The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.
This week: Greenfield, and the End of the Road
Editor’s note: We began publishing reports from Don Niemyer about the cafes he visited on his cross-country coffee tour back in the summer of 2013, and we’ve loved following his journey, learning about amazing coffeehouses out there in the United States, ever since. We’ll be publishing reports from Don about his recent journey around the Central and Northern states every Saturday until ”well, until Don makes it to a stopping point. To catch up on Don’s earlier posts about his explorations of coffee culture throughout the Western United States, click HERE. Following are links to Don’s posts from this current Saturday Series:
Part 1: Oregon to Amarillo, Texas
Part 2: Oklahoma to South Dakota
Part 3: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Part 4: Wisconsin to Michigan
Part 5: Chicago, Illinois
Part 6: Indiana to Washington, D.C.
Part 7: Virginia to Florida
Special Edition: The Big Central Coffee Competitions in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Part 8: Maryland to Pennsylvania
Part 9: Delaware to Rhode Island
Part 10: Massachusetts to Maine
Part 11: Vermont
Part 12: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Part 13: Ohio to Tennessee
Part 14: Atlanta
Part 15: Alabama and Tennessee
Part 16: Springfield, Missouri
We hope you will read and enjoy Don’s reports if you’ve missed any. They’re a wealth of information!
By Don Niemyer
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
œSince we’re driving from Portland to Colorado anyway, why don’t we get an RV and go visit a bunch of coffee shops along the way?
It’s been almost four years since that idea popped into my head. And 20,000 miles and over 200 coffee shops later, we’re still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that it is over. We did it. The most epic national coffee tour that we could imagine. We did the whole thing in our VW Rialta, stealth camping on the streets, home schooling our two daughters, judging a few competitions here and there, and reporting our findings here on the BMAG blog. Now, we’re getting ready to settle down along the front range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on our next coffee adventure, capitalizing on all the amazing things we experienced in some of the nation’s finest coffee shops.
By far, the most frequent question we get asked is what shops were our favorites. And though I always give it a go, it’s a pretty tough nut to crack. You like one shop because the drinks were so good, the next because of the barista you met, and another because of their gorgeous café. There’s just so much to love! But as we wrap up our adventure together, it seems appropriate to share some of the highlights. So here it is, my œBest Of list for The Rialta Coffee Tour. Enjoy!
But after all that, you wanna know what my absolute favorite was? The answer might surprise you, but it does highlight something we’ve talked about here in this series over and over. You see, after running my scrawny tail all over this glorious nation looking for great coffee, I concluded my excellent adventure by drinking coffee with a bunch of old farmers at the grain elevator in Greenfield, Oklahoma. This is the town closest to where my parents live, and I use the word œtown loosely. The old school is boarded up. The post office opens when the mailman feels like it. And about the only thing they got going for ˜em is the huge grain elevator where all the farmers get their supplies. They offer free coffee, and every morning my dad goes down there to hang out, drink coffee, and check in with everybody. The coffee isn’t the best, but the day we were there it wasn’t too bad, honestly. I’m told it varies by whether the old cuss that runs the elevator is on the first batch or if he has just re-brewed the same filter pack again. Awesome.
But you know what is awesome about drinking cowboy coffee at the grain elevator? It’s simply that the best thing about coffee is the people that gather around it. Sitting there that chilly January morning, when I looked around that table, I saw some salt-of-the-earth good ol’ boys, sharing life, being there to support one another in the tough times, and celebrating together when things go well. Like ol’ Monty who is 82 and still everybody’s first call when it’s time to saddle the horses and go on a round up (yes, I’m serious. That old man can ride most people half his age right into the ground). Or Smoky down there who, at the age of 71, decided to build a new house for his wife by tearing down an old one made of rocks, and reassembling it piece by piece, board by board. It took him seven years, but now that place is truly beautiful and his wife just beams when she gives the tour. And on around the table it goes. Good people, sharing life, gathering around a cup of coffee. That’s why we do this.
And speaking of the œthis that we do, you might be wondering what’s next for us. The answer to that is both a very exciting and fascinating new venture, as well as a big secret. But I can promise you this: When the time comes I’ll be reporting about it right here on the Barista Magazine Blog. In the meantime, you can keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or at www.DonNiemyer.com. It’s been a real pleasure. Thanks for coming along on our adventure, and happy trails.