Happy Birthday, Grandpa Caffeine!

225 looks good on ya


Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

Does anyone else love the Google doodles? I guess this is the man I need to thank most for my But First, Coffee blog obsession because this man discovered caffeine and saved our lives.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was a German chemist born 225 years ago on this day. Watch the Google doodle here

But First, Coffee: Kaffeine Coffee Company

Third wave is the new wave

Image Credit: Sarah Moralez

It takes me so long to get around this city to see all of its sights and meet its people, but like most every other experience I have when I venture out, Kaffeine Coffee Company has been warm and inviting every time I visited!

It’s built out of an old garage behind Circa Apartments in the Mass Ave district and it’s chalk full of nostalgia. I love the tile work on the floor as soon as you walk in, the old frame and brickwork, the original restroom, the textured glass on the doors… I could go on, but you have to see it for yourself to truly appreciate it.

I love how hidden away this place is and it’s rare I come across a friend who has been or has heard of it so I want to help get the word out. This shop has insanely good coffee, and the baristas are so open to answering your questions. I love knowing where my coffee is sourced from (and you can see it match up on the gigantic map behind the bar), and Kaffeine adheres to a moral guideline with their fair trade, single-source coffee (and treats) that has my full respect.

As these last couple of months have progressed and my son has been made to venture around town with me to coffee shops, he’s become vocal about what he’s looking for in a coffee shop. Mostly it’s WiFi-related because he wants to be able to watch videos and play games online, but if a shop has a kids corner, he will fully endorse you. Kaffeine has a cute reading corner with kids books and a couple of cozy chairs (and yes, they have WiFi) that he likes to make his own. It’s been mom and kid approved for your referral!

PS: He also recommends the peppermint chocolate bars and the hot chocolate.

If you’re wanting to jump to their website for more information, unfortunately you won’t be met with much. I had to do a Google search and came across a couple of articles that were from the start of 2017 in Nuvo and The Indy Star, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why there aren’t more. They are news-worthy!

Because of this, I plan on making many more visits, sipping on some Vietnamese coffee and asking a lot of questions, but maybe that’s the better option. After all, what’s a coffee shop if you aren’t getting to know about it and its people?

SARAH’S RECOMMENDATIONS: Vietnam coffee, honey latte and chai latte. As always, every drink I mention that requires milk gets a substitute due to a dairy intolerance.

BONUSES: Sunday hours, atmosphere, selfie-worthy, ample seating

BUMMERS: no classes, music/art nights, or
community outreach that I’m aware of at time of posting (ask shop for details)

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And as always, stay tuned because I will update my posts as I learn new things and experience new drinks!

But First, Coffee: Rabble Coffee

Ya ol’ rabble rouser!

Image Credit: Rabble Coffee

This is a little shop with a lot of heart, and it absolutely has stolen my affections!

I was living downtown when I heard about a new coffee shop opening on the Near Eastside just minutes from my apartment. Located on E 10th St, Rabble is small but oh so mighty!

It’s eclectic and has a big heart. The owner, Josie, is a staple in her shop and the friendliest person. She works hard with and for this community and is really going to be seen as someone who has helped lift the spirit of the Near Eastside when they write about the changes to the area five and ten years from now.

This place is a top favorite for my son and I. They are filled to the brim with games and once my son made the tiniest paper fortune teller for their bookshelf and just left it for them to find. The next time we came in and proclaimed, “Hey, it’s still there!” and everyone told him how much they loved it.

Josie partnered with Tinker Coffee Co. (another local shop you should check out so stay tuned *hint hint*) to create their signature house blend, Rouser. (Get it? Rabbel Rouser! Best ever, right?) It one my recommendations if you’re just looking for a quick cuppa joe. I like my coffee black and don’t even register the bitter taste anymore, but you can always tell a cup of coffee is amazing if people don’t add anything to it, in my personal (biased) opinion.

While the space itself is small, there has never been a time I felt anything other than cozy. There is never a closed-in or cramped vibe here and they even host popular classes and events for all ages without a problem for capacity. (It’s still a fresh wound that I was not able to make it to their NYE party, but I definitely followed it on their Instagram stories.)

