For me, the best meetings, the happiest brainstorming sessions, the most emotionally moving conversations, the most productive working hours, have all happened in welcoming arms of a local coffee shop. Seriously, something about the cafe environment triggers the ‘Nina that I want to be’ in full force. I realize that a LOT of people feel similarly. The music, the fresh coffee and the constant, subtle movement aids my focus so much more than the fluorescent lights of an office space.
As you may know, I do not live in the city, I live in a suburban paradise, Odenton. While I love driving into Baltimore or Downtown Annapolis to work from a coffee shop, time is not always on my side and I need to stick closer to home and park in an actual parking lot. Like most important things in life, I turned to social media for help: I wanted to know where the best non-city coffee shops were. Guess what? Crickets.., I did get several responses though, but they said, “Nina, I can’t wait for you to share what you find because I have no idea”.
Uhhhh, what!? No one knows where any of the suburban coffee shops are!? But, the people have spoken. There is a demand and no supply of information. Answering my own question and offering a local database to those of you suburbanites like me, I give you:
The best suburban coffee shops outside of city limits.
(in no particular order)
There is a lot to love about Roggenart. They are based out of Baltimore, but have opened a location in the middle of Columbia, right off of Dobbin. It is insanely accessible to so much of Central Maryland. The food menu is broken into the following subcategories: Bread, Cakes, Croissants, Muffins. They know carbs better than anyone. Not only that, but the serve up the smoothest Italian roast coffee and espresso. They’ve enhanced the Columbia Maryland community with their artisan approach and local flare.
PRO-TIP: they offer unlimited free drink refills while you work from their location and #2, if you show up at Roggenart at closing time, you can buy all of their pastries HALF OFF.
MY RECOMMENDATION: nutella brioche and simple black coffee.
Ragamuffins Coffee House
Comfortable couches and the best mugs in town, two important factors that make Ragamuffins Coffee House a place to stay in all day. Hold on to their punch card, it fills up mighty fast. Serving up La Colombe you will seriously enjoy, I dare say, the best, most artistic Coffee House experience out in the ‘burbs. You’ll think you’re in a city, living a different life if only for a moment. This is my personal favorite coffee shop to work from for atmosphere. I was inspired to share my experience and the many layers that create this dynamic space- it elates me to see the positive impact this business has had on Main Street Laurel.
PRO-TIP: snatch one of the couches near the wall, you get the best seat in the house and outlets.
MY RECOMMENDATION: blueberry muffin and basic latte.
Old Mill Cafe
Ellicott City, MD
This is not the first nor the last time I will sing my praises for Old Mill Cafe. Being one of the first new business in Old Ellicott City after the second recently damaging flood, this location is a true beacon of hope for locals. Beyond that, the owner, Felicia, is one of my favorite humans. Genuine coffee house experience on a historic Main Street by the roaring Patapsco. It is a new business but feels like it has been there forever. Read my full review of this spot in the post: Lavender Latte. Delicious food, home-style atmosphere and wall-to-wall with ‘regulars’ who don’t even have to order, the baristas have it covered.
PRO-TIP: they host the most amazing events and participate in all of OEC community events. From live music, Valentines Day, Haunted Tarot + Tea Nights – you want to get their evites first because they sell out.
MY RECOMMENDATION: duh. Lavender latte and sit outside on their patio, you absolutely will not regret it.
Bean Rush has two locations in Anne Arundel County. If you don’t live in Downtown Annapolis, absolutely visit their original location in Crownsville. When you walk through the doors you are transformed into a state of wanderlust. The walls are filled with travel photos and you’ll quickly find out the owner is Australian. On another note, their menu is out of control! I’ve had one of the greatest cappuccinos of my life here and made unnatural noises whilst devouring a Reese’s cookie. All this goodness tucked away in the rural setting of Crownsville.
PRO-TIP: if you’re going to be there awhile, try to snag a spot towards the back corner by the comfy leather chairs – the bar top is super cool but it quickly becomes the waiting area for people who are taking their order to go.
MY RECOMMENDATION: cappuccino and blondie brownie (please send me a DM after you eat this thanking me, you’re welcome in advance).
