I’m not sure why the best coffee I had during my Indianapolis visit – the other previously mentioned spots weren’t so hot – produced the cruddiest pictures. Perhaps it was the fault of photographic jamming equipment on the part of the cafe. My suspicion is that Hubbard and Cravens didn’t want evidence to get out that would link it to its corporate, aesthetic twin – Restoration Hardware – from which it was apparently separated at birth. Then again, the lesson could be that pre-caffeinated photography, at 7 AM is not a recommended course of action.
At Hubbard and Cravens, however, it’s what inside that counts. This local roaster of high quality coffee, including some cup of excellence selections, makes for a worthwhile destination. The staff are probably not as coffee geeky as what you’d find at BJava, but this particular H&C made for a strong runner up for that cafe that I couldn’t get to due to transportation issues. This particular location of this local chain, is Indianapolis’ only location armed with a Clover brewer.
Inside H&C is a long row of tables and a few leather chairs occupying one side of the modern space across from the bar. The Clover sits relatively up front, right near the 6-8 coffees that are for sale. The cafe’s 2 Group Rancilio sits just past the cash register.
Each of H&C’s coffees were available to be brewed on the Clover. I opted for one of the two Guatemalan coffees on the menu, but for some odd reason – not enough caffeine – didn’t note whether it was the Bella Carmona Antigua or the Antigua – Pulcal. I found this coffee to be good, but perhaps a tad lacking for a Clover cup. It was very chocolaty with hints of mild black pepper and exhibited a creamy mouthfeel. It seemed like a generally crowd-pleasing coffee, with not a lot of acidity, but what it did have resembled the kick and flavor of vanilla extract.
The espresso displayed a slight nuttiness and lemon-like acidity along with some hints of red fruit and chocolate. The crema was thinnish, which might make some folks happy, and the shot was ever so slightly abrasive on the back of my throat, but was otherwise clean and quite light; decent without being remarkable.
Intrigued by their other offerings and happy about the ability to purchase just half a pound, I picked up a back of Hubbard and Craven’s Kenya AA to try at home. Overall, I was impressed with this coffee. It had very pronounced chocolate notes with a real through line of dark red berries such as currants and cranberries, that edged toward candy-like notes of sweetness. It exhibited a mellow, but very pronounced acidity, making it a more understated, but still quite good Kenyan. I thought this coffee worked well in a French Press which brought out some real wine-like, syruppy, distilled fruit notes, and as a pour over, which created a more well-balanced cup.
Growing up in Indiana, I never would have expected anything close to the quality of coffee offered by Hubbard and Cravens, but certainly happy that they’ve arrived.