With a Starbucks or a Scooter’s on every corner these days, coffee culture is characterized by the on-the-go mentality, but the local coffee shop is the closest thing to an indoor public space apart from a library (there’s a reason so many roasters are paired with bookstores, after all).
If you’re looking for a place to get some remote work done, study, read a book and generally just be in the company of your fellow human beings, there’s no substitute for the scent and flavor of freshly-brewed beans and Oklahoma City has no shortage of shops with their own distinctive character.
Willow Coffee Co.
When Willow Coffee Co opened earlier this year in the former Leaf + Bean space in Deep Deuce, owner Hunter Gibbon didn’t make a lot of dramatic changes to the shop but invited local artist Kyndall Rainey to add some color with brightly painted flora.
“We bought the machine from Leaf + Bean as well as the tables, chairs and stuff but we already had all of our branding set and were looking for a location, so ultimately it was really good timing and it worked out,” Gibbon said. “It was a really smooth transition for the most part. I know that they were closed for a little while, it was super hard with COVID and they never really bounced back from that.”
The shop has seen a lot of growth since it opened, but it has not been without its struggles.
“These late afternoons are still tough to get people in,” Gibbon said, “We just extended our hours from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. a couple of weeks ago and it’s been like a 50/50 coin flip on whether or not people are here.”
As he navigates the tides of owning a coffee shop, Gibbon finds a strong sense of partnership from other shop owners.
“We’ve found that the sense of community coffee shop owners here is really welcoming,” Gibbon said. “I thought I’d see a lot of rivalry between coffee shops but it’s not been that way at all.”
Gibbon took great care when selecting the brands he would carry in the shop, selecting varieties from Cirque Coffee in Tulsa and Messenger Coffee based in Kansas City. To satisfy the appetites of his hungry patrons, only the delicious pastries and other baked delicacies from Harvey Bakery could suffice.
A popular concoction that keeps people coming in is the Orange White Mocha Shaken Espresso, which features a refreshing blend of mocha sauce with housemade orange syrup and a doubleshot of espresso, shaken with ice and served with a candied orange.
“I’ve had people threaten to stop coming in if I take it off the menu.”
Bookish opened along the northeastern corridor of downtown in March, bringing an intimate and comfortable space to browse a curated selection of secondhand books, enjoy open mic nights and community. The space wasn’t open long before owners Devon Wilson and Ty Gatewood started thinking about the possibilities of a coffee menu and Caboose Coffee soon opened in September.
“I worked in retail for a long time and I wanted to open a secondhand store,” said Devon Wilson, co-owner of Bookish and Caboose Coffee. “I love fashion, but I feel like the vintage clothing market has become really oversaturated the past few years. My friend Ty was already selling books online on Amazon, and he had a lot but Amazon only takes certain things. They have a strict criteria. He had all these books that he wanted to do something with and so we opened this store. When we first opened we only had the drip machine and we were just offering free coffee. Then we decided to make it a whole thing.”
Now Caboose Coffee partners with Sincerely Coffee Roasters to bring patrons delicious cappuccinos, lattes and cold brews each available at a suggested donation.
The shop has gotten busier since adding the additional offerings, with more patrons coming to enjoy the cozy space and a quality cup of coffee.
“We wanted the bookstore to be a community space where people can come and hang out. Adding coffee has really brought more of that. We see a lot more people come and sit on the computer and work, drink coffee and read books, which is exactly what we wanted it to be,” Wilson said.
Perets Dessert & Coffee Bar
A visit to Film Row isn’t complete without a stop to Perets. The elegant shop opened in January and fanfare soon followed. Follow the cheeky signs to the second floor of the historic Paramount Building and find a self-designated ‘late-night urban living room’ that offers a cozy and comfortable vintage-inspired vibe as well as an enticing assortment of sweet treats and delicious coffee.
Among their carefully crafted menu of gourmet coffee, specialty lattes like the lavender honey and the blueberry offer guests a unique twist on traditional flavors. Here, rich Onyx Coffee espresso with notes of dark chocolate and berries is served with refreshing sparkling water for a perky pick-me-up.
While visitors can enjoy an amazing selection of coffee, loose-leaf tea and baked goods, Perets biggest draw is their signature affogatos. Available in flavors like Sopapilla for Mia and Chocolate Turtle, these treats pair locally made ice cream with made-from-scratch toppings and a shot of hot espresso to pour over it.
