Who's Who in Brews: Towson's Top Coffee Shops

Towson has no shortage of coffee shops and cafés. So, which is the best? Patch visited four popular spots, and here are the results.

As home to two colleges, Towson has a thing for coffee shops. And not just the Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Paneras of the world. Towson is also home to a few great independent coffee shops. So we decided to check them out.

Best Cup of Coffee (in the most surprising location):
The Spro Coffee of Towson

The third-floor bridge between the and the building’s adjoining parking garage may be the last place you’d expect to find a great cup of coffee. But The Spro Coffee of Towson serves a swanky cup in this most unpretentious place. A café space with 11 tables sits across from the book return slots. Parents walk in with their children, book bags in hand, and the shop attracts a stream of customers from the courthouse nearby. The coffee of the day is made by French press, with single-origin beans from Origins Organic. The iced coffee is made with a 12-hour cold brew tower.

In addition to coffee, Spro offers specialty coffee drinks, such as espresso, macchiato, café au lait and cappuccino, which range in price from $2 to $4.25. Spro is owned by Jay Caragay of Spro Hampden fame, but Towson is the company’s original location. Barista Marni Hallett said all the desserts sold in the shop are baked by Caragay’s mother, and the black-bottom cupcakes and banana breads are the most popular.

Spro’s location is a win-win for book lovers and local professionals alike. “We’re not actually associated with the library, but we have this awesome relationship with them,” said Hallett. “And everyone who comes in loves coffee.”

The Spro Coffee of Towson
320 York Road
Towson, Maryland 21204


Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Free WiFi? Yes


Best Atmosphere

Bread and Circuses doesn’t open until 11 a.m., so it’s not the place for early-morning coffee runs. But it just may be the most charming coffeehouse in Towson.

Formerly the French Press Café (the old sign is still on the side of the building that faces Chesapeake Avenue), the establishment changed its name in December 2010 and now offers lunch and dinner menus, as well as a full bar. “We wanted to have a more broad expression of who we are, as opposed to an only coffee-oriented place,” said assistant manager Barry Gralley. Even with the change, Bread and Circuses still retains a coffeehouse feel. The cozy dining room has eight tables with white linen tablecloths arranged around a fireplace hearth decorated with an eclectic mix of mirrors and painted plates. Stacks of old books and a white bust of a horse’s head add to the charm. There’s additional seating in a second dining room and on the deck outside.

Brewed coffee is served in a ceramic mug and sells for $2.50. French press coffee is available for $3 or $6. Specialty coffee drinks are also available. The bistro serves contemporary American appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees (up to $19, market price for seafood). Bread and Circuses has Open Mic Night the second Tuesday of every month and live music on weekends.

Bread and Circuses Bistro and Bar
27 E. Chesapeake Ave.
Towson, MD 21286


Open 11 a.m. Monday-Saturday
Last dinner seating 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 1a.m. Friday-Saturday
Closed Sunday

Free WiFi?  Yes


Best Place for a Quick Weekend Breakfast

Towson Hot Bagels (THB) may be more of a deli, but it fully embodies the community ideal of a corner coffee shop. On weekend mornings, THB is filled with a cross-section of Towson residents. College students wearing shorts and flip-flops, families with small children dressed like they just came from church and couples in sporty weekend wear all gather in the large, cafeteria-like dining space for coffee and THB’s signature bagel sandwiches and home fries. Most tables are for two, but can easily be pushed together to accommodate a larger group.

The friendly staff and quick-moving line make THB a good choice when you’re in a rush, or just really hungry. The shop offers several flavored coffees, including a pumpkin spice option that owner Gennaro Di Meo described as “very unique.” “Breakfast on a bagel” options range in price from $2.05-$3.95, and the bagels are baked fresh daily on site. Sandwiches, many named after celebrities such as Bill Cosby and Clint Eastwood, and soups are offered for $2-$7.80.

Towson Hot Bagels
16 Allegheny Ave
Towson, MD, 21204

Monday–Friday, 6 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

Free WiFi? No, but Di Meo said he is planning to add it in the near future. If you're there, it's possible to pick up Wi-Fi from a nearby shop, but your mileage may vary.


Best Bakery Selection

The Towson location of Atwater’s will celebrate its fifth anniversary in November. This contemporary yet cozy café in the parking lot of The Shops at Kenilworth is inviting, and customers are surrounded by baked goods—cookies, muffins, tarts and even individual cherry pies—as they wait in line to place their orders. General manager Paul Anderson said the shop receives a fresh delivery of baked goods from the Catonsville Atwater’s every morning.

Atwater’s also offers soups, salads and sandwiches, which range in price from $3.60 to $13.95. “We take a lot of care in producing each item for the customer,” said Anderson. “Everything is done to order.” He said they use local and organic ingredients whenever possible.

But don’t forget the coffee. Atwater’s serves fair trade, shade-grown coffee, as well as espresso, lattes, cappuccino and café au lait. All coffee drinks range in price from $1.65 to $4.95. And, as a bonus for those who need a cup of joe on the go, Atwater’s has a drive-thru. And if you're still hungry or looking for something special, Atwater's operates a larger cafe and bread shop at Belvedere Square in Govans.

798 Kenilworth Drive
Towson, Maryland 21204


Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Free WiFi? No


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