The Most Exciting Coffee Roasters In Indianapolis

Blue Mind Coffee Roasting

Ask anyone in the coffee business here who’s roasting the best beans, and Blue Mind gets a name-check—quite an achievement for a coffee roasted in a Broad Ripple backyard since 2014. It works because owners Sarah and Andy Hassler don’t want to become a massive enterprise. Blue Mind doesn’t have more than five roasts available at a time, and this allows them to dial into each one and ensure customers are getting the bean at its absolute best. Blue Mind chooses coffee shops and owners to partner with based on genuine connection, because they believe in making good coffee for good people, a mantra you can buy on a T-shirt on their website.

What’s something you like that might surprise people?

Sarah: Decaf. I have a low caffeine tolerance. I didn’t even like coffee until Andy started roasting his own and it wasn’t burnt-tasting. Coffee starts as a fruit, and I was able to taste the fruity notes in an Ethiopian, and I loved it.

Recommended: The Dirty Chai Tea Latte at Foundation Coffee in SoBro has Blue Mind espresso. Rose & Lois in Carmel serves the roaster’s decaf. Downtown, Leviathan Bakehouse brews Blue Mind daily—try the Summon the Linzer raspberry latte.

Fun Fact: Because the roastery is located in the family’s backyard (in a small outbuilding), the Hassler children, ages 11 to 15, get to help out.

Signature blend:Ethiopian Limu Tega & Tula washed

Indie Coffee Roasters

Named and branded after the owners’ dachshund, Indie, ICR made its first batch of coffee in a Whirlypop popcorn machine in 2013. After a few years of selling at farmers markets, founders Jenny and Alec Tod partnered up with Diane and Kevin McAndrews and opened a retail space in 2018—a cheery, always-full house on Carmel’s Main Street where some of the best-trained baristas in the area make espresso drinks, pour-overs, nitro cold-brew, and creative chais. The small-batch roastery sets itself apart by carrying only seasonal and single-origin roasts, allowing them to highlight flavor notes and focus on the lifespan of a coffee.

Recommended: Bovaconti Coffee in Fountain Square often uses the roasts for espresso. Northside institution Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse serves it on drip. Each quarter, ICR’s team members create new recipes and submit them to a panel to vie for a spot on the seasonal menu as signature drinks.

Fun Fact: The roasting machine is located in the cafe’s dining room, and when it’s going, usually all day on Wednesdays and Thursdays, you’ll smell it.

Signature roast:

This season, it’s the just-released Cadefihuila from Colombia, with notes of marzipan, pineapple, and coconut 
Subscription: $16 for two bags per month

Hubbard & Cravens Coffee and Tea

In the coffee Dark Ages before Starbucks brought some enlightenment to the masses, Hubbard & Cravens was already introducing Indy residents to the pleasures of specialty-grade, single-origin Sumatrans and Colombians. Marcie and Rick Hubbard, who, along with Jerry Cravens, own the business, have been traveling the world for several decades, making connections with farmers and tasting roasted samples to build a brand that produces about 4 million pounds of coffee a year, most of it for private labels and big clients like the Bank of Scotland in New York. Now they have Andrieu Doyle on staff to handle sourcing, drawing on his experience as an importer in Colombia and Nicaragua for eight years. Still, he had plenty to learn from the Hubbards. “They had visited every major coffee-producing country multiple times, had been to every trade show,” he says. “But the coolest thing is that they are so willing to continue to soak in information and are open to evolution. That’s really what makes this special.”

Favorite barista in town?

Andrieu: My girfriend, Rin Earlywine, at Prufrock Coffee Company. She’s wonderful with customers and always willing to try new things.

Recommended: The Hubbards themselves have a soft spot for Sumatran coffee, so try one at a Hubbard & Cravens cafe. H&C also makes Foundation Coffee’s house blends.

Fun Fact: The Hubbards met the owners of Costa Rica’s renowned Herbazu farm when they were just starting out, and now H&C has dibs on some of its crop every year.

Signature roast: SoBro Organic, a medium-roast blend with a lot of body and a semi-sweet finish.

