The coffee shop as a cultural monolith evokes certain images in the minds of most people: cities nestled in the mountains of the PNW, Edison bulbs humming somewhere in Brooklyn, espresso served at historic European plazas, etcetera etcetera.
The Midwest, not so much.
However, I’m happy that after visiting 10 shops from Central Texas to North Jersey I can confidently say you would be sorely missing out if you overlooked the excellent coffee that can be found in the space between the Mississippi and Hudson Rivers (and Texas).
Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits - Waco, TX
This shop is one of the best examples of a bar-cafe hybrid which is becoming more and more popular. They take both seriously with a modbar setup on the coffee side and a well stocked bar on the other. They exclusively brew Apex Coffee (you can listen to our interview with Apex’s head roaster here) which is also based in Waco. They also have a rooftop space for enjoying the Texas sunshine and an excellent view of Waco’s town hall.
Cultivar - Dallas, TX
Everything from boots to barbecue has a Texas twist to it in Texas, coffee is no different. Along with the unique artwork and aesthetic, I was pumped to get a complimentary bottle of Topo-Chico, Texas’ favorite sparkling water, with my cortado. Which was excellent. They also had a selection of wine for purchase in the shop as well, rounding it out as a one stop shop for good beverages.
High Low - 3301 Washington Blvd
Although there is not a direct correlation between aesthetics and taste, High Low goes above and beyond on both fronts. Everything from the the library inspired space to the multiple options for espresso felt curated and high quality. There’s also a gallery and co-working space on the second floor. Local roaster Blueprint Coffee is behind the shop and provides all the delicious coffee. I really loved this shop. I got a cortado and Columbian pour over.
Rise Coffee - 4176 Manchester Ave
Rise is the type of place that feels warm before you even step in, oozing coziness and hospitality effortlessly. The baristas here were quick to praise other shops in town and help me select a bag to purchase. With the free drink I got with my bag I got to take part in the “coffee to the people” program that lets customers buy a cup of coffee or a meal for their neighbors, giving a tangible example of their mission to not just serve great coffee but serve their community. The bag of Zambia we got from here has been a favorite among the States of Coffee team.
Comet Coffee - 5708 Oakland Ave
In a little bit of an atypical location, Comet Coffee is right off of I-64 near the neighborhood of Dogwood. I had a little bit of a treacherous time backing into a front parking space, but later found out there’s a much easier parking lot in the back. However, I’m glad I made the trek! Comet is a multi-roaster shop that takes its coffee seriously. The shop feels streamlined to give you the best experience with the least amount of fluff. They had my favorite presentation of a tasty cortado with espresso from Sweet Bloom Coffee (Denver, CO).
PROVIDER Coffee & Long Drinks - 1101 E 16th St
I wish I had more time to spend in Indy but I’m glad I got to stop here. Part coffee shop, part cocktail bar, PROVIDER provides (I’m sorry) a sophisticated understanding of how different flavors work together. I got a ginger latte, which is is flavored with ginger, turmeric and chili de arbol. The combination was unique and balanced with the chili de arbol giving a really pleasant kick to the mellow flavors. This was the only flavored drink I drank on my trip and I’m glad I broke my #gibsallday streak for this one. I loved the mix of dark wood, warm frosted lamps and bright pink neon that filled the space. They brew beans from Indianapolis based roaster, Tinker Coffee.
Columbus surprised me with how into coffee it was as a whole. So much so that the city produces a “Columbus Coffee Guide” with over 10 shops to go to (and there’s even more worth going to not included in it) many of which roast their own beans. Every shop was eager to talk up the other places in town and I left caffeinated and warm-hearted. Columbus also happens to be home to some of my favorite food ever, more on that in a sec. A big shoutout to Jacob and Ashley Shockley for hosting me and giving me ALL the coffee recommendations!
Fox in the Snow - 1031 N 4th S
Fox in the Snow is the perfect place to start your day. Serving Tandem Coffee from Maine and some of the best breakfast sandwiches and pastries around. The space was full of greenery, light and lots of people. I barely got a spot at a table rubbing shoulders with some locals. Thankfully it’s Ohio and my table-mates, Michelle and Kelly, were super friendly. I had a cortado and a huge bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.
One Line Coffee - 745 N High St
The Midwest in the winter is cold, windy, and sometimes a pain to walk around. Thankfully there are cozy shops like One Line Coffee to keep you warm. Though it was smaller than most of the other shops I visited on my trip, the shop has a big vision of sustainability and roaster-farmer relationship. It was great to see a shop so dedicated to roasting quality coffee (my cortado was excellent) and making sure that the farmers growing their beans are treated well and earning a living wage.
Mission - 11 Price Ave
For the directionally confused, like me, this shop is right off N High St on Price Ave (as the address states) not on the corner (like I thought). However, I’m very glad I found it though, look for the cool garage wall. This shop/roaster had a really distinct feel to it, with darker walls and tables but tons of natural light that comes in through their garage front windows. I really hope they open up the front in the summer. The coffee here was excellent, and the staff was really thoughtful in helping me pick out a bag to purchase.
Brioso Coffee - 53 N High St
“Are you ready for the best coffee in the world?” is what was said to me with my (beautifully presented) cortado. I don’t think I can speak with authority for the entire worlds coffee but I can say that it was one of the most flavorful drinks I had on my trip. I got to spend some time chatting with Jeff, the owner, about how much care goes into everything from pulling espresso shots to roasting to the atmosphere of the new shop-which looked great. The baristas here were some of the friendliest I met. Willy, a barista, literally ran out of the shop to talk to me about @lattes_on_deck which you should definitely check out. I had a ton of fun and drank some excellent coffee here.
The Roosevelt Coffeehouse - 300 E Long St
The last stop on my trip, The Roosevelt definitely had the biggest space of any of the shops and they put it to good use hosting events and staying connected to their community. They are a nonprofit shop and roaster dedicated to supporting “organizations fighting the injustices of hunger, unclean water and human trafficking. Locally and around the world.” It’s a really great place and serves great coffee. They also had my favorite bag design on the trip, with each roast having a different color and animal associated with it. So cute.
And that’s it! Thanks to everyone who followed along on instagram, and those of you that made it to the end of this blog post! I really enjoyed taking this trip and I hope you’ll see some more content from me in the future. In the meantime you can listen to my recap and all of the impressions of the coffee I bought on the trip at “Tasting Notes” the States of Coffee podcast. See ya!