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  • Kayla Parks

Go for the coffee, stay for the ambiance - C. Oliver Coffee and Flower Bar

There is something magical and sacred about downtown local coffee shops. Parking on old brick roads, walking from each local shop to the next, and ending it all with a cup of coffee before heading home. Good coffee is only one part that keeps people coming back. What makes a cafe feel welcoming? What makes people want to stay for hours?

In the fall of 2019, shortly after opening, I visited C. Oliver Coffee and Flower Bar. The first step in the door was airy and bright, with sunlight pouring through the endless bay windows. Outside it was a brisk fall afternoon, but stepping inside and being surrounded by thousands of golden rays of sunlight, instantly warms you. The cafe itself is dainty and organized. At the time, there were only a few flowers on the wall for photos. I felt like I had stepped into an Instagram post, or a photo in a magazine. The colors all find ways to complement each other - it was mostly muted with pops of statement pieces - like the iconic forest green velvet couches throughout. Everything has reason for being within the cafe. Every detail was captured, and it shows. The light wash hardwood plays well with the white walls, the white subway tile along the coffee bar helps showcase the espresso machines, the marble table tops add elegance, and the accents of gold tie everything together. The installation of the recent famed flower wall has inevitably drawn so much attraction, because who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by flowers while drinking coffee? Every detail, down to the ceramic mugs and geometric shaped glasses used to serve hot or iced coffee is accounted for. Every piece of the puzzle was carefully thought out and placed.

I wasted little time trying the coffee and I wasn’t disappointed. I opted out for an iced oat milk latte with cinnamon powder on top. Of course details weren’t missed here either - the espresso was delicious and fresh. The barista was friendly and kind, carrying a genuine conversation.

After getting my drink, I found a corner to enjoy my coffee. I worked quietly for a while before realizing time was flying by. I found myself capturing small moments within C. Oliver’s on my camera, they felt too attractive to pass up. In some businesses, it might be frowned upon to photograph everything - but it’s encouraged here, almost expected. C.Oliver’s feels like a safe place to come work and enjoy yourself, maybe even take a few pictures of yourself or your friends. People can follow C. Oliver Coffee and Flower Bar by finding them on Instagram @oliverscf. Their social media also provides updated hours with the Midwest weather, COVID limitations moving through the pandemic, and different things to look forward to, like their grand opening in the Galleria. With so much effort and focus put into the detailed design of the building itself, it is no surprise that everyone would be drawn to sharing their experience there and basking in its beauty.

After my initial visit, I couldn’t wait to come back. Maplewood is no short drive depending on where you’re located, but the familiarity and comfort offered by the coffee shop itself is unmatched. Somehow the owners have captured the warmth of, at the time, a breezy fall afternoon, and encapsulated a welcoming environment for every person who comes through. It’s got an incredible balance of bright and airy mixed with the aura of creativity and comfort.

Unfortunately with the uncertainty of COVID-19, restrictions and limitations play a part in how business is progressing. Luckily for us, C. Oliver’s is still open and even offers indoor dining right now - tables have been moved to encourage social distancing but people are more than welcome to come hang out for a while. The newest flower installation is an entire wall dedicated to flowers. The flowers vary from a deep mauve to a pastel pink - but never straying from the color aesthetics throughout the cafe. Each flower appears carefully picked and placed, never allowing the wall to peek through. The flower wall is just another added attraction Oliver’s holds to draw people in.

Olivia Ridgel and her longtime friend Alyssa Schuler had a vision of combining two things - coffee and flowers. So in September of 2019, they opened C. Oliver Coffee and Flower Bar. No one could have predicted the pandemic at the beginning of 2020, but C. Oliver’s has persevered with the support of the community. Now that seating is open again, it is somewhere people look forward to visiting, to get out of the house for a little bit. Great news for those who frequent the cafe - the announcement of a second location opening was revealed at the end of 2020. It will be opening up within the St. Louis Galleria in the near future - maintaining the same concepts and attention to detail as the original location in Maplewood.

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