Where to Explore Next: Third-Wave Coffee Shops

When Sump Coffee opened its doors, it made a major splash on the local bean scene, offering no apologies for its lightly roasted beans, long wait times and no-cream-and-sugar policy. Nearly two years later, one local coffee bigwig is doubling down on coffee’s new era, and a handful of third-wave shops are popping up all over town. The movement is full of brighter roasts, better beans, cups hand-brewed to order, and enough science to confuse your high school chemistry teacher. In short: great coffee just in time for sweater weather. Here’s where to get it this winter.

VB Chocolate Bar
Don’t let the name fool you – this shop is serious about more than chocolate. Beans hail from the likes of George Howell, Kuma Coffee and local company Kuva Coffee, who the shop has teamed up with to brew its single-origin, direct relationship beans in-house. Pour-over devotees will be happy they made the drive when their coffee is impeccably brewed in either a 24-ounce Chemex, a half-its-size Bee House or the towering Kyoto cold-drip brewer behind the bar. While you’re sipping, nibble a handmade truffle or order an old-school float in new-school flavors like pumpkin-spiced salted-caramel ice cream with butterscotch root beer.

5326 Highway N, Cottleville, 636.352.1139, vanbuskirkartisanal.com

Rise Coffee House
Bike wheels rendered into light fixtures dangle from the ceiling at this brand-new, 35-seat coffee shop in The Grove. Looking to learn what this whole third-wave movement is about? Check out the chalkboard on the back wall, which breaks down the complex pour-over method into three main steps. The how-to is more useful than the menu, which lists the brewing methods (Chemex, Kyoto and the lesser-known Kalita Wave Dripper) but provides no region of origin or flavor notes about the Goshen beans being brewed. Hopefully, as this exciting addition to the local coffee scene gains its sea legs, the staff will tiptoe into education – one of the best aspects of the third-wave movement.

4180 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.769.9535, risecoffeestl.com

Sump Coffee
If you only plan to make it to one shop on this list, make it Sump. Whether you know the perfect particle size for a Chemex, or you’ve never ventured far from Starbucks, Sump is still the best place in town for third-wave coffee. It was the first in St. Louis to dedicate itself to coffee’s new wave, and it’s been blazing fresh trails ever since. Here, house-roasted beans are precisely brewed using the method that has been matched to the flavor and character of the bean – either Chemex, V60, the flame-burning siphon or the Japanese Kyoto cold-drip. This month, Sump will become one of the few owners of an Alpha Dominiche Steampunk MOD-2 in the world. This cutting-edge device has created a new category of brewing and is able to quickly execute multiple hand-brew methods, including V60, siphon and French press. It’s sure to be something you have to see – and taste – to believe.

3700 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 917.412.5670, sumpcoffee.com

Blueprint Coffee
What happens when five former Kaldi’s baristas put their heads together? They open a killer coffee bar. This newly minted addition to The Loop puts the talented baristas’ training on display, as they roast beans in a restored 1930s roaster in back and then brew them to order in a V60 up front. While the menu reveals the regions of the house-roasted beans, a few more details on the flavor of those beans would be nice. Speaking of flavor, don’t miss out on pastries baked fresh at Comet Coffee or fresh breads slathered with cheeses from Marcoot Jersey Creamery. Looking for your nosh to complement the flavors in your cup? Ask your barista to recommend a pairing. House-made preserves are made with the brightness, boldness and sweetness of the different beans in mind.

6225 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.266.6808, blueprintcoffee.com

Kaldi’s on DeMun
Though Kaldi’s has been dabbling in third-wave coffee for a few years now, it wasn’t until earlier this year when its flagship location underwent a menu and structural overhaul that the biggest local name in coffee hedged its bets on the new wave. Today, you can walk up to the brew bar at Kaldi’s on DeMun Avenue and order your choice of four lightly roasted beans, each paired with a hand-brew method of its own. The menu guides you in region and flavor, but feel free to ask the well-trained baristas behind the bar what they recommend. Other Kaldi’s locations have started emphasizing the shift toward hand-brewed coffee as well, which is great news for coffee-coveting suburbanites out west. While Kaldi’s is never going to be a place where baristas hide the cream and sugar, they’ve made one thing clear: Third-wave coffee is here to stay.

700 DeMun Ave., Clayton, 314.727.9955, kaldiscoffee.com

Comet Coffee & Microbakery
Coffee nerds will recognize names on Comet’s menu – from local coffee connoisseurs Kaldi’s, Sump and Blueprint to internationally renowned roasters like London’s Square Mile Coffee Roasters and Seattle’s Kuma Coffee. This coffee shop, situated next to St. Louis Community College-Forest Park, opts out of the roasting game; instead, Comet focuses on hand-brewed coffee and the pastries coming out of the oven. The crew behind the bar prefers the V60 brewing method but will pull the AeroPress or Chemex off the back shelf if you ask. The couches in the back are typically filled with caffeinated college kids, breaking apart freshly baked croissants behind the screens of their glowing laptops. Sure beats the coffee we drank in college, doesn’t it? Bonus: This is one of the few places in town you can pick up a bag of beans roasted by Sump.

5708 Oakland Ave., St. Louis, 314.932.7770, cometcoffeestl.com