Thursday, June 6, 2013

Winans Fine Chocolates & Coffees - German Village

I love Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees!  It's my favorite coffee shop!  Winans is based where it started in my hometown of Piqua, Ohio, where Winans coffee is still roasted and the chocolates are made in the candy kitchen!  There are two Winans coffee shops in Columbus, one in German Village (where these photos were taken) and another in Dublin.

Winans is my favorite coffee shop for many reasons, the first of which is because I had my first job at Winans as a barista in high school, and I later worked in the candy kitchen on winter breaks from college.  Before Winans my only experience with coffee was when I took a sip from my Grandmother's thermos - assuming it was Pepsi, but it was actually cold, black coffee!  I took that one sip and was convinced I'd never drink coffee again!  It was so bitter!

Many years later I willingly tried my first sip of coffee, at Winans.  The store manager at the time, Sarah, made me a Winans specialty - a Wurtle.  A chocolate wurtle at Winans is a chocolate covered 'turtle' with nuts and caramel, the coffee version of a Wurtle is a hot drink made with espresso, hot milk, chocolate and caramel syrup (topped with whipped cream if you're feeling very indulgent!).  After that drink, I decided I might like this thing called coffee - who wouldn't?! 

I look back on my days as a barista fondly - pulling espresso and frothing milk was fun and my clothes always smelled of freshly roasted coffee beans!  We always played mellow music by artists like Norah Jones and The Postal Service in the Piqua store, listening to their music now takes me back to that time.  Caffeine is supposed to give us a jolt of energy and wake us up - but I associate a hot mocha or latte with a quiet afternoon in the coffee shop, making drinks for the regulars who came in to chat over a cup of coffee, or read the newspaper with an old friend.  I love coffee because it gives me that nostalgic, relaxed feeling, the bit of a 'pick-me up' from the caffeine is an added bonus.

In addition to having delicious coffee and espresso, Winans also sells delectable chocolates and other treats.  I snapped some quick photos of my favorite Winans chocolate and candy when we were in the German Village shop.

Wetzels are chocolate covered pretzels (the 'w' stands for Winans!), the dark chocolate Wetzels were always my favorite.  I can't eat these and a few other treats anymore because of my gluten sensitivity, but when we were paying at the counter, I saw a new treat!

Gluten-Free chocolate covered oreos!  I was so excited to have a chocolate covered oreo again (although, technically speaking, the gluten-free cookie is by K-Toos, not Oreo).  I remember placing oreos and other goodies (rice krispie treats, graham crackers, nutter butter cookies and teddy grahams) on the chocolate enrober in the candy kitchen.  The enrober is a belt that moves the candy down the line, over a layer of chocolate and through a wall of cascading chocolate to completely coat the item in milk or dark chocolate.  

The wonderful chocolates Winans is well known for are also run on the enrober to be coated in chocolate - one of my jobs in the kitchen used to be 'marking' each chocolate.  The mark is used to tell apart similarly shaped chocolates.  For example, there are several rectangular shaped chocolates at Winans.  Three lines on one of these candies indicates a peanut butter delight,  an "M" marks a meltaway, and a double circle stands for a Bavarian mint.  My favorite candies are the salted caramel, peanut butter delight, and the Bavarian mint, all in dark chocolate!  The large chocolate pictured above on the left is a chocolate truffle, hand rolled in chocolate shavings - it's delicious!

A tasty non-chocolate treat at Winans is brittle.  My favorite Winans brittle is the coconut brittle, but be warned, Winans brittle is addictive!  Kenneth and I have been know to almost go through an entire bag together in one sitting.

Another great thing about Winans is the history behind it.  Winans is a family owned business and the photos on the wall depict five generations of the family with a little history about each generation.  I love going to Winans in Columbus because I feel connected to my hometown and my family - without a long drive.

Finally, Winans is a socially conscious business with roots in the local community.  Joe Reiser, the owner of Winans, recently bought a coffee farm in Honduras so Winans will have access to organic, fair trade and rain forest alliance coffee.    

After the Boston Marathon bombings in April of this year, two running groups that meet at the Piqua and Troy downtown Winans shops came together for a "Boston We Have Your Back" run/walk in support of the marathon victims and their families.  They collected money from the runners and were able to send over $1,000 to the victims.   

I'm always seeing new products at Winans where the proceeds benefit disadvantaged women and children.  When we last stopped at the German Village store, I picked up a box of Ajiri rooibos (ROY-bus) tea.  Ajiri, which means 'to employ' in Swahili, is a company in Kenya that provides employment for women and an education for orphaned children.  The design on each box is handcrafted by the women from dried bark and banana leaves.  Rooibos, which is my favorite 'tea' (technically it's a tisane; green, black and white tea are made from the tea plant) comes from a South African shrub, it's delicious and caffeine free!

Winans is a fantastic local coffeeshop - for me it's about the memories and connection to my hometown, but it's also about the delicious coffee and chocolate that's ethically sourced and hand crafted into something delicious by caring employees.  What's not to love?

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