Saturday Series: The Rialta Coffee Tour, Part 2

The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.

This week: Oklahoma to South Dakota

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

By Don Niemyer

Moments of clarity. We all get one from time to time, and each one has the potential to be absolutely life changing. They can also be terrifying, prompting you at times to leave behind the security of familiarity, daring to walk in the shadowy ambiguity of the unknown, each bend in the trail holding the thrill of possible ecstasy, as well as the equally exciting thrill of potential destruction.

For me, the biggest one of those happened in Oklahoma. I was 30 years old, driving down the road to a job that I liked, but that had become increasingly unsatisfying. I was starting to have that sense that there was œmore  for me. Then my moment of clarity hit: œI don’t have to live here. I can go anywhere in the world.  A few months later I had sold my house, bought a Jeep, moved to the mountains of Colorado, and gotten a job in coffee. And so, as far as coffee goes, it was the beginning of everything.

From Oklahoma to South Dakota...
From Oklahoma to South Dakota…

Why bring it up? Because this week on the Rialta Coffee Tour we’re headed ”among other places ”back to where that moment happened: the plains of Oklahoma, my home state! This is where we name our sports teams after cheaters (that would be the Sooners ”look it up), produce country music-singing legends like a factory (Gill, Brooks, Underwood, and Shelton, to name just a few), and where there just happens to be some of the best coffee in the nation. So this week, we’ll start in the heartland, get back up to Colorado, and continue on north to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Yeehaw! Let’s go round up some coffee on the Rialta Coffee Tour!

 

