Maybe you’ve heard of it once or twice.
Maybe you drove through once.
Maybe you've got a friend who moved here.
Maybe you’re one of those people that can never remember the last ‘C’ in Ohio.
There was Cleveland, Cincinnati, and then there was…
Columbus, Ohio is a well-oiled machine, bustling with young people and new business. It’s surprisingly diverse, the nightlife is the stuff of legends, and the restaurant and coffee scenes are each worlds unto themselves. The one thing that you won't find much of in Columbus is people who are not from Ohio. That's part of why the word about Columbus might never really get out. This place is a bubble.
If you’re a local, you may or may not be aware of Columbus’s extreme obscurity outside of Ohio. Indeed, Columbus’s national reputation is nearly nonexistent. A relative few people will ever move away, and even fewer will move here who didn't already have some connection to it. Being home to *THE* Ohio State University, much of what draws people to Columbus is academia. And then, many of those people just don't want to leave. Why would they? Columbus is awesome!
How do I know this? Because I was born & raised here.
I’ve been gone for nearing 10 years now, and in that time I’ve literally been around the world. When I left, although Columbus would always hold a special place in my heart, I told myself that I was on to bigger and better things. However, the farther I travel, the more I come to the begrudging conclusion that Columbus actually stacks up pretty damn well.
Here are some things you might not have known…
1. It was recently announced that Columbus had become the 14th biggest city in America, as well as the 2nd biggest in the Midwest after Chicago—AND it’s growing fast.
2. Smart Asset lists Columbus in their Top 15 Cities Requiring the Least Amount of Hours of Work to Pay Rent. Similarly, CNBC lists Columbus in their Top Cities Where You Can Really Live Well on $60,000 per year.
3. Unsurprisingly, Kununu ranked Columbus as their #4 Cities The With Happiest Workers.
4. Columbus has been ranked as the #1 City for Single (Straight) Women. (*hint* ladies)
5. Columbus is increasingly considered to be an American gay capital outside of San Francisco and New York City.
9. Columbus has also been listed as the 2nd Safest City in America for Raising Children... which is pretty crazy because for most of my childhood it was actually a pretty sketchy city.
10. MotherJones said that Columbus is poised to become “The Next Hot Millennial Enclave,” sharing stories of transplants from larger cities like San Francisco and Chicago.
11. Columbus is the #3 City for Small Black-Owned Businesses.
12. Columbus is home to 7 universities and 113,000+ students. And one of those universities, Ohio State, is the largest in the U.S. with enrollment pushing towards 80,000.
13. Columbus is also known as one of the Top 7 Smartest Cities in America.
14. National Geographic recently published an article likening Columbus to Brooklyn and saying that it is the next up-and-coming cool city.
15. Forbes said that Columbus is the #1 "Opportunity" city in the U.S. I've heard working professionals in Columbus make similar observations.
16. Going off of that, Travel + Leisure lists Columbus in their Top Friendliest Cities.
19. The New York Times listed Columbus in their list of the best places to visit in 2019, saying that it is “poised to become the model for the future of innovative urban transportation.”
20. Columbus recently beat out cities such as San Francisco, Portland, and Austin to win a $40 million grant to invest in a next-generation, green public transit system. Don't believe me? Read about it HERE.
Yeah! Columbus, right?
This is the first of a few guides about Columbus, and it’s all about coffee. So buckle in…
That's Columbus, OHIO
That's Columbus, OHIO
Address 1 [Grandview]: 1277 Grandview Ave, Columbus, OH 43212
Address 2 [German Village]: 627 S 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43206
Hours: [6:30am – 10pm | Monday – Thursday]
……….....[6:30am – 12am | Friday]
……….....[7am – 12am | Saturday]
……….....[8am – 10am | Sunday]
This list is not arranged in any particular order, but when I think about coffee shops in Columbus, Stauf’s is one of the first places that comes to mind. Having been founded in 1998, it’s been around forever, and in that time, it’s built a great reputation with caffeine addicts across Ohio. People love this place. The lines are long, the menu is big, and the coffee is amazing. The folks at Stauf’s have worked hard to make this a reality, and source coffee beans from 20 different countries around the world.
