Making the perfect cup of coffee is an art. Or, so it seems when learning about what baristas do in creating the unique flavors we enjoy. Even a “plain” cup of black coffee takes skill to ensure the proper taste is achieved.
Baristas across Omaha put their skills and love of coffee on display during the annual Caffeine Crawl Saturday. This year, nine coffeehouses and two tea spots participated as dozens of coffee aficionados sampled their wares over four routes. In Lincoln, five coffeehouses and two tea shops participated for the second year.
Dundee Double Shot
We traveled along the first route. Starting at Dundee Double Shot, we quickly received an education in creating amazing drinks. Connie Lang, who owns the store with her husband Mike, introduced us to a lavender-flavored iced coffee. I’m not a cold coffee fan, but I enjoyed the aroma and flavor of this drink. With a smooth taste, I definitely can imagine sitting on the coffeehouse’s patio on a warm day sipping the brew while enjoying time with family or working on my laptop.
Dundee Double Shot has been a coffeehouse for nearly 15 years, but when the Langs took over five years ago, they changed the name to Dundee Double Shot and put their personal touches on the coffeehouse. A mixologist by trade, Connie loves the challenge of mixing coffee with different flavors. In addition to the lavender-flavored drink, the coffeehouse offers a variety of hot, cold and frozen coffees, including their well-known Zombianco vanilla Frappuccino.
Dundee Double Shot’s menu features pastries and baked items from Bob’s, Black Bottom and the Donut Professor.
Well Grounded Coffee
Well Grounded Coffee sets aside a portion of its sales to help build water wells in underdeveloped countries around the world. Located near 24th and Leavenworth, Well Grounded uses roasters that are active in direct trade with coffee plantations and farms. This means that the money goes directly to the grower. Well Grounded’s suppliers include Reboot Roasting, a Bellevue-based company. Reboot has been around since 2015 and can be found in a number of local coffeehouses besides Well Grounded.
During our visit, we tasted an iced orange, cinnamon decaf latte. The flavor was enticing and the drink had a smooth feel. In addition, we did a caffeinated/decaf test. I chose wrong in picking out the decaf. As one of our party said, the decaf had a watery look to it over the caffeinated cup. The frosted brownie they served us was delicious.
A new stop on the Crawl, at least for us, was Mug Life near 24th and Harney Streets. Open for almost five years, Mug Life is located in an open area along with Green Street Cycles, a bicycle shop. Mug Life owner Matt McCrary’s enthusiasm for coffee shined as he discussed the process for “cupping,” cold brewing coffee over freshly-ground beans. Pouring hot water into glass cups, we listened to McCrary discuss the process of finding the proper process to use for cupping. Once cooled, people are encouraged to spoon the coffee from the cup, moving any grounds aside. You could hear the occasional slurping as people drank a spoonful of coffee.
Mug Life also uses Direct Trade coffee, primarily relying on Bodhi Leaf Coffee from California. McCrary said they tried a bag of Brazilian beans from Bodhi and it was love at first taste.
Myrtle & Cypress Coffeehouse
The Midtown area is home to one of Omaha’s newest coffee shops, Myrtle & Cypress Coffeehouse. It actually puts the house in coffeehouse, as the owners found their perfect spot, a house just south of California Tacos and More, near 33rd and California Streets. Myrtle & Cypress seeks to provide a nice spot for people to meet in the Gifford Park neighborhood. Open for a year this August, the coffeehouse uses Hardy Coffee and Artemis Tea as their main distributors, as part of its mission to use local and regional sources.
Believers in a “clean” style of living, the owners seek to share their philosophy with customers. They create their own almond and cashew milk weekly. They even sell bottles of milk to locals. The white milk they use from a dairy isn’t homogenized, so cream may rise to the top of a customer’s drink.
Vegan pastries are provided by Nicola’s.
Hardy Coffee & Artemis Tea
Our final stop on the Caffeine Crawl was Hardy Coffee’s Highlander location. Now home to the company’s roasting and baking operations, Highlander provides a perfect meeting space in north Omaha, near 30th and Hamilton. This location is one of my favorite places in Omaha for a delicious cup of coffee. I seem to get a lot of work done, once I finish one of their amazing pastries with my drink.
During this stop, we learned about Artemis Tea, which uses office space at Hardy’s Old Market location, near 11th and Jones. Andrea Lawse started Artemis Tea and Botanicals nearly three years ago because she wanted to do more than just wrote about plants that she loved. Her love for plant life is evident as her eyes seem to light up discussing the importance of plants in our lives and the medicinal roles they serve. A clinical herbalist, Lawse believes a combination of plants with tea help us live better and healthier.
Sampling iced teas with temperatures approaching the upper 90s, Lawse said the combination of green, yellow and white teas are excellent for cooling the body.
“You can sip them all day,” she said.
Hardy Coffee offered samples of iced drinks, as well. As I mentioned previously, I’m not an iced coffee fan, so I tend to enjoy a cup of Hardy’s hot coffees. However, the drinks we sampled were tasty, including a coffee mixed with Hardy’s famous root beer.
Our five stops were perfect for the route. We took about four hours to enjoy the drinks and treats. The Kansas City-based Caffeine Crawl pulled off another successful tour around Omaha, with more people taking part each year. We enjoyed our route and encourage you to join the crawl in 2020. We’ll let you when the dates are announced. If you love coffee and enjoy traveling, Caffeine Crawl hosts tours around the country, including the Midwest.