The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.
This week: Ohio to Tennessee
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 this fall. 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:
We hope you continue to enjoy Don’s reports as much as we do!
By Don Niemyer
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
2014: What a year!
As we wrap this year up, it’s amazing to think of how it began for us. My family and I had been living in a tiny VW Rialta RV for almost two years, running a coffee business in Portland, Ore. We moved into the RV because our shop was for sale and we had been planning an epic, national coffee tour and wanted to be ready to go when the time came. Admittedly, we also have some pretty intense minimalist leanings, which prodded us into becoming mobile tiny-house people, as well. These two things working together made a tiny RV a great fit for us. So we began 2014 with one eye on our business and one eye on the road.
Now, 12 months later, our shop is in the capable hands of its new owners, and we are over 15,000 miles and 200 coffee shops down that road we’d been eyeballing. Of course, as you know, we have been trying to share some of that journey here with you, sorting through the experience to highlight some of the most interesting things we’ve found as we went, and shining a spotlight on some of the hard-working people who are in the trenches making it all happen. We hope you’ve enjoyed the journey thus far!
But as we’ve traveled, we’ve had a few other priorities to juggle. We’ve been homeschooling our two girls, ages 8 and 10. We’ve been visiting family and friends as we go. We’ve been judging coffee competitions. And of course we’ve done quite a bit of sightseeing. We’ve even had competing priorities in how we report. Sometimes we talk about the best shops. Sometimes we highlight innovations that we find valuable or interesting. Occasionally we include something just because it’s weird. And then there’s that sub-goal of including something from each of the lower 48 states (we’ve conceded that we won’t be able to get the RV to Hawaii or Alaska).
So why do I tell you all this today? Well, partly because I’m thinking about how good 2014 has been to us and I’m getting all nostalgic and grateful (Kleenex, please!), and naturally I’m wondering how 2015 is going to shake out and that type of thing. That’s part of it. The other part is that in order to make sense of this post, you’re going to need to be thinking about those competing priorities because we are all over the place. We’ll start at an Interstate rest area near Cleveland, Ohio, and end up at my sister’s house in Cleveland, Tennessee. In between, we’ll visit coffee competitions, out-of-the-way shops, closed shops (arrrg!), shops in churches, backwards shops, and more. Yep, it’s gonna get weird on the Rialta Coffee Tour, just the way we like it. So buckle up, here we go!
Well, 2014 is in the books, and as you can see, we’re takin’ er easy for a few days. And say, why don’t you take a little rest your own self? You’ve worked hard this year, and by doggies, you deserve it. Pull a chair by the fire, kick up your feet, and do some reflecting on how awesome you were in 2014. And after you’ve swatted your back a couple times, take another minute and just think about this: If 2014 was this awesome, what might 2015 hold that will even be more amazing? Only time will tell! And only time will tell what the Rialta Coffee Tour will turn up as we continue our journey. But whatever it is, we’ll have that report for you right here soon, so be sure to check back! Until then, follow us at our social media sites, or at DonNiemyer.com. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Editor note: Seems Don more than deserves a week off, right? So check back on January 13 for the next installment of the Rialta Coffee Tour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Don Niemyer used to own three coffee shops in Portland, Ore., where he and his wife Carissa spent 8 years immersed in the excellent coffee culture there, milking it like a dairy cow for every drop of expertise it would give them, making lots of friends, doing some USBC judging, and learning all they could. One day, they decided to move their kids closer to family, so they bought a tiny RV, moved into it, and have been œmoving to Colorado ever since, visiting coffee shops, practicing minimalism, and having lots of fun. That was over two years ago. One of these days, they might even end up living in Colorado.