Their original location was opened up in a neighborhood called Grandview. However, more recently, they have opened up a location in gorgeous German Village. If you’re not familiar with Columbus, German Village is a European-feeling neighborhood originally built by German immigrants who worked in Columbus’s breweries way back when. Today, it’s just an interesting neighborhood, and that is where I took the photos below. However, both locations are great. There’s also now a location in North Market as well, but I’ll save that for the food guide, which is coming up soon. Enjoy!
Address: 11 Price Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [7am – 7pm | Monday – Friday]
……...…..[8am – 7pm | Saturday – Sunday]
Mission Coffee is another Columbus classic. It's been operating on a once-dicey, now-gentrified corner of the Short North for upwards of 10 years now. They have had a front row seat to the great upheaval and revitalization of Columbus. Though they are just a single coffee shop, the role they played in this process should not be downplayed; it's places like this that turned Columbus into the place it is today. Gentrification is always a mixed bag, but I think that in Columbus's case, most everybody would agree that the positives outweigh the negatives. And this place was a flower through the concrete once upon a time. Now they are surrounded by other flowers (metaphorically).
Mission Coffee also brews its own coffee at a separate location off-site. This coffee is actually available for wholesale purchase so you can bring their awesome coffee back home with you in a more permanent capacity. They place a high priority on coffee education, so if you need a few pointers, just get in touch! I'm sure they would be happy to talk to you for a few minutes. Mission has a reputation for having the most well-versed and knowledgable team of baristas and roasters in the city.
Address: 300 E Long St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [7am – 7pm | Monday – Friday]
……….....[8am – 7am | Saturday – Sunday]
Roosevelt Coffee Co. isn’t just a trendy coffee shop. It’s also one of Columbus’s coolest social enterprises. They partner with organizations working in 3 areas: clean water, hunger relief, and human trafficking. These organizations include Blood:Water, Design Outreach, Pack H20, International Justice Mission, Salvation Army, Exile International, and many, many more. Their work connects them with Columbus’s homeless community on a fairly regular basis, for more reasons than one. Roosevelt Coffee Co. is next-door neighbors with a major homeless shelter. For this reason, the demographics of their customer base vary pretty widely.
But don’t let Roosevelt’s charity work throw you off; they also serve some killer coffee! This coffee comes primarily from One Line, which is one of Ohio’s premier roasters, and another coffee shop featured on this list (keep on scrolling). They also source some of their brews from Stumptown. The coffee shop itself is in a generously sized urban space in downtown Columbus. Parking is usually easy to find and the staff are super friendly.
Address: 96 S Grant Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [9am – 9pm | Monday – Thursday]
……...…..[9am – 6pm | Friday – Saturday]
……….....[1pm – 5pm | Friday]
Carnegie’s Cafe is the name of the coffee shop that opened up with Columbus’s brand new public library. The cafe itself is pretty standard. Nothing crazy to report here. However, the library is incredible! It’s hard to imagine a better setting for a coffee shop! The endless seating and spacious study areas are every freelancer’s dream. And the atmosphere of this library will make you want to sit down with a mug of hot coffee and read. I’m not much of a bookworm, but even I felt the seduction of this new library's studious charms.
In all honesty, the library itself is what I really want to talk about. It has always been a cool place, but it had been under heavy renovations for the past couple years. Thanks to a generous endowment, this massive addition was completed a few summers ago, and turned Columbus’s main library into one of the coolest places in the entire city. It’s a shame that I’m limited to only 3 photos to showcase this building because it’s absolutely huge! The old building has been perfectly preserved to mesh with the sleek, modern addition. It even includes a small art gallery. It’s very cool. Go there.
Address: 14 E Gay St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [8am – 4pm | Monday – Friday]
……….....[Closed | Saturday – Sunday]
Café Brioso has been sitting on East Gay Street, in the middle of it all, since 2001. It was one of the first businesses to begin the revitalization of Columbus, and it continues to be a vibrant part of the downtown business community to this day. Ironically, this corner that Café Brioso occupies is one the less gentrified corners of the city. They are right across from a homeless shelter (in addition to Roosevelt Coffee Co.), and just a few short blocks away from some truly sketchy neighborhoods, but business is booming.
