Review: St. Louis' The Cup

Here's another delicious dispatch from our Seattle-based stringer, ELD Images and his wife, Muffin. This time, they are covering St. Louis cupcakeries, and this is part 1 of a 2-part series.

Although its actual name is The Cup, and website is, we concluded the best name would just be “Crave,” as that seems to capture the slightly offbeat, slightly urban feel at the Central West End mothership of what is now a five-store cupcake mini-empire. The Cup grew out of Ericka Frank’s Cakery, which focused on cakes, and did some cupcakes on the side. The Cup now has five stores: two in Knoxville, TN, one in Edwardsville, IL, and one in Springfield, MO, in addition to the one we visited in St. Louis, where we met up with co-owner Nicole Puyear. Nicole focuses on the marketing and development aspects of the business, leaving the culinary end to Ericka Frank, the founder, and other members of the team.

From left: Nicole, Alexis, Andy, Lauren, Rachel, Erica – who handles product research and development, and is not to be confused with Ericka.

 The Cup

Center: Island Dream,
Clockwise from front: Cherry Kicker, Hope, Mummy, Monster, Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Cup, Gold Rush, Rally Cup.

After sharing the history of The Cup, Nicole explained that The Cup emphasizes creating moist cakes, with homestyle buttercream frostings, and streamlined, but clever decorative techniques. At The Cup, cupcakes are viewed as fun comfort food, rather than high art. That ethos extends to the décor, as each café is designed and decorated to fit with and reflect the neighborhood it’s located in. While the perspective may be that of cupcakes as fun and comforting, The Cup crafts delicious cupcakes that were a hit with all of our tasters, some of whom had a reputation for not really liking much of anything. It was refreshing to hear from Nicole that The Cup doesn’t try to be all things to all people. She is rightfully confident that most people will love The Cup’s products; she is more than willing to send customers to her competitors if that’s what will provide the customer with what she or he is looking for.

Clockwise from bottom center: Confetti, Grasshopper, Cuppa Coffee Cake, Tuxedo, Gold Rush, Double Chocolate

Nicole’s favorite cupcake, the Tuxedo, is one of the seven classic cakes available every day, and has the expected flavors from childhood. It’s hard to argue with dark chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream frosting and a mini-Oreo cookie. I didn’t even try. She is also a big fan of the seasonal Pumpkin Harvest and limited edition Mummy. Going slightly off the cupcake grid, Nicole also loves the Cakewich, two sliced cake tops bonded by buttercream frosting. 

The Mummy!

One of the things we always like to inquire about is any cupcake-related transformational moment. While Nicole couldn’t identify a specific life-altering event involving cupcakes (or The Cup), she was quick to point out that the success of The Cup, in evolving from a single neighborhood shop to five, has allowed it give back to the communities it operates in: “If every cupcake shop could [affect] the community it’s in, then a cupcake really can make a difference.” And as one customer noted: “There’s nothing better than a cupcake shop…I don’t care how old you are.” 

The Hope.

Cherry Kicker (Radio City Rockettes)

The Cup’s “Baking a Difference” program has each of the five shops choosing its own charity. On a broader scale, some of the revenue generated by specialty cakes made by The Cup goes directly to charity. On our visit, the Cherry Kicker was customized with a Radio City Rockettes fondant as a tribute to the upcoming Rockettes Christmas Spectacular show; the Hope; and the (National Football League’s St. Louis Rams) Touchdown/Chocolate Rampage all have a portion of proceeds going to charity. 

St. Louis Rams Football Touchdown/Chocolate Rampage cupcake.

Red Velvet -- spooky!

The most popular cupcake—according to Rachel, who works the front counter—is Confetti, followed by Red Velvet. Rachel’s current favorite cake is the Pumpkin Harvest, while her overall fave is the Raspberry Beret, which was unfortunately unavailable the day of our visit. 

Confetti (most popular!)

The Pumpkin Harvest is one of The Cup’s many seasonal cakes. It’s a moist pumpkin spice cake with a cinnamon buttercream frosting, topped with chocolate bark. A bite of this one immediately recalled Thanksgiving dessert. Creating updated twists of familiar flavors is one of the goals of The Cup. Mint fans will love Grasshopper, a dark chocolate cake with vanilla mint buttercream, with an Andes mint crown, available every four weeks. Delicious! The Cuppa Coffee Cake, a daily classic, is a sour-cream coffeecake with cinnamon streusel topping and sugar glaze drizzle. It’s an old-fashioned, homestyle cake that’s light and fluffy, and not too sweet. Lighter on the icing, too. This one’s just what the doctor ordered for a lazy Sunday morning, perhaps right before football. Created for the St. Louis Rams football team, we were treated to a sneak preview of the Chocolate Rampage. Balanced and moist, the Rampage is a light chocolate cake with notes of caramel in the filling and a chocolate ganache topping, capped with the Rams logo in fondant. It’s the perfect football game watching cake and it scored big time. Small wonder why The Cup is the official cupcake provider of the Rams. 

Pumpkin Harvest.

Cuppa Coffee Cake, left.

 Grasshopper on the left.

Although our time at The Cup was pretty brief, it was clear that this is a team that loves working together. They have a lot of fun and there’s mutual respect. While The Cup’s business is cupcakes, it’s also about building community, and all indications are they’re doing a great job on both ends.

The Cup - St. Louis

You can follow The Cup on Twitter or like them on Facebook (links updated to reflect St Louis West End location).

Prices: $2.75 - $3.25

All images and copy by ELD, on assignment for Cupcakes Take the Cake.

Stay tuned for the second St. Louis cupcake shop review, Jilly's Cupcake Bar & Cafe, up next!



Lily said…
Love this!! I love hearing reviews. I actually live in Chicago, and love trying out all the bakeries up here. Now I'm going to have to get over to St. Louis!