Bee Coffee Roasters

Bee has been around in one incarnation or another for 14 years, making it one of the pioneering roasters in town—a distinction that also applies to well-connected co-owner and industry veteran BJ Davis. Now with two cafes and co-owner Andy Gilman’s leading role hosting League of Lattes barista competitions, Bee has grown into the unofficial social director of Indy’s coffee community yet is perhaps most visible to coffee-drinkers as a cafe, with locations near Eagle Creek (called The Hive) and downtown (The Swarm). Among Bee’s big selection, barrel-aged coffee is a standout, and sometimes extremely boozy-tasting, if you like that. “We’ve been barrel-
aging longer than anyone else,” Davis says. This month brings a new Burundi coffee aged in a West Fork Whiskey container. Bee also champions Mexican coffee. “It has gotten a bad rap,” Davis says. “Bad Mexican coffee is really bad. Good, it’s the yummiest you can get.”

What’s something surprising that you like?

BJ: My first cup of the day is sweetened with oat milk.

Recommended: Get a pour-over by Kara Lozano, Davis’s favorite barista in town, at City Market’s Mile Square Coffee. She also loves the mocha at Litterally Divine Chocolates in Fountain Square. At Bee cafes, try the lavender-and-honey Serenity cappuccino.

Fun Fact: Last fall, Bee offered a $12 cup of a special Panamanian Pacamara, perhaps the most expensive cup of coffee ever sold in Indianapolis.

Signature roast: Sweet Blue, a single-origin Brazilian evoking chocolate cake and nuttiness.

Circadian Coffee

Co-owners Kelsey Speigner and Adam Datema met as fellow baristas in Boston, and the pair noticed that East Coast coffee was more focused on being first than being the best. With a desire to flip that narrative and make coffee simple and practical, the two moved back to Datema’s home state and started Circadian in 2016 as the city’s (most likely) first Black-owned roastery. Their goals are simple: make functional coffee for everyday people and source from smaller, lesser-known farms. “I love transparency in the coffee world, but most people just want to drink good coffee, and they drink it as a function, not as an aesthetic,” Speigner says. That’s why Circadian keeps its signature roast available year-round—for those who want an elevated product but don’t want to think about it too hard.

What is your favorite brewing method?

Kelsey: I am a huge fan of the AeroPress. It is one of the most affordable brew methods, and it’s the most versatile. You have a plunger that goes into a plastic tube tower, and you just press the coffee through a filter. You can get all kinds of attachments that will allow you to do espresso or just a regular cup of coffee. You can make cold brew, tea, anything.

Recommended: Amberson Coffee & Grocer in Fletcher Place often uses Circadian to mix up its standout date latte. Foundation Coffee in SoBro serves Circadian’s decaf.

Fun Fact: Circadian donates a portion of the proceeds from its Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse blends to local groups. This month, it’s the Kheprw Institute, a youth-focused nonprofit.

Signature blend: Meridian, a medium roast with low acidity, earthy and caramel notes, and a sweet finish.

Tinker Coffee Co.

Tinker came to rule Indy’s modern caffeine kingdom by becoming ninja roasters. But for all their technical skills, founders Steve Hall and Jeff Johnson are most proud of their improvement in sourcing. “Out-of-this-world good,” Hall says of their team, which outdid itself last summer by finding a microlot from Ethiopia’s Shantawene village. A partner agency there was able to separate out a certain “lot” of beans so they didn’t get mixed in with others at the processing facility—the most singular that a single-origin bean can get. Tinker so loved the pure taste (“a walk through a meticulously kept flower garden”) with notes of peach tea, white honey, and pineapple, they bought the whole lot and released it as part of their Rare and Exclusive series, available only to subscribers. Those customers were the only ones in the world who got those beans.