To walk into this shop, you'd never know that it's closing in on its 20th birthday; it feels polished, new, and "hip." Inside, you'll find a full repertoire of roasting machinery because, oh yeah, they roast their own coffee. They also hold classes on how coffee is sourced, brewed, and how specialty drinks are prepared. These classes range from $20 to $25 per person, and include coffee tastings and a complimentary bag to take home with you. So there's a lot going on here, and they serve a mean cup of coffee. Check it out.
Address: 1031 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [7am – 5pm | Monday – Friday]
……….....[8am – 5pm | Saturday – Sunday]
Similar to Nashville‘s Barista Parlor, Fox In The Snow has become hipster royalty in Columbus. The logo painted on their building has become a popular Insta-destination for social media heroes around the city! Normally I’m a stickler for the absence of WiFi in coffee shops (I mean, what year is this? Gotta have my WiFi!), but Fox In The Snow might be the exception to the rule because it’s always ridiculously crowded! The lack of Internet keeps the atmosphere social, and the line moving.
Fox In The Snow occupies a cozy garage space on 4th Street, on the most recently gentrified edge of Columbus’s Short North/Italian Village area. It’s just a stone’s throw from Seventh Son Brewery, and it’s a short walk from North High Street. (However, they have recently opened up additional locations in German Village and a suburban area called New Albany. But we’re just going to stick with their original location.) Inside, Fox In The Snow is a baker’s paradise. Their kitchen, which churns out insane volumes of pastries and delicious breads, is surrounded (pretty much) only by glass walls. That way, as you wait in line, you’ll get a front-row seat to the creation of the sweets you’ll end up buying to accompany your coffee at the end of the line. It’s an awesome spot, but not advised for the anti-social.
Address 1: 2990 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202
Hours: [7am – 10:30pm | 7 days per week]
Normally, I do my best to shy away from establishments with multiple locations, but I’m going to make a big, happy exception for Cup O Joe. I’ll make this exception because (a) I love this place dearly, and (2) because they don’t have any locations outside of Columbus… yet. You’ll notice that I’ve only provided you with one address. They do have other locations around the city, but this one, located in the heart of Clintonville, is my favorite.
Cup O Joe is one of the originals on the Columbus coffee scene. It’s been there forever, and it’s not going anywhere soon… I hope. A partner of Stauf’s Coffee (which is also a local chain), Cup O Joe serves a wide variety of coffee drinks and baked goods. They also have great bags of chocolate-covered coffee beans, which are always a tasty burst of caffeine. As for (liquid) coffee, normally I take my coffee black, but here I always order the Almond Joy. It’s one of just a few exceptions I have to my black coffee rule. Give it a try.
Address: 2250 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [8am – 1am | Monday – Friday]
………..[10am – 1am| Saturday]
………..[12pm – 12am | Sunday]
Kafe Kerouac occupies a niche that exists on pretty much every college campus: the grungy, late-night coffee shop, full of idealistic Political Science majors, Che Guevara art, Kurt Vonnegut novels, and vinyl recordings of John Denver. This is the sort of place where a young Ted Mosby (a.k.a. Dr. X) would hang out / broadcast from (any HIMYM fans out there??). It’s kind of a dingy little spot, but it has endeared itself in the hearts of the Ohio State community like few other establishments have managed. And I’m including myself in that statement: I really like this place. It’s got a strong personality, and I can dig it.
This place stays open later than almost any other coffee shop in Columbus, and manages to maintain a relatively studious atmosphere most of the time, despite being surrounded by one of the biggest, rowdiest universities in the world. It’s a great place to get some work done, or just spend some time reading. Kafe Kerouac also hosts folky music events from time to time, so if you’re looking for a good indie, acoustic venue in Columbus, look no further!
Address: 541 S 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [7am – 7pm | 7 days per week]
Pistachia Vera is a charming little café in German Village. While it also has a small outlet inside North Market, the main location sits on a nice, easy-to-find corner on one of German Village's busiest arteries. There, amongst the cobble stone streets and historic churches, Pistachia Vera is a local favorite. Pistachia, if you couldn't have guessed, is a play on "pistachio." Pistachia Vera's color scheme is pistachio themed, including pistachio-green furniture that sits at street level so you can enjoy the sunshine. Inside, gentle green hues are used in accent walls, but the main attraction here is behind the counter's glass.
