Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coffee Shop Countdown 2009

So 'nother year in Springfield has flown by, and apparently recession years breed coffee shops. Here's the latest countdown according to yours truly: (Including some favorite surrounding haunts)

1. Mudhouse: Last year these guys were in second place, but they continue to deliver consistently well-mixed drinks, great hot teas (with free refills), friendly service, and the best coffe-shop atmosphere around. The oldest game in town with the best atmosphere, you can try anything on the board and it'll be good.

2. Meshugah (St Louis, Mo): We made a detour on our way back from Illinois to stop in and grab a joe. I love this place. They always serve americano-style coffee (my favorite) and their selection of bagel sandwiches is completely fun and refreshing. Makes me want to go race bicycles in St. Louis again -- just to get some coffee.

3. Starbucks: Don't kill me. But their 'to-go' coffee cups don't leach into the coffee taste. (Of course using a "green" coffee cup alternative works too.) And they have mixing a good joe down to a predictable science. 'nough said.

4. Coffee Ethic: I love their decor. I love their recyling emphasis. I love their putting a coffee shop next to the downtown library (even if sometimes I wonder about just how smart it was for us to fund a library specifically designed for the homeless' use). They also use PT's Coffee which means a reliable Central American taste everytime. However, despite the reliability of the bean, I still think the mixing skill needs another year or so.

5. Odd Fellows Coffee (Fair Grove, MO): For only being its first year of existence, Oddfellows is rocking out an amazing African coffee. Now, African isn't my favorite bean since it tends to have a sharper taste (and most of the following coffee shops tend to use African beans) . But their coffee drinks are always generously portioned and flavored, and combined with an authentic coffee-shop atmosphere, the only reason they end up underneath Coffee Ethic is the African Bean. With a solid selection of soups and fresh salads to choose from, it makes a Sunday afternoon drive to Fair Grove well worth the time.

6. Big Mommas: Commercial street now has a swinging hot spot that has come into their own over the past few years -- complete with jazz music. Their roasts can be a little sharp, but overall, they offer a great selection of drinks with more options for those of you tired of the overly-sugared coffee drinks served everywhere else.

6. Kaldis (Missouri State Campus): No longer located on battlefield, the kiosks at MSU still crank out a great joe for cold mornings and long afternoons. Try out the Turtle Mocha.

7. Hebrews: Christian run. Good music. I've never been blown away by their coffee. Lots of seating and conveniently located, its an awesome place to hang with friends.

8. Panera: Everybody has an opinion on Panera, and I can't argue against their great soups, salads and free wi-fi. But if there was ever an award handed out for consistently over-steaming the milk on every single espresso drink they served, Panera would win it. Their house coffee's (though African) are great. Try the Hazelnut with plenty of fresh cream.

9. The Hub: A brand new shop in Springfield, and definitely worth stopping by. Their Intelligista house coffees do tend to lack on quality, full-bodied flavor, but their coffee drinks certainly show promise. (And they have some of the best prices in town) Opening beside it is a bmx and fixie-focused cycling shop. Definitely plan on making this a destination for your after-morning rides. (hey and add them on twitter to get the best deals.)

10. Rendezvous: The coffee shop that actually stays open during the time when college students most need it...early am hours. It's hard to find a Central American roast in the entire place, however. And, on top of primarily always using already-sharp African beans, they run their roaster ad naseum, drowning every coffee drink in an almost unbearable burnt flavor they endeavor to cover up with sickeningly rich mocha and caramel flavors. Good pumpkin spice chai and nachos though....

And there's plenty I didn't mentioned. I haven't stopped into Fog City Coffee yet, and Sinatra's (now Hero's) didn't impress me enough to make the list (plus they haven't been opened for one year, and they already changed their name. The Buzz was kinda' preoccupied and rude when I dropped by, so I don't even remember their joe, and heaven help me if I stop into a place named "Hot Shots" or the "Dancing Mule". And Anton's, well Anton's is a splendid breakfast house that doesn't accept credit cards -- not a coffee shop.

You have any favorites?
Ah, but you hate my choices.

Well, God surely invented comment boxes for a reason did He not?