I could gush all day long about my infatuation with Rabble, but I also try to keep these blogs short and sweet for you, my readers. you will always feel welcome (unless you instigate problems, I’m sure) and you will always have opportunities to help others who cannot always do for themselves.

What I mean by this is a pay-it-forward mentality. Sure, buying a sugary drink for someone behind you in line at Starbucks is nice, but they can afford their own drinks. They’re fine. At Rabble, you can buy a breakfast burrito or cup of coffee for someone who cannot afford either of those things and doesn’t have the livelihood luxuries we all experience day-to-day.

A winter program Josie began was to collect gently used (or new if you were so inclined) winter outerwear and then she literally put it on a coat rack in front of the store imploring anyone in need to take whatever they needed.

They hold classes for furthering adult education on a multitude of topics, which you can find posted just inside the front door.

I love the atmosphere and energy of this little shop that could, can and will continue to impress from the moment you walk in the door.

SARAH’S RECOMMENDATIONS: Rouser, Mayan Mocha, and the Americano. As always, every drink I mention that requires milk gets a substitute due to a dairy intolerance.

BONUSES: Sunday hours, music/art nights, atmosphere, selfie-worthy, community outreach (ask shop for details), classes

BUMMERS: smaller seating area (though I’ve never been unable to find a place to sit a spell)

Image Credit: Sarah Moralez

Find me on Instagram

And as always, stay tuned because I will update my posts as I learn new things and experience new drinks!

But First, Coffee: Monon Coffee Co.

In the heart of Broad Ripple, a shining gem is tucked into red brick

Image Credit: Monon Coffee Co. Facebook

One of the friendliest coffee shops in Indy is Monon Coffee Co. In the last couple of years, it has changed ownership and had a face lift in its design, but the atmosphere and hospitality have remained intact. They specialize in fair trade coffee and locally-made pastries, and they have been a staple in the Broad Ripple neighborhood since 1997 (the good ol’ days).

I have been going to this establishment since the 2000s and I won’t lie, I stumbled upon this coffee shop after a night out on the strip known as Broad Ripple Avenue. They are actual life-givers at this establishment! For those who are out all night, when you wake up, this is my suggestion for your morning pick-me-up.

These days, I’m a little older and a mom, but it’s still a fun spot to visit with my son. Plus, Broad Ripple by day is vastly different from Broad Ripple by night (but we can get into that in a later series). It’s not uncommon to see people working, reading, writing, and talking with the incredible baristas and other patrons here, and like any other coffee shop, once you go enough times you’ll recognize faces and make some new friends.

If you sit outside on a sunny day, you’ll be able to get your dose of puppy kisses because a lot of good dogs are being walked in Broad Ripple! Some note-worthy mentions: Monon Coffee Co. are big on community. It’s not unlikely for them to host art or music nights, and seek donations for good causes.

Nearby, there are stores to peruse, plenty of dining options and the Broad Ripple canal where for mere cents you cna feed corn to the ducks and geese.

SARAH’S RECOMMENDATIONS: White Zombie, Mona Lisa, and (although a smoothie) Sunset. As always, every drink I mention that requires milk gets a substitute for me due to a dairy intolerance.

Image Credit: Crystal Kamm; while taken at The Garden Table, my Monon Coffee Co. Mona Lisa was proudly brought in with me

BONUSES: Sunday hours, music/art nights, atmosphere, selfie-worthy, community outreach (ask shop for details)

BUMMERS: limited seating, no classes (that I know of at time of posting)

Find me on Instagram

And as always, stay tuned because I will update my posts as I learn new things and experience new drinks!

But First, Coffee: HoiTEA ToiTEA

I like my warm feelings in a cup, infused with CBD oil

Image Credit: HoiTEA ToiTEA

There is something to be said about consistency in the customer service industry that weighs heavily, in either direction, with me. Having spent my entire 20-some working years in the customer service industry of varying levels and types, it is difficult not to notice the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Technically a tea shop, my first experience at HoiTEA ToiTEA was a good one overall. I had an incredible Mexican chocolate latte with 30mg of CBD oil (always a major win for me, my anxiety, and my easily-upset stomach). There were two baristas that day and they were helpful with recommendations and informing me of dietary options available (GF snacks, milk substitutes, and all). The drinks were made quickly and exactly to order, it wasn’t crowded and there were so many seating options. My friend and I chose a cozy corner separated from the rest of the space since we were going to be having a personal conversation and all-around catch up session after a few weeks away from each other.

