Article by Jane Claspy Nesmith
Photography by Justin Fox
Like the many eastern Iowans who voted Brewed Awakenings “The Corridor’s Best Coffeehouse,” I stop in frequently at Brewed for a cup of coffee or tea. It’s a comfortable place to be--I’ve had meetings here, hung out with friends, and even come alone to work on writing projects.
I’d heard that there were some new items on the lunch menu, so decided to stop by with friends during their lunch hours of 11a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Brewed is known for its made-from-scratch food, so we knew it would be good.
Walking into the store-front coffeehouse on First Avenue, right across from Coe College, we immediately got a warm welcoming feeling at Brewed. The staff greets customers--regulars and newcomers alike--and can help anyone make a choice from the wide selections of coffee drinks and menu items.
It was a chilly day, so we started out with some soup. The soup of the day was roasted corn chowder, made--of course--from scratch. It was thick and creamy, with bright pieces of red sweet pepper. Hard-working Executive Chef Chadwick Hill made it all from scratch. “We get in at about 4 a.m. to get started on baking and cooking,” Hill told us. Each day’s soup is made from homemade stock.
Brewed Awakenings is spreading the soup love beyond the First Avenue location. Owner Larry Janda was asked recently if the St. Luke’s Hospital Brewed location would be willing to offer made-from-scratch soup. It’s now a popular item for hospital staff and visitors alike, selling out frequently.
Along with our soup, we tried a variety of other lunch items. A crispy Asian-style salad with mandarin oranges, crispy noodles, and micro rainbow radishes made a great accompaniment to the soup. The dressing, made with sweet chili sauce, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, tied everything together.
The chilly weather prompted us to try the new flatbread pizza. This new menu item--Brewed has been offering it since early September--is a popular one. With five different pizza options, from vegetarian to meat-lovers’, there’s a pizza for everyone. We tried the barbeque chicken pizza which came out hot and delicious, topped with caramelized onions, and bacon along with chicken, barbeque sauce and mozzarella.
For more comfort food on this chilly day, we tried a couple of sandwiches. There’s grilled cheese on the menu, and diners can have it plain or fancy. We tried fancy, and our grilled cheese came with tomato, micro red cabbage and radish, and a bit of pesto, delicious and filling.
I also could not resist the turkey pesto sandwich on ciabatta bread. I guess I’m not the only one; it’s a perennial favorite among regulars. “If we took the Turkey Pesto sandwich off the menu, there’d be rioting in the streets,” laughed Hill. It’s going to stay on the menu, needless to say.
Dessert seemed like a given at Brewed Awakenings: all the desserts are made in-house here. We tried some of the famous oatmeal-raisin cookies, which were light and delicious. There were fresh scones that day: chocolate almond and cinnamon chip--perfect to end a meal or dip in a cup of tea. We also tried a delicious peanut butter chocolate chip muffin that was tender and sweet--turns out it was also gluten-free. “We’re expanding our menu to include more gluten-free and lactose-free items,” said Hill.
Hill also brought us one of his new creations: Toddy Cake. The Toddy is one of Brewed’s more popular coffee drinks, and the Toddy Cake is the dessert form: tender chocolate cake flavored with cold-pressed coffee and topped with espresso-flavored buttercream frosting. It was rich and smooth and practically addictive.
To top off the meal, we tried some of the coffeehouse’s most popular drinks. The Don Correlejo, served in a double-shot glass featured steamed milk with two shots of espresso and mexican chocolate, a creamy drink with just the right amount of caffeine. We also liked the Beatnik Cappuccino, a more traditional cappuccino drink.
With its made-from-scratch lunch offerings, its wide range of quality coffee drinks, and its welcoming atmosphere, Brewed Awakenings is sure to remain a favorite in the Corridor for a long time.
1271 1st Ave SE, CR
(across from Coe College)
1026 A Ave. NE, CR
(St. Lukes A Ave. Lobby)