Coffee creations that will make you fall for the season
By Sara McAninch // Photography by Jana Jones
Iced, hot, infused with nitrogen, blended until foam forms or whipped: There’s a coffee for every season. As hot summer days slowly slip into cooling fall temperatures, beverage choices often change, too. For some, the go-to drink is hot cocoa or warm tea; for others, the jolt of java is the much-needed chill chaser. While coffee is certainly a year-round brew, check out these favorites from southside shops.
White Chocolate Mocha at Main & Madison Market Café
100 N. Main, Franklin, (317) 736-6246
Once a downtown medical office, Main & Madison Market Café is now home to what co-owner Amy Richardson says is a “space that promotes family and community, whatever that family looks like.” Where patients once received treatments for whatever ailed them, customers can now chase away the chills with coffee concoctions and pastries made on site by trained staff.
The business is co-owned by Richardson, Stephanie Northern and Ashley Schultz. As a “fast-casual restaurant,” according to Richardson, patrons order at the counter and then get their own drinks, except for the specialty coffee ones. Employees are paid an hourly wage, and although they bring food out to tables, they don’t accept tips; instead, any gratuity left is immediately put in the generosity jar. Each month, the business donates the money to a local nonprofit. To date, they’ve donated about $70,000 to Access Johnson County, The Franklin Education Connection, The Boys & Girls Club of Franklin, Girls Inc., Students Against Slavery, Aspire Johnson County and Habitat for Humanity, to name a few.
In addition to giving back to the community and serving house-made pastries, the shop spends a lot of time crafting a quality cup of joe. Using Lavazza brand for every coffee-based drink, there are several options from which to choose.
Richardson recommends the white chocolate mocha. Double espresso, steamed milk and white chocolate syrup create a “very creamy” beverage. As “a good sipping drink” with a “vanilla white chocolate feel to it,” Richardson says this is the perfect fall choice. If you really want to double up on the decadence, she suggests using oat milk. “Oat milk is a phenomenal milk alternative. It’s rich as well. It adds a whole other element.”
For those who want a tasty fall drink without the coffee, try the pumpkin spice chai latte. Sourced locally, chai tea is combined with spices and pumpkin to give you a taste of fall in a cup.
Maple Caramella at Coffeehouse Five
323 Market Plaza, Greenwood, (317) 300-4330, coffeehousefive.com
Coffee. Counseling. Kurt. These are just three of the things you’ll find at Coffeehouse Five. Named in homage to Indiana native Kurt Vonnegut’s famous novel, “Slaughterhouse-Five,” services offered at the coffeeshop include marriage and addiction counseling, along with the daily brew and specialty beverages. While it “isn’t much on the outside,” according to owner Brian Peters, the interior offers a “warm, inviting atmosphere.”
As a pastoral counselor, Peters charges nothing for his services. While the coffee does come at a price, a portion of the proceeds subsidizes fees if he must refer someone to another therapist, and it allows him to continue charging his clientele nothing. Although this nonprofit, for-benefit operating model is unique, Peters says it’s all about helping people because the No. 1 barrier to getting assistance is the cost.
“All forms of mental health counseling are expensive,” he says. “So I wanted to try to get us into a position where we could offer help to people and not charge for it.”
Besides offering life advice, Peters gives recommendations on any one of the homemade baked goods and coffee options made with in-house roasted beans. One such drink is the maple caramella, which is a Coffeehouse Five exclusive. Espresso and steamed milk get an addition of maple syrup and some caramel sauce. The resulting flavor “evokes memories of a chilly morning,” says Peters, or “Saturday morning having pancakes for breakfast.”
Non-coffee drinkers can warm up with a chai latte, hot tea, turmeric latte or any one of the year-round and seasonal smoothies. Milk alternatives for any drink include almond, coconut and oat. If you find yourself in Franklin, you can find a second Coffeehouse Five location on West Monroe.
Café Miel at The Mocha Nut Coffee Shop
1625 E. Southport Road, Indianapolis, (317) 319-9021, mochanutcofee.com
A 2017 family conversation about opening a coffee shop became a reality when Seth Weber converted a defunct restaurant into The Mocha Nut Coffee Shop. With the goal of building relationships with customers, and a lot of sweat equity from family and friends to create the physical space, the shop opened in June 2019. The name, which is a play on those who are crazy about coffee, was also a family concoction.
Because the focus is on good relationships and even better coffee, it’s no surprise that walking into the place brings about a feeling of warmth. A combination of homemade wooden pallet tabletops, shiplap and exposed brick walls, leather chairs with cushions, bar seating, and music that matches the vibe at any given time, greets you as you step inside. Regulars are welcomed by name.
When you’re ready to fuel up, co-owner Weber recommends the café miel either hot or iced. Espresso, steamed whole milk, raw honey and ground cinnamon are mixed to give you a warm fall feeling with every sip.
“We try to keep it a little more lightly sweetened with honey; we don’t want it to overpower the drink,” says Weber. Additional flavor notes are baker’s chocolate, a hint of raisins and citrus fruit from the espresso. If whole steamed milk isn’t to your liking, you can swap it for almond, soy, coconut or oat.
For the non-coffee drinkers, Weber suggests you snuggle up with spiced apple cider. Notes of caramel and apples are the perfect fall flavors as you partake in a house-made baked good. He recommends the orange pumpkin muffins, which are a seasonal favorite. Made with orange zest, real pumpkin and hints of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, the handheld treat coupled with a warm beverage is sure to help beat the cold.
Neil Gaiman at Strange Brew Coffee
4800 W. Smith Valley Road, Greenwood, (317) 881-5282, strangebrewcoffee.com
Do you like a little cream with your coffee? Even if you don’t, you’re still getting some when you step inside Strange Brew Coffee. Named after the famous 1960s band, the shop offers roasted beans in a variety of flavors and blends. Described as “shabby chic” by co-owner Toni Carr, this shop is a great “home away from home” to hold meetings or hang out and get buzzed on coffee. The place even boasts a six degrees of separation celebrity connection.
What started as a public Twitter challenge from author Neil Gaiman became a lasting friendship between him and the owners, as well as a delicious drink given his name. To make it, espresso is combined with cinnamon powder before steamed milk is layered on top. Lastly, a finishing touch of honey and raw sugar is added.
“It always reminds me of when you first bite into a crème brûlée because the honey and the sugar give it that crunch factor,” says Carr. “You get sweet first and then you hit the espresso pretty quickly after.” The shop donates a portion of the sales from some of its coffee to charity. Proceeds from this beverage go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund at Gaiman’s request.
If a coffee-based concoction isn’t your thing, Strange Brew has plenty of options. One seasonal favorite is the pumpkin chai. The black tea combination includes honey, spices, pumpkin puree, vanilla and almond syrup, and steamed milk. One sip and you’ll feel “like you’re taking a bite of pumpkin pie,” says Carr.