United Coffee – Bringing Europe to Fort Wayne
Feb11

United Coffee – Bringing Europe to Fort Wayne

Coffee is the quintessential universal language. No matter where you go, no matter what country you are in, a coffee shop is the place you go to meet friends, study, and hang out. It can be the home to new beginnings and chance encounters and it was certainly by chance that I stumbled upon Fort Wayne’s newest local coffee shop, United Coffee. Tucked away in a shopping plaza at 6447 W. Jefferson Blvd. that houses Buffalo Wings & Ribs, Pak Mail, and Chops Steak & Seafood, is the cutest coffee shop on the corner lot where a credit union used to stand. Owners Tony and Marina Horani greet their customers by name as they enter the cozy shop with its cheerful yellow chairs and twinkling fairy lights. Their goal is for people to feel welcome – like they have invited them into their home for a cup of coffee. Marina, a native of Kaliningrad (which was German until the end of WWII and is now a part of Russia), laughed as she told me she feels like she knows more people in Fort Wayne than in her homeland. Tony, a native of Fort Wayne, had told her how welcoming his hometown was  and that was one of the things that drew them back. Tony is a graduate of IU’s Kelley School of Business and armed with a degree in accounting moved to the nation’s capital to work in real estate investment. Marina was studying at a university in Russia that had an exchange program for English immersion which she was taking in DC, which is how the two met and fell in love. The two loved traveling and had a love for coffee and local businesses. “I’ve always wanted to own a family business and we have such a great economic environment in Fort Wayne.” Tony explained. “Fort Wayne is the NYC of small businesses…but with training wheels. People want to see you succeed. The competition isn’t as stiff and the city is willing to let you figure things out.” United Coffee is a culmination of products that the Horanis explored in their travels. “We wanted to build something we would enjoy,” Marina noted. One year ago while they were on a layover in Amsterdam, they tried their now signature waffles, the Liège waffle. These waffles come from a local baker in Brussels, Belgium. Waffles are one of Belgium’s most famous exports, yet they do not have what we consider a Belgian waffle. Instead they have two categories of waffles that have existed for hundreds of years: the Brussels waffle (which is similar to our American version of a Belgian...

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Pop-up coffee shop opens in the ’05 – Rowe Coffee Co.
Feb07

Pop-up coffee shop opens in the ’05 – Rowe Coffee Co.

What makes a good cup of coffee? Is it the taste? Is it the experience? Or is it something greater? California transplant Andrew Rowe was 23 when he started Rowe Coffee Co. as a pop-up bar with a few friends. After years of offering pop-ups at events, Rowe is starting the next chapter in its expansion in Fort Wayne. This month Rowe Coffee Co. is now offering a pop-up coffee shop experience inside the Urban Attic Pop-up Shop in the East State Neighborhood (2329 Crescent Ave.). The pop-up is taking place throughout the month of February from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Thinking ethically “Our slogan – ‘doing good coffee for the greater good’ – that was kind of what we base all of our decisions on,” Rowe said. “From hiring somebody or from choosing the pour-overs to how we’re sourcing the beans.” After immersing himself in literature, classes and video tutorials, Rowe has continued to research ways to make beverages better. “I started looking at ways to source coffee more responsibility, more ethically, more consciously,” Rowe said. As a result, Rowe explored topics like human trafficking and slavery in coffee’s supply chains. “We want make sure everything is ethically sourced,” Rowe said. “Before I chose Yellow Cup [Coffee Roasters] as our primary roaster, I had asked him to give me some details on how he knows that child labor and slave labor is not used.” Rowe worked with Yellow Cup to develop the Rowe Coffee Co. blend. The blend, which is 50 percent Ethiopian and 50 percent Colombian, pairs well with milk. Rowe performed numerous taste tests to find his signature blend. Rowe estimates he went through five-to-six Ethiopian samples before he found the perfect blend. In addition to seeking out ethically-sourced products, Rowe Coffee Co. also donates ten percent of profits to Charity Water, a non-profit organization with a mission to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. In 2018, Rowe Coffee Co. helped 18 individuals get access to water. Community matters After this month’s pop-up, Rowe hopes to eventually develop a full-scale coffee shop by 2020. In this space, customers will be able to experience interactive coffee culture right in the ’05. “I’d love to see a community built around Rowe Coffee Co. and this space specifically,” Rowe said. “I really want to be bringing together the coffee community, as well.” Rowe envisions activities like latte art throwdowns and coffee competitions. With interactive events, local coffee shops and baristas can learn and grow together in this field. Rowe also has been surprised by how much support he sees in Fort Wayne after coming...

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YLNI Farmers Market In Full Swing
Jun12

