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Photos: North Market Coffee Roast 2014

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Yesterday North Market hosted the third Coffee Roast on a perfectly beautiful spring day. This year the event moved outdoors to the farmers market plaza (and the date was pushed back from March), with the roasters lined up in front of the market. Together as a family we beat most of the crowds by hitting up the event just as it started.

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We strolled up and down the lines, saying hello to some favorites and trying a couple new roasters. Like every good event – and every day, let’s be honest – we started with a stop at One Line Coffee. Mrs. Bfast w/Nick is there often enough that she knows the baristas by name; they were pulling delicious, delicious shots of espresso.

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Down on one end stood Das Kaffee Haus‘ table, complete with their modified ambulance (labeled the Emergency Kaffee Unit) parked nearby. DKH is located in Lithopolis, but their coffee can be found around Columbus at places like Milestone 229 and the Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant. Amy and Joe (aka Frau Burkhardt and Herr Joseph) told me their place is modeled on the European coffee shops they’ve encountered while traveling and serving abroad in the military.

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And of course we were on the lookout for Jason and Emily from Thunderkiss Coffee. They’re the coolest. Also, their coffee is great. Some of my favorite in town. Jason has a small but mighty roasting operation; you can find his beans at restaurants and on store shelves all around town.

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Strolling down the line we took in brews from Crimson Cup, Backroom Coffee Roasters

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…plus Silver Bridge and the newer Roaming Goat Coffee. The fun thing about this event is that everyone is excited to talk about coffee – and not just their coffee, but coffee in general. And you could witness nearly every type of coffee prep available.

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Dayton-based Boston Stoker has established their presence in Columbus with a shop near OSU’s campus. Like a couple other places, they displayed coffee beans for smelling or to reference the colors of the roasting process.

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Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, one of the mainstays of the Columbus coffee scene, was on hand with a tiny electric roaster. The portable setup roasts in small sample batches, allowing them to treat the same beans in different roasting lengths quickly.

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Rich the roaster showed me samples of his roast in progress. The machine roasts in 80 gram batches.

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The most unique offering of the day came – not surprisingly – from Cafe Brioso. They served two excellent hot brews – some of the standouts from the morning – but they also featured coffee sno-cones.

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Yes, coffee sno-cones. J. J. explained they used a rare Ethiopian Nekisse bean, cold-brewed, mixed with a dash of Ohio honey, and served over shaved ice. It was as delicious as you’d expect. I think we have a new definition of summer in Columbus.

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Further down the line – right next to Snowville Creamery with their samples of milk and yogurt – we found Actual Brewing‘s roastery crew in full swing.

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They make superb beer, really strong coffee roasts, and they’ve got some of the best beards in the biz.

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The event space indoors was dedicated to coffee education, with Brioso’s crew kicking off a demonstration of espresso preparation. On the other end of the room, baristas from a mix of shops made espresso drinks for customers.

We couldn’t have had a better day for the event. The move outdoors and to a Sunday (see photos from 2012 and 2013) offered more space and prevented longer lines. The one thing that confused me was the branding of it as a “brunch.” When I hear “brunch” I assume there will be food involved, but what that really meant was “you can go into the market to find food.” Many vendors had special $5 brunch bites, but the market opens at noon on Sundays (the Coffee Roast started at 10), so a majority of the stalls were closed during the first half of the event (although the newly moved and re-branded Taste of Belgium was hopping). I was also a little disappointed that attendees were given generic North Market mugs, and not the fun branded ones with colorful Clinton Reno artwork like years past. I know it’s gimmicky, but I like having a memento that references the specific event.

Aside from those details – it was a wonderful event that really featured Columbus’ great coffee roasters and brewers. We have much to be proud of, and our coffee keeps getting better and better.

Giveaway: Giant Eagle Market District coffee packs

GE coffee giveaway[UPDATE: The contest is now closed. Thanks all who entered!]

Who’s up for coffee? Giant Eagle has shared some Market District coffee packs with and my readers, and I’m spreading the coffee love! I’ve got two packs to give away. Each pack has a Market District mug, two 12-oz bags of coffee (Moka Java Blend and Hazelnut, both ground), plus a couple $1 gift certificates for more GE coffee!

To enter the random drawing for one of TWO coffee packs (yes, I’m giving away two!), comment on this post and share your favorite coffee or place to get coffee. What type of coffee is it or where do you get it, and why is it a favorite?

Comment on this post by midnight Eastern time on Sunday, April 13 to enter!

