Inside Columbia


A Trek Through The Coffee Scene

By Inside Columbia

Photos by L.G. Patterson

Some days, we all could use an extra boost. For those of us who crave caffeine, there are moments where nothing can beat that perfect cup, whether it’s coffee, espresso or tea. And there’s plenty of options when it comes to where to enjoy that satisfying sip, each with its own distinct atmosphere and clientele. We invite you to take a tour of our favorite locally owned and operated coffee shops. Maybe you’ll find your perfect spot for that next jolt!

Lakota Coffee

Most Compelling Cup: Brown Sugar Cinnamon Latte
24 S. Ninth St.
3111 Green Meadows Way

Depending on the day, the scene at Lakota Coffee Co. may look a little different. Cara Penquite, social media manager for Lakota, says the welcoming atmosphere attracts all kinds of people. “Our customers are majority (University of Missouri) students during the semester, but there is a healthy mix,” she says. The dark colors, wood accents, dim lighting and sounds of conversation provide a homey atmosphere perfect for a study date or low-key afternoon with friends. “It depends on the day of the week, but Lakota can be a good place for conversation with friends and a good place to study.” While there is a spot placed perfectly downtown for students, Lakota has several locations scattered across Columbia, so you can sip on your favorite sweet treat no matter the occasion. If you are new to the Lakota crew, Penquite suggests the brown sugar cinnamon latte for something a little different.

For more information on Lakota, visit

Shortwave Coffee

Most Compelling Cup: Lavender Latte
915 Alley A
29 S. Ninth St.
Shortwave coffee

Whether you’re looking to quickly grab and go or spend an entire afternoon, Shortwave has what you need. The location on Ninth Street has a bakery where customers can enjoy an open layout, natural lighting and a friendly community-style table, while the roastery on Alley A takes on a smaller space but provides the same relaxing yet productive environment. Aaron Mcgough, barista at Shortwave on Ninth Street, says he sees all kinds of people. “I see a lot of study sessions and even graduate students come by,” he says. “On the weekends, there are families, especially if there is a (Mizzou) game.” Barista Evie Mei says the community table at the bakery keeps people talking, whether it’s a group of friends chatting or students trying to work. “Students really like to use the community table for study sessions,” she says.No matter the reason for your visit, Mcgough and Mai both recommend the lavender latte, which is hand steeped with real lavender leaves. “It’s really fun to make,” Mcgough says.

For more information on Shortwave, visit

Cool Beanz

Most Compelling Cup: Iced Reese’s or Iced Twix
Mobile Coffee Truck

What’s cooler that having a coffee shop on wheels? Cool Beanz, the unique coffee truck, travels around Columbia providing delicious coffee, lattes, cold brew, espressos, cappuccinos, teas and even snacks. This distinctive mobile coffee vendor offers the perfect morning boost or afternoon pick-me-up, especially if you’re lucky enough to have it parked right outside your office. While the wheels are one of Cool Beanz’ most unique qualities, its signature drink options also bring a special aspect to the table. Maurice Helmka, owner and operator, says you might notice the names of some recognizable candy bars on the drink menu, including the iced Reese’s and popular iced Twix drink. “We have over 40 base flavors to choose from. If you mix them, there are unlimited flavor options,” Helmka says.

To stay up to date on where Cool Beanz is located around Columbia, visit

Love Coffee

Love Coffee

Tasty Treat: Cinnamon Rolls
15 Business Loop 70 E.
Inside the Tiger Hotel at 23 S. Eighth St.

While the coffee is delicious, many people make the journey to Love Coffee for its mission of providing “job skills, training and employment in an atmosphere of love to individuals with disabilities or barriers to employment,” says DustinDavis, general manager. The goal is to train employees to believe in themselves and their abilities. Davis says working at Love Coffee gives people who have disabilities a chance to build relationships in the community. “We give them skills and face-to-face time with the community that will hopefully help them continue to advance their careers,” Davis says. The mission doesn’t just stop there, as the coffee itself is just as important. “We have ethically sourced coffee that is roasted just 1 mile from here.” If you’re not a coffee drinker, Davis recommends the cinnamon rolls made with homemade cream cheese frosting. Even if sweets aren’t your thing, Love Coffee has plenty of options as Davis says there is a full breakfast menu available throughout the day.

