Dave recently suggested that we spend the summer checking out all of the local coffee shops in the area. Between our desire to read more books and the constant stream of work that needs done on our computers -- it seemed like a really good idea. On Saturday we woke up to rain in the forecast and then headed out to Four Kids Coffee near Belden Village Mall. The timing of our visit was even more opportune, because Four Kids Coffee just opened a brand new location in Alliance, OH right across the street from the University of Mount Union campus. As I've mentioned before Mount Union is near and dear to my heart and I'm slightly disappointed that this wasn't available while I was a student, I would have spent a lot of money at Four Kids Coffee (more on why later).
Four Kids Coffee is a "family focused coffee shop" named for the owners' four kids. There is a meeting room available for larger groups (you can reserve the meeting room by stopping into the shop or by calling) as well as a play area for children known as Creative PlaySpace (more details here). Aside from these two amenities, there is plenty of seating inside for individuals/small groups, an outdoor patio, and a drive-thru.
Owners Catherine and Jason developed their special mission focused on an allergen free space after their youngest child Lilly-Kate developed very severe food allergies as a child -- the Sacketts decided to turn their newly planned cafe into a place where anyone with food allergies could enjoy food without worry. All of the products at Four Kids Coffee are "Lilly-Kate Approved (LKOK)" meaning they are free of -- gluten, dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, artificial food colorings, and refined sugar. Guests are also reminded at every entrance to leave outside food and drink in their car, since some people are so sensitive to their allergens that even some particulate in the air can trigger their allergies. Due to the complexity of each individual's reaction to allergens, guests with food allergies (and the parents of those with food allergies) are encouraged to examine labels; ask questions; and take a peek in the kitchen at Four Kids Coffee. You can find more information about the Lilly-Kate kitchen and the policies and procedures followed by Four Kids Coffee here.
As a result of Four Kids Coffee removing the top eight allergens along with everything Lilly-Kate is allergic to from their menu, a lot of of the items at Four Kids Coffee are vegan/vegetarian friendly.
We arrived at Four Kids Coffee's main location in Canton a little after 11:00 and there were already quite a few people in line ordering. I picked a table and set-up my laptop and gave Dave free reign to order us whatever food and drink he thought we would both like off the menu.
Dave selected a Cappuccino for himself (a favorite of his since we have a cat named Cappuccino).
I had a White Chocolate Frappuccino with a double shot of espresso.
A Veggie Wrap -- "a blend of veggies, house made black beans, basmati rice, and balsamic vinaigrette" (vegan).
A House Veggie Salad -- "our house lettuce blend covered with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions" (also vegan).
And a brownie. Doesn't that brownie look so good, I can only assume that this brownie is also vegan since there is no dairy or eggs used as an ingredient. As a longtime vegetarian, I'm no stranger to vegan baked goods, but if I'm being honest they sometimes scare me. If you've ever had a bad vegan baked good, you know what I'm talking about.
If someone had presented this brownie to me at work and left out the fact that it is free of "gluten, dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, artificial food colorings, and refined sugar" I don't know if I could have identified that there was something "different" about this brownie. It was delicious, moist, and had the consistency of a regular (egg, dairy, gluten, and refined sugar filled) fudgey brownie.
We happily ate our lunch and ended up staying at Four Kids Coffee for about two and a half hours instead of our intended one and a half hours. The free wifi allowed me to get work done and even though it is a family friendly shop (which of course includes a lot of both happy and sad screams from visiting children) Dave was able to finish reading the book he had been working on for a week or so.
The decor for the most part was very industrial with clean lines and chrome tables. But mixed in with the industrial decor elements was a hint of nature.
Overall, this was a very successful Saturday visit to a new coffee shop. The food was good, the atmosphere was great, and I managed to get a lot of work done. Since we'll be cafe hopping throughout the summer I might not be back to sit down and have a cup of coffee at Four Kids Coffee, but I will certainly be using the drive-thru. I prefer to support local coffee shops and I'm happy that we've found such a great place close to home.