Saturday Series: The Rialta Coffee Tour, Part 4

The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.

This week:  Wisconsin to Michigan

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. To read the first installment from this new Saturday Series, click  HERE. To check out the second story, go  HERE. Read his third installment HERE. We hope you continue to enjoy Don’s reports as much as we do!

By Don Niemyer

I bet I know why you got into coffee. Obviously, you love the stuff. But that wasn’t the biggest reason. You’re passionate about the craft, to be sure. But that wasn’t the main motivation. I bet you got into coffee because of the people. Nobody I’ve ever met says they hate people but just keep doing it because they love coffee so much. And truly, that’s why just about all of us do just about anything, isn’t it? The amazing experiences life brings to each of us are given their fullest measure of value when shared with the ones we love. And I’m thinking about this today simply because I’m thinking of my people. My wife, Carissa, and my two preposterous children, Trinity and Alex. They’re a hoot. And they make this adventure we’re on together worth having.

My traveling companions on the Rialta Coffee Tour: my family.
The amazing experiences life brings to each one of us are given their fullest measure of value when shared with the ones we love.
Rollin' along on The Rialta Coffee Tour. This week we rolled through Wisconsin and on over to Michigan.
Rollin’ along on The Rialta Coffee Tour. This week we rolled through Wisconsin and on over to Michigan.

Oh! Adventure! I almost forgot! I’m supposed to be telling you about one! Well, this week on the Rialta Coffee Tour, my people and I went to some great cafés together. And I loved sharing that adventure with them so much that I can hardly wait to share it with you. So let’s get at it, shall we? Let’s see what we turned up traveling through Wisconsin and Michigan on the Rialta Coffee Tour!

Colectivo (formerly Alterra) is actually based in Milwaukee, but we visited their café in Madison.
Colectivo (formerly Alterra) is actually based in Milwaukee, but we visited their café in Madison.
Sitting in the shadow of the State Capital building, this was one of the busiest cafés we visited.  But this little cappuccino was still super tasty, even though they were slammed.
Sitting in the shadow of the State Capital building, Colectivo was one of the busiest cafés we visited. But this little cappuccino was still super tasty, even though they were slammed.
Just down the street from the Capital building, we found Ancora, with a solid coffee program featuring some excellent signature style beverages.
Just down the street from the Capital building, we found Ancora, with a solid coffee program featuring some excellent signature style beverages.
In Milwaukee, Anodyne is representing with a great coffee program in some beautiful new digs. Here's my daughter, Trinity, doing a dramatic interpretation of an Anodyne customer.
In Milwaukee, Anodyne is representing with a great coffee program in some beautiful new digs. Here’s my daughter, Trinity, doing a dramatic interpretation of an Anodyne customer.
I guess they wanted to make sure you didn't miss it, so they accentuated their entry with this exquisite artwork.  Nope, we didn't miss it.
I guess they wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it, so they accentuated their entry with this exquisite artwork. Nope, we didn’t miss it.
Just a stone's throw from Anodyne, we found one of our favorite stops of the tour: Stone Creek Coffee Roasters. The coffee (and we had a lot of it) was delicious. The space was fantastic. The staff was just as friendly as could be. It was just ¦ yes.
Just a stone’s throw from Anodyne, we found one of our favorite stops of the tour: Stone Creek Coffee Roasters. The coffee (and we had a lot of it) was delicious. The space was fantastic. The staff was just as friendly as could be. It was just ¦ yes.
So much could be said about our experience at Stone Creek. But since I like to point out unique discoveries, let me just point out the discovery of this completely unique set of information cards available for your educational experience.
So much could be said about our experience at Stone Creek. But since I like to point out unique discoveries, let me just point out the discovery of this completely unique set of information cards available for your educational experience.
Rolling north to Holland, Michigan, we hit up Lemonjellos (apparently pronounced however you darn well want to).
Rolling north to Holland, Michigan, we hit up Lemonjellos (apparently pronounced however you darn well want to).
We visited on a Sunday morning and it must have been a coffee lovers' convention or something because they were HOPPIN'!  We did manage to snag this little tasty feller though in between the chaos.
We visited Lemonjello’s on a Sunday morning and it must have been a coffee lovers’ convention or something because they were HOPPIN’! We did manage to snag this little tasty feller though in between the chaos.
Next up, Grand Rapids, where we had to visit the legendary Madcap Coffee Roasters.
Next up, Grand Rapids, where we had to visit the legendary Madcap Coffee Co.
They were just as we thought they's be at Madcap: Solid, hospitable, classy, and dee-lishous!
They were just as we thought they’s be at Madcap: Solid, hospitable, classy, and dee-lishous!
It was the Madcap guys who also directed us down the road to another favorite stop of the tour: Rowster.
It was the Madcap guys who also directed us down the road to another favorite stop of the tour: Rowster.
Rowster's entire program was impeccable, elegant, and interesting. One of the unique touches we loved, however, was this chalk wall with one of the clearest articulations we've seen of what coffees are offered in what brew method. The chalk, of course, is erasable. But those little changeable square placards are a unique design by one of the staff ¦a different one for each coffee!
Rowster’s entire program was impeccable, elegant, and interesting. One of the unique touches we loved, however, was this chalk wall with one of the clearest articulations we’ve seen of what coffees are offered in what brew method. The chalk, of course, is erasable. But those little changeable square placards are a unique design by one of the staff ¦a different one for each coffee!
We ended this week by stopping into Glassbox in Ann Arbor. The coffee was excellent, featuring a variety of beans including George Howell and Counter Culture. But what's unique here? JUICE!
We ended this week by stopping into Glassbox in Ann Arbor. The coffee was excellent, featuring a variety of beans including George Howell and Counter Culture. But what’s unique here? JUICE!
They weren't entirely sure, they said, how a coffee-slash-juice bar would go over. Turns out, people love it!  And their juice program is no joke. This gal is working on the KGB: Kale, Ginger and Basil. She made us a complimentary one, and if you're ever in Ann Arbor it will compliment your life to get one.
They weren’t entirely sure, they said, how a coffee-slash-juice bar would go over. Turns out, people love it! And their juice program is no joke. This gal is working on the KGB: Kale, Ginger and Basil. She made us a complimentary one, and if you’re ever in Ann Arbor it will compliment your life to get one.

Now those are some great cafés, full of some excellent people, people! Say, speaking of people, why don’t you ring up someone you love right now? Tell ˜em how great they are, then ask ˜em if they want to go grab a coffee. Because great coffee and great people just kind of go together.

Meanwhile, we’ll be putting together our report on the good people we found in Chicago, and we’ll have that for you right here next Saturday, so be sure to check back! Until then, follow us at our social media sites, 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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