Sorry for the lack of posts lately – I’ve been out investigating! When I’m experiencing the winter blues (only exacerbated by further snow), warm places with caffeine always make my life more possible. So, I set out to assemble a list of favorite spots around Charm City.
The culture of the coffee house has lost many of its adherents to the fast-paced, corporate cut-and-dry chains of Starbucks and Caribou. But in the Baltimore area, indy coffee shops are striking back. All the Fells Point folks are probably looking a little smug right now, but indy shops are not just for the ‘artsy’ kind. These community-centered cloisters of warm drinks and beautiful art offer a more economically-friendly option for café lovers – and usually, much better coffee.
However, finding these neat spots can sometimes be a hassle compared to the Starbucks on every corner. So for those of you interested in discovering fresh places to spend your coffee dollars – or, even better, new places to spend time reading, writing, or talking – I offer you a survey of the top independent coffee shops in Baltimore:
(in alphabetical order)
Café Latte’da 1704 Aliceanna St – A friendly Fells Point institution, this local hang-out offers an intimate space to share good coffee and fresh pastries made from scratch! With free wi-fi and a homey atmosphere, Café Latte’da is a great place to spend an afternoon. As a bonus, they even offer 2 complimentary computer stations.
Carma’s Café 3120 Saint Paul Street – A Charles Village gathering most famous for its Icelandic yogurt, this warm spot near 32nd street is worth skipping the chains. Coffee is wonderful, and breakfast is also delicious – check out specials on their daily blog. They even offer lots of yummy vegetarian options!
Chocolatea 3811 Canterbury Road – The name alone should set your mouth watering. This incredibly delicious shop isn’t exactly coffee, but its coco-lattes (chocolate drinks infused with milk, spices, and fruit) are absolutely to-die-for. They have a fantastic selection of teas, which upon request will pair with Swiss truffles. Simply amazing.
A Common Ground 819 W. 36th St – This funky café is possessed of perhaps the coolest location: a renovated Hampden row house. Offering all kinds of cozy nooks to curl up in, the coffee is locally roasted and very reasonably priced. A Common Ground may also be the best spot in the area to grab an outstanding bagel – theirs are a definite cut above the rest.
Koffee Therapy 6 E. Franklin St – Voted best coffee shop by CityPaper in 2008, their mission statement states “A great cup of coffee inspires great ideas, creativity, an entrepreneurial spirit, a sense of community, and a time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the good life.” The owners of Koffee Therapy have made it their goal to provide such a space in the culture center of Mt. Vernon. Great coffee, great atmosphere, and awesome quiches.
Red Canoe 4337 Harford Road – If you’re into fuzzy warm feelings and family-friendly spots, Red Canoe is the place for you. Doubling as a delicious coffee shop and a children’s bookstore (featuring daily storytimes!), the neighborhood of Lauraville is lucky to have such a community-focused location. Red Canoe serves Zeke’s Coffee and a large selection of incredible eats, including the best muffins in town.
Van Gough Café 300 S. Ann Street – Nope, that’s not a misspelling. Cute and still somewhat undiscovered, the new kids on the block in trendy Fells Point are on the corner of Ann and Gough in a renovated three-story brick building (the café is located on the first floor). In my opinion, Van Gough wins points for continually supplying some of the coolest artwork. But art isn’t the only thing they’re known for: Van Gough serves up a killer combination of specialty coffees, smoothies, sandwiches, salads, and Goldberg’s bagels.
BONUS: Local coffee shop Zeke’s Coffee actually supplies the coffee for many shops in the Baltimore area. Offering a huge and unique selection of blends, Zeke’s puts West Coast roasteries to shame with their great organic options. They regularly participate in the Baltimore Farmer’s market, and are located at 3003 Montobello Terrace in Lauraville.