Pistachia Vera's specialty is a sweet pastry called the "Pistachio Macaron." They have a wide variety of flavors of these little sugar nuggets, but pistachio is their namesake. They also serve lots of other great pastries, as well as a healthy breakfast and lunch menu. The coffee is solid as well, so if you're looking for a nice place to let German Village show you what its all about, this might be the place for you! Honestly, when I’m back in Columbus, this is one of the cafés that crosses my mind most often. I really like this place.
Address: 849 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [7am – 8pm | Monday – Thursday]
……….....[7am – 9pm | Friday]
……….....[8am -9pm | Saturday]
……….....[8am -8pm | Sunday]
Impero Coffee is one of the Short North’s trendiest and oldest coffee outlets. It sits in almost the exact center of the Short North, just a stone’s throw away from institutions like Union Café and Melt. Honestly, of all the coffee shops on this list, I have always found Impero to be the most nondescript. Their location gives them a huge leg up on a lot of Columbus's coffee scene, and their vague hipster sensibilities usher in people from all over the neighborhood as they walk by. But to me, it's not a big stand-out in any other way.
However, they serve great coffee, and just like my hometown, it's always there for me. It's cool in the summer, and it's cozy in the winter. It's been around for a long, long time, and it's not going anywhere soon, so if you're in the neighborhood, you should consider stopping by! It's a well-established fixture in Columbus's coffee scene for a reason: people like it. And you probably will too.
Address: 3535 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214
Hours: [7:30am – 8pm | Monday – Saturday]
……….....[8:30am – 8pm | Sunday]
Global Gallery sits on an unassuming corner of a neighborhood called Clintonville. Clintonville is the last trendy extension of North High Street before the city gives way to full-blown suburbs. And it is here that Global Gallery has been finding its identity over the past few years. Originally, Global Gallery opened in the Short North as a fair trade emporium, featuring products from tiny villages from all over the developing world. When this space in Clintonville became available, they sprung at the opportunity for a second location, but things didn’t quite go according to plan.
Global Gallery’s Clintonville branch was originally intended to simply be another store, but it was a store that also sold coffee (for some reason). Over the years, this branch of their operation has slowly morphed into a full-on café, featuring craft brews from all over the world, sourced through One Line Coffee Roasters (which I we’ll get to shortly), along with a few of their trademark handicrafts. They also are a small art gallery. However, just because Global Gallery has made a small pivot into the coffee space does not mean that they have taken a step back from Columbus’s international community. They frequently host welcome events for refugees, and showcases of international music.
I should mention that they also serve wine and beer, and even have a happy hour. AND, during the warmer months, there is a farmers market that happens ever Saturday morning right in front of them, which has allowed them to be a consistent social centerpiece for the event. It’s quite a dynamic place!
Address: 443 W 3rd Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [7am – 11pm | Monday – Thursday]
……….....[7am – 12am | Friday]
……….....[9am -12am | Saturday]
……….....[9am -11pm | Sunday]
Caffé Apropos isn’t quite as ‘hip’ as many of the other establishments on this list, but it’s got an identity all its own that has made it a fixture in the fabric of Columbus’s Short North. Substantially removed from the hustle and bustle of North High Street, Caffé Apropos occupies a quiet corner of beautiful Victorian Village. It’s a relatively unassuming place, but it’s well equipped to feed you, caffeinate you, and get you drunk (if you want). AND, they stay open late, which wins them big Peter-points! (I’m trying to make “Peter-points” a thing… is it working?)
Caffé Apropos is as much a coffee shop as it is a wine bar. In fact, they host wine tastings from time to time. In a more upscale venue, this might seem snooty, but in Caffé Apropos it’s just fun! There’s not much pretension to this place. They have a full fledged wine-shop attached to the café, and a decent selection of food, so if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path place to hang out, this would be a great place to check out!
Address: 745 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [7am – 8pm | Monday – Thursday]
……….....[7am – 10pm | Friday]
……….....[8am -10pm | Saturday]
……….....[8am -8pm | Sunday]
One Line is one of Ohio’s foremost coffee roasters. They source their materials from fair trade coffee lovers from around the world. Their priorities are sustainability and ethical commerce, and they take their job pretty seriously. They know exactly where each and every coffee bean that they buy, sell, or roast comes from. From farm to frappuccino, they work hard to ensure that everyone in their supply chain is treated kindly and compensated fairly. Even though their business spans the globe, they visit as many of their suppliers and farms in-person as they can!
