Saturday Series: The Rialta Coffee Tour, Part 9

The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.

This week:  Delaware to Rhode Island

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:

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

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

By Don Niemyer
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

œI’m going to need you to be strong .

These were the words the young bride of 48 hours found herself hearing from her new husband. She was sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Costa Rica, crying. They were out of money and had lost both of their passports. They had no way to buy food, no way to secure shelter, and no way to get out of the country. Somehow œI’m going to need you to be strong  wasn’t quite what she was hoping to hear.

And  the next words she heard didn’t offer much more comfort: œThere are at least a dozen ways to solve this problem,  the husband said, trying to sound confident. œI just haven’t thought of any of them yet.”

As you may have guessed, that’s an account from  my own glorious honeymoon. My wife and I laugh about the story today, and of course we did come up with solutions and make it back home, safe and sound. And even though that was over 11 years ago, the lesson we learned about  problem solving is  with us to this day. When we face something tough, we remember that there are dozens of possible solutions, and all we need is one.

This week, the story covers the roads we graveled between Delaware and Rhode Island.
This week, the story covers the roads we graveled between Delaware and Rhode Island.

As we travel around visiting cafés, we’re always on the lookout for people who have that same mentality. The problems that come with running a coffee shop are limitless ”but so is the resolve to create great solutions. We’re always fascinated to see the variety of ways that hard-working baristas are coming up with to overcome obstacles, and turn those buckets of lemons into delicious lemonade. In this week’s travels, we ran into several examples of this, from space-saving innovations, to creating great customer experiences, to clever décor. It’s one of our favorite things to report on, and we can’t wait to share them with you, so let’s get to it on this week’s edition of the Rialta Coffee Tour!

Driving the Rialta around in lower Manhattan seemed like a bad idea, so we took the ferry over from Jersey and walked up to Everyman Espresso, home to not one but two of the top 6 finishers in last week's NERBC, including the first place finisher, Sam Lewontin.
Driving the Rialta around in lower Manhattan seemed like a bad idea, so we took the ferry over from Jersey and walked up to Everyman Espresso, home to not one but two of the top 6 finishers in last week’s NERBC, including the first place finisher, Sam Lewontin.
Inside the tiny space was some minimal seating made from benches along the walls, and this one table with 3 stools.
Inside the tiny space was some minimal seating made from benches along the walls, and this one table with 3 stools.
The innovative part was how they installed a pourover station in the end of the table, maximizing the limited space, PLUS bringing the pourover experience right to the table of the customer.
The innovative part was how Everyman installed a pourover station in the end of the table, maximizing the limited space, PLUS bringing the pourover experience right to the table of the customer.
Everyman has been an idea-innovating, competition-winning, boundary-pushing machine for years.
Everyman has been an idea-innovating, competition-winning, boundary-pushing machine for years.
Pokin' around in New Haven, Connecticut, we dug up a lead for The Coffee Pedaler and went over to check  ˜em out.
Pokin’ around in New Haven, Connecticut, we dug up a lead for The Coffee Pedaler and went over to check ˜em out.
What we found was a very solid operation, with this beautiful pour over station front and center, serving George Howell coffee ¦
What we found was a very solid operation, with this beautiful pour over station front and center, serving George Howell coffee ¦
 ¦and this tricky rig out front.  I'm not sure what they use this thing for, but if a guy needed to haul some coffee on his bike this'd be the way to get it done!  And if a guy needed to find some great coffee in New Haven, The Coffee Pedaler would be the way to make it happen.
¦and this tricky rig out front. I’m not sure what they use this thing for, but if a guy needed to haul some coffee on his bike this’d be the way to get it done! And if a guy needed to find some great coffee in New Haven, The Coffee Pedaler would be the way to make it happen.
Passing through Delaware, we learned that local company Brew Ha Ha had been voted the state's best coffee shop nineteen years running. NINETEEN!
Passing through Delaware, we learned that local company Brew Ha Ha had been voted the state’s best coffee shop nineteen years running. NINETEEN!
Already coffeed out for the day, we opted for something a little different:  AFOGATO!
Already coffeed out for the day, we opted for something a little different: AFOGATO!
Everyone needs a guiding hand to point the way sometimes. In Providence, Rhode Island, you have exactly that type of assistance from The Shop.  Owner Diana Murton was on hand and graciously talked us through the interesting innovations we discovered there.
Everyone needs a guiding hand to point the way sometimes. In Providence, Rhode Island, you have exactly that type of assistance from The Shop. Owner Diana Murton was on hand and graciously talked us through the interesting innovations we discovered there.
For starters, there's this cleverly designed counter for the Shop's bar area, which they call the cockpit.  It creates the space needed for the barista to work without plugging up the work area behind the machine.
For starters, there’s this cleverly designed counter for the Shop’s bar area, which they call the cockpit. It creates the space needed for the barista to work without plugging up the work area behind the machine.
Another beautiful little innovation is this space they call the reading nook.  It has just enough room for one person to curl up inside with a book, and a handsome lamp sets it off and sets you up for some quiet time.
Another beautiful little innovation is this space they call the reading nook. It has just enough room for one person to curl up inside with a book, and a handsome lamp sets it off and sets you up for some quiet time.
The Shop was an amazing space, with excellent coffee by Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and clever little innovations abounded.  Behind this gorgeous GB5 is a built-in bus tray which is easily accessible by customers and employees.  In another area, there's a magnetized wall for keeping children engaged and occupied. The innovations we noticed were realized more from creativity than cash, which should be encouraging to anyone wanting to create an amazing space. Don't let being short on resources slow you down! Instead, dig into your creativity reservoir (or find someone who can) and make it special!
The Shop was an amazing space, with excellent coffee by Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and clever little innovations abounded. Behind this gorgeous GB5 is a built-in bus tray which is easily accessible by customers and employees. In another area, there’s a magnetized wall for keeping children engaged and occupied. The innovations we noticed were realized more from creativity than cash, which should be encouraging to anyone wanting to create an amazing space. Don’t let being short on resources slow you down! Instead, dig into your creativity reservoir (or find someone who can) and make it special!

We love finding innovations and people who get really  creative with their spaces. Maybe next week we’ll even find some more as we keep moving up the East Coast. 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!

 

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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