Saturday Series: The Rialta Coffee Tour, Part 17

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
Part 16: Springfield, Missouri

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

By Don Niemyer
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Don’t you just love coffee people? In this little jaunt around the nation, I’d guess I’ve met hundreds of ˜em, and it really boosts your belief in humanity to rub shoulders with such fine people. I don’t know if it’s simply that coffee naturally attracts quality people, or the emphasis on hospitality just makes it seem like that. But I know this: I always end up feeling privileged to get to know more of the great folks in our great industry.

Follow the bouncy green line: We're in Texas ”again!
Follow the bouncy green line: We’re in Oklahoma!

This week the tour got a little nutso, driving about 1,500 miles to see eight shops in four different states. So I guess I’m thinking about this people thing because we just met so many great ones this week: people like Eli in Denton who shared some coffee he had brought from his house because he liked it so much; or Zach in Waco, who invited us behind the bar to check out his setup; people like Josh in Austin who gave us a tip on a great restaurant nearby, which ended up being one of our favorites of the tour; or Andrea in Arkansas who took a good two hours to hang out with us, acquaint us with her operation, and ”of course ”introduce us to her people. It’s a great pattern, and we see it everywhere we go. Good people doing good things. Just like these folks on this week’s journey:

Carissa and I both judged Onyx's Andrea Allen at Big Central where she took second place.  Her presentation was so compelling that we swore an oath right then and there:  We would definitely go to Onyx.
Carissa and I both judged Onyx Coffee’s Andrea Allen at Big Central where she took second place. Her presentation was so compelling that we swore an oath right then and there: We would definitely go to Onyx.
Onyx has two locations in Arkansas:  One in Springdale, and this one in Fayetteville.  This new space was drop-dead gorgeous, featuring beautiful woods done by a local artist, a Modbar setup, and some of the most unbelievably nice people you're ever gonna meet.
Onyx has two locations in Arkansas: One in Springdale, and this one in Fayetteville. This new space was drop-dead gorgeous, featuring beautiful woods done by a local artist, a Modbar setup, and some of the most unbelievably nice people you’re ever gonna meet.
One of those nice people was Andrea herself, who took time to chat with us over several of her coffees.  They were all exquisite:  Wonderfully prepared and beautifully presented.  If you get the impression we loved our visit to Onyx, you would be correct, sir!
One of those nice people was Andrea herself, who took time to chat with us over several of her coffees. They were all exquisite: Wonderfully prepared and beautifully presented. If you get the impression we loved our visit to Onyx, you would be correct, sir!
Not wanting to leave Louisiana out, we were lucky to discover that there was a great little shop right over the state line in Shreveport.  Perfect!  Off we went to Rhino Coffee Roasters!
Not wanting to leave Louisiana out, we were lucky to discover that there was a great little shop right over the state line in Shreveport. Perfect! Off we went to Rhino Coffee!
We figured out quickly that Rhino isn't  œlittle .  It's an old house, apparently, with lots of rooms to tuck into.  During our visit there was live music in one room, and every nook and cranny was packed!  But our favorite part?  This custom bar created by local artist Matthew Cassity.
We figured out quickly that Rhino isn’t œlittle.” It’s an old house, apparently, with lots of rooms to tuck into. During our visit, there was live music in one room, and every nook and cranny was packed! But our favorite part? This custom bar created by local artist Matthew Cassity.
Down Austin way we were super curious about the service model being used by legendary Texas roaster, Cuvee.  The idea is that you begin by determining your drink, then move along a kind of assembly line with different baristas performing the various components of the drink.  The end of the line is where you pay, then walk away with your completed drink.
Down Austin way we were super curious about the service model being used by legendary Texas roaster, Cuvee. The idea is that you begin by determining your drink, then move along a kind of assembly line with different baristas performing the various components of the drink. The end of the line is where you pay, then walk away with your completed drink.
Cuvee's coffee was excellent, the service was fantastic, the vibe was stellar, and their service model was fascinating.  But you know me, always looking for something off the beaten path.  That's where these beautiful doors leading off to the bathroom area come in.  Hey, if you're gonna have a toilet anyway, it may as well be elegant!
Cuvee’s coffee was excellent, the service was fantastic, the vibe was stellar, and their service model was fascinating. But you know me, always looking for something off the beaten path. That’s where these beautiful doors leading off to the bathroom area come in. Hey, if you’re gonna have a toilet anyway, it may as well be elegant!
