If you take a stroll though the Short North, the University District, or the streets of Grandview, you’ll quickly discover something that most central Ohio foodies already know – these are the places that any fan of locally roasted coffee want to be! These neighborhoods have no shortage of amazing, small-batch coffee roasters and coffee shops serving some of the best locally brewed coffee in America. But outside of those popular dining and drinking sections of town, it can be hard for a coffee lover to find a good cup of java. With this past Monday being National Coffee Day, and me being out and about on the Southwest side of town, I felt it my duty to seek out a cup of joe that didn’t come from a fast food joint or a gas station. I’ve passed by Mean Bean regularly for a couple of years now, but haven’t ever really taken the time to stop until now.
Located at the corner of a small shopping plaza on Holt Rd, just off of Georgesville, Mean Bean is a very stylish, yet basic, coffee shop. The furniture is top notch, with the table-tops all made of a beautiful marble and the smooth wooden chairs, both tall and short, comfy. The counters are delicately detailed with an inlaid marble checkered pattern, and the flat screen TV menu boards are a snazzy touch. It all looked pretty impressive, which set big expectations for a hopefully equally satisfying product. I enjoyed the brightness of the room because of the corner windows. The girl behind the counter cheerfully greeted me right away and offered to answer any questions I may have about their menu. She was super friendly and knowledgeable enough that I didn’t have to guess at what I was ordering.
Mean Bean serves Crimson Cup Coffee products, and scattered all across the shop was advertising for their Pumpkin Spice Latte ($1.95) (it is that time of year!!). As I approached the front door from the parking lot, I saw a bigger ad taped to the window and knew that’s what I wanted. I browsed the menu board for a minute to confirm my selection, and was tempted by the other cappuccino, lattes, and specialty drinks. I stuck with my original choice, and the barista quickly whipped up my drink. I was somewhat disappointed that the end product didn’t quite resemble the advertised goods. I’m assuming that all of their drinks are served in a to-go cup, as opposed to a nice sturdy mug (as pictured), since she didn’t ask if I was taking it with me until she was calculating my bill.
Nonetheless, the flavor of the drink was rich, creamy and delicious, as expected, and I was ultimately happy with my choice of java. First pumpkin coffee of the season – check!
I decided to grab a breakfast sandwich to go with my coffee after seeing three or four different selections on the menu. I was actually surprised to see so many food options listed, because I recalled a friend who had previously visited Mean Bean, and had reported that they didn’t really offer any breakfast or lunch food aside from some muffins and pastries. I ordered the Applewood smoked bacon, egg & cheese sandwich ($2.95). There were two other options with meat (sausage or ham), and a veggie sandwich as well. Another clue that the foods may be a new feature on the menu was the fact that the barista advised me that they don’t actually sell any of their advertised lunch sandwiches yet, even though there were 8-10 options listed.
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I was pretty disappointed in their food. The sandwich was a 1/4-inch thick, pre-formed egg patty and a bit of Swiss cheese on a thin, whole wheat flatbread. These exact sandwiches, sans the meat, are available at your local grocery freezer section. I’ve had them. Basically, they’re adding one of three different meats to these pre-frozen breakfast sandwiches, and when someone (me) places an order, the paper towel-wrapped sandwich is removed from the small creamer fridge under the counter, and popped in the microwave for a minute. The result was a tasteless sandwich with a spongy egg and chewy, rubbery bacon. Big thumbs down on this one. I ate about half of it and tossed the rest.
I really wanted to like Mean Bean. It’s located in a neighborhood that I travel frequently, and I was hoping the experience would be amazingly positive, providing me with another breakfast option in the area. Unfortunately, the food itself fell flat, but the coffee and the friendliness of the barista redeemed my overall opinion of the place.
As far as a recommendation, I’d say if you’re in the area and are looking for a good coffee selection, it’s worth a stop. Crimson Cup roasts some of my favorite coffee in Columbus, so the java won’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a quality breakfast to accompany it, I’d keep searching.
Mean Bean located at 1693 Holt Rd, Columbus, OH 43228 (Map). They’re open Monday – Wednesday from 6 am – 10 pm, Thursday – Friday, 6 am – 11 pm, Saturday, 9 am – 11 pm, and Sunday, 9 am – 9:30 pm. For more info, you can “Like” them on Facebook.