If you’re anything like me, you understand that coffee is the supreme life-giving source from which all blessings and goodness flow. This belief has led to a personal, lifelong struggle to obtain and consume the perfect cup of coffee.
It’s probably an impossible feat, but I really like coffee and really like visiting new coffee shops. I’ve done this both in my hometown of St. Louis and in my current home of Nashville, and I’ve often asked myself which city has provided me with better coffee.
There really isn’t a great way to go about deciding this, but I’m going to pick my top three favorite coffee shops from each city, rank the six I end up with, and whoever has the lowest score when adding up the rankings wins. I’ll be basing my rankings off of atmosphere, location, and quality of coffee. In case you’re wondering, I usually order plain, black coffee, iced or hot.
My three Nashville picks are Bongo Java, Portland Brew, and Steadfast. My three St. Louis picks are Blueprint, Kaldi’s Coffee, and Sump. Here we go.
6. Kaldi’s Coffee (St. Louis) There are multiple locations around the St. Louis area, but I’m basing my thoughts on the Chesterfield Valley location as it’s the closest to my house and the one I go to most. Kaldi’s holds a special place in my heart as it’s where I tried black, iced coffee for the very first time which has become my all-time favorite drink. Kaldi’s is pretty consistently good and offer a pretty wide variety of drinks and roasts which is nice, and the food is excellent as well. It can just be weirdly crowded at times and the Chesterfield Valley is a strange, dark place of white-upper-middle-class activity which probably knocks it down a few pegs.
5. Portland Brew (Nashville) I love Portland brew because not only is it cheap, but it tastes better than most coffees that cost twice as much. Plus, it’s right down the street from one of the most overrated coffee shops in Nashville (hint: it rhymes with Mothy Fronkey) and is almost always less crowded. I’ve never really had a problem finding a table and it’s always filled with quirky, artistic people working on various creative projects. I love that type of environment. Being located on 12 South doesn’t hurt either as it’s one of the coolest neighborhoods to hang around in Nashville. Plus I had one of the best iced coffees I’ve ever had there. It literally tasted like chocolate. Unreal.
4. Steadfast Coffee (Nashville) It’s hard to base this coffee shop off the same criteria as the rest as I’ve only ever ordered one thing from here and it’s the coffee soda, but the coffee soda alone is enough to get this place on the list. It’s seriously one of the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted, although it’s a tad expensive. And it’s in the Germantown neighborhood which is beautiful. Last time I went to Steadfast, the people I was supposed to meet were late, so I walked around the nearby neighborhoods and it was amazing. My only issue with this coffee shop is actually that the employees are almost too nice. Yes, you want to welcome customers, but I was almost afraid at how friendly they were. I’m not extroverted enough to play along.
3. Blueprint Coffee (St. Louis) The Loop is one of the best places to hang in St. Louis and it’s where Blueprint is so conveniently placed. It literally looks like what would happen if Apple ever made a coffee shop. The place is just so well-designed! The coffee lives up to the aesthetic as well; they’ve got some of my favorite iced coffee in all of St. Louis. It’s basically my go-to coffee shop for when I’m feeling tired before concerts and need a little boost. I stopped by here with some friends before seeing Tyler, The Creator down the street at The Pageant, and it kept me amped all night. Also, if you live in St. Louis and haven’t been down to The Loop, what is wrong with you?
2. Bongo Java (Nashville) Bongo is great mostly because of it’s location; it’s right across the street from where I go to school which makes it super convenient for when I’m too lazy to make my own coffee but not desperate enough to get coffee from the Starbucks on campus. It’s my default place to go study and my favorite Nashville coffee shop due to not only it’s consistently good coffee, but it’s great atmosphere. It’s got such a quirky vibe which is evident from it’s weird playlist choices (I’ve heard Black Sabbath, Beach House, and Michael Jackson played within an hour of each other) to it’s bizarre, unique paintings. The staff is great too. I know a lot of people think that they’re kind of mean, but, if that’s the case, it mostly just adds to the charm in my opinion. It may not have the best coffee in Nashville, but it’s certainly one of the most unique places to drink it. I seriously go here three to five times a week.
1 Sump Coffee (St. Louis) Sump is almost too good to be true. I’ve never gone and not had the best tasting coffee of my entire life. I don’t know what they do to it although I suspect they just infuse it with crack or something of similar addictivity. It’s just that good. And they serve the coffee in small pitchers which is awesome for somebody like me who likes to drink unhealthy amounts of coffee at a time. My favorite thing to do is bring a friend, get two pitchers of different roasts, and share because the crazy thing is that each roast they offer has its own distinct, amazing flavor. It’s just a super cool looking shop as well. It just kind of blends into it’s south city surroundings making it all the more surprising when you go inside and try their nectar of the gods. Their branding is great too; I love the bearded skull they use on everything. I don’t know - this coffee shop weirdly makes me want to be a better person.
So there you have it. When we add up the rankings belonging to each city, we get 11 points for Nashville and 10 points for St. Louis so that St. Louis wins by only one point! It’s a close contest to call, but I’ve got to give the victory to my hometown. But seriously, if you’re in either city, you really do need to check out all these locations. Each offer their own unique vibe and spin on coffee, and it really is amazing to be able to compare them all.