Saturday, November 10, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018

This is my submission to the 2018 Coffeeneuring Challenge.  This is my fourth challenge.  I love coffee and I love bicycles.  Combining both with the one I love, my wife, is my intention.  My theme within this theme is the iced breve, specifically, three shots of espresso over ice and the rest of the cup filled with half and half.  This drink is so smooth and rich that sugar is nor required.  Finding the best one in the seven coffee shop visits is what I am aiming for.

Curious about what coffeeneuring is?  It is a bicycle ride that is at least 2 miles in total length that involves drinking coffee somewhere.  For the official rules and a better explanation please click on this link  2018 Coffeeneuring Challenge Official Details

1.   Plain Talk Books & Coffee
      October 13, 2018
      3 shots over ice fill the rest with half and half
      short jaunt over the river to the East Village
      4.8 miles

Our single speeds

Even Kylo Ren likes Plain Talk

It was a chilly morning made worse by our broken furnace.  Fix It Man was due on Monday and that was OK since it was not going to be very cold.  We rode our single speeds.  Located in the Historic East Village of Des Moines, Iowa, near the Capitol building of Iowa.  Nice older building.  The first thing that hit us was that their heat was on.  Mary and I looked at each other and mailed and exclaimed "they have heat!"  We ordered our usuals, Mary an iced vanilla latte and me what I think should be called an iced breve with an extra shot.  Unfortunately, I have to explain this to baristas otherwise they get it wrong, a traditional breve or only a few ice cubes.  So I always make eye contact and spell it out. "In a 16 oz cup filled over the top with ice, three shots of espresso and fill the rest with half and half."  Some baristas are glad and compliment me, others try to suggest a proper name for it.  Others are snobs.  Don't judge.  I got the idea from comedian Marc Maron and since I am a barista myself at a financial institution I drink one every morning.

2.   St Kilda Cafe & Bakery

     Des Moines, Iowa
     October 18, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     cross the Green bridge and roll over the hump and down the road
     2 miles

St Kilda.  I had someone steal my light off a bike at a nearby store so now I bring them in.  The cream pitcher is what the Simple Sugar was served in.

St Kilda is an Australian style cafe located on the southern edge of downtown.  This cafe is the      "fanciest" place we will visit for the 2018 Coffeeneuring challenge.  This was a stop for the 2017    challenge.  This was our first time back since then.  We went there after dinner.   Coffee to              prevent  us from falling asleep too early.  I ordered my usual, notice a theme starting?    Mary  usually orders an iced vanilla latte but to our surprise vanilla latte was not an option.  In fact, no flavored lattes were available.  The server suggested that she could get maple syrup or "simple sugar" which is raw brown sugar mixed with water.  She chose the latter and hated it.  Mary does not like coffee unless the coffee taste is covered up hence the vanilla lattes.  She did not like this.  I had to hear about it for most of the evening.  It even upset her stomach.  Mine was good.  Definitely a darker roast, smooth yet hardy.  Both were served in real glasses.  Had to ask for straws.  Water was served to us as well albeit warm and without ice.

3.   Reising Sun Cafe
      Polk City, Iowa
      October 20, 2018
      3 shot iced breve
      20+ mph headwind all the way there
      43 miles

Our touring tandem.  For about 2 decades this bike had 26x1.5 tires, now 26x2.1.  It came with 26x2.2 back in 1991.

My motto!

The darker is the Almond Joy latte.  Mary enjoyed it.
Polk City is a town north of our city on the Neal Smith Trail.  It is also just a few quiet miles off the ever popular High Trestle Trail.  For years we have used it as a place to refuel.  There is a Subway, a large convenience store and two bars.  But lately we have made it a destination town.  On the square there is Papa's Pizzeria, Fender's Brewing and for our purposes on this date Reising Sun Cafe.  We used all three locations.

Simple plan:  leave house by 9 am, drink our coffee the go to the brewpub to watch the Iowa football game.  ISSUES Decided to take the tandem since we have a gravel and minimum maintenance road camping expedition.  The tandem has been sitting in storage since August 2015 and received new tires and a new middle chainring the night before,  Needed a shakedown cruise.  Bike was ready at 9 am but I had to put panniers on it and that cost 20 minutes.  SECOND  massive headwind at 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph all the way to Polk City.  Brutal wind but it would be a tailwind.  We were late.  Third  We did not eat before the ride.  I drank a pot of coffee at home.  After visiting the cafe I was shaking.

The coffee shop is located on the south side of the square.  No bicycle parking so I leaned it along the bench.  Too cold and windy to sit outside anyway.  Tables and a corner of comfortable couches and chairs.  That's where we sat.  Food was available such as soup and sandwiches and breakfast items.  We had a package of cookies.  I ordered my usual and Mary order the Almond Joy iced latte which was far to sweet for me.  Mine was definitely a light roast as the caffeine content probably started my jitters.  It was smooth and tasty but not the darker roasts I have received elsewhere.  Unfortunately, it was pushing 1 pm and the game started at 11 am so I was in too much of a hurry to thoroughly enjoy the experience.  Plus we needed to order the pizza.


     Des Moines, IA
     October 21, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     cross the Green Bridge and roll over the hump
     3 miles

Finally remembered to bring my Coffeeneuring swag!

This is our usual weekend morning ride.  DSM Brew is located next to Fuzzy Tacos.  Mary goes and get the breakfast tacos and I order the coffee.  We sit outside and eat and drink.  Now it is cold so we eat at Fuzzy's and then go to DSM Brew.  The cafe is quiet and has local art on the walls with a monthly rotation.  I have been purchasing beans there for my home brew.  Beer, wine and gelato is available.  My coffee has a nice smooth roast.  Mary gets the iced vanilla latte or tea.  Today we met friends at Fuzzy's and had them go next door with us for coffee.  The Des Moines Marathon was going on and the runners were in our view which made the atmosphere more festive.