I loved the open seating area, dotted with plants and a couple of sofas with coffee tables and board games! It was a great spot to sit, relax, and chat. Even outside of the cozy corner it doesn’t feel like people are sitting on top of each other. They also have a community meeting room available to use and they host classes every month!

HoiTEA ToiTEA opened in 2015 at the corners of Broad Ripple and College Avenues and have been growing and going strong ever since. It took me well over three years to go in for the first time, but I liked it so much I went back 6 days later for my second visit!

However, the second time I went, it was bad. Not ugly, but definitely not good. It was a Saturday, there was a short line (slightly busier than the Sunday prior), and two baristas. It felt like they were overwhelmed. One employee disappeared during a mini-rush so there was, for a time, just one running the register and making orders. We were there for a solid 30 minutes before my tea and two to-go coffee drinks were made (with a good 20 minutes between). When my friend (same one from my prior visit) bought a mug for a Christmas gift, they handed her a bag with an empty box and never noticed until she noticed and asked them for the mug itself. Granted, the barista left to handle everything was not at fault. The second employee, I cannot say the same for.

One thing we found especially odd was the to-go lids. They were so thin that the steam from our drinks were causing them to melt and crack, making the lids completely ineffective. I couldn’t stop imaging the entire hot tea pouring into my lap and all over the new car seat as we drove around for our errands a a the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit of the early 90s (for those who remember).

I exchanged the lid three times, before giving up and pouring my tea into the child cup in my car for transport. The barista even made a comment that, “The supplier of these is horrible.” Asking around, others have been told the same thing so I hope they are making a switch to a new, sturdier lid.

If this is my only major complaint, I give them more praise than not. I’m not too enticed to go back unless with someone who wants to stop in and they are the only place in town I know of who has a CBD oil (in 15mg or 30mg amounts) option on the menu.

I have faith in companies, this company included. It is a really good spot. The teas taste amazing and they have some really great merchandise available to order. I chalk up the second visit to a random fluke, which every business will have despite all best efforts. I still encourage anyone wanting to try them to go for it! I would like for it to have a feeling or vibe that the baristas will try to get to know you and you could develop familiarity with them, but so far I have not had that kind interaction.

SARAH’S RECOMMENDATIONS: They do offer a few coffee drinks, so check the menu. The Mexican chocolate latte is to die for! As always, every drink I mention that requires milk gets a substitute for me due to a dairy intolerance.

Mexican chocolate latte; Image Credit: Sarah Moralez

BONUSES: good amount of seating, atmosphere is nice, classes/event space, Sunday hours

BUMMERS: no known community outreach at time of post, no known music/art nights, not very selfie-worthy (slightly dark and the lights cast an orange glow I’ve noticed)

Find me on Instagram

And as always, stay tuned because I will update my posts as I learn new things and experience new drinks!

But First, Coffee: Indie Coffee Roasters

This place is like everyone’s Cheers but with coffee!

Image Credit: Indie Coffee Roasters

Saddled beside Carmel High School is a total gem of a spot! I have never had the same thing twice and tend to stick to Indie Coffee Roasters‘ signature drinks, crafted by their baristas. I love that the owners have thought of small details that make big impacts on your experience. It has shot up the list to one of my favorite Indianapolis coffee shops for these reasons. The interior of “The Dog House” is bright and modern; inviting in every sense of the word. Everything from the baristas they choose to the lighting (natural and unnatural) lends itself to your enjoyment. You will always be greeted with a smile by humans who love what they do at this establishment! BONUS: They will know your name quickly. Without telling them, on my third visit, they brought my drink to me and knew my name. I’m guilt-ridden that I do not know all of their names yet, I must admit.

It has been very nice, though, to learn about the baristas and their passions. They truly enjoy their work, but they all do some really cool things outside of their careers as well! I think at some point I would love to embellish on this, but for now you should walk in, order your cuppa, and conversate with them yourself!

