Colin’s Coffee – Upper Arlington, OH

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Colin’s Coffee is a shop that’s caught my eye on many a drive-by, while out and about running errands or riding along with family or friends, but one that I’ve never actually had the opportunity to visit. I’ve always been curious about this corner coffee shop near the intersection of Riverside Dr. and Fishinger Blvd., so now that I have a permanent office job in the area, I swung over during a lunch break recently to grab a caffeine pick-me-up and possibly a snack, too.

Colin’s Coffee is run by a dude named Colin Gawel. In addition to running the coffee shop, which he does on a full-time basis, Colin is also a local musician who has had big success as part of the band, Watershed. During my visit, I got a chance to have a long chat with Colin, who told me that he no longer tours much as part of the music industry, but credits his time on the road with contributing to his coffee appreciation and education. Colin took what he’d learned by watching and drinking coffee while touring, and decided to expound on that and open his own shop just around the corner from where he lives, with his wife and son.

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Colin’s Coffee has an incredible local coffee shop vibe, and that’s exactly the way that Colin wants it. He advertises the shop as a sort of ultimate anti-chain store, with these great signs posted all over the building and even in the parking lot! The tag line at the bottom of his menu board even offers a bit if sage advice – “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.”

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The shop is designed with doors at either end of a long, slender space, and a big counter that stretches the length of the inner wall, which is where Colin does his thing daily. He’s quite the friendly owner, welcoming every customer with a smile and a willingness to talk coffee, and help patrons with coffee and food selections.

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Seating is pretty well covered with a mix of tables inside, several bar stools at the end of the counter, and a sidewalk patio area. The dining room is illuminated well, and the place was tidy and neat. All things that you want in a comfortable, local shop.

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As for the menu, Colin’s Coffee is true to its first love – coffee. That being said, there is a small food menu that features several breakfast and lunch sandwiches, along with specialties like hot oatmeal, and a fan favorite tomato soup. There’s also plenty of typical coffee-shop faves like bagels (made locally by Blocks Bagels), muffins, and pastries. One of the special items that Colin sells are scones made by a local baker, My Sweet One. She delivers a fresh batch every Wednesday, and I was told that customers flock into the shop just for these treats. See this basket? Colin told me it was overflowing just a few short hours before my visit. When I got there, there were four.

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Colin offered me a complimentary sample scone (hey, I couldn’t refuse…that would be rude! Regular price is $2.00), and I broke into it almost immediately. This Wednesday’s featured flavor was blueberry, and as you can see, it was chock full of fresh, sweet, whole berries. The pastry itself was dense and moist, but flaky. It had terrific flavor, and the berries amped the intensity up ten-fold! The sweetness of the fruit was the perfect contrast to the savory, buttery dough. And the sprinkle of sugar on top put it over-the-top delicious for me!

Now on to the coffee…

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Like most shops, Colin’s Coffee features a wide variety of hot & cold coffees, teas, smoothies, juices, hot cocoa, and more. I opted for something cold, and went with their house specialty – the Polar Blast ($3.00/20 oz), which was a blend of iced coffee, chilled milk, and choice of espresso or vanilla (I chose espresso based on Colin’s recommendation). The flavors were bold and strong, and exactly what I was looking for on a warm Summer day. It also went very well with the scone. I highly recommend it if you stop in!

I really enjoyed my visit to Colin’s Coffee that afternoon. Colin is about as friendly a guy as you’ll ever want to meet running a coffee shop, and is more than happy to answer questions about his drinks, food, or anything else you want to talk about. The store is situated just across the parking lot from the McDonald’s on the corner, and Colin told me that often times, customers who come in will sit and watch in amazement at the folks waiting in line for boring, fast food java, when such a great, local product is just yards away.

Do yourself a favor…don’t settle for ho-hum coffee. In the words of Colin, “Why wait in the drive thru? Choose small business!”

Colin’s Coffee is located at 3714 Riverside Dr, Columbus, OH 43221 (Map). They’re open from 6:00 am – 3:00 pm daily, and can be found on Facebook and more info is available at Colin’s website.

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