Columbus Food Adventures Coffee Tour Showcases City's Coffee, Potential

This post is written by Matthew Lovett, a local freelance writer and former barista. 

Coffee is a nebulous experience. After engaging with it all day on Columbus Food Adventures’ Coffee Tour, it became apparent that making the perfect cup (or shot of espresso) is an ever-changing process – even for the coffee professionals in town. Over the tour’s three stops, attendees not only received a crash course in Columbus coffee – as well as some complimentary goods – but also discovered the drink’s variable potential.

Stop 1: Brioso Coffee

The morning began at Brioso Coffee, where we delved into all things espresso. Through the guidance of some of the brand’s major proprietors – co-owners Jeff Davis and John “JJ” Justice, lead barista Robin Myers – we received insights about espresso’s history and the process of making the concentrated-style coffee.  

We tried Brioso’s house espresso plain, as well as in a cappuccino. The latter drink inspired conversation about the importance of using quality milk to make espresso beverages. Brioso, like many coffee shops around town, use all-natural, Ohio-made milk from Hartzler (which we, luckily, also tried by itself).

Before we parted ways, Myers made it a point to discuss the greater goal of Brioso, and the specialty coffee industry as a whole: “We’re sharing stories and experiences more than selling products,” Myers said. “We [want to] step back and allow the product be the spotlight.”

Stop 2: Stauf’s

Our next stop, at Stauf’s roasting facility, might’ve helped dig deeper into those stories Myers was talking about. When we made it to the site, Stauf’s President Mark Swanson and Roastmaster Tom Goetz went through the process of sourcing coffee — or how the coffee fruit gets from a farm to your cup.

In speaking of readying coffee for the cup, it was Goetz that provided attendees with a coffee-roasting tutorial. Goetz explained that how a given coffee is roasted is based on everything from time to temperature to the humidity in the air; even in roasting, coffee is still being figured out. (For curious parties, he roasted some Ethiopia Moka Harrar, a mocha-inflected coffee with notes of blueberries.)

We finished our time at Stauf’s with a coffee cupping: the official process of tasting coffee. To paint a rough picture of how this works, think of slurping French press-brewed coffee without filtering out the grounds, and subsequently spitting it out as if you were at a wine tasting. (Fun stuff.) As we left, we were offered coffee beans to take home for our personal enjoyment.  

Stop 3: Luck Bros’ Coffeehouse

Andy Luck, the owner of our third stop Luck Bros’ Coffeehouse, brought our tour to a close with home-brewing tips and tricks for attendees. Over some of homemade Breakfast Bake casserole, Luck provided counsel on how to best brew coffee at home – whether you were a manual-brew nerd or preferred the simple auto-drip. Though Luck supplied geeky tidbits about the best grinder and coffee-to-water ratio to use, Luck’s philosophy on coffee was simple: the best cup of coffee is the one you prefer – regardless of how you make it. 

Columbus Coffee Experience Expands with Five New Shops

This post is written by Matthew Lovett, a local freelance writer and former barista. 

Starting right now, we’re expanding the Columbus Coffee Trail from eight to 13 shops, making it more widespread than ever! While some of the new shops continue to showcase a specialty touch to coffee, others bring a no-fuss approach — if you want a flavored roast or a caramel latte, it’s yours. Look below to see what shops we’re adding and what they do best. For location info, head over to our Participating Locations page.

Crimson Cup

Roast magazine’s Macro Roaster of the Year for 2016 is on the up-and-up. In 2015 they built a brand-spankin’-new roasting facility to coincide with a fresh Upper Arlington location. Whether you visit the new spot or go to the original Clintonville location, they’re running a true-to-form coffee shop either way. They’ve got the normal espresso and manual brew offerings, but stay tuned into them because they’re also known to tinker with drink recipes for delicious kicks. Crimson Cup has established themselves an authority in Columbus coffee, and there’s no better time than now to pay a visit.

