Oklahoma City has plenty going for it. Wayne Coyne lives there, for instance, and you can eat your fill of Indian tacos, become hypnotized by the flat landscape, and enjoy a thriving sports culture, if that's your thing.
But good coffee? Umm...Actually, yes.
Until relatively recently, the Sooner State's capital city didn't have terribly much cappuccino cred to speak of. But thanks to the recent retail expansion of three-year-old upstart roastery Elemental, specialty coffee finally has a foothold in the this slice of the Western Plains.
"Oklahoma City is in something a renaissance period right now," says Chris Holliday, one of Elemental's owners—and we can't help but agree: Cool restaurants, vintage shops, and personalities are popping up all over town, and in its former life as a wholesale-only coffee roaster, Elemental fit right in to the surge, supplying surprisingly good beans to what was essentially a coffee desert.
Now, with a new cafe space and an expanded vision as a wholesale provider as well as a community center for budding bean-heads, Elemental is poised to introduce Okies of all stripes to quality joe—one cup at a time. (Literally: The cafe is completely brewed-to-order, with espresso and pour-over coffee being the order of every day.)
"Oklahomans cannot be typecast as easily as many would think," Holliday says. "They are incredibly sophisticated consumers, but incredibly down to earth. We have been embraced here in a way that has really exceeded our expectations, and that is a testament to the amazing taste of our fellow Oklahomans."
Besides serving some of the best single-origin espresso I've had all year (a natural Ethiopian called Purusha, pulled by barista Johnny Chappell), Elemental also serves up a heaping helping of local pride and camaraderie. "The barista community is growing almost daily," Holliday says. "There are a lot of really great coffee people in Oklahoma City, and they have been a factor in helping to bring in the tide. Businesses like Cafe Evoke Coffee Catering, Coffee Slingers, Gray Owl, Cuppies and Joe, target="_blank"Crimson and Whipped Cream, and some great restaurants who are committed to brewing great coffee have all contributed dramatically to the OKC coffee scene."
So if you happen to find yourself whistling "Boomer Sooner" out there in the middle of the country one day soon, be sure to stop by Elemental for a shot, some hand-poured coffee, and a heaping helping of Oklahoma hospitality.