For more information on Love Coffee, visit

Aroma Coffee House

Most Compelling Cup: Iced Caramel Latte
1009 N. Providence Road

Have you ever wanted to drink a cup of coffee from your favorite shop while playing games with your family and friends? At Aroma Coffee House, there is a whole room dedicated to playing games, getting a group together or even hosting work events. And the best part?It’s free! Jasmine Wi, barista at Aroma, says all you have to do is come in, reserve the backroom for your preferred date and the spot is yours. While Wi says people do come in to work or study, the atmosphere is a bit more playful. “People like to play games with their family and friends, it’s just a really cool spot,” she says. With Hickman High School nearby, Wi says she sees a good mix of people enjoy the shop. “There are high school students, college students, adults, kids and, when we do have events, we see a lot of different age groups come by.” Wi recommends trying the popular iced caramel latte, or you can create your own flavor combination. “People like that they can customize their drinks. Even our blended drinks are customizable,” she says. For an added bonus, customers can pair their coffee with food from Como Arepas, a Venezuelan food purveyor that has partnered with AromaCoffee.

For more information on Aroma Coffee, visit


Most Compelling cup: Traditional Cappuccino
300 N. 10th St., suite 100
Acola Coffee

Acola Coffee embraces the simple things life has to offer. Using a neutral color palette, plant décor and natural lighting, the shop creates a comforting, bright, yet earthy atmosphere. Annie Sanders, manager of Acola, says if you love plants, this is your spot. “It’s like a greenhouse, we have plants everywhere,”she says. As a reflection of the simplistic atmosphere, Acola focuses on classic coffees. “We really focus on espresso drinks, quality cappuccinos and lattes,” Sanders says. “We keep it traditional.” The bright atmosphere makes it a great spot to enjoy a book or even work, Sanders says. “The upstairs is quiet, while the downstairs can be louder, so you can really get whatever you want,” she says. “Every day, we always see new people, but we also get a lot of regulars.” Those who visit can get a sweet treat while getting sweet treatment. “We pride ourselves on loving the community and having conversations with regulars to build those relationships,” Sanders says. If you want to get a taste of the classic coffee, Sanders recommends Acola’s traditional cappuccino.

For more information, visit

Kaldi’s Coffee

Fretboard coffee
Most Compelling Cup: Firepot Tea Bar
700 Tiger Ave.
1400 Forum Blvd.

If you’re looking for a memorable coffee experience, Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co. is the spot for you. It’s not just a coffee shop, it’s a place to build relationships and strengthen your mind while enjoying sustainable products. While you might not be able to find Kaldi’s Coffee in the heart of downtown Columbia anymore, its presence has not gone far. Kaldi’s Coffee can be found inside the University of Missouri School of Business, at 700 Tiger Ave. The location on campus provides a unique option for students, as it’s the first experiential learning café. According to Kaldi’s, a partnership with the Robert J. Trulaske Sr. College of Business gives students the chance to experience what it’s like to run a business in the real world. But it’s not the only spot to find a Kaldi’s locally. You also can enjoy Kaldi’s while shopping at Schnucks on Forum Boulevard. If you’re a coffee drinker, make sure to try Kaldi’s handmade vanilla latte. If you prefer tea, Kaldi’s has a firepot tea bar filled with unique options, including the masala chai latte, the chocolate chai latte, the rooibos chai latte and the sweet matcha latte.

For more information, visit

Fretboard Coffee

For A Perfect Pour: Siphon Pot Brew Method
1013 E. Walnut St.

Find this favorite spot, filled with cozy vibes, twinkle lights, slower music and homey vibes, tucked away on Walnut Street. Ell Ellis, barista at Fretboard Coffee, says this cozy coffee shop has all kinds of nooks and crannies in which to work, relax or just read a good book. “While it is never loud, you might hear the occasional roar of laughter,” she says. And though it can be the perfect place to get a little work done, Fretboard also hosts events on the first Friday of every month as part of the North Village Arts District’s First Fridays. The shop also hosts open mic nights on the third Friday of every month.With the variety of events,Ellis says she sees all kinds of people stop by. “We see kind of a mix since the back rooms are a bit quieter, perfect for a study area,” she says. “We also see groups up to 10 come by or a single person working and, of course, our occasional events bring in more people.” While Fretboard is a typical coffee shop, it has unique brewing methods that stand out from the crowd. Ellis says if you’re new to the area or looking to expand your options, you must try the siphon pot brew method. “We get to do a bit of chemistry behind the bar,” she says. This method uses two chambers, heat and vapor pressure to produce fresh, vibrant coffee that cannot be achieved by drip coffee.

