black lab coffee bar photo by alexa beattie

Black Lab Coffee now open in University City inside Washington University's Lewis Collaborative building

Black Lab Coffee opened at 725 Kingsland Ave. in University City earlier this year and, in a way, we’re ruining the surprise. Embedded in Washington University's Lewis Collaborative building – a 3.75-acre hub for the arts – it’s a little hard to find, but more than worth the trip. Surrounded on all sides by graveled, leafy gardens, Black Lab is a gleaming space, notable mostly for a giant, swirly, uber-mod floor-to-ceiling-mural. You’ll probably want to sit at the bar because that’s where owner Tommy Meyer is, grinding beans, banging grinds. Or, where employee Sammy Durkin is, restocking the little bakery case with monster chocolate chip cookies (still faintly warm, still a little melty if you get there at the right time) and some extremely fine, extremely moist banana bread.

Meyer, originally from St. Louis (he grew up in South County) has returned to his hometown via a particularly circuitous route. For a short time he ran a mobile coffee bar in L.A., then headed to Colorado, then to New York before deciding to head home and find himself a brick-and-mortar.

In addition to his handmade cookies and banana bread, Meyer offers a small selection of toasts – peanut butter and banana, cucumber with Deli Divine dill schmear or avocado with feta and pepita seeds – which feel like just the right thing whether it’s breakfast time or lunch. The bread he uses comes from Union Loafers Cafe & Bread Bakery, the kombucha from Confluence. Blueprint Coffee shows up from time to time. Like Meyer said, he’s “all about community.”

That spirit is reflected, too, in the layout – the myriad comfy choices of where to sit. We like the central, wraparound marble bar. And we also enjoy the sofas and work tables. And, it’s also pretty nice to take your coffee or your hot, iced (or sparkling) matcha outside where the hydrangeas are on the point of bloom and there’s another mural; this one of parakeets. All in all, there’s seating for about 40.

Meyer lives in the Central West End with, wouldn’t you know it, his black lab.