The Five Best Places in St. Louis to Have a Cup of Coffee

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Coffee mugs at Half & Half in Clayton - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • Coffee mugs at Half & Half in Clayton
Today is National Coffee Day. Of course, at Gut Check International Headquarters, every day is coffee day, but if we must dedicate this one gorgeous September Thursday to the beverage that fuels our work, then so be it.

Already this week, we honored Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company in the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2011 as having the Best Coffee. Today, we celebrate the five best places in St. Louis to have a cup of coffee. Note that this doesn't necessarily mean the coffee itself is outstanding -- though in all but one case, it is. In fact, in three of the five spots on our list, the coffee is Kaldi's.

5. The Courtesy Diner (3155 South Kingshighway; 314-776-9059)

OK, yeah, so, the coffee at this south-city institution has all the subtlety of enriched uranium, and its main flavor profile is "hot," but the people watching more than makes up for it. Bored? Insomniac? Need inspiration for your novel? Get a seat at the counter after the bars close but before the sun rises, and prepare to be amazed.

4. Kaldi's Coffeehouse (187 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton; 314-726-2900)

How do you differentiate between the various locations of Kaldi's? Isn't the Best Coffee always the Best Coffee? Well, the location in downtown Clayton has something the others don't -- the Clover, an expensive device that brews one cup of coffee at a time. The resulting brew has such a depth of flavor and richness of body that you won't mind paying a little more for your cup. This Kaldi's would rank even higher if the space wasn't so charmless.

3. 222 Artisan Bakery (222 North Main Street, Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-659-1122)

222 Artisan Bakery used to be owned by Matt Herren, who also founded (and still owns) Goshen Coffee. Goshen's coffees are excellent (and 100% organic, too), and at 222 you can pair a cup with a sweet or savory baked good prepared by new owner Caroline Pender and her crack staff. As an added bonus, Edwardsville isn't too far from St. Louis but, in its size and charm, can feel like a world away.

2. Kaldi's Coffeehouse (700 DeMun Avenue, Clayton; 314-727-9955)

This Kaldi's doesn't have a Clover, but it still has the Best Coffee. What's more, it has a gorgeous location fronting a park in the DeMun neighborhood, and thanks to a lack of open plugs, it is damn near impossible to set up your laptop and get any work (or procrastination) done. Instead, you are "forced" to relax and enjoy the company of others or a good book -- and, of course, your coffee.

1. Half & Half (8135 Maryland Avenue, Clayton; 314-973-0446)

This new Clayton breakfast and lunch spot is at the forefront of contemporary trends in coffee service. Surprisingly, that is not the Clover or any other piece of futuristic technology but a simple technique of brewing your coffee to order through a cloth filter to capture even more of the essential oils that give each coffee its unique flavor. That coffee is roasted by -- shock! -- Kaldi's, so even if you opt for the traditional (and less expensive) brewing style over the cloth filter, you're still guaranteed a damn fine cup of joe.

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