The original great OKC coffee house, Coffee Slingers is now roasting their own and pushing the conversation forward. And their  œOkie  cold brew has a buffalo on it!   œOh give me a home ¦ 
The original great OKC coffee house, Coffee Slingers is now roasting their own and pushing the conversation forward. And their œOkie  cold brew has a buffalo on it! œOh give me a home ¦ 
We're always looking for little nuances of cool ”something that maybe a shop is doing better than most. And we rarely see a gift card presentation as compelling as this one they have at Coffee Slingers. I almost bought one, and I don't even live in the state anymore!
We’re always looking for little nuances of cool ”something that maybe a shop is doing better than most. And we rarely see a gift card presentation as compelling as this one they have at Coffee Slingers. I almost bought one, and I don’t even live in the state anymore!
We visit OKC often, and have had the opportunity to try Elemental several times. They never disappoint. Their espresso blend is consistently some of the best coffee we ever taste.
We visit OKC often, and have had the opportunity to try Elemental several times. They never disappoint. Their espresso blend is consistently some of the best coffee we ever taste.
Elemental was one of the first on the OKC scene to start roasting, and they're still one of the best.
Elemental was one of the first on the OKC scene to start roasting, and they’re still one of the best.
With their custom painted, matching Linea/Mazzer combo, the folks at Evoke (just north of OKC in Edmond) are serving up great tasting coffee from some of the best roasters in the nation.
With their custom painted, matching Linea/Mazzer combo, the folks at Evoke (just north of OKC in Edmond) are serving up great tasting coffee from some of the best roasters in the nation.
Having the chance to play with fire? That's a good day right there. At Evoke, you can toast your own s'more while sipping your cappuccino.
Having the chance to play with fire? That’s a good day right there. At Evoke, you can toast your own s’more while sipping your cappuccino.
Down in Colorado Springs, we were delighted to discover The Principle's Office at Ivy Wild. A great café doing great work in a beautiful setting.
Down in Colorado Springs, we were delighted to discover The Principle’s Office at Ivy Wild. A great café doing great work in a beautiful setting.
And while size may not matter, don't tell me you're unimpressed with a pourover drip tray that extends the entire length of the bar, like they have at The Principle's Office. Yeah, that's what I thought.
And while size may not matter, don’t tell me you’re unimpressed with a pourover drip tray that extends the entire length of the bar, like they have at The Principle’s Office. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Former Ceremony roaster Andy Sprenger moved to Denver and opened Sweet Bloom roastery less than a year ago. Somehow he managed to provide the coffee for the WBC 2nd place finisher that year.  Not a bad start!
Former Ceremony roaster Andy Sprenger moved to Denver and opened Sweet Bloom roastery less than a year ago. Somehow he managed to provide the coffee for the WBC 2nd place finisher that year. Not a bad start!
We haven't seen anyone serve AeroPress with greater passion on our whole tour than Andy of Sweet Bloom does. And that  makes sense when you look around at the AeroPress competition trophies sitting on the shelves.
We haven’t seen anyone serve AeroPress with greater passion on our whole tour than Andy of Sweet Bloom does. And that makes sense when you look around at the AeroPress competition trophies sitting on the shelves.
Just outside Denver in Arvada, we found Two Rivers Coffee and enjoyed the most elegant cortado presentation of our trip. I love to find people who are doing simple things with elegance and class, matching the glorious work of making espresso with the experience of the presentation.
Just outside Denver in Arvada, we found Two Rivers Coffee and enjoyed the most elegant cortado presentation of our trip. I love to find people who are doing simple things with elegance and class, matching the glorious work of making espresso with the experience of the presentation.
Two Rivers was in this beautiful space when we visited, but will move a few doors down where they'll be able to open up a new deck seating area.
Two Rivers was in this beautiful space when we visited, but will move a few doors down where they’ll be able to open up a new deck seating area.
Another relative newcomer to the Denver scene, Corvus was so jam packed with barista eye-candy that I started feeling guilty for staring. From dry-hopped cold brew to espresso-infused specialty drinks, it looked exhausting, everything these cats were up to. But they seemed to be having fun. And it was delicious.
Another relative newcomer to the Denver scene, Corvus was so jam packed with barista eye-candy that I started feeling guilty for staring. From dry-hopped cold brew to espresso-infused specialty drinks, it looked exhausting, everything these cats were up to. But they seemed to be having fun. And it was delicious.
They call this tasty little treat an espresso infusion, and apparently they infuse it with whatever they darn well feel like. I dig it!
At Corvus, they call this tasty little treat an espresso infusion, and apparently they infuse it with whatever they darn well feel like. I dig it!
This is Thump: Two custom Slayers. Steampunk. Pourver. Yeah, these guys are having too much fun.  And they're making some fine coffee too.
This is Thump: Two custom Slayers. Steampunk. Pourver. Yeah, these guys are having too much fun. And they’re making some fine coffee, too.
I'm always looking for the out-of-the-ordinary, I thought this elegant and simple menu board was anything but ordinary.
I’m always looking for the out-of-the-ordinary, I thought this elegant and simple menu board was anything but ordinary.
If you're looking for Intelligentsia served with excellence, style, and class, Aviano is your place. We were served by three smartly-dressed gentlemen, one of whom I watched do a  œmilk tasting  when he came on shift.
If you’re looking for Intelligentsia served with excellence, style, and class, Aviano is your place. We were served by three smartly-dressed gentlemen, one of whom I watched do a œmilk tasting  when he came on shift.
Why, uh, yes, that is an airplane hangar door leading out to the patio.  Thanks for noticing.
Why, uh, yes, that is an airplane hangar door leading out to the patio at Aviano. Thanks for noticing.
After the obligatory visit to Mt. Rushmore, we crossed South Dakota to Sioux Falls and discovered the excellence of Coffea Roasterie. The sophisticated seating area is utilized by Coffea in the mornings, and in the evenings, it becomes the lounge for the neighboring wine bar. Great use of space!
After the obligatory visit to Mt. Rushmore, we crossed South Dakota to Sioux Falls and discovered the excellence of Coffea Roasterie. The sophisticated seating area is utilized by Coffea in the mornings, and in the evenings, it becomes the lounge for the neighboring wine bar. Great use of space!
Coffea Roasterie is doing a lot of things ”such as making delicious coffee ”very well. For example, check out this great presentation of different processing methods.
Coffea Roasterie is doing a lot of things ”such as making delicious coffee ”very well. For example, check out this great presentation of different processing methods.

So that’s it for this week, my caffeinated friends. Next week, we’ll get you all ready for the Big Central Barista Competition coming up in November with a trip to Minneapolis. We dug through all the notable shops and came up with our list of the ones you just gotta visit. We’ll look forward to seeing you then, so be sure to check back here often. Until then, follow us in real time on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or at www.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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