For more information on Fretboard Coffee, visit

The Grind

Most Compelling Cup: The Aucky and Adult Chocolate Milk
4603 John Garry Drive, suite
12601 Rangeline St., suite 101
1412 Forum Blvd., suite 135
Inside the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at 401 S. Ninth St.
904 Elm St.

Thanks to The Grind’s many Columbia locations, including the most recent addition of Rise & Grind on Elm Street, there’s a location that is sure to match your needs. With drive-thru options at two locations, late-night hours at another and the new bagel and coffee shop perfect for those who need to grab and go in the morning, each shop has a different feel, which is by design. “The goal is to have something for everyone,” says Aucky El-Tayash, The Grind owner. The first location, which opened in April 2016 on John Garry Drive in south Columbia, is the biggest location with two rooms for quiet working and comfortable conversation.“One is a more quieter study area, and the other has more noise and comfortable seating,” El-Tayash says. There also is a conference room available for big meetings, book clubs, classes or even private parties, which can be booked online. If you need a pick-me-up while working, El-Tayash recommends the Aucky, which is the perfect combination of espresso shots, sugar and specially steamed milk, and the adult chocolate milk, which includes The Grind’s 42-hour cold brew with mocha, white mocha and milk, all put in a shaker for a special smooth texture.

For more information on The Grind, visit

Coffee Zone

Coffee Zone

Most Compelling Cup: Rocket Fuel Signature Roast
11 N. Ninth St.

When it comes to food, most coffee shops stick to a simple menu of baked goods and maybe some small breakfast items. But it’s a bit different at Coffee Zone, where customers can order full, hearty meals. “You can come for breakfast, lunch or dinner,” says Daryk Gunderson, manager of Coffee Zone. “We offer an experience that most places do not have, which is a full menu all day long.” Coffee Zone offers Mediterranean dishes including a gyro sandwich, falafel wrap, Mediterranean hummus and veggie wraps, and more. The dim lights and quiet atmosphere create a great spot for a coffee date, whether it’s with friends or a romantic partner. “It doesn’t get too crazy, the music is pretty quiet,” Gunderson says.“There are no special events as of now, so you never have to worry about coming in and seeing a live band. You know exactly what to expect.” Coffee Zone has been in Columbia for 29 years, and Gunderson has been managing the spot for the last six months. “I love it so far,” he says. For those who are new to the establish mentor just looking to try some-thing different, Gunderson recommends the rocket fuel signature roast. “It is a very dark roast with bold, smoky and complex notes, dark chocolate notes and dried fruit along with notes of cedar,” he says. “The finish is very long, bold and smoky with notes of scotch.”

For more information on Coffee Zone, visit

Toasty Goat

Most Compelling Cup: Creamy Cashew “Natte”
515 S. Scott Blvd., suite 101
Toast Goat

For a good spot to bring your kids while enjoying a cup, look no further than Toasty Goat Coffee Co. in west Columbia. This family-friendly environment has a small play kitchen in the corner, perfect for entertaining your little ones. “People can come here for a playdate while they get their work done during the day,” says Hannah Talecki, team lead at Toasty Goat. “The owners wanted a place that people could bring their kids and have a conversation.” While the family-friendly atmosphere attracts many, Toasty Goat’s ethically sourced, simple and organic ingredients are also an inviting factor. “We make as much as we can here in house,” she says. “We roast all our beans and make all our syrups.” For a taste of something new, Talecki recommends the Toasty Goat staple known as the creamy cashew “natte.” “There is no milk and no espresso, so it’s cashews and drip coffee with a little bit of natural sweeteners,” she says. “It comes out with the consistency of a latte but without milk and espresso.” And if you have a sweet tooth, don’t skip the cookies! Toasty Goat’s regulars know the chocolate chip cookies are the ultimate crowd pleaser.

For more information, visit

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