They also roast some of their own coffee, and act as a supplier to dozens of other trendy coffee shops, markets, and businesses around the state. Roosevelt Coffee Co., Bonfire Red, Coffee Underground, Coffeeology, Wooden Shoe are a few of the folks that partner with One Line. To top it all off, they offer some great educational resources for budding baristas everywhere. One Line has two permanent locations, but the focus of this feature is their Short North location. It’s an awesome vibe. Check it out.
Address: 1069 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43222
Hours: [7am – 5pm | Monday – Friday]
……….....[8am – 4pm | Saturday]
……….....[Closed | Saturday]
In the not-so-distant past, Columbus was a pretty dicey place. It was routinely on-and-off of lists of cities with the highest homicide rates per capita. To hear it said now, it feels very Gotham-esque that Columbus actually had a neighborhood that was called “The Bottoms,” but growing up here, it was just a fact of life! The Bottoms, if you couldn’t have guessed, was the ghetto. The worst of the worst. The place where you wouldn’t even drive through (let alone walk) if it was past a certain hour. Technically, the area was (and still is) called Franklinton, but this moniker only ever received sparse name-recognition. Although this nick-name played heavily on the socio-economic status of the neighborhood, the term “The Bottoms” was originally coined in reference to its relatively low elevation. This area is a flood plane, and there have been some major floods here in the history of Columbus.
In 1993, Columbus built a massive flood wall to protect this area. It even goes across the highway; there is a section of road where the wall can be raised up from the pavement. The completion of this project prompted some interest in the area from developers, who quietly began purchasing pieces of property where they could. To be clear, this is still a dangerous neighborhood, and most investments in real estate here have yet to bear fruit… but right now we are on the leading edge of gentrification. Give it 10 years, this neighborhood will be the Brooklyn of Columbus.
Now that Columbus is ‘on the rise,’ areas like this are gentrifying, and establishments like Bottoms Up are beginning to buy up real estate. The name “Bottoms Up” is a play on the gentrification of Franklinton. Founded as a vehicle to bring about social change, Bottoms Up also doubles as a co-working space, playing host to a carefully curated selection of businesses. The founders of Bottoms Up are particularly concerned with the issue of infant mortality in disadvantaged areas like this one, and donate their profits to non-profits working in this arena. On a related note, Bottoms Up co-owner Victoria Calderon authored a children’s book which you can buy with a cup of coffee! Or on its own, whatever.
Address: 1998 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [Open 24/7]
If you’re not from Ohio, you might not know what a buckeye is, so let’s clear that up real quick… A buckeye is a funny little nut that has become the state symbol of Ohio, and more importantly, the mascot for THE Ohio State University: Brutus Buckeye. With me so far?
Buckeye Donuts is a college fixture that seems to date back to the beginning of time. Indeed, this place first opened for business in freaking 1969, and it’s been a buckeye favorite ever since.
This place basically serves 2 things: donuts and coffee. And like any good college establishment, it’s open 24/7. Even on Christmas sometimes! They offer more than 30 different varieties of donuts, all of which are made fresh every single day. They also have free wifi! Oh, and the coffee is decent too, which is all the excuse I need to include them on this guide.
AND (fun fact) Prince ate here once. R.I.P.
The Coffee Map + Additional Resources
The Coffee Map + Additional Resources
That's pretty much it for Columbus's coffee scene, but there's more on the way. Columbus marks a new chapter in our "Guides" section, and as we progress through the various facets of this Midwestern hotspot, the articles will be accumulated and indexed in the locations below. Up next in the queue of articles is our guide Columbus's nightlife. Stay tuned!
For the track of the day, we'll go with Twenty One Pilots, who are the biggest thing to come out of Columbus... pretty much ever. My little brother was a few years behind me and grew up going to their shows religiously. This was back when Twenty One Pilots was still a small act. He would always tell me how awesome they were, but I would be like "PSH WHATEVER NERD!" [Sorry Joe]
As it turns out, they were and are amazing. Let the records show that I should have just listened to my brother and checked them out back in 2011. This album, Vessel, was not what ultimately made them superstars, but it did turn them into Columbus royalty. It's an amazing record. Give it a listen.