Coffee Shop Saturdays: Kayak's Cafe in St. Louis, MO
Once upon a time in the Ethiopian wilderness there lived a goatherd named Kaldi.
Kaldi was an observant young man and careful labor well. One day, he took his flock to new territory and noticed his goats nibbling on red berries from a certain bush he hadn't seen before. Soon after their snack, the goats began jumping and playing with unusual exuberance, as if they were dancing. He plucked several of the berries and chewed on them himself. He, too, felt an exhilaration of mind and body.
Excited about his find, Kaldi took the berries to a local monastery and gave them to the Sufi monks living there. He told of the power of the berries. The monks were skeptical of such things and threw Kaldi's berries into the fire. However, after a few moments, a wonderful aroma ascended from the roasting beans. They raked the mildly charred beans from the ashes, crushed them and placed them into boiling water.
The first cup of coffee.
I've put in a lot of road miles since last weekend.
This means much coffee has been consumed and I have several amazing local shops to choose from.
Today, St. Louis gets the nod.
The daughter recommended Kayak Coffee as a good pit stop between Peoria, IL and Adamsville, TN. It's a bit off that particular beaten path, but i've driven further for good coffee.
Kayak's is an independent shop, but also part of a series of shops throughout Missouri and, now Atlanta, who serve up Kaldi's Coffee - named after our favorite drink's mythological founder. Kaldi's roasting company does a great job living up to the namesake. I'm sold on both the quality their beans and the accuracy of their roasting process.
At Kayak's, I ordered a Chemex made with Rwandan beans. I've been partial to Rwandan coffee since visiting there a few years ago, and it is not a common find in the US. If you can find it - it's worth a try. There are mild citrus notes with a natural sweetness to it - like caramel or brown sugar. It's a great cup of coffee.
This batch was perfectly roasted and captured all of it's Rwandan subtleties.
Kayak has a wide variety of food options, most of which are healthy - with tasty looking options for those who eat vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free.
The cafe has an unusual open, lodge feel, with thick wooden beams and rustic, but comfortable seating, and a lot of natural light.
You have to search a bit for electrical outlets - but the bar tables in front of the windows have them hidden underneath. It's a busy place, so be ready to share. I found the crowd to be eclectic enough for anyone to be comfortable - from tattooed hipsters to old folks meeting for tea (they were all present when I was there).
The staff is super-friendly. Brendan made my chemex with artisan perfection, and Louisa was generous, patient,and kind, answering my questions about the shop and their coffees.
Kayak's is completely worth the few minutes drive through town, when passing through The Lou. I wish I could have stayed longer - but had to hit the road.
I'm also eager to try the shops who serve Kaldi's coffee in Atlanta, a little closer to home.
You'll read about it here in Coffee Shop Saturdays when I do.