Roasting their coffee since 2013, their doors to the shop opened in 2018 and that’s when I heard of them. Took me a while, but once I walked in the first time, it’s hard to think of another place I’d want to be. The chemistry was immediate and lived up to the hype of my reliable source: my best friend! This place makes me want this blogging side hustle to be my only hustle, so I can sit down at their counter or a cozy working table, and enjoy life!

UPDATE (1/9/19): Original post had the opening year of The Dog House in 2017; they will be celebrating one year on Jan 23 2019. Go congratulate them, buy some merch and sit for a spell! Specials will be announced very soon to help them ring in their new year!!

SARAH’S RECOMMENDATIONS: Admittedly, I’ve only had the signature drinks from Fall and Winter 2018, and I’ve yet to drink the same thing twice. I absolutely recommend these options! Every drink I mention that requires milk gets a substitute for me due to a dairy intolerance.

Indie Grog; Image Credit: Sarah Moralez

BONUSES: good amount of seating (more in the summer, and dog-friendly outside), atmosphere, selfie-worthy, classes, community outreach (ask shop for details)

BUMMERS: no Sunday hours, no known music/art nights at time of post

Find me on Instagram

Stay tuned because I will update my posts as I learn new things and experience new drinks!

Exploring Indy: But First, Coffee Series

Death before decaf (or Starbucks)

Image Credit: Sarah Moralez

I have always loved the written word for as long as my memory will allow me to recall. Whether it was Shakespeare, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Mitchell, Stephen King, and so many more. I have felt the weight of words because words have taken me away from situations, into others, and everywhere in between. They have carried me through, lifted me up and brought me down.

I decided a long time ago I wanted to be a writer, but I never knew how (nor had the confidence) to just do it. Then one day, something happened. Someone said things to me and it was the weight of those words, alothough not entirely new to me, but that seemed to be the point where I was going to allow myself to become broken or I was going to build something from it for myself to be proud of.

I won’t lie, it seemed really bad there for a moment. It is very hard for me to hear certain things and not be taken to a deep place within myself that feels worthless and unlovable. These are things I want to tackle in some of my writing, but not right now. Just know that while I was close to allowing myself to break from rejection, something incredible happened and I ended up here instead. That is to say, just going for it. Will you like it? Hate it? Will you like me? Hate me? I don’t know, and I’m sure either way people will be okay with telling me which way they’re leaning. That’s fine. I have a lot of plans for myself, but it’s a process and this is my starting point.

Exploring Indy Series

Image Credit: Google

This is my startup project. Everything I read about building your portfolio from the ground up instructed to start with what you already know and love, but with research added. As I was thinking of what I love and know, I kept cycling back to this idea that Indy seems to get a lot of negative attention in the media aside from bigger things like sports, concerts, and the bar scene. For many years, friends and I have lamented that we need to get positive coverage for other things the city offers such as art, music, film, markets, shops, and historic neighborhoods.

So this is where I’m starting. In the city I was born and raised. I haven’t traveled (much), I haven’t really accomplished anything major outside of becoming a parent and an employee who receives high praises. This is a lot, it takes time and maturity to accomplish these things, small as they may be, but there’s something bigger out there for me and it’s beginning in my backyard: Indianapolis.

It’s a big task taking on a whole city by oneself, though, and so I decided to break it down according to a To Do list I’ve had stuffed inside a journal for a couple of years now. One part of exploring my own, ever-growing city was to visit as many of the local coffee shops as possible. It’s really something of a Best Friends To Do list, but solo is just fine as well. I love coffee, I love the local coffee shops tucked away in historic neighborhoods, and I really love the people I meet in these establishments. I have narrowed the large list down so that every Sunday, you will get a new blog from me between January through March, and at the end of it all there will be a vlog post of my top 5 picks from those features. I’ll also send shout outs the other local shops this city has to offer at that time! So stay tuned in and, again, thank you for your support already!

This is it then. This is where we begin. There are probably better writers out there, estabished in their writing careers for magazines and newspapers, but this is my take on it. If you like it and stick around, I have other Exploring Indy ideas that will come up in the future.

I say let’s jump in with the first installment of my Exploring Indy Series: But First, Coffee. (Coming Jan 6 2019)

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