 Fox in the Snow Cafe

 At Fox in the Snow, you can come for the food or the coffee. The house-made hand pies are stunning. And their egg sandwiches – don’t get us started. And we can attest to the quality of their blueberry scones. If you can get past the vast selection of house-made pastries (good luck) they’re rocking an excellent coffee set up as well. Their coffee’s roasted outside of Ohio in Maine by Tandem Coffee Roasters. Tandem’s the basis for all the usual espresso drinks, and if you just want coffee, you’re getting it via Hario V60. Try the New Orleans iced coffee when the sun’s out on full blast.

Luck Bros’ Coffee House

Tucked into Grandview is Luck Bros., one of the first shops to really hop on the specialty bandwagon in Columbus. They roast their own coffee onsite, and are huge proponents of craft coffee, going so far as to separate the classier espresso drinks from say, the chocolatey blended kind. One can get drip coffee there, though I recommend a cup on the clever dripper for a more manicured, flavorful cup. Once your beverage is decided upon, complete your Luck Bros. experience with a piece of their homemade Breakfast Bake.  

Red Velvet Café 

 If you can believe it, there’s a coffee shop in the popular stretch of new businesses on South Fourth Street downtown. Tucked among  Mikey’s Late Night Slice, Dirty Frank’s, 16-Bit Bar + Arcade you’ll find Red Velvet Café, a shop with One Line Coffee beans in tow that offers coffee drinks to complement their slew of pastries and Filipino-inspired sandwiches. Normal coffee and espresso drinks don the menu, alongside international options such as Turkish and Vietnamese coffee. Varied menu aside, Red Velvet’s finest characteristic might be how it caters to the taste buds of both nerdy and basic coffee drinkers alike. 

Winan’s Chocolates and Coffees

Head down German Village to catch up on Winan’s, a company that’s extended its reach all over Ohio to share its deep history of treat-making. They’re best-known for their gargantuan assortment of candies, but their coffee selection is still one to be reckoned with. Most of their coffees fall into the flavored category, and with labels like Blueberry Crumb Cake and Pecan Praline Brulee, it’s easy to see why. (Don’t worry, there’s still a fair share of single origins for sale.) Winan’s epitomizes that no-fuss coffee philosophy: if it tastes good, Winan’s has you covered. 

Brioso Coffee Opens New Downtown Location

This post is written by Matthew Lovett, a local freelance writer and former barista. 

Though just about every food or drink option served at downtown hangout Café Brioso is certainly delicious, it seems that was only the beginning for coffee roastmaster/co-owner Jeff Davis. That’s why he made it a point to bring his true focus and passion — coffee — to the forefront in his brand’s newest venture, Brioso Coffee.

“[Brioso Coffee] is super-focused on coffee. We’re not getting distracted by a bunch of different needs,” says Davis. “We can be really focused on executing the cups and the recipes and communicating with the customers about the coffee… We’re putting ourselves in a coffee vacuum.” 

Davis explains the “new home” at 329 E. Long St. allows the Brioso Coffee brand to better cater to their wholesale accounts through the accessibility of the location and the additional space, which allows them roast more coffee. Eventually, the majority of the coffee roasting is set to be done on Long Street. 

For anyone that’s been to Café Brioso (located at 14 E. Gay St.), Brioso Coffee might be a bit of a culture shock. Framed by exposed brick, the interior has a bit of an older-era Columbus charm. It’s actually a straight-up coffee shop, and more spacious than the storefront gives it credit for. It helps that there are long tables to make the spot conducive to bringing a whole crew of friends or finding one’s own solitude (yes, there’s wi-fi). It’s topped off with an upgraded roasting system that plays centerpiece to the whole shop, providing a bit of eye candy to enthusiasts and regular joe-drinkers alike. 

Though not too far away from their Café Brioso roots, Brioso Coffee opens up more opportunity to reach a greater audience. Davis mentions “[in this area] we got the students of CCAD and Columbus State, we got the residential neighborhood springing up really fast and we’ve got downtown workers.”

That sense of opportunity also carries over into the coffee offerings it dons on its menu. It might seem bare-bones compared to the Gay Street spot, but it showcases an expanded manual brew and specialty coffee options. The previously understated pour-over bar at Café Brioso is now front-and-center here, set to brew up around three different coffee options regularly. Customers are encouraged to try out one of Brioso’s higher-end coffee options via a pour-over, or the seldom-seen Blossom method.