5.   Zanzibar Coffee Adventure

     Des Moines, Iowa
     October 28, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     urban sidepath, streets and bike lanes
     6 miles

I love the look of  espresso mixing with the cream!

Giant cup of Joe on the roof!  Our bikes in the corner.

paper straw
Fought a 30 mph wind to get there but enjoyed the jet stream push home.  According to this blog I stopped here for Coffeeneuring back in 2016.  This visit is my second visit ever.  Why a 2 year gap?  Just not on my travel path.  It could be because it is on Ingersoll Ave with a bike lane and just up the road from Zzz Records, a fave spot for my vinyl addiction.  But there are closer cafes and I hate the intersection of  MLK and Ingersoll because of the location of the bike lane puts cyclists at the risk of a right hook.  I don't care about the DO NOT TURN light, hard to see a light while staring at a phone while driving.  Enough of that.  Suffice to say that we had a head wind all the way there and did not get killed at the intersection.

The coffee.  Mary had an iced tea.  She is suffering from a stomach bug that aborted our gravel ride camping adventure the day before.  She had a hard time keeping up in the wind.  I kept with my theme of the 3 shot breve.  The barista smiled as I explained how to make it and when I said I don't know what it is called she looked up and said we'll just call it a "Chris."   We opted to sit outside since the place was very warm.  It could have seemed hot because we just rode there with the "fan" on high.  There are benches but no bicycle rack, the only negative comment I will make about Zanzibar.   It was a nice brew, flavorful and not overly roasted.  Served with a paper straw.  Never used such a straw before.  The straw lasted for the entire drink but was showing its demise toward the end as the structural integrity was failing in the middle.

The place was almost full but at least one table was empty.  Glad to see them doing well on a Sunday.  My Director of Operations at work buys beans to roast from here.  That is an endorsement!

6.   Ritual Cafe

     Des Moines, IA
     November 3, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     mix of streets and sidepaths and trail
     4+ miles


Bike racks right out front!

Theme Within A Theme

Experience some difficulty in determining what my Theme Within A Theme would be this year.    Then it came to me so easily.  Touring bicycles.  Two days ago I purchased Mary a new to her touring bike.  Today's coffeeneuring would be its maiden voyage under new ownership.  It would also be the first ride since August for my touring bike.  Simple!  We rode to the Ritual Cafe, a first for our coffeeneuring.

Mary ventured out for a caramel macchiato instead of a latte.  But this place serves 'traditional" Italian macchiatos not the Starbucks version which we of the Midwest prefer.  The difference?  The Italiano is espresso with foam on top served in a demitasse cup (very small).  Starbucks, a layered latte with vanilla syrup on the bottom, milk as the second layer and espresso on top with caramel syrup drizzled on the very tip top.  She ordered a caramel latte instead.  Me, the usual 3 shot iced breve.  Both served in pint glasses.  No straws offered or required.  We also ordered breakfast sandwiches.  Mary enjoyed her coffee noting that the caramel added the right amount of sweetness to it.  Mine was wonderful.  Nice strong flavorful roasted coffee taste.  Still wondering why they could not make the American style macchiato.  Did they not have caramel to drizzle on top?

The cafe is locally owned and is located in the Western Gateway Park area of downtown.  They serve locally roasted organic beans and serve vegetarian and vegan foods as well as local beers and wine.  We've been here before to see bands and when we are in the area for local festivals in Gateway Park.  The person taking our order was very friendly and knowledgeable, former Starbucks barista.  Our coffee was called out for us and our food was delivered to us.  The place is spacious and quickly filled with groups of people drinking coffee, eating breakfast and talking.

7.  West End Architectural Salvage & Coffee
     Des Moines, Iowa
     November 10, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     streets and trails
     3 miles

The front door.  Mary unaware of my photo shoot.

stained glass

Ceiling tile art

Damn, it feels like winter but I have a need for 3 shots of espresso!  Dress warm.  I find myself wearing a new pair of gloves that I would normally wear when it is less than 20 F.  It is 28 F.  Need to get out of the house.  Need to acclimate to the weather.  Prospects of a long winter.  Could be another Saturday on the couch with nothing accomplished other than staring at the TV.

West End I visited in 2016 for Coffeeneuring.  4 floors of antiques and materials removed from old buildings.  Tin ceiling tiles, old school chairs, stacks of wooden doors, a TV from 1955, old bicycles, ancient fans, an Odd Fellows flag, old signs, a baptismal fountain from a church, stained glass windows, trim, furniture ect.  Space for wedding receptions and such.  A barista station and wine and beer.  Get a coffee and walk around and look at an old dresser for $400 or stars made from tin ceiling tiles for $45.  I want to purchase the tricycle for Zoey, our first grandchild.  But we are here for coffee.

My granddaughter is due any time now.  Should I get her this?

I ask for a 3 shot iced breve and the barista smiles and makes it properly without question.  Damn, I've waited for this all my life!  Nice roast.  Smooth.  But I'm distracted from all the goods in this place.  Like a museum, flea market and antique market rolled into one.

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2018 Complete!  Had a great time.  Bummed that the weather turned south on us.  Would have loved to ridden the 45 mile round trip to Crimson Anchor Coffee in Indianola, Iowa, but it was either too cold or rainy or windy or all of it at once.  Glad we were able to visit a few places we never used for the challenge before, Plain Talk Books & Coffee, Reising Sun in Polk City and Ritual Cafe in Des Moines.

For some odd reason I limited myself to the 3 shot iced breve.  Going forward with this chilly fall hot coffee with be ordered.  Who am I kidding?  I love that drink!