Caffeine aficionados sampled some of the best brew west of the Missouri River during the 2018 Caffeine Crawl. More than 100 people participated in one of six caffeine routes around Omaha and Lincoln. Eldest daughter Stephanie joined me on my second Caffeine Crawl adventure, as we sampled some amazing drinks and treats in Omaha July 28. The fun part for me was each location we visited was a new experience for me, since I hadn’t been to any of the five before the crawl.
Hardy Coffee Company
Our day started with a stop at the Hardy Coffee Company’s Outlander store near 30th and Hamilton streets. The location, opened since March, houses the company’s roasting and baking operations. It was a much needed move as operations outgrew the original location, said Autumn Pruitt, who owns the company alongside husband Luke.
“Our staff got tired of hauling 150-lbs. bags up stairs (at the Old Market location),” she joked.
We sampled an apple juice chai tea and “dirty” chai (chai and coffee), as well as the store’s root beer. Steph and I agreed that, while each was good, our favorite sample was the dirty chai. In fact, we each had a second serving. Mini-cupcakes were also available (due to allergies, neither of us could try the cupcakes, but others enjoyed them).
Opening the Outlander location brings Hardy Coffee Company – formerly Aromas – to three stores, including the Old Market and Dundee neighborhoods. The Pruitts changed the name to Hardy (her maiden name, by chance) to bring all the operations under one umbrella, Autumn said.
Dundee Double Shot
While we enjoyed the Hardy visit, we were excited to check out the second stop – Dundee Double Shot, near 50th and Dodge streets. The building may be small but with interior and exterior seating areas, the coffee shop has plenty of room for customers to enjoy a cup and snack.
I fell in love with Dundee Double Shot’s Zombianco, a vanilla bean chilled drink that reminded me of an ice cream malt. It’s now on my go-to list next time I’m in the area. Our second drink was a Dirty Harry latte, which consisted of Mayan mocha, caramel and chai.
While it’s been a coffee shop for about 15 years, the store’s name was changed to Dundee Double Shot not long before Mike and Connie Lang took over in 2014. They developed a logo and expanded the name’s use. The Langs love being a part of the historic Dundee area (Omaha’s original suburb).
Working with a Wisconsin-based distributor, Dundee Double Shot gets one type of roast from an all-female operation in Honduras. They believe it’s important to work with reputable businesses.
As we continued our caffeine trek around the Big O, we checked out Zen Coffee at 25th and Farnam streets. Opened for about a year, Zen is a Fair Trade coffeehouse, which means they work with producers who provide fair wage and working conditions for employees. We enjoyed a Toddy float, which is a Costa honey iced coffee with ice cream. Zen is donating the money from the drink’s sales to volcano relief in Guatemala. The company believes in giving back to the community, we were told.
We also enjoyed two more samples of Zen’s hot coffees. The Toddy float was both our favorites.
Zen provides a relaxing atmosphere with natural light, where local art adorns the wall.
Well Grounded Coffee House
Well Grounded Coffee House combines Omahans’ love of coffee with charity, as the company donates money to help build water wells in India and Africa. Over the past three years, donations raised by the coffee house on 24th Street, near Leavenworth, has resulted in three wells being built. The decision to join forces with charity: water came following the owner’s visit to the areas a few years ago. She saw the need for clean, safe water.
Using only roasters from Chicago and Omaha, Well Grounded practices Direct Trade, which practices transparency through the supply process. Intelligentsia is based in the Windy City, while Bishopwoods and ReBoot are local roasters.
Archetype Coffee Little Bohemia
Our final stop of the day was a private demonstration at the new Archetype Coffee location on 13th Street in Little Bohemia. Set to open sometime in the next few weeks, we learned how Toddy coffee is produced over a 24-hour period, with time as the key process in extracting flavor.
We sampled Toddy and flash-brewed coffees, which have distinct differences. Toddy offers a chocolate flavor.
Archetype plans to run its roasting and baking operations at the site, having outgrown the Blackstone coffee house. Of course, the original Archetype coffee house remains a popular site. Beer and wine will eventually be added, along with later hours at the Little Bohemia location, which is across the street from the former Bohemian Café.
Kansas City-based Caffeine Crawl offers coffee experiences around the Midwest, as well as other states. With 73 crawls under its belt since 2011, Caffeine Crawl’s fourth trip to Omaha included its first excursion to Lincoln. The results were good, said Jason Burton, of Caffeine Crawl.
Having enjoyed several samples of some of Omaha’s finest coffees and teas, Steph and I came away impressed with this year’s Caffeine Crawl. We enjoyed our adventure and meeting fellow caffeine fans. We recommend taking part in a caffeine crawl when it comes to your town.
For more information on Caffeine Crawl and its schedule, please visit www.caffeinecrawl.com.