FlUID Coffee Bar, located in downtown Valparaiso, is one of my favorites for a number of reasons; number one being the high-quality coffee they serve. Also, I love the laid back, artistic, friendly atmosphere.
Warning: You can easily lose track of time engaging in chit-chat with owners Chuck and Alison Scates, the baristas, and other coffee drinkers. It’s encouraged.
FLUID is a Third-Wave coffee bar (I won’t pretend that I initially knew what that meant) “ the Third Wave references the current movement within specialty coffee that appreciates coffee as an artisan or craft beverage. Coffee, in all of its processes, from the origin of the harvested bean to the roasting and brewing process, is treated with the same reverence as fine wine and craft beer ” https://www.craftbeveragejobs.com/the-history-of-first-second-and-third-wave-coffee-22315/
Intelligentsia is the roaster for FLUID. They’re the largest small batch roaster in Chicago. They have an exemplary reputation for product quality due to their meticulous old school values and practices. Intelligentsia works directly with farmers all over the world, monitoring growing methods every step of the way, ensuring every bean is up to standard; Chuck and Alison share these same values, and Direct Trade is especially important to them. Therefore, they’re extremely proud of their partnership with Intelligentsia. https://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/learn-do/community/intelligentsia-direct-trade
Pour Over “Many feel that coffee is coffee, however, coffees from various countries such as Burundi, Kenya, and Columbia all have different flavor notes. During each pour over, the consumer is given a note card to read during the pour. It encourages you to look for the different flavor notes in the coffee while sipping, basically teaching you to become a coffee connoisseur” -Chuck
They’re incredibly passionate about coffee and have a wealth of knowledge. Learning the backstory of the love and labor put into my coffee before it even hits my lips greatly enhanced my appreciation for the Mocha Latte I was sipping during my conversation with them.
My favorite latte so far would be the FLUID Latte. It consists of espresso, milk, fluid syrup, cloves, cinnamon, and spices. The combination is on point! If you’re in the mood for a little heat, maybe try the ‘Vale of Paradise’: a double shot of espresso, handcrafted honey, cayenne pepper, lemon syrup, and topped with milk. It’s SPICY! YUM!
You can also get Nitro cold brew on tap. Unlike hot brew through a machine where hot water is poured over grounds to extract the flavors over the course of a few minutes, the cold brew process brews anywhere from an eighteen to twenty-four hour period slowly extracting everything out of the coffee. The results are a super rich high caffeinated concentrate to which filtered water is added to taste. I always take cream and sugar in my coffee, but I had the Nitro black, and I liked it.
Adding to the excellent coffee is the atmosphere. Everything from the vinyl playing through the speakers, the works of local artists lining the walls, to the lighting, set a cozy mood. The owners wanted their spot to be different while showcasing a true mix of both of their styles and personalities.
I usually park myself in the “Chill Room” in the back of the bar. It’s a great spot to relax and catch up with friends. If you’re alone and in the mood for conversation, you can always take a seat at the counter and hang out with the baristas.
I’ve observed the interactions of the owners as well as the baristas with customers on several occasions. They enjoy what they’re doing. Customers walking in are greeted by name as if they’ve known them for years. They ask questions about their work, families or just engage in everyday chit-chat. They’re genuinely happy to see them; they know exactly how they like their lattes or take their coffee. If you’re a first timer, don’t worry, they’re patient and helpful with recommendations and questions are always encouraged.
It truly is a feel good place. It’s more than a coffee bar; it’s an experience.
You’ve been warned; you’ll love this place and get lost in the good feeling
- FLUID also serves food: try one of the breakfast sandwiches
- They also host events such as Open Mic every month
FLUID supports local artists