Saturday Series: The Rialta Coffee Tour, Part 16

The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.

This week:  Springfield, Missouri

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

We hope you continue to enjoy  Don’s reports  as much as we do!

By Don Niemyer
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

How does a city become a great coffee city? In our travels across America, we’ve seen it all: From regional boons where you can throw a rock just about any direction and hit a great coffee shop, to regional deserts where you find yourself at a McDonalds drive-through just hoping to get a cup of something that remotely resembles coffee. I can only think of a handful of cities that fell  somewhere in between, though, where there’s maybe one great coffee shop in the whole area, just out there doing their thing all by themselves.

Why is that?

Well, I don’t suppose I know. But I like to think it has something to do with community. Coffee just lends itself to collaboration. Baristas love to share what they’re learning with others, and this mentality lends itself to spawning. Next thing you know, it’s like tadpoles in a mud puddle. They’re everywhere!

And suddenly, we find ourselves back in the almost-middle of the United States on this great coffee road trip of ours.
And suddenly, we find ourselves back in the almost-middle of the United States on this great coffee road trip of ours.

Well, we had us one of them tadpole experiences in Springfield, Mo. It’s not an especially large city. It’s not a cultural mecca, necessarily. I mean, Springfield’s OK and all, but it ain’t no Branson, ya know? They don’t have music jamborees and famous fiddlers and major theme parks, or nuthin! But you know what they do got? Coffee. Really good coffee.  Here’s just four of the shops we made it to that are doing their part to put Springfield on the coffee map.

Right in the heart of Springfield's downtown square, you'll find the Coffee Ethic. They've been around the longest out of the shops we visited, and probably deserve some credit for getting the coffee ball rolling in these parts.
Right in the heart of Springfield’s downtown square, you’ll find the Coffee Ethic. They’ve been around the longest out of the shops we visited, and probably deserve some credit for getting the coffee ball rolling in these parts.
The Coffee Ethic recently started roasting, but has been cranking out some of the city's best espresso for 8 years already. They also boast a solid catering program, which is probably how the entire city got addicted to great coffee.
The Coffee Ethic recently started roasting, but has been cranking out some of the city’s best espresso for 8 years already. They also boast a solid catering program, which is probably how the entire city got addicted to great coffee.
Much newer to the local scene is Brick and Mortar.  They are primarily a roaster, but have a drop-dead-gorgeous tasting room which is open to the public.
Much newer to the local scene is Brick and Mortar. They are primarily a roaster, but have a drop-dead-gorgeous tasting room which is open to the public.
With bold woods and bolder ambitions, the guys at Brick and Mortar are definitely shaking things up. They have no menu, no food of any kind, no condiment bar, and no problem creating something to make your palate happy. They have the town's only Slayer espresso machine, and are intent on doing their own thing, which as long as they're doing it at this level is just fine with us.
With bold woods and bolder ambitions, the guys at Brick and Mortar are definitely shaking things up. They have no menu, no food of any kind, no condiment bar, and no problem creating something to make your palate happy. They have the town’s only Slayer espresso machine, and are intent on doing their own thing, which as long as they’re doing it at this level is just fine with us.
Case in point? This is what I call a bagless bag of beans.  I've been to over 200 coffee shops on this tour, but I've never seen beans sold in glass jars. Now you may be able to think of a number of good reasons for that, but you gotta admit, it's a pretty cool presentation.  Amiright? Amiright?
Case in point? This is what I call a bagless bag of beans. I’ve been to over 200 coffee shops on this tour, but I’ve never seen beans sold in glass jars. Now you may be able to think of a number of good reasons for that, but you gotta admit, it’s a pretty cool presentation. Amiright? Amiright?
Hebrews Coffee is another shop that's been around for a while ”7 years.  Currently offering coffees from PT's and Madcap, they've established a strong multi-roaster program where you can experience a variety of great options.
Hebrews Coffee is another shop that’s been around for a while ”7 years. Currently offering coffees from PT’s and Madcap, they’ve established a strong multi-roaster program where you can experience a variety of great options.
Hebrews has a huge space and offers a pretty solid food menu, as well. But the thing we loved most? A bright red La Marzocco FB/80. HOT!
Hebrews has a huge space and offers a pretty solid food menu, as well. But the thing we loved most? A bright red La Marzocco FB/80. HOT!
Kingdom Coffee & Cycles is a beautiful new shop, which is really a re-invention of an old one.  I didn't get around to asking why they moved, but recently when they changed locations, they just went ahead and changed everything. Location.  Equipment. NAME! They just hit the ol' reset button.
Kingdom Coffee & Cycles is a beautiful new shop, which is really a re-invention of an old one. I didn’t get around to asking why they moved, but recently when they changed locations, they just went ahead and changed everything. Location. Equipment. NAME! They just hit the ol’ reset button.
Well, they just dialed that button (am I mixing metaphors?) right over to eleven, because this space is smokin. In addition to having great coffees from the likes of Crema (Nashville), they have lots of classic touches like the huge string-mural behind the bar and this custom water station (I'm a sucker for a great water station!). Kingdom come!
Well, they just dialed that button (am I mixing metaphors?) right over to eleven, because this space is smokin. In addition to having great coffees from the likes of Crema (Nashville), they have lots of classic touches like the huge string-mural behind the bar and this custom water station (I’m a sucker for a great water station!). Kingdom come!

Way to go, Springfield! You guys are making it happen in the real world! Our only regret is that we weren’t able to make it to some of the other great shops in town, but we’ll back someday. For now, we’ve got to head south towards Texas and see what’s up down there. That’s where we’ll be reporting from next Saturday, so be sure to check back! Until then, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or at DonNiemyer.com. See you soon!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

donandcarissa

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.

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