In addition, latte lovers and espresso nerds might be intrigued to find out that the house espresso blend has been updated as well. The renewed recipe has been engineered to mesh with milk better while being delicious served by itself — Davis even says the “cappuccino’s even better” now. 

Brioso Coffee was already a huge step for Davis and his crew, and they’re still growing into the space, so expect the spot to be tinkered with and flourish over time. At the moment, Davis is playing with the idea of doing coffee cuppings (the process of tasting and observing the aroma of coffee) for the public or even sprucing up the original Café Brioso. Nothing’s set in stone, though, and that’s how Davis likes it.

“[We’re] getting to where it’s a comfortable starting point,” Davis says. “We’re going to grow into it organically, based on how things go and what the customers want. That’s how we built Café Brioso, and that’s part of its magic – we just allowed it to become a product of its environment.”

Check it out for yourself: Brioso Coffee is open Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday – Sunday, 8 a.m. to noon. 

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One Line Coffee Opens New Shop in Huntington Center Downtown

One Line Coffee opened its second retail coffee bar at the Huntington Center in downtown Columbus on Monday, March 2. According to Retail Operations Managing Partner Mick Evans, the shop will operate out of the location previously occupied by Peets Coffee & Tea at 41 South High Street across from the Ohio Statehouse and adjacent to the Vern Riffe Center.

Evans stated that the local coffee roaster/retailer submitted a lease proposal last November and was excited that a local business was selected by the building’s property manager to replace Peets - a national coffee retailer. Dave Forman, Managing Partner for One Line’s sourcing, roasting and wholesale operations, believes that the location provides the company an opportunity to increase its brand awareness and to demonstrate that high quality specialty coffee and espresso can be served in a high-volume venue.

The store will offer a variety of coffee and tea beverages served hot and over ice...and will produce their well-known cold drip coffee prepared with Kyoto-style towers on site. In keeping with the company’s efforts to promote brewing equipment that supports the highest quality of product, One Line is installing the modbar espresso and pour over units at the front counter which allows baristas to maximize personal interaction with customers and moves much of the production machinery below the counter. The recently introduced modbar pour over modules allow One Line to duplicate the single-cup service so many customers request at their Short North store while at the same time recognizing the faster pace of the downtown business environment.

The store manager for the new location, Hillary Hopkins, has several years of experience in retail sales and worked for Boston Stoker, a Dayton, Ohio based roaster/retailer. She explained that like its sister store in the Short North, the coffee bar will offer a variety of baked goods prepared by local partners Destination Donuts, The Angry Baker, Pattycake Bakery and Cherbourg Bakery. In addition, the store will offer a complete selection of One Line’s locally roasted coffees for home and office brewing as well as a variety of brewing equipment. The store will also serve loose-leaf teas provided by Petali Teas located in nearby Alexandria, Ohio. One Line has a long-standing relationship with Petali that recognizes the company’s commitment to local business and to sourcing high quality products.

The downtown store will have hours from 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays.

Boston Stoker Set to Open Victorian Village Shop March 13

Boston Stoker Coffee Company will open its newest location at 771 Neil Avenue on March 13, 2015.  The company will move the current coffee shop located on Ohio State University’s campus as the building is slated for demolition.  The new coffee shop will be the 7th location for the specialty coffee roaster.

Boston Stoker was founded by Don and Sally Dean who opened their first tobacco shop in Englewood, Ohio in 1973.  The Deans began to serve gourmet coffee without charge to customers as they enjoyed their pipe or cigar.  The coffee was so popular that Boston Stoker soon began selling beans by the pound.  In 1983, Boston Stoker began roasting coffee, eleven pounds at a time.  Today the company is led by Henry Dean, son of the founders.  Henry and team travel the globe looking for finest coffees and establishing direct trade relationships with growers that produce quality coffee, exemplify social responsibility, use sustainable growing practices and are environmentally consciousness.  “Our mission is to serve the finest coffee in the world, to do that we must consider the people who grow and cultivate it”, says Henry Dean, President of Boston Stoker Coffee Company

