Monday, February 8, 2010


EDIT 2014:  There is a new coffee roaster store and coffee house: Blue Print.  Lupe is not in the Loop very often anymore, and mostly passing through, but Blue Print looks wonderful and she encourages everyone to check them out!  There is also Piccione Pastry, which Lupe has visited and does sometimes stop in for a to-go fruit tart and cannoli. YUM.  Decent espresso too! And great staff!)

There are three coffeehouses in the Delmar Loop. Two are corporate: Starbucks and St. Louis Bread Company/Panera. The third, Meshuggah, is independently owned.

Lupe is willing to retract her rants against the corporate chains in the Loop. Especially  Noodles and Company. (Noodles and Company gives a ten percent discount to anyone who works in the Loop!)


However, Lupe does still prefer "the local indies" in all aspects of businesses and stores. And Meshuggah is a great "office" for the student, writer, freelance businessperson, and gentleman/lady of leisure. Meshuggah is a true neighbourhood "public house." (And like a pub, they will serve you a beer at 6AM with your coffee, if you so desire.)

Meshuggah's strength is in their regular coffee (actual watered down espresso), which is rich without being bitter or having that awful burned aftertaste that Starbucks always has. They are also cheaper than both chains, ounce for ounce.

Meshuggah has great salads, and they sell beer and wine. Their space is in the last hippie/indie/boho building in the Loop, with Plowshares, Subterranean, and MacroSun as their neighbours. And the cafe is old-school college-area coffeehouse-- wood floors, a loft, and local art work on the walls.

The staff is usually UMSL students, and there is usually an interesting book on the counter. (100 Years of Solitude and Smonk in my last two visits.) Meshuggah has a culture of book lovers and readers, even among the non-students. You can always eavesdrop on the most interesting conversations with your coffee.

They are also very "green." Every effort is made to recycle and green activities are encouraged. "Local Energy Supplier" is their slogan. They have cute t-shirts and commuter mugs that Lupe likes a lot. More than the Starbucks stuff.

Lupe has heard every kind of music and music genre in Meshuggah. She has also heard NPR and KDHX and staff members putting their iPod on random play. And sometimes there is just silence, especially during finals. Every now and then a singer songwriter will perform, or there will be a movie night or other special event or series.

The drawbacks are that they are often very slow. Everything is made by hand in the manner of a home kitchen. Sometimes there is only one person there, making all of the sandwiches and coffees. The staff puts the cream cheese on your bagel, and the milk and sugar in your coffee. If you are very particular this might annoy you. But if you are annoyed, you haven't slipped into "Loop Time" yet.  (Similar to Jamaican time...relax man, it's all good...)

But you will get used to it. And perhaps even come to appreciate it. Lupe recalls that in England when you ordered a cup of tea, you would be asked if you would like it "as it comes". This meant with milk and two sugars. Lupe thinks perhaps Meshuggah owner Patrick Liberto is simply reproducing this concept.

And the unhurried preparation actually serves to remind us all that we are not fast food, assembly line, corporate automatons, shovelling Soylent Green in our mouths without thought. No! We are humans, and human beings are preparing our food and drink in a civilized manner. And that means you might have to wait a minute and stop being so impatient.

Meshuggah doesn't allow cell phones at the counter, either, probably for this same reason. In this day of texting, and social networking, we have almost forgotten how to interact with each other as people. At Meshuggah, we are reminded of this.

Besides, these few minutes of waiting allow you to perhaps overhear a snippet of interesting conversation, or read a bit of an interesting book, or peruse the New York Times. Or just stare off into space, as Lupe often does, in the morning before drinking her Cafe Du Monde, as it comes.


Panera has a great bakery and a lot of really good salads and sandwiches. The old St. Louis Bread Company was of a higher quality, but for a chain Panera is very good. Lupe eats there very often and also likes the chess tables and the fireplace.

Several staff people at Panera are counted among Lupe's favourite people in the Loop.

Lupe cannot recall every noticing if music is ever played in there, but it is definitely the noisiest (and largest) of the three.

Generally, you can count on the bakery (and bakery staff!) to be good, and they have decent coffee. This is also the best place to watch a chess game.


If you want a fancy coffee-like drink and to sit and people watch, Starbucks is the place. It is all glass windows inside and big patio outside. As far as the drinks go they are quick and professional and consistent. The music will be something corporate packaged, but probably eclectic and decent.

(Lupe has had too many bad experiences with Starbucks pastries and food in too many different locations, so she does not eat at any of the chain.)

Hope this was helpful!! Lupe is off to get a Cafe du Monde from Meshuggah!

See you in the Loop!!!

Meshuggah Coffee House on Urbanspoon
Starbucks on Urbanspoon

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