- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Elemental Coffee Roasters in Midtown has helped build up its surrounding area through its co-creation and continued support of the H&8th Night Market. Midtown will become even more bustling, however, when Oklahoma City University relocates its law school to the former Central High School at 800 N. Harvey Ave. and residents move into The Edge at Midtown apartments.

Elemental wants to offer those new downtown residents a little more than coffee this spring. The coffee shop is adding a kitchen and more seating. It has also applied for a mixed-beverage license in order to serve high-point beer and wine, joining a trend of other coffee shops in the state that also sell alcoholic drinks.

“We always thought we would do food in the space in preparation for the law school and more housing,” Laura Massenat, a partner in Elemental, told The Journal Record (https://bit.ly/1fHMvtg ). “It makes sense to do a small selection of wine and local beer.”

One of the beers expected to be available is the Black Mesa Red Badger Stout, which features Elemental’s coffee. Massenat said being able to serve Black Mesa would be a bonus of receiving a mixed-beverage license, but the beer didn’t prompt the application.

The coffee shop food menu will be available for lunch and breakfast, and is being created by Elena Farrar, formerly of The Wedge. Food items will also be available from the deli case after lunch hours.

“It will be food for people that care about what they put in their bodies,” Massenat said. “She (Farrar) cares a lot about quality ingredients.”

Quality ingredients are also on the menu at the other coffee bars, one in downtown Edmond and the other in Tulsa. Maintaining quality in the coffee and the alcoholic drinks is important and what makes their venues successful, said both owners.

Café Evoke owner Jason Duncan said he has had a mixed-beverage license since the shop first opened in May 2012. He said he always thought that the craft cocktail and beer scene was similar to the roasted coffee industry.

“I think the hardest part in this market is educating guests that they can exist in the same market,” he said.

Duncan’s shop at 103 S. Broadway in Edmond uses Prairie Wolf Spirits’ Dark coffee liqueur in coffee-based cocktails, as well as serving craft beer and wine.

“We focus more on coffee liqueurs and other liquors that fit our coffee menu,” he said. “Our alcohol focus is craft beer. That’s just more of the market we’ve found of people around here.”

He credited Hodges Bend in Tulsa as leading the way in the state for the bars that offer specialty coffee and craft beers. However, Hodges has been open for only a year. The bar is owned by John Gaberino, who also operates Topeca Coffee. The company’s coffee is served at Hodges Bend, as well as cocktails, wine, and craft beer. Many of his employees are certified coffee cuppers and sommeliers.

“There is a lot of skill both on customer service and the producing of exceptional cocktails, pairings of wines, and brewing of great coffee,” he said.

Hodges Bend, 823 E. Third St., offers food on its menu, as well. However, Gaberino said the drinks are top priority.

“I’ve never seen anything like we do to the level that we do,” he said. “I’ve seen some cafes that have a small selection of wine. I’ve never seen them both done to this level.”

That high level, Gaberino said, sets Hodges Bend and other coffee shops apart from a typical bar.

“The idea is not to create an environment designed to excessive drinking, as much as they (customers) are to appreciate the quality of something,” he said.


Information from: The Journal Record, https://www.journalrecord.com

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