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All You Need to Know About Coffee Shops in Columbia

It’s officially cold outside folks, and that means coffee, hot teas, and oh yeah, a warmed blueberry muffin please! Kidding, I can’t order food through an article, as cool as that would be. With the chills setting into everyone’s bones across campus and Columbia, it’s becoming more and more clear what everyone needs, and that’s a good cup of joe. 

Recently, I visited six coffee shops around Columbia just to try their offerings, specifically their seasonal drinks. I can simply say I was not disappointed. From overly spicy chai to aesthetically pleasing coffee shop vibes, trying coffee around Columbia is an experience I would recommend to anyone looking for some warmth and good vibes this winter season.

  1. Curiosity Coffee Bar
    • What a vibe, this place is full of love and welcome air. When I first pulled into the parking lot, seeing the Breonna Taylor sign with her name displayed in bold letters plastered on the window immediately gave me hope for the building I was about to step foot into. I tested the orange spiced chai (a seasonal drink.) Not only is Curiosity Coffee considered a coffee bar, but it also has a large and diverse menu of wines and beers. The shop has a large array of options that will surely satisfy any kind of taste buds that walk through their door!
  2. Indah Coffee
    • Since arriving on campus in the wonderful year of 2020, I have heard nothing but good things about this coffee company. From several group chats to simply asking strangers at other coffee shops about their thoughts on this place, everyone has the same input: “pretty damn awesome.” Located on Sumter Street beside Noma Warehouse, this coffee company embraces the rustic look with a delicious selection of anything from just straight espresso alongside daringly good drinks like spicy hot chocolate. While I was there, I experienced that spiced hot chocolate. This drink wasn’t really my style, but it was definitely delicious and the cayenne pepper added just the flair I needed to wake up. Indah Coffee Co. is all about its dramatic millhouse aesthetic. One of my highlights from the experience was the music. From artists like The Avett Brothers to Del Water Gap, Indah Coffee embraces the rustic outlook on life and gives us coffee that does just that.
  3. Higher Grounds
    • When I first saw this place hidden on the corner of Sumter and Taylor Street, I knew I had to try it. What originally opened as a coffee shop and bookstore in the lowest level of First Baptist Church of Columbia has now evolved into a loving and warm spot for everyone to come to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or a fancy blended drink that makes any plain cup insignificant compared to the dancing melodic flavors of my personal favorite drink: The Mint Creme. The Mint Creme is made up of peppermint, hazelnut, and vanilla, which at first sounded like an odd combination, but it turned out to be so so delicious. I honestly loved this place, so much that I’ve gone back a few times just to try different things. Their menu is so diverse and full of different things that it’ll honestly take a bit before I try everything, but I am definitely determined. Higher grounds are located a little further from the average building on campus but still within walking distance from The Horseshoe!! Also, if you’re a college kid and reading this, definitely check this location out. If you spend over $4 and you bring your school ID you can actually get a discount on your order! I definitely recommend stopping by this awesome location, and don’t forget to say “hi” to the owner Terri!
  4. Azalea Coffee Bar
    • Named after the daringly pink flower from the owner’s hometown, Azalea Coffee Bar on Devine Street is, well, devine (haha, see what I did there?) As soon as I stepped foot into the small shop I immediately knew this would be a place I would visit again. The bar is decorated in pink and other vibrant hues to make any customer feel the mission statement in their veins, which is “supporting women through coffee.” This coffee bar is women and LGBTQ+ owned and all about women empowerment. While I was there, I had the chance to try The Justice. A coffee named after the established Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Justice is a coffee with a sweet decadent taste with the flavors of vanilla syrup complimented by caramel sauce. I would 10/10 always recommend this coffee bar. From a fantastic quiet study space, to the perfect Instagram photoshoot spot, to just a place to grab a quick coffee break, Azalea has something for everyone, with an added bit of spice for all the women looking for a reason to be themselves and to be strong confident human beings.  
  5. Piecewise Coffee Co.
    • Rustic, chic, and the best boho vibes a person could get, (other than living out of a fabulously renovated van or bus) Piecewise Coffee Co. was simply amazing. The entire atmosphere of the shop was honestly just divine (and no, this shop is not located on Devine Street like Azalea, I wouldn’t make that joke twice…actually I totally would.) While I was there I tried a small variety of drinks, one being a seasonal drink deemed the Sweet Cinny Latte and the other being the classic caramel macchiato. The Sweet Cinny Latte was delicious to say the least, not too overpowered by the cinnamon but the doughy flavor being a strikingly good addition to the latte. Choosing between iced and hot? Normally I’m an iced coffee kinda gal, but this drink I would definitely recommend in its warm state to bring out the flavors. As for the caramel macchiato? In the words of my younger sister: “this is better than Starbucks!” And as a barista at Starbucks, she was right. Oh! Did I mention that Piecewise makes their own syrups for the coffee? I didn’t? Well, now you know!
  6. Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea

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Emily Okon

South Carolina '24

Emily is a second-year student studying journalism and the music industry studies at the University of South Carolina! You can usually find her behind a camera or with her nose in a fictional universe. Thursday nights are radio show nights! TuneIn to 90.5 WUSC & HD1 Columbia to listen to your favorite writer be a chaotic mess on a live radio show!
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