YLNI Farmers Market In Full Swing

Downtown Fort Wayne has the PERFECT place to grab a morning cup of coffee, a bite for breakfast, some groceries and a little something extra for yourself too! The YLNI Farmer’s Market on the corner of Berry and Barr is a HUGE gathering of local farmers, entrepreneurs, bakers and craftsmen that set up shop from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays in the summer. My best advice is to arrive right at 9. On my visit to the farmer’s market I left around 9:45 and the street was packed! Some vendors even had items crossed off their menus because they had ALREADY sold out. Like the saying goes, the early bird…well, you know…the early bird gets the last fresh snickerdoodle! Here are some finds from my most recent trip to the YLNI Farmer’s Market: I made off with a bath bomb from Redmaster Fusion that, no joke, smells like Fruit Loops . The owner, Kerry Redmaster, started her shop 8 years ago making soy candles and expanded from there. One of the coolest things I have seen is her creation of a bath bomb/soap bar. Just throw the whole thing in the tub and when the bath bomb fizzes out, you are left with soap- Genius! Visit her shop at https://www.redmasterfusionllc.com/ or in person at 537 W. Jefferson Blvd. Did I mention there is a surprise in the middle of her bath bombs? For my kitchen table I purchased some pea shoots and pine berries. Pea shoots taste just like peas, and are loaded with even more nutrition than the full grown plant. These and other “micro greens” are available at the market, and taste delicious on a salad or in a sandwich! I ate my pea shoots tossed with some mozzarella and parmesan cheese, served over lemon and herb spaghetti. Pineberries are white “strawberries” with red seeds and have the faint taste of pineapple in each bite.  Tea drinkers- visit Teajutsu. Actually, you non-tea drinkers go too, just to enjoy the catchy names! With teas called “I Am Froot” (Guardians of the Galaxy) and “Winter at Hogsmeade” (Harry Potter), it’s hard to resist geeking out with a cup. I purchased the Strawberry Shortcake tea, it tastes as bold as it smells and saves calories. This tea tastes just like the real thing! Your taste buds will thank you for visiting the online shop- http://www.teajutsu.net/. You can even place an order online and they will bring it to the market for you to pick up. (Editor’s note – the Teajutsu is a part of the nearby Fort Wayne Farmers Market, also on Barr Street). The YLNI Market is truly a...

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Blue Nile Coffee – Keeping Fort Wayne Roasted
Mar08

Blue Nile Coffee – Keeping Fort Wayne Roasted

Indiana winters makes me turn to coffee more and more. Maybe it’s the endless days of bitter cold and no sun, but there’s something about that warm brew that jump starts my day and makes me feel that spring is just around the corner. I love supporting local brews, so I was excited to hear more about Blue Nile Coffee Co that was started here in Fort Wayne. Michigan transplant Ciera Love (Director of Operations), Foster Park dweller Phil Snodgress (Managing Director), and Fort Wayne native, Zach White (Director of Marketing/Sales), started Blue Nile Coffee Co in September of 2017. They are all self-proclaimed coffee-o-holics and have an innate passion for craft coffee. A chance encounter with an impassioned local coffee shop owner at an obscure town in Michigan gave Ciera the idea to bring this craft coffee concept to Fort Wayne. When I asked, “Why choose Fort Wayne to start this venture?” the group from Blue Nile noted that “Fort Wayne is a unique city in that it offers the amenities of a big city with the hometown feel. It has a vibrancy and a sense of life to it, while other cities are still struggling to find their heartbeat. The community members want to see Fort Wayne prosper, and small businesses have a fighting chance to flourish here.” The three wanted to roast their own coffee and create flavors that are unique to what is currently on the market– Blue Nile does just that. They are quick to point out that they are not just about selling coffee, but their bigger passion is to help people elevate their morning routine. It’s true that most people drink only for necessity, which means they may be hitting up that delicious (insert sarcastic tone here) gas station coffee, which often translates into pouring on mounds of cream and sugar to cover up the bitter taste. Trust me, I’m guilty of having done that a time or two! What Blue Nile does that is so refreshing is that they roast their coffee in a way that brings out the harmony of flavors that many coffee drinkers miss out on. “We create an experience with premium coffee that doesn’t need any additives.” Ciera noted. “The Blue Nile is a major river that runs through Ethiopia, a country in Africa and the birthplace of coffee. For us, Blue Nile stands for uncharted territory and endless discovery. It is a symbol of where we have been and where we are going.” I asked the team how they determined who to partner with in sourcing their coffee, and the team brought up their partnership with...

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Empyrean Cafe – Bringing Event Level Food to the Streets
Oct03

Empyrean Cafe – Bringing Event Level Food to the Streets

Fall is here, and though I’m happy about cute suede booties and the start of football season (Go Pack Go!), I’m bummed that Lunch on the Square is done for the year. There is just something about walking around downtown and eating outside that adds to my sense of Fort Wayne community. So, I was thrilled to discover Empyrean Cafe in the Foelinger-Freimann Botanical Gardens! They have indoor and outdoor seating, and their indoor seating is in an atrium, giving you the feeling that you are outside an surrounded by water, flowers, and ample natural daylight.   You may be familiar with Empyrean, the creation of Julia Fiechter (President, Co-Owner), Gary Probst (Owner), Renee Miner (Chief Event Designer) and Jeremy Miner (Director of Operations) located in the former Summit Club. I first tasted Empyrean’s culinary creations at a charity event I attended, and I was hooked immediately. Deconstructed potato salads, gazpacho shooters, and desserts made with liquid nitrogen – say what?! It was more than delicious – it was a culinary experience. The name “Empyrean” stands for the highest level of heaven, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. The only downside was that you could only experience this heavenly culinary experience if you had them cater your event or befriended people solely for the purpose of attending their wedding held in the event space at Empyrean. (Don’t judge. It happens.) I literally spent years stalking them on Instagram and liking each and every picture and accepting every invite to an event they catered. So imagine my excitement at discovering they had an actual cafe where you could walk in and order whenever you wanted! (It was the same level as when I discovered that there is a wine for your cat, which is saying a lot.)   I chatted with Jeremy Miner about the concept behind Empyrean Cafe. Jeremy has been in the food and beverage industry for over two decades and started out as a dish washer. At the age of 14, he was second in command in the kitchen. By age 15, he was running a kitchen that served 400 people in a day and had the restaurant owner’s grandmother call the school for him and pretend he was sick so that he could prep the kitchen for the weekend. It was there that he devoured his first medium rare steak and realized that there is more to food beyond basic nutrition. It’s an experience that transcends mere digestion. Just like a song can bring you back to a particular moment of time, taste can unlock memories and create narratives of its own.   “If you can think it, we can create it,”...

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