UPDATE 2023: Colin’s Coffee has closed in this location and reopened inside The Daily Growler in Upper Arlington.
Date of Visit: Friday, April 18, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.
These days, you hear a lot of people talk about the local. Shop local. Eat local. Buy local. Support local. But what does that mean? Sometimes it’s geographically defined, sometimes it’s by municipal borders, sometimes it’s more of a mentality. I’m fully in support of it. I think local isn’t the only way to go – there’s a lot to enjoy and support globally – but I think there’s a great power in meeting and supporting and interacting with the local, in turning what is usually a business transaction into something personal and human. All across Columbus there are many opportunities to shop local. In this case, supporting local means supporting a guy named Colin.
Colin Gawel is known to many in the Columbus music scene. He’s long been a mainstay of local music, playing in the bands Colin Gawel and the Lonely Bones, as well as Watershed, which was the subject of a recent book by one of its band members.
On top of his busy touring and playing schedule, Colin owns and runs a coffee shop in Upper Arlington, right at the intersections of Fishinger and Riverside. It’s the epitome of the local coffee shop, and he runs it that way. Signs in the windows and on the walls plainly state, “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.”
The shop is ideally situated on the corner of a small strip mall. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of light to the long, thin space. There are rows of tables, good music playing (you would expect that), a shelf of books to borrow, and free wifi. Everything you want in a coffee shop, minus the corporate ownership.
For our mid-morning snack, I opted for two Colin’s Coffee signatures. The first is the McRoy Breakfast Sandwich. It’s about as simple and loveable as you can get: egg, cheese, and bacon on a Block’s everything bagel. (Side note: Colin also serves locally made scones that arrive on Wednesdays. We missed out on them, visiting on a Friday.)
The second signature was the Deluxe Coffee. It’s $2.50 for any size. Colin said he created it after watching customers dumping sugar and creamer into his coffee, thus masking the flavor and overloading the drink. Instead, he added the Deluxe to the menu: he steams milk into the coffee and adds dashes of vanilla and cinnamon. The drink is lightly sweetened and doused with a little milk, while still being distinctly a cup of coffee. I recommend it.
And that’s about all there is to the shop: a comfortable atmosphere, a welcoming owner, good coffee and good eats. Colin’s Coffee is the epitome of the local. Almost any time you’re there, you’ll be talking to the owner as he makes your coffee or your sandwich. Even for the short time we sat in the shop, I watched Colin greet numerous customers by name and chat with them.
Colin’s makes me think of the now-gone Coffee Table in Short North. I lived across the street from the Coffee Table for a couple years and miss it sorely. There’s something a little imperfect (in a good way) about it, the way it has the character that’s lost through slick corporate advertising and branding. If Upper Arlington is your area, make Colin’s your regular coffee shop; if not, make sure you stop by for a Deluxe when you’re in the neighborhood.