While the coffee scene in Ohio starts to take off thanks to an onslaught of micro-roasters, it continues to be bolstered by original roasters/shops that have been staples in their respective communities. Boston Stoker is one of the originals in Ohio.
I hadn’t had the chance to try much of their stuff, but I had the privilege of meeting a few of the staff when they came for the Northeast Regional AeroPress Championship. The head judge of the competition, Mick, was actually Boston Stoker’s Director of Coffee Culture before moving to Columbus.
Something extremely unique to Boston Stoker is that the company actually started off as a Cigar Shop—their coffee services started off as a convenience to cigar shop customers, and only later on did it become their primary business.
Not too long ago, Adam Eckley, an employee at Boston Stoker emailed me some doodles he’d done while in the process of learning about coffee over the years, including a filter doodle of Boston Stoker. I wanted to share some of it, because I really like them.
He was also kind enough to send over a couple coffees they’d been working on—both an Ethiopia and a Kenya. My first taste of the Kenya was awesome.
I’m looking forward to enjoying them this week, and can’t wait to see what Boston Stoker continues to do in the future. It’s nice to see some of the old guard continue to progress and put out stellar coffees rather than swim in the success of yesteryear.
I’m living in Mansfield, Ohio for the summer—I grew up here and it’s really been nice to be back home for a short time before we ship off to Italy. While I was gone, Mansfield upgraded significantly when its first specialty coffee shop was opened downtown near the historic Carousel District. I’ve frequented the shop this summer, and they’re doing some great things in the community—truly leading an arts and culture revolution in this town.
I’ve written about Relax, It’s Just Coffee in the past, but lately, I’ve gotten to know some of the baristas. Relax boasts talented baristas Cody Nicolas and Jon Critcher. Cody is a musician who studied at Berklee College of Music and worked at a shop in Boston while in school. His band, the La De Les, recently got off tour and are in the beginning stages of writing a new album. Their recent album “Carlo” is well-worth a listen. Jon, who recently returned for the summer on a break from school, is good friends with Colin Moody—both work at Intelligentsia’s Millenium Park location. Jon does video projects in his spare time and collects incredible vintage lighters. Any shop would be lucky to have these guys on staff.
Combined with an awesome crew and a historic set-up, Relax is a shop full of talent and innovation in a town that needed a good dose of it. It has become a central place for creatives, artists, thinkers, and groups to gather together to share their work and enjoy great coffee.
Stauf’s carries Columbus, OH coffee roaster “Stauf’s,” and has recently had Intelligentsia on as a guest roaster. I’m looking forward to (hopefully) seeing even more roasters cycle through. We’ll see!
Many thanks to everyone at Relax—keep up the awesome work, and thanks for proving that sex sells.
Not too long ago, I posted about a Coffee + Ice Cream collaboration between Batdorf & Bronson and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The two teamed up to create the fresh, hand-crafted re-boot of Jeni’s “Black Coffee” ice cream flavor. It’s kind of interesting—I’ve not actually had the pleasure of trying the Batdorf-brewed ice cream, because locally, Jeni’s still uses a local roaster as a coffee supplier. I admire the company’s commitment to the local Columbus community, but am admittedly bummed about never having tried it. As far as I can tell, the collaboration has been a huge success.
I’ve said this before, but Jeni’s is a special thing to the Columbus area, going far beyond the quality ingredients used to make ice cream and their commitment to hand-crafting it. Those things are only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a certain sense of pride locals have in recommending their favorite local Scoop Shop to out-of-towners. Every time Jeni racks up another award for having “America’s Best Ice Cream” or wins a James Beard award for her cookbook, it further solidifies that pride.
I’m a huge fan of Columbus, Ohio—it’s a blossoming city in the midst of defining itself, and I believe Jeni’s has a lot to do with that. There are plenty of write-ups and articles out there that explain how Jeni Britton-Bauer went from making ice cream in a bucket at Columbus’ North Market to owning several shops in Ohio and Tennessee that are worth a read. Jeni’s rise is good evidence that commitment to a unique idea and passion is more powerful than a simple business plan.
