Breakfast: Great coffee and pastry pairings

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

It's mid-morning. Breakfast is a distant memory, and lunch is still hours away. It's time to hit the nearby coffee shop for caffeine and a snack. Here's where to find a little local nourishment around town.

Bexley Coffee Shop + Pattycake Bakery

Every neighborhood deserves one great coffee shop, and Paulette and Sean Sullivan earn the title in Bexley. At their secluded location near the train tracks on North Cassidy Avenue, they cater to customers in need of grab-and-go espresso drinks or a peaceful getaway for simple drip coffee. They roast mostly single-origin beans from Costa Rica and Tanzania, but the Sullivans make their own espresso, breakfast and French roast blends, too. The popular, full-bodied French roast pairs well with fruit and chocolate, so reach for Pattycake Bakery's blueberry or banana chocolate chip muffins.

Upper Cup Coffee + Sammy's Bagels

Owner Mike Habte hails from Eritrea, where he grew up experiencing coffee in its truest form: harvested, roasted, hand-ground and slow-brewed at home. He's brought both the process and the family welcome to his one-room Parsons Avenue shop. He's placed his roaster front and center, so you can watch him at work while his baristas match the bold roasts to true New York style bagels from Sammy's Bagels. An everything bagel with cream cheese complements an Upper Cup latte, mixing their hand-pulled espresso and steamed milk.

One Line Coffee + Destination Donuts

One Line's first impression is that of a coffee gallery-a center island puts coffee on display with showy ceramic pour-over stations and clear containers of beans. The Short North roaster takes the craft seriously, excelling at iced coffees-try the liqueur-like, Kyoto-style cold brew-but knocking it out of the park with their sweet and balanced cappuccino. Rich and creamy, it pairs beautifully with a fresh doughnut from Destination Donuts. Owner Heather Morris delivers her fresh, quirky and dense pastries daily. Stack the cappucino against one of her fruity and floral doughnuts like strawberry rose water or red raspberry hibiscus.

Luck Bros' Coffee House + Patisserie Lallier

Andy Luck and his crew have always sought to bring customers the full coffee experience. This summer they began offering coffee flights with a shot of espresso, a cappuccino and a glass of cold brew. Their Grandview brew bar is also a precise spot to experience the V60 pour-over. Each cup is crafted manually through a ceramic funnel with a paper filter. Beans are ground to order and evenly saturated with hot water. The result is a clean, berry-like pour-over that pairs nicely with Patisserie Lallier's pave, a gluten-free square cake flavored with almond and pistachio.

Cafe Brioso + Cafe Brioso

Cafe Brioso roaster Jeff Davis and "coffee evangelist" John Justice (known as J.J. around the shop) argue Columbus coffee can hold its own against any city. They know how to make coffee approachable: chalkboard menus outline tasting notes on the day's pour-overs, and any barista will gladly walk you through the myriad espresso drinks, like the Cubano, espresso pulled with dark sugar in the pitcher. The heat creates a thick and sweet shot of espresso. Brioso also produces a stellar lineup of house-baked goods. Customers snatch up the blueberry muffins, but try your sweet Cubano with a savory scone like the bacon and cheddar.

Need a Warm-Up?

A few more great local coffee shops to try

Actual RoasteryJen Ryan, co-owner of Actual Brewing Co.'s coffee-roasting extension opened a shop inside Dinin' Hall in Franklinton at the end of the summer. Fans of the French press should take advantage of the shareable preparation, wherein coffee is steeped in a glass carafe and a plunger forces grounds to the bottom. Ryan favors sweets from Buttergirl Bakery, like the homemade pop-tarts and energy "bawls" packed with berries, oats and peanut butter.

Crimson Cup Coffee Shop Crimson Cup competes with Stauf's as one of the most prolific roasters in town, and they show off their wares in their Clintonville shop by appealing to any crowd: drive-thru fanatics, slow-and-steady studiers or coffee aficionados sidling up to the brew bar. Fans of cold-brew coffee should try the Ethiopian Kellenso on nitro (think a beer tap but for coffee). Infused nitrogen gives the coffee a velvety smooth texture devoid of bitterness.

Grandview Grind Grandview certainly seems like coffee central, with Grandview Grind throwing their hat into the ring with Luck Brothers and Stauf's. The Grind brews local roasters like Boston Stoker, Thunderkiss and Backroom. From their espresso menu, fuel up with the cortada: espresso cut with warm milk. Look for Patisserie Lallier sweets there, too; a strong cortada balances out sweet and flaky pain au chocolate and almond croissants.

Mission Coffee Co. Like One Line, Mission Coffee offers a tour of coffee preparation styles. In lieu of roasting their own beans, Mission features a lineup of roasters across the country. In the Short North shop, a front-and-center display showcases their available beans and the equipment for brewing in any style. Pour-over fans should try the Chemex, a funneled glass container that slows the brewing process and removes oils to produce a strong cup of coffee.

Stauf's Coffee Roasters Opened in 1988, Stauf's was one of the earliest roasters in Columbus. In addition to producing the Cup O' Joe shops, they've taught a new generation of coffee roasters and shop owners around town. The Grandview cafe maintains traditions with a full spread of espresso, macchiato and Americanos, while also selling a wide range of whole beans. In September, Stauf's opened a stall in North Market and refurbished the former Cup O' Joe in German Village.

Nicholas Dekker blogs about breakfast at His book, "Breakfast With Nick: Columbus," is a complete guidebook to the morning meal.