For those who want to experience foods from around the world without buying a plane ticket, a trip to Coffee-ol-ogy is in order. The little cafe inside the Hoover Library offers much more than coffee and sandwiches; its Global Cuisine menu gives customers the chance to try meals from a different country every month.
Co-owners Teresa White and Craig Casiday developed the Global Cuisine idea about three years ago with the help of chef Virginia Walker, who grew up in Europe. Their original idea was to feature a different country every week, but this proved to be too hectic and they eventually settled into the current monthly schedule. The monthly choices range from traditional French and Italian food to more exotic meals from Morocco and Poland.
“We want people to experience the world’s favorite foods one country at a time, and in doing that, we want them to experience part of the culture of that country,” White said.
In January for example, customers can get a taste of Cuban cuisine with the Cuban Sandwich, Black Bean Soup or Pork Chop con Pina, a pan-seared pork chop with pineapple, lime, plantains and garlic. Each month also features a dessert from the country of choice. January’s dessert is Pineapple Cake with Dulce de Leche Salsa.
White said that Coffee-ol-ogy tries to make its global food as authentic as possible. Each meal is made based on recipes they learned from international travel or the help of friends around the globe. The resulting menu items are meals that could be found on an average dinner table in each country.
“This isn’t a four-star experience, this is home food,” White said. “We chose the foods that people cook at home, so that is a very strong emotional connection that people have.”
The cafe has its own passports that customers can get stamped each month, and White said she knows of diners who have filled up four or five already. With each stamp comes a five percent discount on the next purchase, as well as a cultural education for the customer. Casiday and White put flags on their tables from each month’s featured country, and an electronic board behind the counter highlights interesting facts about that country. They also explain the history of each dish and the importance of certain spices and ingredients.
This educational focus blends well with their library location. The cafe is a favorite for many homeschool parents to teach their children about other cultures, and White participates in monthly cultural presentations on the library plaza. Coffee-ol-ogy’s Facebook and Twitter pages are also devoted to sharing information about library events with their fans.
“It allows us to present things that you wouldn’t typically get from a cafe, and the library also gets to benefit from having a cafe that goes so well with what they’re doing,” Casiday said.
Casiday and White plan to further diversify their Global Cuisine menu and possibly expand to a second location. White said their business model is “constantly evolving” and they enjoy the challenge of trying new things.
“My favorite part is the sheer creativity of it,” White said. “We have very exciting, lively food and it’s changing. We’re adding features to it. We’re still having a lot of fun with it.”