It’s been hot as of late, with temperatures reaching well over 95 degrees and storms that have knocked the power out in large areas of Ohio. This doodle is inspired by my favorite trio of flavors, as well as a couple visits to Jeni’s over the weekend, where we were served with a smile, despite long lines and hot-and-bothered customers, at both the Bexley and Powell Scoop Shops. Thanks for being such an amazing part of Columbus!
It’s always nice when coffee roasters are excited enough about their new coffees to send some my way. I don’t take it for granted and have truly appreciated all the great coffees I’ve tried this year.
A short time ago, Ryan Doan of Deeper Roots Coffee got in touch with me so he could send coffee. It turns out Ryan knows my wife, Amber, and he graduated from the same University as me. It’s great to know I’m not the only alum who’s crazy about coffee.
Deeper Roots is a coffee roaster out of Cincinnati who has partnered with Deeper Roots Development—a small farmer development organization who attempts to build sustainability through community and farmer development, as well as through informed customers. I know there are a lot of roasters and companies that trumpet that focus, and who make enormous strides in bettering the industry in a multitude of ways, but it’s still refreshing to see it from even more roasters. Be sure to checkout their neat project with La Armonia Hermosa out of Guatemala.
Since 2005 Deeper Roots Development has been at work building collaborations between Santa Marian farmers, committed coffee roasters and coffee drinkers hoping to find both great quality and great story in their cup. Starting with 1000 lbs our first year, we have helped the group of farmers grow to over 20 with their combined exports reaching 15,000 lbs. Currently we are investing in the construction of the community’s first “wet mill” to completely process their own coffee for export for the first time.
Ryan was kind enough to send along a bag of Kenya Ruthagati and a bag of Ethiopia Sidamo, both of which were great coffees. Be sure to check DRC out on twitter, and visit their site—they’re doing great things for farmers and roast great coffees.
Deeper Roots also offers wholesale, training, consulting, equipment set up, and tech services—in fact, they’re working directly with soon-to-be opened shop in Columbus, Mission Coffee.
When I tell people about Columbus, I tell them about Jeni’s Ice Cream. It’s easily one of the best things to come out of Columbus, Ohio, and is a source of pride among locals. Everyone in Columbus knows about it and people around the country are discovering this gem. Jeni Britton-Bauer started Jeni’s a few years back at the North Market in downtown Columbus using only farm-fresh ingredients, all natural, and hand-selected. Since then, Jeni’s has expanded with nine locations around Ohio (often with lines out the door and around the corner) and two locations in Tennessee.
What makes Jeni’s unique is their passion for flavor and relentless quest for quality, perfect ingredients. I think many in the coffee industry can relate to this quest:
We create ice creams we fall madly in love with, that we want to bathe in, that make us see million-year-old stars. We devour it out of Mason jars, coffee mugs—whatever we can get our hands on. Handmade American ice cream = Bliss with a big B. Every single thing we put in our ice cream is legit. Generic chemist-built ice cream bases and powdered astronaut-friendly gelato mixes? No, ma’am. We build every recipe from the ground up with luscious, Snowville milk and cream from cows that eat grass. With that exquisite base, we explore pure flavor in whatever direction moves us at any moment, every day, all year. -Jeni Britton-Bauer
Recently, I had the opportunity to help Jason Dominy of Batdorf & Bronson in Atlanta with a coffee ambush at Jeni’s Headquarters. We hand-brewed coffee all morning for the crew at Jeni’s and had a ton of fun doing it. You can read more about that ambush, and Jason’s entire experience at Jeni’s on his blog.
Shortly after his visit, Jason and Batdorf made the official announcement that they would be teaming up with Jeni’s to produce “the best coffee ice cream out there.” From Jason’s instagram post in Portland:
Coffee Ice Cream Ambush at @nemohq! Yep, proud to announce officially our partnership with @jenisicecreams! Guatemala Finca El Valle makes this coffee ice cream the best out there. Coming soon, coast to coast!
After spending time with Jason, and with the team at Jeni’s, it’s clear that this is a perfect match. Each company places an emphasis on not only the quality of their product, but the story behind it. Head over to the Jeni’s site to order yours – doesn’t matter where you live — they ship.