Hot Java Warms ILLINOISouth

Bill Beggs
Attractions, Food, Holiday Guide, Tourism Times

For some folks just hoping to wake up, the end justifies the means, so they grab a warmed-over cuppa joe at McDonald’s or a Casey’s, “to go.” (And don’t let the door hit you on the fanny on your way out.)

For a coffee snob, this just won’t do! They want their coffee to stay.

When the weather outside is frightful during a hectic holiday season’s hustle and bustle, the chill may encourage shoppers to beat feet from storefront to storefront. But our area’s one-of-a-kind coffee emporiums provide respite, a haven for as long as you want. While you sip the steaming, fragrant elixir of life, you can even compare gifts. (For who would dare embark on a retail therapy session alone? Humbug! )

Throughout the burgs and villes of ILLINOISouth are coffeehouses that will make you forget there was ever a premium coffee that starts with Star and ends with bucks. And most of these java joints serve freshly baked pastries that are “slap-your-grandma good.”

Red Roaster in MaeystownWe even found one place that roasts its own beans, the Village Kaffeehaus in Maeystown, via the Lil’ Red Roaster. But you’ll have to hold off on your fix until Saturday, because most places in this authentic German village aren’t open until the Wochenende (weekend).

Sacred Grounds in Edwardsville gets its beans from a St. Louis company called Mississippi Mud. Others use beans from fine roasters in The Lou such as Chauvin or Kaldi’s. But the important thing is what they do to the brew, whether you like it black or all frou-frou—a latte, mocha or cappuccino (gesundheit).

The baristas at Mokka Café in Columbia spice up their brews with pumpkin flavoring at Thanksgiving. But why stop there? They make pumpkin-flavored gooey butter cake and whip up a pumpkin-pie latte. Closer to Santa-time is when you can enjoy a peppermint mocha or gingerbread latte here.

Any coffeehouse worth its caffeine pays great attention to ambiance. (Read: art and interior architecture.) Mokka’s walls are done in pallet wood and corrugated aluminum. Artists do murals on the chalkboard wall; kids create their own masterpieces on a chalkboard table while their parents, who’ve finally dropped after shopping, may relax.

s Cup in OlneySacred Grounds, famed for its vegetarian menu, rotates works from local artists. Ophelia’s Cup in Olney does the same, often spotlighting elementary-school talent. They’ve displayed works by autistic artists. And you can help yourself to a book, as well as leave one or a few, in the shop’s book nook.

Not sure what the brew du jour is? Check out the Facebook page, which many stores update as often as daily, among them The Coffeehouse Co. in O’Fallon. Sacred Grounds in Newton prides itself on a different flavor every day.

And don’t be disappointed to find your caffeine dealer closed on this day or that. Java Joe’s Coffee House, the pride of Centralia, is shuttered Sundays and Mondays… just like most self-respecting local barbershops.

The Abbey doesn’t sound like the name for a coffee shop. Well, Belleville locals will tell you it’s all that, and more. Not only will you find fair-trade coffees and teas, but crafts from around the globe. The Abbey leads a bit of a double life, so if espresso has kindled a holiday romance, after 5 it’s time to warm it up with spirits and maybe a bit of mellow music, often live jazz.

The Abbey in Belleville

There’s no time like the holidays, of course. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so let’s have some coffee, and tawk.

Click Here to find information on these and other great coffee houses and restaurants on our website.

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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