Boston Stoker Coffee Company roasts these fine direct trade and single origin coffees and was recently named “Best Coffee Roaster” by Ohio Magazine.  The drink menu is simple and traditional. Espresso drinks, Rishi brand loose leaf teas and manually brewed “pour-over” coffees are highlighted.  There will also be cold brew coffee offering as well.  “We implement one of several manual brew methods to brew each and every cup of coffee fresh to order,” explained Erik Fenstermacher, Store Manager. “The brewing methods we offer are the Hario v60 pour-over method, French Press, Chemex, and Yama siphon.”  In addition to coffee and tea, a daily selection of freshly made, locally sourced pastries, toast by Dan the Baker as well as will be offered.

Today over 150, 000 pounds of coffee is roasted annually and shipped world-wide.  The company has an expanding wholesale business that provides coffee to retailers and other businesses.  In addition to coffee, Boston Stoker offers a complete line of brewing equipment for home or commercial use.   “We are proud to roast and sell the finest coffees in the world as well as the best equipment with which to brew it.”, says J. Stanton, Director of Sales & Marketing. 

The new shop will open on March 13, 2015.  Regular business hours will be Monday-Thursday 7:00 am – 9:00 pm, Friday 7:00 am – 10:00 pm, Saturday 8:00 am – 10:00 pm and Sunday 8:00-8:00 pm.

Columbus Coffee Direct to You with Midwest Specialty Roasters

If you've just completed the Columbus Coffee Trail, you know how great our local product is! Did you know there's an easy way to get Columbus coffee directly into your home, no matter where you live? Midwest Specialty Roasters works with some of the best local coffee companies to offer coffee subscriptions that deliver fresh beans every two weeks.

Working with companies like Brioso and Stauf's, Midwest Specialty Roasters offers a huge variety of beans, from all three coffee growing regions.

You can even pick up your first sampler pack at the Experience Columbus Visitor Center at 277 W. Nationwide Boulevard in Columbus' Arena District when you complete your coffee trail card! Stock is replaced weekly to ensure freshness.

Learn more about Midwest Specialty Roasters here.  

Columbus Restaurants with Great Coffee

This post is written by Nick Dekker, blogger at Breakfast with Nick and author of a book all about breakfast in Columbus. You can follow him on Twitter @BreakfastwNick.

This week Experience Columbus launched the Columbus Coffee Trail encouraging you to explore our strong coffee scene by visiting coffee shops and roasters. Pick up a passport from participating shops, then follow the map to sample drinks at four or more stops to earn a Columbus Coffee T-shirt!

One of the strongest aspects of Columbus’ coffee scene is the collaboration. Coffee roasters and baristas support one another, and local eateries love serving local roasts. In addition to the coffee trail, try tracking down local coffees at some of these area restaurants.

Cravings Carryout Café does a brisk business of cold brewed Thunderkiss Coffee. They’ll fill up a growler of the brew to go with your club sandwiches or (if you’re lucky) brioche donuts. The Crest Gastropub also brews up Thunderkiss with your orange blossom French toast at brunch, South of Lane in Upper Arlington pairs it with omelets and peanut butter chocolate waffles, and Katalina’s pancake balls are best served with a cold brew Thunderkiss toddy blended with chicory and maple syrup.

The Columbus Food League restaurants are ardent supporters of Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. If you’re brunching at any of the CFL restaurants, from Jury Room to Dirty Frank’s to Surly Girl Saloon, you can wash down your breakfast quesadilla or brunch burger with a mug of Stauf’s roasts.

AJ’s Café downtown favors Upper Cup Coffee with their Indian-themed wraps like the Zen Wrap or the Raja Wrap. Nearby Dempsey's goes with Impero to supplement their Irish steel cut oatmeal.

Café Brioso coffee seems to be a favorite of local bakeries in every corner of the city. German Village’s Pistacia Vera serves it alongside their croissants, while Kolache Republic pours it with their signature fluffy Czech pastries. Sassafras Bakery in Worthingon pairs it with tarts, scones and quiche. You can sip a shot of espresso at Dan the Baker’s in Grandview, and The Angry Baker in Olde Towne East will pour you a mug to go with their French toast sandwich.

