I’m far from a coffee expert but I have been to my fair share of coffee shops and coffee is an essential part of my life. So, if volume of consumption and an addiction count for anything then they’ve come to the right place.
Yet I couldn’t pick four or five because I see Baltimore in somewhat of a coffee transition/revolution. Huh? Patience, grasshopper, patience. I couldn’t pick just four or five shops because, to me, Baltimore has three types of coffee shops: The OG’s (Original Gangstas), Neighborhood Nooks, and New Coffee.
Just some parameters first. I limited the scope to places close (well, close enough) to work which is right downtown. I didn’t choose any national chains, and my go-to drink is a latte, so when I’m referring to coffee, I’m generally talking about a latte. Alright, let’s do this…
I’ve always thought of Baltimore as the biggest little small town in the country. It’s intimate, it seems like everyone knows each other or at least knows someone who knows you and yours, and it’s proud of all things Baltimore. That’s how I view the first set of coffee shops. They’re like the crab cakes of the group. They’re delicious, they’re not overly complicated and they are definitely proudly Baltimore. All these places serve no-frills, unabashed coffee that screams out “Hon!” They’ve also been around for a little bit and thus ingrained in the fabric of B’more.
The king of Old School is Cafe Latte’ Da in Fells Point with a small, narrow storefront a few blocks up from the water away from most of the foot traffic. The decor reminds you of a John Waters movie, and when you walk out with a signature pink cup, people will know where you got your joe.
Down by the water is The Daily Grind which continues to dole out classic coffee despite the gentrifying landscape. When you walk in here, the coffee shop opens up into an whole new cityscape reminiscent of an early 1900’s alleyway. The variety of ways they make coffee here is plentiful, so make sure you know what you want before you walk in.
Hopping over to Federal Hill, you’ll find Spoons Cafe & Coffee Roasters smack dab in the middle of Cross Street. Spoons has been serving morning-after cures for residents for a few years now and is one of the few places that serves matcha in the city. They also offer a pretty decadent menu full of comfort food classics.
Drive down Key Highway for a bit and Koba Cafe is another place that has become a Riverside neighborhood institution. They serve some great breakfast staples along with a super cup of coffee. The inside is eclectic and the vibe would make any Baltimore row house denizen proud.
The most famous of the OG’s may be Zeke’s Coffee which may power half the restaurants in Baltimore and has grown into DC and Pittsburgh. Their first cafe is a little northeast of downtown in a hip community called Lauraville. The baristas all seem to have some B’more kook and style. The coffee is strong and flavorful just as you’d expect from Baltimore, hon. Go early and be patient, the crowd doesn’t let up in this gem.
Next Up – Neighborhood Nooks
(Writing and Photos by Food Nomad; Edited by City Walker)
Editors Note: One thing we like to do when launching in new city is to partner with writers local to that market. This is a key part to the City Walker experience, we don’t only want our app to have a local prospective. We want our blog to have it too! This gives the authentic personal prospective that no one other than a local can offer. Since we launched in Baltimore on January 17th, we are honored to have Leandro aka FoodNomad be a guest writer for City Walker in Baltimore.