A college student's second home often ends up being a coffee shop. With so many options in Columbia, each with different experiences, they serve as a great place to explore on a day off.
Not only are these spots good to frequent, but by visiting them, you keep local businesses alive. With Starbucks and other major coffee chains taking over the nation, independent cafes and chains are at risk of becoming a thing of the past.
This is especially important post-pandemic, when many people started frequenting drive-thru locations due to closing dine-in locations. Local coffee shops are important to building community and culture; they're a place for people to congregate and decompress from the day. Buying locally will also benefit the city's economy and put money back into your community.
Here are some of the best places in the Columbia area to sip a cappuccino and cram for your next exam.
- Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea: This café in the city of Columbia is a newer coffee location. It opened in 2019 and is owned and managed by Greg Dodd. The original company was founded in 1993 by Wei and Lisa Bee. Sweetwaters' proximity to the university — by the Arnold School of Public Health — makes it a favorite among students. It’s one of my favorite spots due to its unique twist on drinks and its dedication to quality beverages. As a fan of cold coffee, I would argue any of the Dreamy cold brews or the French Vietnamese au lait are a great way to caffeinate your day. Dodd's personal favorite is the Caramel Ice Dragon, a sweet blended drink.
- Loveland Coffee: This coffee shop is a little bit farther from campus, but the drive is worth it. It’s located in Irmo and has a roastery located inside the coffee shop. This means not only are you getting locally roasted coffee, but you can also watch the process. Those interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of coffee and its origins should definitely plan a visit. The space is quite large, with both indoor and outdoor seating. This makes the shop a great place to go with friends or family on a Saturday morning outing. The vanilla lavender latte is my personal favorite, and it’s especially delicious over ice.
- Indah Coffee: Located on Sumter Street and Main Street, this is a coffee shop that's worth the trek. It is both a local coffee shop and roaster, similar to Loveland Coffee. The space is cozy and has a welcoming atmosphere. They sell coffee, tea, whole beans and delicious pastries you can snack on while you sip. If you can catch them on the weekends, I would definitely recommend making this next on your list. They also attend Soda City every Saturday morning.
Of course, these aren’t the only coffee places you can find and visit in the Columbia area. There are already many opening up in the upcoming year. In the wake of the pandemic, supporting local businesses is vital, so take your next cup of joe at a local shop. You won’t regret it.