If you’ve sampled too many beers or beermosas during brunch at Wolf's Ridge Brewing, you can revive with a shot One Line Coffee’s espresso or a cappuccino. Wolf’s Ridge also serves a porter espresso cocktail at brunch. If you eat gluten free, you’re probably familiar with Bexley’s Cherbourg Bakery. They serve beautiful gluten free donuts, muffins, strata, and croissants, all with One Line Coffee on hand.

And this is just the beginning! What’s your favorite local spot to grab a local coffee?

Video: Columbus Coffee Scene

You should know by now that we have something really special going on – so without further adieu, check it out!

The Columbus coffee scene is about two things: quality and simplicity. Over the past three years, we’ve seen more than a dozen coffee shops open their doors, most of which roast their own single-origin beans. These producers know their product and are happy to help you find the coffee that will suit you best.

One Line Coffee‘s superb roasts are a natural consequence of its father-son owner team’s dedication to tracing each cup of coffee back to the farm where its beans were cultivated. Mark and Dave Forman have been sourcing and roasting fine coffee for nearly a decade. Their shop in the Short North features a one-of-a-kind cupping lab where coffees are profiled, roasts perfected and each brew’s subtle notes experienced and charted. Drink to try:

Upper Cup Coffee‘s Michael Habte came to Columbus from Eritrea, near the origin of coffee itself. His roastery and coffee shop on Parsons Avenue in Olde Towne East serves as both neighborhood meeting spot and a place to see, smell and taste some of the world’s best beans as they go from raw to roasted to brewed.

Cafe Brioso roasts a wide variety of coffees crafted by owner-roastmaster Jeff Davis. Brioso customers enjoy the process as much as the product, as expert baristas concoct the perfect cup. The ever-changing, made-from-scratch soup and sandwich menu is designed to perfectly complement the brew.

Check out our other Columbus Food Scene videos here.

The Best Coffee Near Your Hotel

Every time I see a visitor walking through the convention center or through the Short North with a cup of coffee they brewed in their room, feel an urge to open their eyes to the great coffee shop that’s just around the corner. Not to say that our hotels don’t provide good coffee – they do. But in Columbus, there is lots of GREAT coffee.

If you actually LIKE coffee and don’t just drink it as a source of caffeine and you’re staying in or near downtown, we’ve made a list of the best cup of coffee that’s near you.

Hilton Columbus Downtown and Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown: Head to the North Market and find A Touch of Earth. A latte is always a great choice, as they use local, grass-fed Snowville Creamery milk. If the North Market is closed (after 7 p.m.) take a short jaunt north on High Street to One Line Coffee, where you can ask a barista to help you find the perfect bean for your tastebuds.

Renaissance Columbus, Residence Inn by Marriott Columbus Downtown and Doubletree Suites by Hilton Columbus Downtown: Cafe Brioso is less than 5 minutes away at the corner of Gay and High. Let your nose guide you by the smell of freshly roasted coffee. If you’re feeling fancy, indulge in a cubano – rich, creamy and assertive with just a touch of bittersweet chocolate – it’s better to drink there and taking it to go.

Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capital Square: Walk through the scenic Statehouse grounds, cross High Street, and you’re at Cup O’ Joe Downtown! If the weather is nice, enjoy your coffee on the patio.

Hyatt Regency, Drury Inn and Suites, The Lofts, Red Roof Inn and Crowne Plaza Hotel Downtown Columbus – If you’re a convention goer, take a quick walk through the center, all the way to the north end. Jump out onto High Street for less than a block, and get a delicious iced coffee or specialty drink at Cup O’ Joe/MoJoe Lounge.

Holiday Inn Columbus Downtown Capital Square: You’re on the eastern edge of downtown, so take a quick walk a bit farther east to Upper Cup Coffee, on the western edge of Olde Towne East. If you have a few minutes, get it to-go, and enjoy it in Topiary Park on your way back.

The Westin Columbus: Take a 1/2 mile walk into German Village and indulge in a great cup of coffee at Pistacia Vera. Pick up a macaron while you’re there.