There’s no shortage of coffee shops in a college town, especially in the form of chain stores that seem to be scattered around every few blocks. However, some coffee fans feel that a key part of the coffee experience is lost in a chain. For those seeking something more personal, walk no further than Lakota Coffee Company, vending for the first time at this year’s Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival.
Located on Ninth Street in downtown Columbia, Lakota opened its doors in October 1992. Owner Skip DuCharme’s passion for fresh-roasted coffee sprang from a trip to an Austin roastery with his brother.
What followed was a yearlong trip around the world sampling coffee and eventually the opening of his own shop. The name Lakota, meaning “friendly people,” was inspired by the Lakota, also known as the Western or Teton Sioux, the indigenous people of the Great Plains.
With its original 1920s brick walls, hardwood floors and handcrafted wooden furniture, it has a rustic western atmosphere enjoyed by students and Columbia residents alike that come to work, talk with friends or simply enjoy a hot cup of joe.
Lakota is committed to fresh-roasting their coffee, roasting small batches of their beans by hand every day. A specialty item specific to Lakota is their coffee shake, made up of coffee ice cream and espresso blended together. Besides coffee, their other products include tea, sandwiches and baked goods.
Andrew DuCharme has been the general manager at Lakota for six years and believes the shop does its namesake proud with its service.
“It’s a locally-owned, mom-and-pop coffee shop,” Andrew says. “When somebody walks in they’re not just another customer, not just another ticket number. It’s a more welcoming environment.”
The college-town location means that the clientele is always shifting and changing. The coffee shop is a much busier place when school is in session due to the influx of more than 30,000 students every fall. As Mizzou’s enrollment grows each year, Lakota’s number of customers increases as well.
“Business is always looking on the up and up,” Andrew says.
The constant cycle of college students in and out of Columbia every year also means that Lakota’s employees are always changing, but Andrew says that meeting so many young people and being able to provide hardworking students with a paycheck is one of his favorite parts of the job.
“I enjoy seeing employees graduate and move on to professional jobs,” he says.
There’s no doubt you have a lot of options when prowling a college town for a cup of coffee. But when it comes to providing the very best coffee experience, Andrew believes that Lakota provides service that lives up to the coffee shop’s very personable name.
“You walk in and we know you by name and we know the drink you’re getting,” he says. “It’s a personal experience.”
Keep an eye out for this “friendly” coffee shop’s booth at this year’s fest for all your caffeine needs.