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Georgia: East Pole Coffee Co., Atlanta
Jared Karr’s dream of becoming an FBI agent ended up with him living in Indonesia (long story, ask him), where he developed a fascination with coffee, as you do. These days, Karr is back home, busily growing one of the Southeast’s most promising roasters—East Pole’s bright and light café in the Armour Yards development is all but brand new, but this already feels like one of Atlanta‘s great coffee shops.
Also try Limited opening hours at Radio Roasters‘ Atlanta facility give hardcore fans a view to the inner workings of this skilled operation, while over in Athens, the highly-regarded 1000 Faces has opened a new flagship roaster/café.
Hawaii: Kona Coffee Purveyor, Honolulu
Familiarity breeds contempt—for proof, look no further than the way Hawaii treats one of its most prized exports. A pleasant morning stroll from most Waikiki hotels, this sparkling, relatively recent entry doubles as an outpost of Honolulu.
Also try Sneaking away from Waikiki into the lush Manoa Valley for a day starter at Morning Glass Café will be a highlight of any coffee lover’s Honolulu jaunt; just be sure to skip past the flown-in roasts and avail yourself of the rotating Hawaiian offerings.
Idaho: Form & Function, Boise
Saying that Boise is the next anything (maybe don’t say Portland, at least not out loud) might sound like a joke to the uninitiated; drop by Kate and Scott Seward’s brand new, multi-level café doing its own small-batch roasting, however, right here on the ground floor of a sleek new mid-rise apartment building with rents starting in the four digits, and you’ll get it—this town is changing.
Also try In nearby Garden City, the skate-centric (and dog friendly) Push and Pour offers great coffee and a great location along the Boise River Greenbelt, while way up north in Sandpoint, Evans Brothers Coffee is responsible for some of the best roasts in the state.
Illinois: Metric Coffee, Chicago
Seattle got most of the attention, but the ’90’s were very good to the Windy City, coffee-wise—let’s start with Intelligentsia, beginning life as a relatively modest café and roastery in the Lakeview section of town, back in 1995. Like Seattle today, Chicago‘s scene is wonderfully layered, offering up everything from the unabashedly traditional to the cutting-edge. For the best of the latter, look way, way west—steps from where the notorious Horner projects stood crumbling thirty years ago—to a block shared with another celebrated coffee roaster (Sparrow) and a very good brandy distillery (Rhine Hall). Metric, something of a power partnership between the owner of a popular local café and a talented Intelligentsia vet, roasts its prized beans on a restored 1961, keeping relatively limited hours in an on-site café and tasting room, where public cuppings are held every Friday morning.
Also try As you might expect in a city that’s been at it for some time now, coffee is for everyone in Chicago, not just the cool kids. Back of the Yards Coffeehouse, for example, is a true oasis in a tough neighborhood, while down in impoverished Englewood, the non-profit Kusanya Café & Roastery has been holding down the fort since 2013. Up on the North Side, the still-scarred (but fast-gentrifying) Uptown neighborhood has Everybody’s Coffee, a passion project from a group of fun-loving coffee snobs, living in a local commune.
Indiana: Conjure Coffee, Fort Wayne
Unless you’re a total geek, keeping up with the very latest in coffee tech can be a bit difficult, but we can’t talk about Fort Wayne—perhaps the last place you were expecting to be talking about, right now—without talking about the fact that the city, better known as the birthplace of the Frigidaire, is also home of the Modbar, currently one of the hottest names in espresso extraction—so hot, in fact, that the company managed to attract La Marzocco as an investor and distribution partner. These days, Modbar founding partner Corey Waldron has gone back to his barista roots with this roaster/café operation, located just above the confluence of the three rivers that meet here at the heart of the city. (It’s not just a thing that happens in Pittsburgh, you know.)
Also try Sensitively shoehorned into the foyer of the impressive Athenaeum Theatre in Indianapolis, Coat Check Coffee has quickly managed to become a top stop in a city that wasn’t exactly desperate for new coffee options.
Iowa: Horizon Line Coffee, Des Moines
Iowa‘s capital ranked as the fastest growing city in the Midwest last year, a trend being driven by the likes of Brad Penna and Nam Ho, young Southern Californians who moved here in search of a lower cost of living and a different pace of life. Their ambitious roaster/café, opened just last summer around the corner from the Pappa-John Sculpture Park, is shaking up the city’s coffee culture, and the locals—new and old—appear to be loving it. We certainly are.
Kansas: PT’s Coffee Roasting Co., Topeka
The deity-level status of a coffee roaster hailing from Kansas‘ snoozy capital used to take the less-informed by surprise; nowadays, it seems less unusual that an operation as world-class as this should be found in such a place. No brash upstart, this—direct trading, single origin-loving PT’s has been around since the early 1990’s, and is still considered one of the finest source in the land, last year snapping up another roaster with a similar reputation for quality, San Diego‘s Coffee brands. Lately, the company has given its retail operation a modern makeover, adding more modern shops in the college town of Lawrence, as well as Kansas City, Missouri.
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