The legend goes that Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd, caught his flock of goats eating berries on a nearby bush. Soon after, his normally sluggish goats were dancing and prancing about. Kaldi tried some of the berries himself and could not help frolicking along with them. Kaldi then realized that the cherry-red berries were the cause of his goats increased energy. And so, goes the story of how we all now dance for coffee.
It’s undeniable the effects coffee can have. One of my favorite spots in St. Louis to be productive is at Kayak’s, a rustic coffeeshop curbing Forest Park across from Washington University. Kayak’s is owned by Kaldi’s Coffee, a local speciality coffee company, that owns several coffeeshops in the area. The prancing goat graces their logo and sets a tone for the company that strives to create memorable coffee experiences. At Kayak’s you’ll dance for more than their coffee.
Sitting in Kayak’s its hard to believe your’e not in a cabin somewhere in the mountains surrounded by snow. Large logs stack and criss cross to create walls and a ceiling. A stone fireplace with a wooden mantle overlooks the main seating area. Stone columns frame the barista station. Look up. Snowboards suspended from the ceiling are fitted with lights. Carved wooden signs identify restrooms and the employee lounge, or “ski locker”. Chairs seem to be made of lacquered branches. Bar seating stretches the length of one wall with ceiling to floor windows. Sunlight streams in from the patio. Pull down shades allow for some control when sitting at the window. A smaller room off to the back gets even cozier with dim lighting. Blues, reds, and greens extend the room into a mountain range quadriptych. Feel like dancing yet?
Tables are usually covered with laptops and textbooks. Seats are usually filled with college kids or young professionals. Kayak’s even accepts Bear Bucks, the cashless card for students at Washington University. Wifi is easily accessed by asking for the password. Outlets aren't in ample amounts but there are several strategically placed throughout. The metro station, right out side, brings in a variety of commuting traffic. There’s a bustling atmosphere here. Busy energy floats through the air. Co-mingling with chatter you hear “What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner or “Take My Breath Away” by Jessica Simpson. I, of course, danced to both of them.
Coffee is served in white mugs. Latte’s are artfully designed with floral froth. You can purchase a cup or a bag of Kaldi’s specialty blends. Drip coffee serves up hot cups of single origin roasts from places like Ecuador and Rwanda. My typical order is whatever is on special. The mint latte had a powerful punch of dark roast with mint mixing in the background. Tea is by the pot, Firepot Nomadic Teas, to be exact. Tea lovers will appreciate the pure origins, pure ingredients, and purity in values this company practices. There’s even all natural, whole fruit smoothies to dance over. The Peach smoothie has ginger and lemon - the perfect partner for exploring Forest Park during hot summers in St. Louis.
I want to tell you about the food options at Kayak’s because they have a pretty large menu. However, I've fallen in love at first visit with an item on the menu and have only ordered something else once. I do know that breakfast is served all day. And, I’m meaning breakfast besides the typical pastry case muffin or quiche slice. There’s also a varied selection of sandwiches, salads, pizza, and wraps. Sides are orange wedges, Billy Goat chips (a locally owned chip company), or a yogurt-parfait.
The item I cannot resist is the Toasted Cheese. Add cheesy baked eggs, stolen from the breakfast side of the menu, and spinach. Get the parfait as a side. Companion white bread is delivered to the table, crunchy crusted, spread with herbed cream cheese, oozing cheddar and feta between eggs, spinach, and tomato. Greek yogurt nestles beneath house-made granola. You won’t believe this granola - steel cut oats, raisins, and dried cranberries. Strawberry and almond slices sit atop with a drizzle of honey sweetening it all. The Sicilian Breakfast sandwich is quite similar. Rustic white bread is topped with cheesy baked eggs, marinara, pesto sauce, and mozzarella. Ask for it toasted. Melted mozzarella moves like no other cheese.
Kayak’s is a local hub for coffee dancers. Staying for a few hours is typical. Baristas and servers stop and chat with regulars often. Not finding a seat may occur especially during peak times, which according to Google, is any time between 9 am and 6pm. That’s pretty busy! Luckily, Kaldi’s has another coffeeshop about 7 minutes away. Follow the goat and prance on over if you want a slightly quieter atmosphere.