Grandview Grind | Columbus, OH

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Grandview Grind (Facebook / @GrandviewGrind)
1423-A Grandview Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 485-9005
Open Mon-Wed, 6a-8p; Thurs-Sat, 6a-10p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 12:30pm

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Columbus has no shortage of coffee roasters and coffee shops, and the closer you get to Ohio State, the more you’ll find coffee shops that are perfect for studying or just hanging out. Shops like these are valuable community hubs, especially in the winter. They’re a warm place to gather for studiers, freelancers, book clubs, or the casual newspaper reader. Grandview has no shortage of these shops, including the relatively new Grandview Grind.

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Grandview Grind is located in the Grandview Center, a little plaza with shops and restaurants surrounding a small parking lot. GG is tucked in the northwest corner of the plaza, next to Local Cantina. It was just announced that the Panera which sits on front corner of the plaza will move to the Grandview Yard and be replaced by a new Cameron Mitchell steakhouse. Panera’s exit will certainly benefit Grandview Grind.

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The coffee shop is a sizable space – bigger than it looks from the outside – with a curved counter in one corner and the requisite number of tables, chairs, stools, and comfy seats. It’s bright and tall and open, while still feeling pretty cozy. In one corner are shelves stocked with local gifts.

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The coffee menu is sizable, and offers the range you would expect: hot and cold coffee, lattes, espresso, specialty drinks, smoothies.

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They don’t prep food on premises, but plenty of local treats from places like Patisserie Lallier are available.

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Beans (available for bulk purchase) come from around Columbus – Thunderkiss, Brioso, Backroom, Luck Bros, Boston Stoker – with the exception of Denver-based Novo.

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Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I were in the mood for something simple, so I ordered a shot of espresso and a cubano. Both were good, although just a tad sour.

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If tea is more of your thing, Grandview Grind still has you covered.

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Lots of local love on the door. Grandview Grind was busy when we stopped in, a sure sign that it serves that all important need of a community space. They seem to be doing something right, and here’s hoping that success continues!

Madcap Coffee | Grand Rapids, MI

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Madcap Coffee
(Facebook / @MadCapCoffee)

85 Monroe Center NW (map it!)
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 242-9194
Open Mon-Fri, 7a-7p; Sat, 8a-7p; Sun, 10a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Saturday, December 27, 2013 at 3:00pm

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What does it say when other people tell ME about cool places to go in MY hometown? Well, it probably says that I haven’t lived there in over a decade, and the place keeps getting cooler and cooler with each passing year. Exhibit A: Madcap Coffee. Opened downtown almost six years ago. I didn’t hear of it until about a year ago. And now we’re finally making it.

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Madcap is a great example of “third wave” coffee (1st = Folger’s, 2nd = Starbucks). “Third wave” shops are the small-batch roasters who treat coffee on par with craft beer, wine, etc. In other words, they’re sourcing, roasting, and brewing coffee beans with care.

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Madcap has a beautiful corner space in downtown Grand Rapids on Monroe Center, a pedestrian-friendly diagonal stretch full of shops and restaurants. The space is brightly-lit, with tall windows, wooden floors, some art spread around the walls, and a large back brick wall.

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Madcap’s branding is also pretty solid.

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They’ve got all the accoutrement for sale: beans, mugs, shirts, etc.

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The counter is arranged like a large U: point of sale is in the middle; specialty drives arrive on the left, and on the right is a row of pour-overs. The menu at places like Madcap tends to be limited, not the expansive half-caf, double-whip, extra-shot menus of most corporate coffee shops. Instead, they focus on doing a few things very well: pour-over coffee, espresso, lattes, etc. I ordered a pour-over of a Guatemalan roast; I often prefer judging a new coffee shop on the quality of a simple pour-over, and Madcap’s was excellent.

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Mrs. Bfast w/Nick ordered a latte, and it was rich and creamy and balanced.

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Madcap seems to have a good thing going. I’m glad to have finally visited, and I look forward to hitting them up again when we’re back in town.

Madcap Coffee on Urbanspoon

Photos: Roasting with Thunderkiss Coffee

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Last week I spent the evening with Jason Valentine of Thunkerkiss Coffee while he roasted coffee. Jason is a small batch coffee roaster here in Columbus; he roasts out of his garage and distributes his beans to area vendors and restaurants. Even if you don’t know his stuff directly, chances are you’ve had it or seen it around Columbus.

