‘Mug’ the best coffee shops near campus
By: Melissa Wilkinson
When owner Neil Suthar purchased Foundation Grounds from its original owners nine months ago, he got right to work making it more suitable for college students.
“We started with only four or five outlets,” Suthar said. “We renovated the place to make it a little more user-friendly. [We added] the counters next to the windows, added more outlets and changed the menu around a little.”
Suthar said he wants Foundation Grounds, in the heart of Maplewood, to be welcoming to students and community members alike.
“[Maplewood has] good vibes from a culture standpoint,” Suthar said. “We have a relaxed atmosphere so people can just hang out. The afternoon is our best time for students… they come and hang out, there’s space available, plenty of outlets and Wi-Fi.”
Aside from the atmosphere, Foundation Grounds also offers a wide selection of pastries and foods, many of which are vegan or organic.
“I like pretty much anything on the menu,” said Suthar. “That’s why we offer it.”
He also said that the beverages are a big draw.
“For a first-time customer I would recommend our honey lavender latte,” Suthar said.
“If it’s more of a cold drink our cold brew coffee is one of the best, or our freshly squeezed organic lemonade. Our teas are loose-leaf, we get it sourced locally,” he said.
A latte, flavored with honey and cardamom, was beautifully decorated with milk foam. It was light and smoky, with just enough honey to take away the bitterness of coffee without making it overly sweet.
Suthar said Foundation Grounds is also hosting live music and extending hours on certain days.
“Thursday and Friday… we’re open until 9 o’clock… to bring in some of the local student population to come and hang out, and listen to some local bands,” Suthar said.
For students who prefer to study in silence, Suthar said the quietest hours are from 3 p.m. to closing time at 6 p.m.
Stone Spiral Coffee
Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios, located at the corner of Sutton Blvd. and Lyndover Pl. shares both its owners and name with the art gallery located across the street.
This might give a good idea of the environment customers will find there; a cozy atmosphere with a rag-tag assemblage of furniture, friendly staff and tons of unique art pieces.
Matt Miller, a frequent customer at Stone Spiral, visits the coffee shop so often that he had a sandwich named after him on the menu.
“This is my favorite place to work,” Miller said. “A, it’s very visually interesting. B, the coffee’s pretty good. C, the Wi-Fi’s fast.”
Looking around, it’s clear that Stone Spiral encourages productivity. Aside from many small tables upon which to spread out schoolwork, the entire back wall is covered in books one may peruse at their leisure.
“Everybody that’s here is an artist in some way,” Miller said. “Like, Jason here is a musician and a puppeteer. Grace paints. Doug, the owner, does paintings and all the metal[work] is his. This is a highly creative environment.”
The quietest hours are during the mid-afternoon, Miller said, but there are also many special events should one desire a study break.
“There’s live music almost every night. They have an open mic night that’s ridiculously well attended,” Miller said. There’s a gaming night. Sometimes people will hold events [in the art gallery next door]; there’s a lot going on.”
Aside from the atmosphere, Stone Spiral offers many unique beverages and foods, including Italian sodas and lavender or earl gray flavored pastries.
My chai latte, which the barista boasted as the best in town, was sweet and creamy with a strong but not overbearing chai flavor.
“The hummus is really good,” Miller said. “The soup always changes…the baked goods are always really extraordinary.”
Whether for work or for play, Miller thinks Stone Spiral Coffee offers a great experience in a comfortable environment.
“I don’t want [it] to sound too good,” he said, “because then everyone will come here.”
Known affectionately as ‘Kaldi’s’ by St. Louisans, Kaldi’s Coffeehouse is a well-known chain with many locations across St. Louis, as well as several in other Missouri cities and the Atlanta area.
Named for the goatherder who supposedly discovered the coffee plant, Kaldi’s is known for friendly staff, unique seasonal menu and great study environment.
Bonnie Armbreuster, a sophomore at Meramec, likes to go to Kaldi’s to do homework.
“It’s usually pretty chill,” Armbreuster said. “I do my homework or I do some writing. Sometimes it can get pretty busy during the lunch or breakfast rushes.”
Armbreuster, who was enjoying her usual vanilla latte, said she likes coming to Kaldi’s because of the environment.
“I come during the off hours,” Ambreuster said. “The people are friendly, I feel welcome. Kind of like a safe place.”
Kaldi’s food offerings range from pastries to sandwiches and quiche. Their extensive drink menu is updated often. Offerings include both classic coffee beverages as well as creative drinks such as their Golden Milk Tea.
With a house-made cardamom and cinnamon syrup, the Turkish Latte is spicy and creamy, with plenty of house espresso to ward off the sleepiness of mid-afternoon.
“The coffee is like liquid gold,” Ambreuser said.
Located in the middle of downtown Kirkwood, Kaldi’s is surrounded by activity. The inside hosts many tables and chairs, most of them with outlets, and there is an extensive outside seating area during spells of warm weather.
“It’s really close [to Meramec],” Armbreuster said. “It’s my go-to study spot.”
Armbreuster recommends Kaldi’s to other Meramec students. With a knowledgeable staff and an environment suited to student life, Kaldi’s in Kirkwood could be perfect for you, whether you go to enjoy tea, pastries, a lunch snack, or, like Armbreuster, “just come… for the coffee.”