the outside of sweetwaters coffee and tea

The local Columbus coffee scene is home to a number of cafes and coffee shops inviting customers in to enjoy a cup of joe. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

The Columbus coffee scene is home to a number of cafes and coffee shops inviting customers in to enjoy a cup of joe. Below is a list of some popular coffee shops surrounding the campus area, giving you the inside scoop on where to get your next caffeine fix. 

Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea

Starting as a single coffee and tea shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1993, Sweetwaters has expanded its franchise to more than 40 locations across the country, according to the Sweetwaters website. 

The shop is appealing to a wide range of audiences, including student customers and Ohio State employees who visit Sweetwaters Wellington OSU, located very close to campus. 

“The main idea about being on campus is to provide a quality product in a campus atmosphere for the kids and staff to hang around,” Sudhindra Jadcherla, franchise owner for the Wellington location, said. 

The shop provides a welcoming environment with its modern ambience, providing guests with indoor seating and outdoor seating at some locations, perfect for a study session or quick coffee break.

Sweetwaters isn’t strictly for students and staff, however. 

“There are a lot more community-based activities on campus at the coffee shop, because unlike any corporate coffee, we are open for any charities or events which help support the community,” Jadcherla said.  

Not only does its community-oriented environment set Sweetwaters apart from the rest, but the shop also offers an extensive menu featuring coffees, teas and a selection of food, including pastries and sandwiches. The fan favorite is the “Abianno espresso,” an Italian-inspired espresso that combines caramel and nutty flavors, creating a savory taste, according to the website. 

“The Abianno espresso is especially sought after because it has a unique taste,” Jadcherla said.  

Sweetwaters Wellington OSU is located at 15 E. 17th Ave. and is open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students who present their BuckID at the Sweetwaters Wellington OSU location receive 10 percent off, according to its website. 

Additional Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea locations can be found on its website. 

Kafe Kerouac

Kafe Kerouac got its start in 2004 when owner Mike Heslop opened the place after graduating from Ohio State, Heslop said in an email. The cafe offers more than just coffee, though.  

“We are not just a coffee shop, but a bookstore and bar, and in better times, a [place] for live music, comedy and poetry,” Heslop said.  “(Our style is an) indie shop that is more of a throwback to the days before most shops became corporate.” 

Kafe Kerouac features a wide-ranging menu, including alcohol, coffee and alcoholic coffee, with a beverage-naming system that speaks to the nostalgic vibe of the shop.  

“We name most of the drinks after writers,” Heslop said. 

With drinks such as the “Mark Twain” and the “Roald Dahl,” Kafe Kerouac’s menu has helped them grow into a place for all people, Heslop said. According to Kafe Kerouac’s website, the house coffee is locally grown and the alcohol menu features locally brewed beers, attracting customers with its homey and original atmosphere.  

Kafe Kerouac is located at 2250 N. High St. The cafe’s regular hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from noon to midnight, according to the website.

Coffee Underground

Looking for a place with no obligations, just a relaxing space to study or chit chat without the pressure of even purchasing a drink? Coffee Underground has you covered.  

From its beginning as a coffee shop opened by the Indianola Church in hopes of offering a supportive environment in the community, Joshua Blakemore, assistant director of Coffee Underground, said in an email. Coffee Underground has grown to be a place where students and citizens alike can hang out worry-free.   

“You can come and study, hang out with friends, chill, buy a drink or don’t and at the same time, not feel pressured to buy anything or have religion forced on you,” Blakemore said.  

Coffee Underground works to be more sustainable, through measures such as using locally sourced coffee beans and lessening its waste production, Blakemore said.  

“All of our cups are compostable and we hardly have any waste,” Blakemore said. “All of our coffee is supplied by OneLine. All of their coffee is sourced from farmers to the roasters, so there is a personal connection. They are also a sustainable coffee roastery.” 

Coffee Underground offers a comfortable environment while providing an extensive menu with delicious drinks. Blakemore said the “Darkside Mocha” is a customer favorite.  

“It has an amazing flavor profile. We use cinnamon and raspberry syrup and add it to the mocha,” Blakemore said. 

Coffee Underground is located at 2141 Indianola Ave. and its hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to the shop’s website. Coffee Underground is closed on the weekends.

Stauf’s Coffee Roasters

Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, the first coffee roaster in Columbus created in 1988, is a locally started cafe that has grown and now reaches a handful of locations in and around Columbus, Lili Soldaini, communications and marketing manager at Stauf’s, said.  

“We pick our locations in places we can really become a part of the community and pick up on the vibes of each individual spot,” Soldaini said. 

Stauf’s features six eclectic locations that provide a comfortable environment for guests.  

“We like to think we’re really community-oriented. I feel like that really sets us apart. We are still very homey, cozy and no judgement,” Soldaini said. 

Stauf’s menu also features popular seasonal and specialty items. Most customers in the fall opt for the Chider, a delicious combination of chai and hot cider, and for year-round drinks, the cafe offers several specialty lattes, such as the “Buckeye Latte,” the “Milky Way Latte” and the “Almond Joy Latte,” Soldaini said.  

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Stauf’s is offering strictly outdoor seating and online ordering at particular locations. The location closest to Ohio State is 1334 Neil Ave which is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to its website  

Additional Stauf’s locations can be found on its website.

Cielo’s Cafe

Featuring stucco brick walls paired with a sky-painted ceiling draped with ivy, the old European-inspired cafe located across the street from the Ohio Union opened in late April.

All of Cielo’s goods are sourced from local shops within the Columbus area. Their biscuits and pastries are delivered fresh every morning from The Goodie Shop located in Upper Arlington and their bagels are from Sammy’s New York Bagels over by Easton Town Center, Vincent Reeder, the cafe’s operations manager, said.

“We try to keep everything in the same Ohio loop,” Reeder said.

The shop’s strongest focus, however, was on where it would source its fair-trade organic coffee beans. Reeder said they really took into account the importance of ensuring the beans had no chemicals, preservatives or other additives. Beyond that, Reeder said they wanted to ensure the sourcing of the beans was humane.

“Fair-trade organic means those people who are working hard making those beans are getting their fair cut of things. They’re getting fair pay. They’re not getting taken advantage of,” Reeder said.

That passion is what Reeder said Cielo wants to bring to their customers in every experience they have with them. Reeder said the cafe offers an environment that will take students out of the hustle and bustle of getting back and forth to class or work, giving them a welcoming break.

“When you step foot in here, you are literally taken to another place that we don’t feel you can find anywhere else,” Reeder said. 

Cielo Cafe is located at 1762 N. High St. and is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Skyler Kraft contributed reporting.