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I’ve taken a number of workshops on coffee and coffee roasting, attended tastings, etc., but I’ve never had the chance to just sit and ask endless questions about the roasting process. We began in Jason’s basement, where he stores bags of green coffee beans. He roasts 1-2 nights per week. Before roasting, he weighs and sorts the beans into labeled containers, all based on a spreadsheet listing the customer, the roast(s) they’ve requested, and how they are to be delivered (6 oz bags, 12 oz bags, etc.). Some vendors brew his coffee for their restaurants, some retail bags of whole beans, and some do both.

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Jason roasts single origin coffees, meaning they come from one specific place, although he does make some of his own blends, such as the espresso blend. The green beans can be stored for a long time; they are processed out of cherries from the coffee plant. The cherries have been pulped so we’re left with just the internal bean, and sometimes the mucilage, a thin layer surrounding the bean itself. Some Ethiopian beans, for instance, are dried out before de-pulping, which lets the mucilage harden around the bean, adding a certain flavor when roasting. Even before these beans are roasted, you can identify different characteristics just by sticking your nose in the bag.

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Roasting takes some time, so we started with a shot of espresso made from his espresso blend.

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Jason has been roasting for a couple years now. He keeps detailed notes of the timing and temperature from each roast.

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All of the essential supplies.

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As the roaster is heating up, the green beans are placed in a hopper on top.

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Jason roasts on a Diedrich infrared roaster. This type of roaster is compact, more energy efficient, and it uses a radiating heat to roast the beans, rather than a direct flame on the drum.

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The entire roasting process takes roughly 20 minutes, depending on the bean, the amount you’re roasting, and the type of roast you’re aiming for. The real factors of roasting include time, temperature, and air flow. The final roast depends on the manipulation of these three elements. While certain beans innately contain different flavor and aroma profiles (some are naturally earthlier, some brighter and fruitier), they can be roasted at different temperatures and for different times to highlight these characteristics.

The first stage of roasting is called the drying out phase. It lasts approximately 4-5 minutes, and heats the beans to the point where the water in them evaporates. Even at this stage, Jason can control how much air is flowing around the beans. Adding more at this point results in a brighter, more acidic roast.

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This tool allows Jason to check samples of the beans during roasting. He can examine the color and aroma.

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At this point the beans are entering the second phase: the maillard phase, also known as the “cinnamon phase.” This happens around 300 degrees F, and here the color begins to develop. (I learned later that “maillard” refers generally to the browning that happens when food is cooked, like bread or meat.)

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Once the cinnamon phase has passed, the roaster is working toward first crack. At this point there’s a literal crack – a whole lot of them, in fact – as the center of the bean is fracturing and the sugar in it melts. It sounds a like tiny little popcorn popping. After this you are headed for second crack, when the sugar crystallizes and burns into carbon, and the beans express oil that can coat them. Most roasts are stopping just short of this point because the burnt sugars lead to more bitterness. Once the roasting is complete, Jason opens the hopper that dumps the hot beans into a lower tray. The darker the roast, the smokier the process, and the more oily the beans will look.

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A series of levers in the tray begin swirling the beans around. At this point, Jason shifts the airflow to a fan that draws air down through the beans. This cools the beans and stops them from baking any further. Given the colder temperatures of December, the beans cooled quickly.

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At the front center of the tray is a flat plate without any air holes. Once Jason turns off the levers, he brushes the beans off this plate. The plate has heated up after coming into contact with them, so brushing the beans away keeps them from burning.

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Here’s a full cooled batch.

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Once they’re cooled, he can slide the plate open, turn on the mechanism, and the arms sweep every last remaining coffee bean into buckets. While this is happening, the roasting drum is brought to temperature and prepped for the next batch.

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The completed roasts are labeled and dated, and ready to be delivered or sorted and sealed into smaller bags.

I very much enjoyed hanging out with Jason. He does incredible work, and his passion for coffee and everything about it shows through his willingness to talk about it and teach it. We’ve been sampling a number of his roasts at home, and have loved every one of them. If you haven’t tried his coffee yet, do so soon. Look up his website (thunderkisscoffee.com) for a list of where to purchase his beans or which restaurants are serving them.

The Bean | Columbus, OH

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The Bean
219 E. Arcadia Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 564-9383
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-7p

Visited: Monday, December 16, 2013 at 10:00 am

As a Clintonville resident, I’m always happy to have more coffee in the neighborhood. This is even with Yeah, Me Too, Cup o’ Joe, and even Thunderkiss roasting nearby. I also drive up and down Arcadia Avenue frequently, so it’s great to see the little corner space at the Calumet terminus filled in, especially right next door to the awesome Dabble & Stitch.

