4th Avenue Coffee
612 4th Ave.
Holdrege NE 68949
Connecting community through coffee
There once was a time when businesses in my small town of Holdrege stayed open late on Thursday evenings. This was not a clever marketing scheme intended to drive sales but rather a way to cater to a clientele that couldn’t often make it in to a place with amenities. Farm families would make the trip to town one night a week to get provisions, and it was good for both commerce and social interaction.
Over the years it became less about that one nightly trip and more about connecting with your people in your community. That need for neighboring within rural America is still alive and well. Small town life has a way of bringing people together at church bake sales and homecoming football games. Our best form of social networking continues to exist in line at the grocery store. But sometimes people need a proper place to congregate; a gathering spot that is essentially the hub of the community. Just like the Thursday evenings of yore, citizens continue to look for a place where connecting with each other is guaranteed.
After the long absence of a proper place to meet, a new business in town is the go-to spot when in need of good food or good conversation; both if you are lucky. 4th Avenue Coffee is providing the essentials of any civilized society: coffee and community.
Delicious desire to give back
Situated on the bustling thoroughfare that ushers cars and cargo through Holdrege sits a freestanding brick and mortar that takes its name from the road itself. 4th Avenue Coffee officially opened in September 2013 and has been going as strong as its brew ever since. Owners Brian and Elisha Steinbach, along with their four children, created this business out of a vision and a desire to give back to the community.
“When we moved here there was no place to meet people,” Brian said as he kept busy behind the espresso bar he made himself.
Their young family moved to Holdrege when Brian was offered the pastor position at the Assembly of God Church. Sometimes it takes an outsider to realize what we are missing in our own community. Once the family was settled and Brian had taken the time to acclimate to his new congregation, he had a vision of creating a place where people could meet and connect. Soon after, he drove through downtown and stumbled upon the perfect place with a FOR SALE sign in the window. It was meant to be.
Brian’s vision was a space that would offer up amazing coffee; a staple when creating a place that gives people the opportunity to gather. Being a self-taught connoisseur of all things coffee, Brian was well suited for this venture. His wife Elisha’s talents with baking would be a perfect complement to this business and their kids were eager to be enthusiastic baristas.
Amazing offerings, stellar customer service and consistency
Since its opening, 4th Avenue Coffee has earned a solid customer base thanks to its amazing offerings, stellar customer service and consistency. The atmosphere is everything you would expect from a coffee shop with the benefits of small town charm. The floor to ceiling windows allow for a perfect view of the local radio station and historic bank building that has been towering over downtown Holdrege since 1889 and a steady stream of semi traffic hauling corn and livestock reminds you of your Midwest coordinates. The parking lot at 4th Avenue Coffee is a mixture of mud-covered farm trucks and pristine SUVs; a reminder that the demographic of coffee appeal is wide reaching. However, it’s the inside ambiance that truly captures the charm of this business.
Cozy seating vignettes and a high-top community table offer up a perfect place to grab a coffee and catch up with a friend or set up a temporary virtual office. The main space offers seating for 30 and a private room in back is ideal for meetings and conferences (reserve ahead of time as it is often booked in advance). The custom coffee bar built by Brian is the centerpiece of the business and just like 4th Avenue Coffee is the hub of the community, this coffee bar is the hub of the space. Friendly baristas take your order while a bevy of freshly made pastries offer up a call to your sweet tooth.
I stop in regularly but on this particular visit I started my morning off with a piping hot latte topped with a bit of “foam art” for flair. Truth be told, it’s the coffee that originally had me hooked. At 4th Avenue Coffee it’s about the beans, and Brian and Elisha will gladly explain why that is the case. After much research, they located a purveyor and roaster of beans in Topeka, Kan., that met the needs of their discerning palates. They completed a training course that educated them on the direct trade beans they wanted to offer to their customers as well as the ins and outs of the roasting process. They don’t blindly order their beans from a distributor but rather select their coffee with the intent and knowledge of a seasoned wine sommelier. This is why my latte was near perfection. 4th Avenue Coffee also offers all standard espresso drinks as well as daily house, specialty and decaf coffee options. If you are stopping in for a great cup of drip, I highly recommend the dark roast of the Ad Astra or the Yirgacheffe if a lighter brew is more to your liking. You can also purchase whole beans to go for those days you need your coffee fix without leaving the comfort of your own home.
A complement to any coffee is a good pastry. Where once a doughnut was considered the perfect accessory to a cup of joe, our expectations have been heightened thanks to the popularity of places like Starbucks. Unlike the products of a chain establishment, 4th Avenue Coffee is setting the bar high with an offering of pastries and confections that seem less like coffee shop and more like your grandmother’s kitchen.
As my latte was prepared I surveyed the baked goods in the case and realized the decision was going to be difficult. Warm cinnamon rolls, scones, muffins and cakes were among my options and luckily the woman behind the counter was the one responsible for the baking so she was more than happy to lead me in the right direction. Elisha Steinbach is the woman responsible for the food at 4th Avenue Coffee. Watching her mother in the kitchen as a kid and then perfecting her skills during the naps times of her own four children, Elisha has always had an interest in baking. On this visit, she assessed the coffee drink I had ordered and then recommended the Orange and Cranberry Scone (her personal favorite), a Spiced Coffee Cake or their signature Chocolate Cookie Dough Frosted Brownie. I refused to decide so I got all three as Elisha’s pastries are always a treat to have at home. After I paid and slipped a tip in the jar for the barista, she reminded me of their daily lunch special. How could I resist?
Lunch is calling
A little past noon, my coffee buzz and sweet tooth were winding down, and thoughts of the 4th Avenue Coffee lunch were still on my mind. Since there aren’t many quick dining options in town with the exception of fast food, 4th Avenue Coffee is a great place for something quick, healthy and fresh. I ordered the special dubbed “Not Your Grandma’s Grilled Cheese” and it was “panini perfection.” Smoked cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato, spinach and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples were pressed between two slices of ciabatta and it was delicious. I had a side of potato chips and a Superfruit Smoothie made with acai, blueberry and pomegranate. Other lunch offerings made fresh daily include their popular Cranberry and Pecan Chicken Salad Sandwich, Chef Salad, Quiche of the Day, as well as a selection of other sandwiches and a daily soup. Check their chalkboard out front or friend them on Facebook to keep up with their daily specials. It’s well worth your time.
Lunch wouldn’t be complete without a dessert, right? Just as I was savoring my last bite of panini, a tray of Coconutie Brownies made their way out of the oven. It’s hard to resist anything right out of the oven, especially something created by a master baker. I quickly ordered one knowing they wouldn’t last long in the pastry case. It was a rich layering of chocolate, caramel and coconut with a crunch of warm crushed pecans. For fear of embarrassing myself, I did not order extra to go after my pastry indulgence earlier that morning. I did however grab an Acai and Mango Iced Tea for the road. With a touch of Stevia brewed directly into the tea, it was a slightly sweet iced complement to the hot day outside.
4th Avenue Coffee has provided our town and surrounding area with exactly what we were missing. Beyond the great coffee and homemade goodies, they have created a spot where we can actually connect as a community and that is far sweeter than any baked good in Elisha’s pastry case. Just like the spirit of those late Thursday evenings that once brought the people of our town together, 4th Avenue Coffee has given us a reason to gather once again.
As I exited 4th Avenue Coffee and stepped out to the roar of a passing cattle truck, I immediately felt the urge to return. That is the amazing thing about a great gathering spot in any town; once you find it, you never want to leave.