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  • Mikayla Alexander

Review: Spine Indie Bookstore & Café: Supporting a Local Business that Supports its’ Locals

By: Mikayla Alexander

Spine Indie Bookstore Front/Patio

Credit: Mikayla Alexander

Spine Indie Bookstore & Cafe is a very quaint location and its building reflects the common two-family brick homes found around South City. The business is hosted on the first floor, which contributes to its intimate setting. The interior itself does not stand out like Venice Cafe or Protagonist Cafe. Upon entry, it is simple. The bookstore itself is separated by a doorway into another room on the first floor. Although not show-stopping upon sight, this quaint little place has a lot to show.

Spine Indie Bookstore & Cafe is one of St. Louis’s newer coffee shops that opened in 2022. They are located in Benton Park West at 1796 Arsenal Street. They are open Monday- Thursday from 6 pm- 9 pm. On the weekends, Friday- Sunday, they are open 9 am- 5 pm. The major way this cafe stands out from other corporate coffee businesses such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, is the love and willingness to support our city.

As a bookstore, they work with local indie authors and publishers. Although they may cater to a specific book genre, they clearly care about independent and lesser-known authors and publishers. Spine wants to give these authors and publishers a space to be supported without having to leave their home city. It can be difficult for writers to find a space for their books, but Spine openly advertises their willingness to help indie writers reach their audiences. If you have an indie book that you would like to market, you can visit their bookstore page and go through the steps necessary.

Spine also serves coffee and tea that is directly from St. Louis businesses themselves. The roasted coffee is sourced from, Blueprint Coffee and the tea is from Big Heart Tea. Blueprint Coffee has three locations; one on Watson Road, one on Washington Avenue, and the last on Delmar Boulevard. Big Heart Tea is strictly an online store but works with various small businesses across the country. In any case, you can visit Blueprint’s and Big Heart Tea’s websites to order your supply in bulk and directly to your home.

Spine has numerous coffee options that are reasonably priced such as a two-ounce espresso for $3.50, four-ounce macchiatos and cortados for $4.00, and six-ounce cappuccinos and flat whites for $4.50. Larger options such as a 12-ounce drip coffee are $3.50, and a 14-ounce iced coffee is $4.00. (These are the current prices. They do not reflect the prices listed on the website.)

4 oz. Cortado

Credit: Mikayla Alexander

Aside from their coffee, a few of their tea options include chamomile mint, chai, and a fake coffee option that consists of cacao and chicory. They offer many more tea options in person, that are not reflected on the website’s list such as turmeric ginger and pink hibiscus. One of their best menu features is their cocktails of the month and a seasonal drink special. This month they chose a creme brulee latte as the seasonal special and an Irish coffee as their cocktail of the month, in honor of St. Paddy’s. Another way that Spine honored St. Paddy’s last week is by acknowledging our city’s Irish history (architectural and otherwise) with a presentation that was done by Unseen STL.

This presentation took place on Thursday, March 21. This is not the only time that Spine hosts presentations that revolve around St. Louis. In fact, every third Thursday of the month, Unseen STL hosts presentations. Unseen STL is a blog/newsletter that covers St. Louis history. They are also a group of St. Louisians who come together and go to historic places throughout the city. Aside from serving local coffee/tea and supporting book-writers, Spine supports many proud St. Louis creatives during their evening open hours. They only have open evening hours from Monday- Thursday, but during this time, they allow numerous artists a weekly stage.

Spine offers a range of open-mic nights; Mondays for authors, Tuesdays for comedy, Wednesdays for musicians and Thursdays for storytelling.

Spine’s outdoor chalkboard schedule

Credit: Mikayla Alexander

If you check their events page, you can see other special event nights aside from their weekly schedule, which they host every few weeks or once a month. From Friday- Sunday, they are open from 9 am- 5 pm, in which it becomes a place for friends, family, and individuals to enjoy a beverage and buy from local book writers. On Sundays, they host poetry open-mic and Saturdays they host singer/songwriter showcases.

For many people, it is simple to just stop by a drive-thru corporate coffee shop. Although it may seem convenient, you often do not see any benefits aside from the basic service you exchange for your money. Coffee shops such as Spine, however, do not just use their profit to stay open. They use our support, to support others in a large number. Spine offers a shelf for indie book writers to display their work. Spine offers poets, authors/storytellers, musicians, comedians, and St. Louis lovers a place to come together and uplift each other.

Another sign outside of Spine’s front door

Credit: Mikayla Alexander

Supporting local and independent creatives is woven into the foundation of Spine’s structure. For the weekend, they tend to operate as a standard coffee shop/ bookstore with a few showcases. During the weeknights, you will see the bulk of their showcases and main events. The interior may seem simple and small, but there is nothing simple or small about the love and acknowledgment that they give back to their city. It would only be right to give to businesses that want to give back. Visiting Spine Indie Bookstore/Cafe is more than exchanging money for coffee.


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