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The Bean has been open for a few weeks now, but has been deliberately sailing under the radar with no advertising or social media presence, like an extended soft opening. The little corner space is painted colorfully and brightly lit with its big windows.

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I spoke with John, who co-owns the shop with his mother Susan. He said they’re keeping a low profile while they get the feel of running a coffee shop. At the moment their service is limited to brewed coffee, tea, and hot chocolate complemented by baked goods, sandwiches, and a la carte salads and slaw. They’re brewing Seven Hills coffee out of Cincinnati, but John indicated they’re talking with local roasters.

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The space is nicely appointed, with wooden floors and a stainless-steel-and-tile counter top. There are some small tables, a bench, and a television. They’re clearly in it for the long haul, judging by the gift cards already available.

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Most of the baked goods are provided by Four & Twenty Bake Shop, a good friend of mine who produces some tasty scones, muffins, cupcakes, and more.

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I was just stopping in for coffee and a lemon blueberry scone, but I took a peek at the sandwich menu, too.

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Although The Bean is just offering the basics right now, you can help the endeavor by stopping in for some coffee, a snack, or a sandwich. It’d be nice to see this little corner develop!

Mission Coffee Co. | Columbus, OH

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Mission Coffee Co.
(Facebook / @MissionColumbus)

11 Price Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
No phone
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-7p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.

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When my wife and I first moved to Columbus over ten years ago, we lived in Short North. Back then (oh no, I’m already using phrases like that) there was one coffee shop in the neighborhood: The Coffee Table. We were fortunate to live across the street from it, and oh, it was glorious in the grungiest of ways. Our favorite barista, David, pulled a mean shot of espresso. Over the years, the neighborhood has transformed, the Coffee Table is gone, and a newer generation of shops has taken its place, shops like Cup O Joe, Impero, Travonna. Amongst this new generation are two shops that strike me as fairly similar: One Line Coffee and Mission Coffee. While wallowing in the nostalgia of the Coffee Table days, it’d be easy to pass off both of them as some of those trendier coffee places more on par with a cold art gallery than a cozy coffee shop.

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If that’s your initial impression, fine. I can kind of see why. Gone is the era of 1990′s coffee shops with ratty, mis-matched couches. Now is the era of sleeker gathering spaces that focus as much on the coffee-imbibing experience as much as the wireless, I’m-here-to-work mentality.

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Mission fits the bill in that it’s established in an old garage space on a side street in Short North. The big part of the front wall is clearly an old garage door converted into a permanent structure. There are wooden tables with heavy, industrial chairs. Bags of available coffee are lined up like gallery entries.

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One could level the accusation that shops like this breed a sort of coffee elitism. If your definition of a coffee shop is essentially a Starbucks drive-through, then I can see why. But what I’ve come to appreciate about places like Mission and One Line is their approachability. If you’re just willing to ask, you’ll find employees who are friendly and eager to explain the various preparations. They want you to love coffee as much as they do. Mission even has a display showcasing the different equipment: French presses, Chemex, V60s, and the like.

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Unlike some other coffee shops I’ve been to (not in Columbus), Mission has an actual menu on display, so you can scan the list of specialty and standard coffee preparations, as well as snacks.

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Ordering your drink sets the baristas in motion, and I’ve found that they don’t mind chatting about their craft.

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We stood there and talked while the barista made my V60 pour-over. The brew bar is situated so you can watch your coffee being made.

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If you’ve got the time and the interest, try one of these preparations. They serve straightforward brewed coffee, too – nothing wrong with that – but specialty shops like Mission offer specialties that help you really get to know different roasts. I myself enjoy their pour-overs: these are simple preparations that really unlock the innate flavors in the coffee.

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Their space offers room for gathering, studying, and working, too, so you can take advantage of it as a place to hole up for while.

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Short North is still a great place for coffee. Sure, the character has changed a bit. Maybe things are a little more polished than they used to be; it’s a microcosm of the neighborhood’s shift overall. But I’m okay with it, if it brings solid coffee options, places to hang out and work, and a chance to learn more about the coffee process overall.

Mission Coffee Co. on Urbanspoon

Uglie Mugs Coffee | Avon, NC

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Uglie Mugs Coffee House (Facebook)

40534 NC Highway 12 (map it!)
Avon, NC 27915
(252) 995-5590
Open daily 7a-2p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 7:00 a.m.

