Driving down 23rd street on Saturday night, we stop at Cuppies & Joe, drawn by the warm light pouring out of the little house’s windows. Inside we find overstuffed couches and antique chairs and corner tables with peeling paint. Low wood beam ceilings. White, green, turquoise. Litographs on the walls. Lamplit and bustling with conversation and tonight, live music. There’s a couple in one corner reading poetry together. Across the room, three men lean over a small table. It’s a business meeting; one takes rapid notes on his Lenovo tablet.
We maneuver our way to the register, scanning the drink menu. I linger at the glass case by the register, salivating. The Lemony Snickett, a lemon cupcake with lemon buttercream, grins up at me, tantalizing. Strawberry Mary Poppins rubs shoulders with mocha Bangarang while Donnie Darko throws an ominous shadow across The Traveler. With their quirky names and unexpected flavor combinations, it’s no surprise that Cuppies and Joe is so popular.
Unable to choose a cupcake, I just order a frozen chai. It comes to me in a quaintly chipped mason jar with a silver espresso spoon rising like an exclamation point from the middle. The girls and I wander to the back room with our drinks, crowding around a small side table with a beaded lamp that jingles pleasantly every time I clumsily knock my knees against the table.
My friend Em offers a taste of her Sass-a-frass cupcake. A bite of red velvet, an explosion of cloud-light buttercream, and a sip of cold milk from a mason jar and I’m reminded why I don’t like being poor. I drown my sorrows in Hannah’s macchiato, made with a nutty espresso from Oklahoma City’s Elemental Coffee Roasters.
The atmosphere isn’t the only thing that makes Cuppies special. They also make all of their bakery items from scratch (and I assume with a lot of love. Buttercream doesn’t get that fluffy without love.) As is the case with any gourmet food or drink, Cuppies is on the pricier side. If you want to spend fifty cents on a cupcake, be Wal-Mart’s guest. If you want to extend your life expectancy and enjoyment, shell out $2.50 for a cupcake that will probably change your life during its journey to your hips. The cupcake selection is ever-changing; this isn’t a place for the habitual customer. However, their Twitter feed is updated every day with the list of available noms, so if you’re headed that way, follow their Twitter.
Next time you need a quiet afternoon studying in a cozy atmosphere, remember that you can’t go wrong with Cuppies. They’re a Keep-It-Local partner, as well, which means you have a chance for 10% off your purchase. With that sort of deal, what’s stopping you from opening up a tab and over-caffeinating? That’s right, nothing. So go visit. Give them all the stars on urbanspoon. And buy a t-shirt, too; they’re almost as good as the cupcakes, though for different reasons (I don’t recommend eating them).