Baltimore Coffee & Tea
Odenton AND Hanover MD
I feel like Baltimore Coffee & Tea is the most consistent presence in my coffee shop life right now. Many client meetings happen here and ya girl has clocked 100 admin catch up hours. They make it easy to work here with the HANDS DOWN best playlist and unlimited coffee. It is the easiest one for me to access and their coffee drinks so well. The atmosphere varies depending on which location you visit, but is filled to the brim with people meeting and staying a while- very few orders to go from what I’ve witnessed. Each location fits the vibe of the area, try the Odenton and then head over to Hanover to see what I mean. I so appreciate this local roaster opening a location so close to my home, it has made my neighborhood that much better.
PRO-TIP: free coffee while you are in the building AND if you’re military in uniform you get free coffee!!!
MY RECOMENDATION : sugar cookie and snickerdoodle seasonal drip roast.
Mad City Coffee
No frills, just really good coffee and food at Mad City Coffee. I’ve had a handful of work meetings here and feel good enough about the patrons and staff to bring my two wild kiddos inside for breakfast. It’s on the entry level floor of a commercial office building -but don’t let that fool you- the quality is top notch and they have an serious following of real deal coffee connoisseurs. They are a roaster as well and you can buy their blends in bulk. This is accessible for not just my Columbia friends but those traveling along rt 108 in Clarksville, Ellicott City and Fulton.
PRO-TIP: they run sales on their roasts all the time and carry specialty small batch beans for you to take home. They have no social media presence so you need to go in to find out.
MY RECOMMENDATION: you want to eat breakfast here with an egg & cheese on their english muffin with ANY of their drip coffee.
With 5 locations in the Baltimore area, I know you’ve heard of Atwater’s. I particularly love the Catonsville location. It was recently renovated but you do get the feeling that this was an old shop with an upstairs apartment back in the day. The walls are decorated with local art and countless windows offer the perfect dose of natural light. There are plenty of nooks for a quiet conversation as well as large tables that can seat upwards of 8 people. They source a lot of their produce locally and have loads of vegan and gluten-free options. I’ve blogged about this place and my love of Catonsville in: The Great 21228. Atwater’s is a staple of the walk-able Main Street in town and is loved by all locals.
PRO-TIP: watch their social media for events. In the spring time they have a 3 course dinner event that sells out fast. They also participate in local farmer’s markets depending on the season.
MY RECOMMENDATION: Latte AND fresh lemonade with their creekstone farms burger.
Bonaparte – Rustiq
You will find bread heaven at Bonaparte Bread in Savage Mill. The building retains a lot of historic significance in the community and has been renovated to accommodate small shops like this one. I felt like I was in a cafe in France sipping on delicious coffee and croissants. The seating area has an aura of a family home with vintage photos and stencil drawings, but the majority of the shop is the actual working bakery. I don’t think this would be an ideal place to work from, but if you have someone special to catch up with, definitely meet here. Eclectic, tucked away, warm and inviting just like the community it lives in, Savage. Read my full review here.
PRO-TIP: park in the lot right up front off of Foundry St. Seems simple enough, there is always parking up front and you can walk right into the shop from the patio rather than parking in the big lot out back. Also-you’ll find them at nearly 10 local farmers markets.
MY RECOMMENDATION: almond croissant and cafe mocha.
So you scrolled to the bottom for a synopsis, I don’t blame you. Let’s recap…
Where can I get good coffee in a spectacular environment without driving more than 20min?
Shoot…there are SO many awesome places! You can get the vibe of a city coffee house without the drive. The EIGHT that I’ve highlighted here are just a handful of the options; there is a growing list for me to explore and share with you. Roggenart, Raggamuffins, Old Mill, Balt. Coffe & Tea, Mad City, Bean Rush & Bonaparte- those will ALL treat you very well, I assure you.
CALL TO ACTION:
City shops, I’m talking to you, OPEN LOCATIONS IN SUBURBIA! We need coffee just as much as the city folks, in some cases more. Just because there isn’t a niche market for it, does not mean that there isn’t a demand. Too often I pass strip malls with vacancy that would be just perfect for an authentic coffee house.
Local friends, we have some great spots to patronize. Put our coffee bucks into our local economy.