut taste. We definitely recommend the pastry to anyone who wants a healthier alternative for an on-the-go snack. However, the pastry was pretty basic and was something most people could make at home without difficulty– it wasn’t as unique as the other pastries we tasted.
Atmosphere | ★★★☆☆
Pastry | ★☆☆☆☆
Signature | ★★★★☆
Mocha | ★★☆☆☆
★★☆☆☆ | 6225 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis
After leaving Kayak’s, we drove to the Delmar Loop for our next destination, Blueprint Coffee. The coffee shop was a bit difficult to find because it sits snug between many stores. When we went inside, we admired the uniqueness of the interior. The pastries sat under a glass case, which was connected to the table where coffee was brewed. Seeing the dark coffee in drip-brewers gave us silent confirmation that we were in an authentic coffee shop. The cashier slid us an adorable mini clipboard with a menu. In addition to our mocha w, we also ordered a cappuccino and a banana oatmeal cookie with cherries and chocolate. While we waited for drinks, we tried the oatmeal cookie. The light banana flavor paired very well with the tart cherries and rich chocolate. The treat was quite filling and took many hearty bites to finish. After around 10 minutes, our drinks were ready. We could barely taste the chocolate in the mocha, but the creaminess and soothing coffee flavor definitely satisfied our tastes. Next, we had a sip of the cappuccino. The cappuccino had a strong coffee flavor; it was by far the most potent drink we had. The coffee was very rich and strong, giving us a great punch of both flavor and intensity.
Atmosphere | ★★★★☆
Pastry | ★★☆☆☆
Signature | ★★★☆☆
Mocha | ★☆☆☆☆
★★☆☆☆ | 1034 S. Brentwood Blvd, Richmond Heights
Finally, we went to a location in Richmond Heights, near the Galleria, called Coma Coffee. We were awed by the spaciousness of the interior — although not a particularly large area, the high ceilings of the establishment gave it an airy feel. The venture itself was tucked away in an office building, giving the atmosphere a more serious feel amidst the chatter. Like most of the cafes, it had quick, casual service, we had to order at the counter. Next to the counter, a glass shelf displayed a variety of pastries. However, unlike any other location, the coffee was actually brought to us and brought fairly quickly. In addition to the standard mocha, we got the spiced pear matcha tonic and a recommended cranberry muffin. The mocha itself was standard. It wasn’t very sweet, and the coffee itself was pretty weak. However, the taste of the coffee was rich and nutty, we just wish it had been a little stronger. We then tried their recommended specialty drink. Out of all the specialty drinks from the four places, Coma Coffee’s was the only one that was iced. It was sweet and musky at the same time, a fizzy pear juice infused with fragrant matcha. It was incredibly refreshing, but seemed unsuited for the weather and time period, being very cold outside. Finally, we nibbled on the cranberry muffin. This, like the drinks, was also brought to our table. The muffin was a delicious balance of sweet and sour, the light icing atop the muffin contrasting with the sourness of the cranberry. It was delicious and refreshing, pairing delightfully with both the coffee and the tonic.
Atmosphere | ★☆☆☆☆
Pastry | ★★★☆☆
Signature | ★★☆☆☆
Mocha | ★★☆☆☆
Overall, we decided that our favorite cafe was Northwest Coffee– and this was largely due to convenience, taste, and the catering it provided to students. We greatly appreciated the student discount, and how close it was to school– a 5 minute walk away at most. The staff was polite and friendly, ready to give us suggestions on what to try. Although we didn’t quite enjoy the specialty drink as much as the other places, the mocha, pastry and atmosphere were all superb. We would greatly recommend taking a break from your regular coffeehouse/hangout spot and giving Northwestern Cafe a try.