Tinker’s product line extends well beyond beans. The COVID-19 hardships rekindled the entrepreneurial spirit they had in the beginning, five years ago. When wholesale revenue took a hit this past spring, Hall and Johnson found themselves back at the drawing board, coming up with their first line of bottled drinks. “We had long thought out the best way to do a bottled cold drink. COVID forced us to do it,” Hall says. “Especially with cafes shut down, people needed a place to get a cafe-style drink.” Three beverages—cold brew, spiced latte, and golden milk—debuted in June, followed by Snapchilled canned cold brew in November, made with a process that, Hall says, creates a totally different flavor profile in coffee. The team keeps its eye on other innovations, too, like adapting wine-making techniques to process coffee beans. Thankfully, Tinker’s gonna tinker.

What’s the best drink someone has made with your coffee?

Steve: My friend Mike Schrader was a bartender at Garden Table a while back and made a drink that blew my doors off—a cold brew of our naturally processed Nicaraguan coffee along with tequila, spiced pear liqueur, and a rosemary-sage simple syrup. That drink earned us a spot in the Coffee Mixologist Competition at the Amsterdam Coffee Festival in 2017.

Jeff: Dry Bones Mud House (closed temporarily during COVID-19) typically has one of Tinker’s Ethiopian coffees on drip, and it’s always dialed in perfectly. It’s just drip coffee, but every time, I’m surprised by how perfectly brewed it is.

What are you drinking these days?

Steve: I drink one cup of coffee at home off the Moccamaster with my wife, then make a pour-over as soon as I get to the roastery. If I’m not feeling the pour-over, I’ll make a little 6-ounce Americano. It’s just enough to drink quickly, but also big enough to savor a little bit.

Jeff; My first cup of the day is typically a coffee that is new to production at Tinker. I focus on new coffees as we are getting to know them. I have been brewing them on a Kalita, which is my brew method of choice.

Favorite barista in town?

Steve: Mitchell Tellstrom. He and his wife, Jessica, just purchased and re-opened Rabble Coffee. Mitchell is a true coffee pro and has had a huge influence on me and the way we source and roast coffee at Tinker. As a matter of fact, he named Conduit, our signature house blend.

Jeff: My favorite place to get coffee in Indy before Tinker was Calvin Fletcher’s. My wife and I always left feeling better than when we entered.

Recommended: Commissary Barber & Barista downtown often rotates in Tinker’s more unusual (and expensive) small-batch roasts, like the recent naturally processed, fruit-candy–like Los Crestones from Costa Rica. Milk and Honey in Plainfield uses Tinker espresso in a magnificently garnished dirty chai latte. Garden Table on Mass Ave and in Broad Ripple mixes it up in an orange-spice latte in the winter. The Foundry in Herron-Morton, newly reopened, is a good place to get a fast cup of Tinker Conduit on drip.

Fun Fact: Tinker gives away its burlap bean sacks if you’re into upcycling materials. It can be used as a weed fabric in gardens.

Signature blend: Conduit, a Golden Bean award-winner described as rich and sweet.

Subscription: $30 for two bags per month

Julian Coffee Roasters

Ken Julian doesn’t get as much attention for his company’s good deeds—donating to Indy homeless shelters, funding sport courts in Zimbabwe—as he does for his cold brew, but that’s what happens when you’re voted America’s best. Julian earned the award at the 2019 Coffee Fest for his concentrated, super-clean, on-the-strong-side coffee that’s now coming out of the Zionsville roastery at the rate of about 10 gallons per hour, thanks to a new machine called a Brew Bomb. The buzzy product joins Julian’s big lineup of single-origin roasts and flavored coffees with Costco-friendly names, like Jingle Bell Java. You can find Julian coffee at the megastore and by the bag at the Zionsville roastery. Plus, if you know where to look (right), it’s brewing at some local cafes under their proprietary labels.

What are you drinking these days?

Ken: Natural- and honey-processed coffees. I stick with micro-lots brewed in a Chemex.

Recommended: Mocha Nut in Southport brews Julian as a pour-over and espresso for its caramel macchiato. Strange Brew in Greenwood, Jack’s Donuts, and Illinois Street Emporium also serve Julian.

Fun Fact: ESPN did a story on the basketball court that Julian co-sponsored in Zimbabwe.

Signature roast: Jamaica Me Crazy, an Arabica flavored with Kahlua, caramel, and vanilla.

Subscription: $30 for two bags per month