Blanke’s Faust Blend Coffee
Dr. M. L. King Avenue – Wellston 1981
A long-discontinued local brand, Blanke’s is one of my favorite signs, partly because of the literary reference to Goethe’s famous work, Faust, a tragic play in two parts. The storyline has Mephistopheles, a devil, tempting Dr. Faust with 24 additional years of life in which he is to have “every pleasure and all knowledge at his command.” In this depiction, that same Mephistopheles tempts the consumer with a savory brand of coffee. While Goethe has Dr. Faust selling his soul to get the goods, in this sign the consumer need only buy the coffee. The C. F. Blanke Tea & Coffee Company was founded by Cyrus F. Blanke and operated in St. Louis from 1890 to sometime previous to World War II. The stately low-rise C. F. Blanke building still stands at 904 S. 14th Street and has been in use as commercial office space.
Wellston was once a bustling business district, but today most of its commercial architecture have fallen into disrepair. Although this building on which this sign once graced is gone, another Blanke’s Coffee sign, sans illustration, may still be seen on the west wall of the Sidney Street Cafe, located at the corner of Sidney and Salena Streets in South St. Louis.
Old Judge Coffee and Tea
Laclede’s Landing – St. Louis Riverfront
The Old Judge Coffee Building at 710 N. Second Street dates to 1884. Originally built for the offices of Scharff & Bernheimer, a prominent shipping firm of the era, this building was purchased by Old Judge Coffee in 1918 and converted into a factory and spice warehouse. At peak levels the company produced over three million pounds of coffee per month. According to the official Laclede’s Landing website, on warm St. Louis days the smell of cinnamon can still be detected from wood supports on the third floor.
St. Louis’ first and oldest district, Laclede’s Landing also contains some of the city’s oldest buildings. From warehouses to saloons to fur tanning companies to factories, The Landing has been the home of thousands of businesses since the city’s founding in 1764.