I’ve spent the last two years and seven months of my life dedicated to finding My Favorite Coffee Shop in Columbus.
Just kidding. I barely drank coffee until a year ago and my life is already thoroughly dedicated to Netflix. I can walk to all three of these cafés from home or work, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re three of the best coffee shops in Columbus.
Fox in the Snow Cafe, German Village – A Special Treat
Fox in the Snow is one of the bougiest establishments in Columbus. Their locations at the vanguard of steadily gentrifying neighborhoods, exposed brick and succulent decor, and $3.50 pour-overs, all speak to the bourgeois. Visit in the early morning and you’ll see young and smiling moms, dads, and nannies, snapping pictures of little children. The kids sit with rapt attention in front of enormous cinnamon rolls, eyes gleaming with awe and respect for the homemade cream cheese frosting and 5 inch bun. Friendly barristas will smile, ask how your day is, and wait patiently for you to choose one of the dozens of delicately baked pastries. As the day wears on, and a line begins to form, families are eventually replaced by Hats: men and women wearing broad brimmed Hats, expensive looking leather bags hanging from the crook of their elbows. The barrista’s smiles get a little thinner, their hellos tinnier. This is usually when I leave.
While Fox in the Snow is fancy, it’s still friendly. When it’s time to ‘treat-yo-self,’ dropping fifteen bucks on impeccable pastry and perfect java feels like a treat at Fox in the Snow. Buttery, flakey, almost impossibly light but full of flavor, you will not find better pastry in Columbus. Go straight for a biscuit with jam or any of the variations on croissant. When it comes to Coffee, Fox in the Snow is traditional or bust. You can find mocha lattes and iced tea on the menu, but I wouldn’t bother. Pour-over, drip, espressos, Fox in the Snow finds a delicate balance between bright acidity and smooth sweetness for all their no-frills coffee.
The high-brow but friendly atmosphere combined with thoughtful preparation of pastry and coffee make Fox in the Snow, German Village the #1 spot to meet a friend, bring an out-of-town-guest, or treat-yo-self.
Bake Me Happy, Merion Village – The Coffee Shop Next Door
In Merion Village, German Village’s scrubbier little sister, you can find the unique and innovative Bake Me Happy. A completely Gluten Free facility, I was skeptical of their snacks. On any given day, you’ll find a range of snacks from homemade pop-tarts and Twinkies to scones, muffins, cakes, donuts, cookies, and more. I was happily impressed with the flavor and texture of their savory scones, which are dense and sweet, but delicious nonetheless. Variety is their forte at Bake Me Happy: weekly they have inventive drink specials like the StrawBey-z Lemonade (strawberry, basil, lemonade, and iced tea) or their Lavender Cold Brew (it’s actually purple!). From iced cold, quality teas to a steaming cup of hot coffee, there’s something for everyone on the menu.
Inclusivity is paramount in the mission of Bake Me Happy, and it shows both in baking and in atmosphere. Bright, playful colors and unpretentious furniture fill the space; friendly staff welcome the neighborhood to come and stay for a while. Big tables – and a big sign with the WiFi password – invite guests to spread out with work or linger with friends. There are some drawbacks: the snacks are only good not great and the few times I’ve tried an espresso beverage, it’s been a bit too bitter.
Nevertheless, with their constantly changing menu, welcoming environment, and decent prices, Bake Me Happy is my #1 spot to bring a laptop and work or meet a friend who wants to try something a little different.
Kittie’s Café, Bexley – Break for a Sweet Tooth
Kittie’s Cakes is known for their exquisite – albeit overpriced – tiny cupcakes. Bexley’s café location offers the cupcakes in addition to (expensive) scones, biscuits, cookies, and a small selection of savory lunch-like snacks. Kittie’s small café is a WiFi and laptop free space, designed with custom wood tile counters and bright elements, reminiscent of a sunny California day. Kittie’s recently installed an outdoor patio awning turning their directly sunlit patio into a shady oasis. From food to drinks, everything at Kittie’s is expertly made with near perfect flavor combos. I’ve become a bit of a savory scone connoisseur, and Kittie’s has the best bacon-cheddar scone in Columbus. Meanwhile, the talented baristas have mastered every drink from sweet, multi-flavored lattes down to simple Americanos, and did I mention the cupcakes.
Serving sizes are small at Kittie’s and with no laptops allowed and a steep price-tag, it speaks to the quality at Kittie’s that I keep going back. (That, and the proximity to work. But we have a Starbucks too!) I’ve found that taking a break at Kittie’s with a book, especially on their patio, is a wonderful way to pass some time. The café is intimate and on a corner busy with pedestrians, so there are plenty of people to watch.
Kittie’s Café in Bexley is my #1 choice to take a break, whether with a frou-frou drink and cupcake, or plain black coffee to go.
Runners up include: Stauf’s in German Village, always and still my favorite shop to walk to with the best Arnold Palmer and caramel cappuccino; Two Dollar Radio for unique space but their bad food and late morning hours knock them off the list completely; and Pistacia Vera for impressively impeccable and beautiful desserts.