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As you can see from previous OBX posts, the North Carolina Outer Banks are awash in coffee shops. Locals need them for caffeination and a quiet reading space. Tourists need them to fuel up while traveling the banks. The great thing about the Banks’ coffee scene is that, especially the further south you go, it consists mainly of small, locally-owned shops. Every small town on the islands will boast at least one good shop. In Avon, it’s Uglie Mugs.

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Uglie Mugs multitasks as a bead shop as well, so don’t be surprised to find trays of beads and craft supplies scattered around the store, too. All the same, Uglie Mugs fulfills its coffee shop duties well, with a large menu of hot and cold drinks. You’ll see some with creative local names, too, like the Hatteras Jack latte or the Lighthouse Lift smoothie.

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About what about the ugly mugs themselves? They’re present, although most of them are for display only. They’re lined up along wooden shelves high up out of reach.

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Look at them. They’re ugly, all right. I mean that in a nice way.

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The shop itself has two rooms with a mish-mash of chairs and tables, plus a small deck outside. Other reviewers have said the shop feels like a non-touristy because of the “whatever” attitude. I’ve seen some of that myself, and I’ll gladly take it in exchange for supporting a local shop. A shop that makes very good coffee, by the way.

Ugly Mug Coffee on Urbanspoon

Ocracoke Coffee Co. | Ocracoke, NC

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Ocracoke Coffee Co.
(Facebook)

226 Back Rd. (map it!)
Ocracoke, NC 27960
(252) 928-7473
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-5p; Sun, 7a-1p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 8:30 a.m.

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Yes, it’s another post about coffee on Ocracoke Island! On our recent overnight stay on the island, Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I enjoyed a morning of watching the island come to life. We usually visit just during the day, so seeing the sun rise over the harbor was a new experience. We had to make the most of the morning hours, so we stopped at not one, but TWO coffee spots… and that’s before we actually went to brunch. We’re dedicated, folks. Our first stop was at Live Oak Coffee, which is a newer shop on Irvin Garrish Highway, the main street (NC Route 12) through the island. After a little wandering we also found the more established Ocracoke Coffee Co. on the literal back road (called Back Road) of the island, and it was humming with life.

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It felt like we found the social center of the island. Both locals and tourists came and went. We’re pretty sure we saw the owner hanging on the front porch. The shop has a big porch plus a broad tree-covered front yard packed with benches and chairs. If you have a day of island fun planned, Ocracoke Coffee is there to help set the tone.

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In addition to all of the coffee, espresso, and smoothies you could possibly need, they also have fresh cinnamon rolls, muffins, cookies, and pastries.

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The interior of the shop is cozy and beach-themed. Expect a little bit of traffic going in and out, especially on a beautiful morning when everyone’s gearing up for a fun day.

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Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I made our second breakfast out of a soft apple cinnamon muffin and a couple double shots of espresso. All excellent.

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The espresso was good to the last drop.

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If you want to feel the pulse of this lively island, Ocracoke Coffee is a good place to start. Relax in the yard or on the porch with an espresso or iced coffee. You’ll appreciate the back road find and the close community found under the trees.

Ocracoke Coffee Co on Urbanspoon

Live Oak Coffee | Ocracoke, NC

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Live Oak Coffee
(Facebook)

271 Irvin Garrish Hwy (map it!)
Ocracoke, NC 27960
(252) 928-0115
Open daily 6a-5p
Accepts cash & debit/credit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 7:30 a.m.

On an overnight stay on Ocracoke Island with Mrs. Bfast w/Nick, we found ourselves brunching our way around the island in the morning. You need good coffee to start the day, and it’s nice to say that Ocracoke has a few good options to choose from.

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Our first coffee stop – yes, our first – was right down the road from our hotel, on the main street of the small island village. We were automatically drawn to Live Oak Coffee because of their use of scrumptrulescent on their signage. (If you don’t get the reference, watch the SNL video here.)

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This is the second season for Live Oak, and there’s still a small sense of the shop getting on its feet. But the high quality coffee and all the snacks and accoutrement are there.

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They also have the coffee shop seating and wifi if you need a break or a study spot, plus the comfortable chairs inside and out front if you’re just lounging with an iced coffee. Nothing says relaxing on the island like sitting in big wooden Adirondack chairs while sipping a cold iced coffee. Also note that Live Oak serves responsibly-sourced Counter Culture Coffee.

So now you know: if you’re staying on the island and need to get your morning jump-started, just walk down the main drag until you find Live Oak!

Live Oak Coffee on Urbanspoon

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