Java Enabled's Best of St. Louis Coffee, Part 2

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In the first part of Java Enabled's first Best of St. Louis Coffee, I looked at some of the area's best cafés. This week, I take a look at my favorite Mound City spots for coffee. Again, this isn't an exhaustive list, but I think it covers the basics that serious coffee drinkers are seeking.

Read my recommendations -- and please comment on your own favorites! I'm always looking for that next great cup of coffee.

A Costa Rican micro-mill Kaldi's visited on a sourcing trip. - PHOTO COURTESY TYLER ZIMMER, KALDI'S
  • Photo courtesy Tyler Zimmer, Kaldi's
  • A Costa Rican micro-mill Kaldi's visited on a sourcing trip.
Best Single-Origin Coffee: Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company

When you consider the resources and energy Kaldi's puts into sourcing its coffee, developing direct relationships with farmers and educating its staff, there's no other St. Louis roaster that comes close. Kaldi's offers a seasonal menu of varietals from around the world. Come in one day to try the Guatemala Santa Isabel with its fruity lift and dark chocolate finish, the next to try the Burundi Kinyovu with its complex mix of bright flavors and hint of plum. These single-origin coffees range from all over the coffee-cultivating world: the Americas, Africa and Asia. But buy now: Your favorite single-origin coffee will last only as long as the lot does.

The Carondelet Plaza Kaldi's boasts impressive latte art. - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • The Carondelet Plaza Kaldi's boasts impressive latte art.
Best Cappuccino: Kaldi's (Carondelet Plaza location)

Not all cafés are created equal. Even within the Kaldi's family of cafes, there's one place that stands above the rest for consistently excellent, even artful cappuccino: Kaldi's café at Carondolet Plaza in Clayton. Personally, I recommend ordering your cappuccino wet. The cappuccino is silky with a subtle balance between the sweetness of the milk and the rich flavor of the espresso below.

This category could double as a Best Latte Art award, too. While you might not always get it, I've often received my cappuccino with a delicate leaf pattern or heart laid across the frothed milk. This café serves the best latte art in the city.

As a quick note, when I say cappuccino I'm not talking about some venti-sized monstrosity to-go cappuccino. Go to the gas station for that. I'm talking about a traditional, eight-ounce, sit-down-and-enjoy-yourself cappuccino. Starting with the right proportions is the key to a great cappuccino. So give the barista a head start by ordering your drink in an appropriate size.

Best Restaurant Coffee: Crêpes in the City

A colleague once asked me why coffee tasted so good in restaurants. My response: What restaurants had he been going to? Coffee is usually an afterthought for many dining establishments, but Crêpes in the City takes coffee seriously.

Crêpes in the City has the advantage of being, first and foremost, a brunch place so high turnover on the coffee helps guarantee its freshness. But there's something else there, too: a commitment to quality. After I tried my first cup, I asked the owner where the coffee was from. He said, "I serve coffee from Northwest because I can tell they care about their coffee as much as I care about what I serve."

Zach Dyer is a writer living in Saint Louis. He did his thesis research on coffee farmers in Southern Mexico. Since then, he has visited coffee plantations in Costa Rica and Mexico as well as roasters and cafés across the U.S. He blogs about coffee for Gut Check every Wednesday.

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