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Get Your Java On: Best of POC coffeeshops Central region

in Ark Weekender/Highlights/Lifestyle & Travel by

Something as a simple cup of coffee can draw a fine line between recharging your batteries or being escorted out of a Starbucks in handcuffs.

In this era of economic austerity and political kray kray, it is critical to know coffeeshops devoted to providing the community with the safety, comfort and friendliness that everyone deserves. Plus, spend your bucks to enrich your community by cycling dollars back into it. So here is a list of POC-owned shops that do more than serve a piping hot cup of joe.

Blue Nile Café – Kansas City, MO

Ethiopian coffee ceremony

Being that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, who else can provide the definitive cafe experience than an Ethiopian-owned café?

Located in the City Market area of Kansas City, Blue Nile Café is actually a restaurant that specializes in offering Ethiopian-owned customers an authentic, Ethiopian coffee ceremony for just $15.

A sight to behold, the ceremony, called Buna, is a complex tradition dating back to the ancient African kingdom of Aksum. To give you an idea of just how powerful this is, you will be participating in a ceremony, that has been kept alive before Christianity blossomed.

More so than likely, Buna for the public will take place at a restaurant because there are few ventures that solely provide the coffee custom alone. Plus, the ritual is usually an invitation-only custom carried out with friends and family. 

Blue Nile Café, one of two Ethiopian eateries in the city, is an event destination for a growing African midwest community. Around regular business hours, the place opens up to an event space servicing ethnic-centric weddings and activities. The good thing is that the best time to sip on the very strong brew is after you dig into a list of intricately-spiced dishes such as mesir wat and gomen. The caffeine kicks in the digestive process during lively conversation.

Blue Nile’s coffee is imported from Ethiopia. As part of the Buna ritual, coffee beans must be freshly ground before each ceremony in order to keep its taste.

According to Selam, the cafe manager, “a clay pot is used to keep the aroma inside for flavor”. Incense is burned in order to provide a fresh smell which diversifies the taste palette.

In all, the family-oriented atmosphere and hospitality virtues of Ethiopian culture is showcased in fullest splendor during Buna. Nobody does it better and As Selam puts it, “taking care of people is an Ethiopian tradition.”

Northwest Coffee Roasting Company: St Louis, MO

Missouri, Missouri, Missouri. It is more than a state still putting itself back together from the high profile Black Lives Matter protests. To make your stay better, check out the Northwest Coffee Roasting Company.

In an age of social media activism, Northwest Coffee owner Julian Wilson is not shy about his viewpoints on racial inequality. Black Lives Matters posters were given a post on the coffeehouse’s Instagram.

Wilson brings his culinary expertise into his coffeehouse and there is a number of coffee drinks that may not be found in other cafe chains. These unique drinks include frios (frozen popsicles), coconut water Americano and mocha bianca, a white chocolate.

For those who want a little simple, a small cup of coffee is just $2.15 which is certainly a cheap option when the Midwest average cup is $2.56.

The coffee beans are sourced from tropical countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania, Peru and Guatemala. Where else can you get exotic, deep and textured coffees? The notes of fragrant floral to the busting citrus to milky chocolate will brighten even the gloomiest days.

Even better, fans of the java can order coffee beans and coffee bean blends online.

From hot freshly brewed coffees to sweet iced coffee treats, Northwest Coffee has plenty else to offer. You can get a freshly cooked breakfast of eggs and waffle. If you have a lunch break, you can walk on in to get bagel and lox sandwich or an artichoke and sun-dried tomato sandwich.  

Indeed, Delmar, St Louis stores a hidden caffeinated gem in its midst. Northwest Coffee Roasting Company is here to bring a gourmet coffee culture to the Midwestern city. Brew on.

Scooter’s – 30th and Ames, Omaha, NE

If you are native to Nebraska, Scooter’s is probably a family name. It is a Midwestern franchise now eager to expand. One of its recent additions in Omaha on 30th Street and Ames Avenue is no exception.

But here’s the catch: this store is owned by Julian Young, is a passionate community activist. With his newest venture, he plans to continue his career legacy.

As he himself states, “what makes this (Scooter’s) unique is that the coffee shop is built for the black and urban community”. With 25.2 percent of Latino residents living poverty, Scooter’s in these communities can bring jobs and also better eating options.

The North Omaha coffeehouse sells both hot and iced drinks. A hot cup of fresh coffee is only $2.47. If you are not in the mood for coffee, you can also get a nice cold smoothie and an iced tea.

Scooter’s has a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to source shade-grown coffee which aids rainforest preservation and curbs global warming. In a release, the non-profit applauded its relationship with Scooter’s when they said the following:

Their coffee is extra important to us because we have partnered to help them source 100% shade-grown coffee which is coffee grown under the rainforest canopy instead of fields where the trees have been removed.

Young’s location also holds two large community rooms which host local city events with a free of charge entry.

The coffee shop has a bright color scheme that offers plenty of legroom and is wheelchair accessible. For those who want to enjoy the sunny or breezy weather, there are outdoor tables. You can savor your delicious coffee, tea or smoothie with fresh air.

For the health-conscious, Scooter’s website provides useful information on each drink and food items nutritional value.

Omaha is a bright city and is glowing brighter with Julian Young’s new Scooter’s. It is certainly a refreshing alternative to other predominant coffee-serving chains. But under Young, it provides a lovely mission of human compassion.

The Office@Uptown – Memphis, TN

Plotted in the Southern metropolis of Memphis, where the weather is warm and the people warm-hearted. The Office@Uptown is far from the typical urban cafe. Built into its business model is something similar to a co-working space.

Valerie Peavy, the cafe owner explains that with its cafe menu, the venture provides “office services.”

Business is booming in burgeoning Memphis and The Office is more than welcome to keep it coming. Professionals can come in, pop-a-squat, buy a coffee or meal and then proceed to go to work.

With its WiFi connection, copy machine, fax machine and printers, you can get the full experience of the workplace, but without the sterility. There’s even access to use the conference room in the back for private meetings. for small free.

Now onto the drinks, a freshly brewed hot coffee is $2.06 which is more than impressive given the $2.66 price average of the South. If you want even more of a taste of the Southern culture, there is also sweet tea which will come in handy for the sweltering Tennessee heat.

If you want a place to enjoy a little Southern hospitality but keep up with your business endeavors, don’t be a stranger and stop on by The Office@Uptown.

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Matthew Gamble is a junior reporter at Ark Republic.

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