Saturday Series: The Rialta Coffee Tour, Part 6

The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.

This week: Indiana to Washington, D.C.

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. Don’s fourth installment appears  HERE. His fifth installment can be found HERE. We hope you continue to enjoy Don’s reports as much as we do!

By Don Niemyer

Let’s talk about normal for a second, want to? Our lives are each full of things that ”when first experienced ”,are absolutely phenomenal. From an amazing sunset to the miracle of childbirth to that spectacular Kenyan you’re drinking right now ”life is simply bursting with extraordinary experiences. But because they happen all the time, they get normalized, and it becomes one of life’s little puzzles, doesn’t it? To hang on to the wonder and amazement that rightly ought to accompany these abundant treasures everywhere we turn?

I happen to be in a season of abundant treasure right now. I’m getting to travel the nation, visiting every great coffee shop I can track down, meeting the excellent folks who run them, and just soaking in their goodness. But I gotta admit: After doing this long enough, I have to wrestle with keeping in mind that, even though this is normal to me, it is actually quite an extraordinary experience, and one that I would be remiss to not hold with constant gratitude for what it is and all it is giving me.

So I was thinking about this today, and thinking about you, the folks who might read this, and I got to thinking how you’re probably right there with me in this gratitude thing. If you work in coffee, you are likely surrounded by some of the most amazing things and people life has to offer. Maybe you travel to origin and nurture relationships with producers. Perhaps you are in roasting or production, tasked with coaxing those little green guys into their full potential and ensuring they make it to the consumer in prime fashion. Or maybe you’re a barista, the final step in the chain, delivering cups of goodness to your daily customers, along with a smile or a œhow you doing this morning  that truly makes their day, and shows them that someone cares about their life.

Whatever you do, one thing is certain: It is absolutely phenomenal that you get to do it. We get to do this!  It may seem normal in the day-to-day grind, but when we stop and think about it, it’s anything but. So today, I hope you take a second to smile to yourself and just send out some gratitude for this amazing life. And as for me personally? What I got to do this week was simply travel across the nation, from Indiana to Washington, D.C., exploring the amazing coffee shops out there, and sharing those experiences with you. I get to do this!  And I am so grateful.

This week, we stopped at coffeehouses in Indiana and Washington, D.C.
Heading eastward! This week, we made some serious tracks, skipping along until we finally landed in Washington, D.C.
Heading south from Chicago, we hit the jackpot in Fort Wayne with Trionfale. If you want some of Indiana's best coffee, you go to Trionfale out in the  ˜burbs, or its sister shop, Fortezza, in beautiful downtown, both owned by enthusiastic enthusiast Sean Wang.
Heading south from Chicago, we hit the jackpot in Fort Wayne with Trionfale. If you want some of Indiana’s best coffee, you go to Trionfale out in the ˜burbs, or its sister shop, Fortezza, in beautiful downtown, both owned by enthusiastic enthusiast Sean Wang.
It's Simonelli Aurelia here at Trionfale, Modbar in the downtown shop (Fortezza), and Counter Culture everywhere. And with passionate baristas like this fellow, you're in good hands in either place.
It’s Simonelli Aurelia here at Trionfale, Modbar in the downtown shop (Fortezza), and Counter Culture everywhere. And with passionate baristas like this fellow, you’re in good hands in either place.
We hit Louisville and landed at Quills. So much to love about this place!  Like their excellent coffee, gracious hospitality, beautiful space, or this perfect little roost for sitting in the window and writing your next blog post.
We hit Louisville and landed at Quills. So much to love about this place! For example, their excellent coffee, gracious hospitality, beautiful space, or this perfect little roost for sitting in the window and writing your next blog post.
And if that wasn't enough, here's a wall-sized graphic to really break down some various brew methods, featured at Quills. You know, just some light reading...
And if that wasn’t enough, here’s a wall-sized graphic to really break down some various brew methods, featured at Quills. You know, just some light reading…
I'm not gonna lie ”we hit a rough patch between Kentucky and Virginia, where we just didn't find a whole lot (with apologies to anyone we might have missed). But finally the Cavalry rode in and saved the day, in the form of Moxxee in West Virginia.
I’m not gonna lie ”we hit a rough patch between Kentucky and Virginia, where we just didn’t find a whole lot (with apologies to anyone we might have missed). But finally the Cavalry rode in and saved the day, in the form of Moxxee in West Virginia.
Moxxee has an extraordinary commitment to finding the best of everything, and they're not afraid to experiment. You might find them playing with new equipment or brew methods at any time, but you'll always find them pushing the envelope and pressing forward to excellence.
Moxxee has an extraordinary commitment to finding the best of everything, and they’re not afraid to experiment. You might find them playing with new equipment or brew methods at any time, but you’ll always find them pushing the envelope and pressing forward to excellence.
When we got to Washington, D.C., we headed straight to Peregrine, a name synonymous with great coffee in the capital. We weren't about to get out of town without a visit.
When we got to Washington, D.C., we headed straight to Peregrine, a name synonymous with great coffee in the capital. We weren’t about to get out of town without a visit.
We did, however, leave town without any decent pictures of our visit. So um, here's an inexplicable shot I got of their little built in seaty-table thingy which I actually thought was a pretty excellent utilization of limited space.
We did, however, leave town without any decent pictures of our visit to Peregrine. So um, here’s an inexplicable shot I got of their little built in seaty-table thingy which I actually thought was a pretty excellent utilization of limited space.
You wanna find someone pushing the envelope? Make a beeline for Mockingbird Hill.
You wanna find someone pushing the envelope? Make a beeline for Mockingbird Hill.
Tim Wendelboe (Oslo, Norway). Heart Portland, Ore.). Five Elephant (Berlin, Germany). The Coffee Collective (Copenhagen, Denmark). The guys at Mockingbird are quite literally going to the ends of the earth to bring you the best the earth has to offer.
Tim Wendelboe (Oslo, Norway). Heart (Portland, Ore.). Five Elephant (Berlin, Germany). The Coffee Collective (Copenhagen, Denmark). The guys at Mockingbird are quite literally going to the ends of the earth to bring you the best the earth has to offer.
We tried, among other things, one of Mockingbird's $11 coffee-based cocktails that was truly unlike anything we've seen out there. The drink was excellent, but we've seen that. What we HADN'T seen was an entirely new café' model, based on these amazing little gold nuggets.  That, and Sherry. Yeah, they're a Sherry bar, too.  That ground just BROKE!
We tried, among other things, one of Mockingbird’s $11 coffee-based cocktails that was truly unlike anything we’ve seen out there. The drink was excellent, but we’ve seen that. What we HADN’T seen was an entirely new café’ model, based on these amazing little gold nuggets. That, and Sherry. Yeah, they’re a Sherry bar, too. That ground just BROKE!

So that’s the stuff from which my gratitude grows for this week, but I’ll be back soon with more. Now that we made it to the east coast, it’s time to poke around out here and see what we can dig up, starting by heading south from Virginia, down through the Carolinas, and on into Georgia and Florida. We’ll have that report 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!

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1 Comment

  1. nothing really found in Kentucky? that’s sad, because there are some GREAT SHOPS In Lexington (coffee times, Maggie’s, south fork coffee) Richmand (purdy’s), and in Northern Kentucky -Florence, Newport (Carabello coffee, Velocity Bike and Bean, Reality Tuesdays, blue monkey brew, etc.) and some really great shops in Cincinnati (coffee emporium, sidewinder coffee, too many to list)

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