Bigger isn’t Better: Independent Coffee Shops Pack Big Flavor Into Small Spaces

EvelynBy Evelyn Ealey, Fort Mill HS (Fort Mill, South Carolina)

Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have become increasingly popular over the past decade, and coffee consumers have started to forget about the charming coffee shops that they have right in their own backyard. Here in Columbia, South Carolina, there are many small, independent coffee shops that deserve attention. Just on Main and Sumter streets, Indah Coffee Company and Curiosity Coffee Bar greet coffee lovers with a variety of imported beans from exotic locations.

Maggie is a regular customer at Indah and finds Indah’s environment great for her because she likes to socialize and talk with other customers.

Indah Coffee Company recently opened in May 2017. Owner Nick Hauser has always had a passion for coffee. He traveled to South America, and found the process of harvesting and roasting coffee fascinating.

“As far as coffee goes, it is the most complex beverage on the planet, and there are so many different variables that you have to be able to control,” Hauser said.

Each barista at Indah Coffee Company knows to control each aspect and step of the coffee making process, which makes for a rich and delicious experience for the customer with each sip.

Domonique Turnipseed, one of the talented baristas at Indah Coffee Company, lived in Los Angeles for three years gaining experience and knowledge about coffee.

“When I worked in LA, I feel like there was much more support for specialty coffee,” Turnipseed said.

Specialty Coffee-3

According to USA Today, “She is, above all else, the symbol of affordable luxury. You may not be able to afford a McMansion — or a Lexus to park in its garage — but millions of us are willing to make that $5 splurge at Starbucks simply because it helps us feel a bit better about ourselves. It is, after all, the “luxury brand” in its category,” says Bradford Hudson, senior lecturer in marketing at Boston College. Instead of splurging on Starbucks, consumers should give back to their community by buying from local coffee shops.

“In Los Angeles, specialty coffee is an ethical commodity,” Turnipseed said.

Indah Coffee Company puts a lot of time and care into their coffee, which makes them different from a chain coffee company. Turnipseed said he would rather make a customer wait rather than give them a mediocre cup of coffee.

Another popular local coffee spot in Columbia is Cool Beans Coffee Company located on College Street.  Many students from the University of South Carolina find themselves at Cool Beans when they need a pick-me-up or just a quick snack in between class.

Kendall Farmer is a graphic design student at the University of South Carolina and a barista at Cool Beans. Students like Starbucks because it is fast and quick, but Cool Beans has something unique.

“It’s a very homey vibe; it’s not a stale environment. We have a good network of people in the community, and people love to come back here,” Farmer said.

Merie “Kitty” Mirosavich, the owner of Cool Beans continues to work as a barista, and greets everyone when they walk through the door.

“We always think that Cool Beans is a home away from home, and I think that is a big difference. We really get to know people in a different way,” Mirosavich said.

Curiosity Coffee Bar is another local shop that deserves Columbia’s attention. Curiosity Coffee Bar is tucked away on Main Street, and it too is unique in its own special way.

“We focus on finding the best coffee that was sourced responsibly,” owner Greg Slattery said.

Curiosity Coffee sources their beans from 1000 Faces Coffee in Athens, Georgia. Curiosity also has many loyal customers who come back on a daily basis.

“I generally don’t have to write a name on a cup because I know them and their order, and I think people appreciate that,” Slattery said.

Jessica Sheldon was a new customer that discovered Curiosity Coffee through Instagram.

“That I could bring my dog was a big factor,” Jessica Sheldon said. Sheldon enjoys the fact that she can have her morning cup of coffee and bring her furry companion, Esmeralda, along with her.

Columbia’s love for local coffee allows local businesses to step into the spotlight for a change amidst Starbucks and Dunkins on nearly every corner.  There are so many cute, warm, and enticing places for students, faculty, and locals to choose from in Columbia. Each local shop has its own unique style and vibe, and customers clearly stop and appreciate that. Local businesses give customers that sense of being at home in their community. What’s better than enjoying a cup of coffee at home?

[For more information, check out the coffee team’s official Twitter account.]



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