March 2018 Foodie: Neal Warner Of Coat Check Coffee

Coat Check’s Neal Warner wins fans with a straightforward style that’s good to the last drop.
Neal Warner quickly became the darling of the local third-wave coffee scene—a label ascribed to an industry heavy on pour-overs and sleek spaces—by doing things un-third-wave-like. For starters, you won’t find pour-over coffee, with its required special equipment and deep wells of patience, on the menu at Coat Check Coffee, the downtown shop he opened in 2017. Old-school filtered, drip coffee is the unsung hero of Warner’s approach, which can be summed up as thoughtful execution, hold the pretension. “We wanted a kind of breezy service style, where baristas didn’t get gummed up doing pour-overs for five minutes and customers wondered what’s taking so long,” says Warner, who opened the business with his brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Audreyalice Warner. Even the snobbiest of coffee snobs have been won over, thanks to science-geek attention to things like high-quality dairy and precisely mineralized water. “I’m kind of known in town as the water guy,” Warner says. Expect the same focus on the fundamentals at Provider, the Warners’ new spot inside Tinker House in Kennedy-King. Even the beer and cocktail list echoes the Warner minimalism. Beer choices are “Beer” and “Tart Beer,” both from Centerpoint Brewing. And don’t worry, you’ll still find Coat Check’s top-selling butterscotch latte, with a housemade sauce of caramelized sugar and—of course—real butter.

Want to know how Neal takes his coffee? Check out his how-to guide for brewing the perfect cup at home.