Kaldi’s is here

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Saturday Feb. 4 marked  the grand opening of the newest Kaldi’s Coffee shop Gerhart location and the long-awaited arrival of the traditional coffee shop that most of us have been waiting for.

I was one of the first people there Saturday morning and once I entered the shop, I couldn’t help but notice the decorative pieces and accents that were both retained from the historic building and newly added by the designers of the space. The space maintains a classy gray and black color scheme, with the original indented ceiling patterns left behind from the original Gerhart building, maintaining the historic authenticity. “The wall and ceilings were repainted,” Tim Smith, one of the managers of the Kaldi’s location, said. “Other than that, our designers crafted the space.” This was noticeable with the added accents, such as the landscape pictures, centerpieces and detailed touches. The space has plenty of seating, including a bar table with the friendliest co-owners on the other side, which creates a hip vibe emphasized by the posh sectionals, a table that has stacked books and white and gold centerpieces to create a contemporary aesthetic.

I picked up a mocha decorated with steamed milk and whipped cream in a shiny black and gold mug before I gave Smith an opportunity to elaborate on Kaldi’s story and inspiration. “Kaldi’s name comes from an Ethiopian goat herder”—probably the profession that inspired the logo— “named Kaldi who discovered coffee beans back in the sixth century, which is what Kaldi’s used when they started their business in the first location in DeMun 22 years ago,” he said. Something that makes Kaldi’s special is that each location has a different menu. “We specifically consider the society and population of each location and craft the menu accordingly,” Smith said. Something that was added specifically to the Gerhart location is the smoothies, such as the kale, strawberry and matcha. These, I thought, were perfect for the influx of the SLU athletic students who came in this past weekend.

Kaldi’s was washed out with a combination of those in SLU blue, young parents with their toddlers, professionals and the older St. Louis residents with their morning newspapers. With the bustling atmosphere, the owners of the place took time to engage in friendly chats with their new customers and passed out samples of their most unique drink, the Golden Milk Tea.

“You can’t get this seasonal drink anywhere else,” Smith boasted with pride. The unique drink contains tea infused with turmeric and additional spices that provides a consistently textured and sweetened taste on the palate. Along with that, another drink that stands out on the menu is the three-part drink with espresso, water and coffee.

Incredibly intrigued, I made sure I didn’t leave without asking Smith about it. “They are our traditional coffees. In Italy, coffee is usually served with sparkling water, for palate cleansing after the strong taste of the rich coffee,” Smith said. Kaldi’s retained those coffee traditions and added a modern twist. “We make our own water,” Smith explained. “We take distilled water and add in our own nutrients and minerals [to create a pure taste].” Along with the water component to their three-part system, they also add whole coffee beans to accentuate the taste. In terms of traditional drinks, Smith highly recommends the Sidecar. “It’s my classic go-to,” he said.

One of the aspects that makes Kaldi’s special is the state-of-the-art equipment. “We have this great La Marzacco espresso machine,” Smith said as he pointed to the shiny white box. “What’s so great about it is that it gives us the consistency of the espresso that makes the coffee memorable.”

Along with these great drinks, Kaldi’s provides a variety of food, including breakfast sandwiches, salads and flatbreads, making it a perfect place to eat at any time of the day. The flavorful menu is complimented by their flexible hours consisting of 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.