Coffee has moved from being just a drink to being a lifestyle, and Columbus is emerging nationally as a top city for artisan roasters and craft coffee startups. An annual Coffee Roaster's Festival (held every March at Columbus' North Market) and Columbus Food Adventures' Coffee Tour highlight the city's exploding micro-roaster culture, which is being fueled by a number of interesting entrepreneurs. Most are single-origin roasters, and many opened just within the past 24 months. They share a passion for quality, but each has an intriguing personal story about what launched their love affair with the bean. Just a few of the small-batch roasters and unique coffee houses percolating in Ohio's capitol city include:
Backroom Coffee Roasters rings true to its name. It operates out of a local bike shop. Focusing on quality over quantity, this micro-roaster offers ever-changing special edition robust blends available not just at the bike shop, but also via local gourmet grocers. www.backroomcoffeeroasters.com.
Café 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. www.cafebrioso.com.
Thunder Kiss Coffee knows the story behind every bean they buy. It's what makes this local roaster, direct seller and wholesaler so special. In addition to roasting and supplying the city's best restaurants and shops with incredible coffee, Thunder Kiss collaborates with other food-trepreneurs to craft new products, like Batch coffee cheesecake or North Market Spices coffee meat rubs. www.thunderkisscoffee.tumblr.com.
Impero Coffee Roasters treats the act of coffee roasting as an art form. This family-run shop is a hit in Columbus’ trendy Short North arts and entertainment district. Entertaining baristas, quality coffee, perfect espresso and a locally sourced food menu draw crowds, even late into the evening. www.imperocoffee.com.
Luck Bros’ Coffee House's wide range of gourmet coffees are enjoyed at the shop’s ultra-hip brew bar. Coffee freak Andy Luck employs the most innovative techniques and extraordinary beans, even pouring an exclusive $12-a-cup Hacienda Esmeralda roast. www.luckbroscoffeehouse.com.
Mission Coffee Co. is the new kid on the block, helping coffee aficionados interact with their java. Mission taps every imaginable brewing technique, from traditional to modern, including: pourover, Chemex, Clever, siphon, drip, woodneck, press and espresso. www.missioncoffeecup.com.
Stauf's Coffee Roasters, the senior member of Columbus' coffee club and big daddy to Cup o' Joe and MoJoe Lounge coffee shops, opened in 1988. This pioneering coffee roaster imports the highest quality Arabica beans from 20 countries, then hand fires them in a gas-powered roaster. www.staufs.com.
Upper Cup Coffee Co. roasters are picky. They scan the globe, searching for the best beans. Then they bring them home, where in-house master roasters lovingly finish the beans in small batches, keeping a close eye on the details. The result is a global village of finely crafted dynamic flavors. www.myuppercupcoffee.com.
Yeah, Me Too likes to keep things simple, serving just plain, unadorned coffee, hot or iced. A simple French press brews a coffee so rich with natural flavors there is no need to fluff things up, Crafting what is among the city's best coffee from a tiny, colorful shop consumes the owners’ full attention. There's no website, Facebook page or Twitter handle. Just good coffee.
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. But their Columbus coffee house opens in June and will feature a one-of-a-kind cupping lab where coffees will be profiled, roasts perfected and each brew's subtle notes experienced and charted. www.onelinecoffee.com