Moving north we had heard about a beautiful shop serving coffee and cocktails, and had to stop in and check  ˜em out.  The good folks at Dichotomy made us glad we did.
Moving north, we had heard about a beautiful shop serving coffee and cocktails, and had to stop in and check ˜em out. The good folks at Dichotomy made us glad we did.
Dichotomy is a beautiful, spacious shop (they even have a rooftop deck!) that really goes above and beyond with presentation.  Case in point?  This One and One, presented on an old piece of lumber, with sparkling water and even a little holder for the spoon.  Special!
Dichotomy is a beautiful, spacious shop (they even have a rooftop deck!) that really goes above and beyond with presentation. Case in point? This One and One, presented on an old piece of lumber, with sparkling water and even a little holder for the spoon. Special!
Dallas' Oak Lawn neighborhood is home to Oak Lawn roasters, and their recently opened showcase café:  Davis Street Espresso.
Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood is home to Oak Lawn  Coffee, and their recently opened showcase café: Davis Street Espresso.
Davis Street is a showcase for delicious coffees by Oak Lawn, but also for a variety of mouth-watering barista toys.  Lever action espresso machines, Alpha Dominche Steampunk, and this custom Kees van der Westen.  Plus, in over 200 coffee shops, these guys were the only ones we saw with the guts to do what we all would LOVE to do, which is they offer NO paper cups.  It's bring your own, or consume it on the premises.  Well, that or perhaps pay a $2 deposit for a glass jar to take it away.  Epic!
Davis Street is a showcase for delicious coffees by Oak Lawn, but also for a variety of mouth-watering barista toys. Lever action espresso machines, Alpha Dominche Steampunk, and this custom Kees van der Westen. Plus, in over 200 coffee shops, these guys were the only ones we saw with the guts to do what we all would LOVE to do, which is they offer NO paper cups. It’s bring your own, or consume it on the premises. Well, that or perhaps pay a $2 deposit for a glass jar to take it away. Epic!
Cultivar has a space in Dallas, but we wanted to see their new space just up I-35 in Denton.  It's small.  It's simple.  It's minimalistic.  It's AWESOME!
Cultivar has a space in Dallas, but we wanted to see their new space just up I-35 in Denton. It’s small. It’s simple. It’s minimalistic. It’s AWESOME!
Our barista, Eli, made us some awesome drinks, too!  And since they share a space with Hypnotic Donuts, an awesome snack is always an option at Cultivar.
Our barista, Eli, made us some awesome drinks, too! And since they share a space with Hypnotic Donuts, an awesome snack is always an option at Cultivar.
We had hit up some of the great coffee shops in Oklahoma City on a previous visit, but even though we'd heard great things about Cuppies and Joe, we had never gotten around to visiting.  Time to rectify that!
We had hit up some of the great coffee shops in Oklahoma City on a previous visit, but even though we’d heard great things about Cuppies and Joe, we had never gotten around to visiting. Time to rectify that!
Cuppies and Joe is a cupcake bakery and coffee shop, but don't let the multi-tasking throw you.  These guys know their coffee!  Serving coffees from Tulsa's Topeca, they have an excellent coffee program and are not to be overlooked in the great coffee culture of OKC.
Cuppies and Joe is a cupcake bakery and coffee shop, but don’t let the multi-tasking throw you. These guys know their coffee! Serving coffees from Tulsa’s Topeca, they have an excellent coffee program and are not to be overlooked in the great coffee culture of OKC.
Speaking of Topeca, we finish up this week by scooting up to Tulsa and checking out one of the city's finest.  Located in this beautiful downtown space, Topeca is leading the way in bringing fine coffees to Tulsa.
Speaking of Topeca, we finish up this week by scooting up to Tulsa and checking out one of the city’s finest. Located in this beautiful downtown space, Topeca is leading the way in bringing fine coffees to Tulsa.
We had met one of the Topeca fellows at the Big Western competition, and were really impressed with their level of relationships with producers.   These guys are above all else committed to working with producers to bring excellent coffees to Tulsa, then roasting and presenting them in a way that honors each one's journey.
We had met one of the Topeca fellows at the Big Western competition, and were really impressed with their level of relationships with producers. These guys are above all else committed to working with producers to bring excellent coffees to Tulsa, then roasting and presenting them in a way that honors each one’s journey.  

Truth is, I could run around this world till kingdom come and never run out of great people to report on. In the work that you and I are so lucky to be a part of, they just don’t stop! Unfortunately, however, the time has come for the Rialta Coffee Tour to come to a stop, so next Saturday will be our final report for awhile. We’ll be wrapping up with a very special, final coffee shop, 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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