A relaxing jazz soundtrack as well as the occasional live jazz night complement the already romantic ambiance, which explains why you might be in for a bit of a wait on the weekends. For those who want to enjoy the space without the amorous intentions, Perets offers later hours throughout the week to accommodate long study sessions and after-office pleasantries.
Go to Rise Cafe for a delicious cup of coffee that makes a direct impact on the community. A project of the City Rescue Mission, Rise Cafe aims to break the cycle of homelessness by equipping individuals with the tools and training they need to change their lives.
The cafe opened last year and its bright and cheery atmosphere quickly made it a popular spot for small meetings and community gatherings.
The shop offers their own blends of Rise Coffee made with beans roasted by locally owned Eôté Coffee Roasters that are also available for purchase by the bag. Seasonal coffee flavors like Fluffy Pumpkin, Christmas Snow, Fireside S’mores and the infamous pumpkin spice latte currently grace the menu, but familiar favorites like cappuccinos, americanos and cortados are available year-round.
To accompany your coffee, choose from an array of delicious pastries, muffins and scones or delight in a healthy lunch. Rise Cafe offers a variety of sandwiches, wraps and a soup of the day if you’re looking for something a little less carb heavy.
Culture Coffee is a celebration of community and great coffee. The flagship location at the corner of NW 6th Street and Stonewall Avenue in the Innovation District features portraits of fierce activists and community leaders, a bright inviting atmosphere and an airy open patio. A second location recently opened in the Sequoyah Memorial Office Building in the Capitol complex.
The shops partner with Sincerely Coffee Roasters and Prelude Coffee Roasters to provide guests with a rich and flavorful cup of joe. If you’re a fan of the ever-popular cereal milk coffees, you’ll find a great one here. The seasonal feature is the S’more Cereal Milk Latte made with s’mores cereal steeped in oat milk. It’s then added to espresso with a hint of mocha and served either hot or iced and topped with a toasted marshmallow.
For those days when a sweet coffee just isn’t enough, delicious pastries from La Baguette might suffice but if you need something vegan, a delicacy from the Loaded Bowl is sure to do the trick.
The Red Cup
Beloved amongst locals and possibly one of our city’s best kept secrets is The Red Cup. Since 1995, this whimsical and creative cafe has been serving up delicious fair trade coffee and creating a haven for the community to enjoy this vibrant and artsy communal space.
Whether you order a specialty latte, an espresso or a black and tan, the coffee is perfectly brewed just the way you like it.
More than just coffee and pastries, you’ll find an impeccable vegan-based menu filled with breakfast dishes, pasta, burgers and much more. Those who aren’t plant-based don’t have to worry, as every dish is so flavorful you won’t even miss the meat, and there’s always an option to add dairy or eggs.
Take your coffee on the brightly colored open patio to enjoy a visit from The Red Cup’s self designated mascot, Coco the rooster.
Prelude Coffee Roasters
On the second floor of Oklahoma City’s first market hall retail center, 8th Street Market, you’ll find Prelude Coffee Roasters serving up fresh cups of their on-site roasted coffee that ranges from espresso to cold brew and a variety of single-origin hand-brewed coffees.
Prelude operates with a mission of education, not only about coffee but about the farms, growers and processes every bean goes through before it reaches your cup. Sourcing fair trade coffee from a variety of producers, they offer a rotating selection of blends throughout the year in addition to their proprietary roasts.
They focus on quality and flavor, roasting with great intention. Golden Year, named in honor of local band, Husbands, carries the flavors of graham crackers, brûléed sugar and pecan praline, intended to invoke some of your favorite childhood memories. Inkwell, a classic dark roast, offers hints of vanilla and toasted marshmallows for a hot cup perfect for sipping.If you’re on the west side of downtown rather than the east, you can also find freshly brewed cups of Prelude Coffee in the Fair-Weather Friend taproom.
Evan Jarvicks and Elektra Stanislava from Make Oklahoma Weirder have put together a local, caffeine-themed playlist for Oklahoma Gazette’s readers, along with the Galt MacDermot’s classic “Coffee Cold,” the namesake of the cover headline for this issue. For more Oklahoma weirdness, visit makeoklahomaweirder.com