I remember when I was a kid growing up, being around my dad and the guys he worked with, and how their workshop smelled like burnt coffee every time I was there. They’d all stand around, sipping on their cups of “black death” that had been sitting in the pot for who knows how long, and I wondered how in the world anyone could ever touch that stuff??
I think the misconception that most coffee is basically just a thick, black, tar-like drink for old men, has all but disappeared in modern-day culture. This is true, thanks in part to the emergence of national coffee shops like Starbucks and Caribou, but also by local roasters and coffee houses bringing the most up-to-date roasting and brewing techniques to their customers, and their efforts to educate the public on the variety of products that are available.
One of Columbus’ oldest and most well-known roasters is Crimson Cup Coffee. Crimson Cup Coffee has been locally roasting coffee since 1991, and packages and distributes its coffee all over the United States. They work out of their roasting facility on Alum Creek Dr. in Columbus, and provide their beans to almost 400 customers in 28 states across the country, including independent coffee houses, grocers, restaurants, colleges & universities, and various other establishments. In 2007, they opened their first coffee house in Clintonville, which serves as a “test kitchen” for new products.
Crimson Cup also recently sponsored the North Market Coffee Roast, which was a one-day event where a dozen or so local roasters gathered to showcase their craft, mingle with fans, and discuss coffee. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the event, so when stopping by Crimson Cup’s N. High Street location, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as far as selection. Admittedly, I don’t know as much about coffee as I would like to. I actually just started drinking it regularly a few years ago, so aside from brewing at home with my Keurig machine, and the occasional cappuccino or espresso, I’m a clean slate.
Upon arriving at Crimson Cup, at around 9:30 on a Saturday morning, I noticed the place was certainly hopping. They have drive-thru service available too, and there was a line of cars forming as we walked into the building.
As we entered, my first impression was that Crimson Cup was bright, clean, and comfortable…typical of your average near-campus coffee house. There were folks sitting at solid, wooden tables chatting, reading, and working on their laptops. The high ceilings and light-colored wood gave the shop a very open and roomy feel.
The front of the house is nicely decorated with comfy couches and chairs, a beautiful faux fireplace, and great artwork. At places like this, I could sit for hours.
As I mentioned, their coffee house is used for testing new products and brewing methods. One of the first things I noticed was the huge, slow-drip brewing tower that is used for making cold coffees. Our barista, Chris, explained that the slow-drip keeps the coffee’s acidity levels lower, while still maintaining all the rich flavors. I think he said it takes around 6 hours to make a full pot!!
Any apprehension that I may have had prior to ordering my drink was quickly removed once Chris started explaining the coffees and flavors. He first asked me if I preferred a light or dark roast? Light. He than asked if I liked a fruity blend or an Earthy blend? I told him that I wasn’t too sure, so he offered to do a combination of the two, and I agreed. Based on my answers, he recommended the Ethiopia Harrar.
After seeing a customer in line ahead of me order a pour-over, I decided to give it a try as well. The pour-over method is used to fully enhance and extend the flavor profile of each coffee. Brewing a single-cup of coffee each time, hot water from a kettle is poured over a filtered funnel full of fresh grounds.
The water then drips down through the funnel and into the cup below, optimizing the contact time between the water and the coffee grounds, creating essentially, the perfect cup of coffee.
After visiting the condiment bar and adding just enough cream and sugar so that I didn’t feel like I was drinking black coffee, I sat and enjoyed a treat made by a local bakery, and my Ethiopian Harrar pour-over. It was both fruity and Earthy, as Chris has promised. It was smooth, light, flavorful, and had no bitterness whatsoever. I have to say that it was, in deed, one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had in a long time.
I noticed that Crimson Cup does have a wide variety of coffees and teas to purchase and take home for later, as well as cups, thermoses and other coffee accessories. I wish I could have bought one of each flavor!!
I may be a little inexperienced when it comes to trying different coffee flavors and brewing methods, but I do know good coffee when I taste it. I was very impressed with Crimson Cup’s selection, their knowledge and practice of the latest in brewing trends, the friendliness of the staff, and their willingness to educate the customer, customize my order to my tastes, and serve me the best cup of coffee possible. To know that we have the luxury of having some of the best roasters in the country right here in Columbus makes me proud, and the fact that Crimson Cup Coffee is leading the pack makes me want to keep coming back to see what they have in store for the future. I’m already planning my next trip.
Crimson Cup Coffee is located at 4541 N. High St, Columbus, OH 43214 (Map). They are open Mon – Sat, 6am – 9pm, and Sun 8am – 8pm. If you’d like more info on the coffee house or their roasting facility, you can visit their website, or you can check out their Facebook page here.