How do you brew?: Unique coffee shop connects with customers, community

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With a mission to connect with the local community through house-made baked goods and coffee brewed with special care, a Fishers coffee shop has become a destination for local residents.

Offering unique, fresh-brewed drinks made with ingredients sourced in-state is how Geist Coffee Company at 10110 Brooks School Rd. in Fishers derived its name. Jeremy Balch owns and operates the coffee shop with his wife, Tristan. They celebrated the shop’s five-year anniversary on Jan. 1. Together, they have forged strong relationships with people in the community.

Jeremy isn’t just the owner. He also runs shifts behind the coffee bar and fills the role of barista as needed. He enjoys being involved with the day-to-day operations.

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The Balch family owns Geist Coffee Company. From left, Anabelle, Jeremy, Tristan and Josh pause inside the store. (Photo courtesy of Geist Coffee Company)

“I like doing it,” Jeremy said. “I also help in the back, in the kitchen. We bake a lot. We have a breakfast menu, and we make all the bacon, sausage, eggs, chicken, everything is all made in-house that we source from local farms in the state.”

Geist Coffee Company makes all its pastries in-house, too. From cinnamon rolls to muffins, the owners want to ensure quality in each product they offer.

Jeremy comes from a background in corporate management. He was the vice president of Iron Mountain, a records and data management company, for nearly 20 years before leaving to focus on spending time with his family. He then became associate pastor at Geist Community Church before stepping away from ministry.

“I found (being an associate pastor) to be somewhat restricting,” Jeremy said. “You’re in this little church box and you’re not able to connect with a wide range of people in the same way that I would have at my previous job. (Tristan and I) wanted to be more involved with our larger community.

“We realized that the way we were able to do that was at coffee shops. So we thought, ‘We really should have our own coffee shop.’”

At about that same time, the couple heard that the cafe that previously occupied the space had closed, and they jumped at the opportunity to purchase it.

“The place previously had six owners, the last four of which went bankrupt,” Jeremy said. “No one really had the money to invest in it and it resulted in us having to completely reconstruct the coffee bar and buy a really nice, new imported espresso machine.”

When the Balches bought the cafe, it was called Northwoods Cafe. Jeremy said he wanted to “honor” the cafe for what it was before the family took over, resulting in the well-known rustic decor and feel of the shop.

Geist Coffee Company uses coffee beans from Utopian Coffee in Fort Wayne. The owners of that business visit coffee farms around the world to personally source their beans.

“We want to make great coffee,” Jeremy said. “We want to expand our knowledge in it and the skill of our baristas, and that’s because coffee is the tool that helps us connect with our community. It’s the reason we come together. It’s the reason we have repeat customers. It’s because we enjoy (coffee) and it’s soothing, something comforting to gather around.”

Most patrons on a given day are repeat customers who come to meet a friend, work or catch up with friends who already happen to be in the shop. Local resident Josh McNair, owner of Geist Realty, said Geist Coffee Company has become the “unofficial town hall” of the area.

“This is the best coffee shop at Geist Reservoir,” McNair said. “It’s unofficially the Geist town hall and the go-to meeting place for Geist locals. The staff is so friendly, and the service is great.”

Jeremy’s goals for the new year include exploring roasting coffee in house, although it’s likely any changes won’t happen until 2024.

“I’d like to look into roasting our own coffee,” Jeremy said. “It would be a great way to really claim that title of ‘artisan’ and have greater control over the product we serve.”

Other goals for the year include focusing on staff by growing employees’ knowledge of the product and offering them the opportunity to become involved in developing the menu.

“We want to start building coffee knowledge and offering coffee cuppings (studying different techniques of how to brew coffee) with our team,” Jeremy said. “We want our staff to be able to get their ideas out there, whether they work out or not. Whether that be a new syrup flavor or a seasonal drink, we really want to build out the team.”

For more, visit geist.coffee.

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Geist Coffee Company offers hot and iced drinks, including lattes, cold brew and lemonades.

Brewing techniques

There are many ways to brew coffee. From using a French press to using a stovetop espresso maker, here are just a few ways to elevate your coffee brewing experience:

  • Coffee maker: Convenient, popular at-home way to brew coffee.
  • Pour over: Pouring hot water through coffee grounds in a filter.
  • French press: Pour hot water over coffee grounds, steep for five minutes, then strain.
  • AeroPress: Similar to the pour over method, but with applied pressure to strain the brewed coffee into the mug below.
  • Cold brew: Pour cold water over coarse coffee grounds and let it sit overnight. Strain and enjoy in the morning.

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