Writer / Jane VanOsdol
Carmel is known for its trails. Whether you love biking, running or hiking, we can indulge your outdoor addictions. What you may not realize is that Carmel has a trail for another type of addiction, as well, and it’s known as the Carmel Caffeine Trail.
That’s right. This trail is for the coffee, espresso, and tea enthusiasts among us. With many of its 16 stops just steps from the Monon, this trail will guarantee you end up more energized than when you started.
Where to start? If you’re on the south side of Carmel, two stops are right next to each other: the Kolache Factory and Quirky Feather Confectionery are both at the southeast corner of 116 Street and Guilford Avenue. At the Quirky Feather, try a sweet confection like the Crossroads Cookie along with your cup of Joe. Just next door, the Kolache Factory offers something for every taste preference, from sweet to savory. Front house staff Hollie Williams recommended her favorite, the Polish Hot, which features beef sausage with a bit of a bite to it. The day I visited, Jing Xuan, owner of the Imperial Foot Spa and a daily customer at the Factory, and her new employee, Emilee Trudo, were enjoying a quick break with their favorite kolaches.
If you want to enjoy local art with your cup of coffee, head over to SOHO Cafe and Gallery, close to Range Line Road and City Center Drive. Family-owned and operated, SOHO showcases the work of local artists, and holds Open Mic nights for musicians. The gallery is an all-around local hangout, and you’ll often find study groups clustered together. A few hot seasonal drinks to try include S’Mores (dark chocolate with marshmallows) and Toasted Coconut (hazelnut and coconut).
A block or two north, Square Donuts lures you in with the irresistible scent of freshly made donuts.
Clerk Beatrice Feay loves the Maple but said, “The Cinnamon Sugar is really our iconic donut.”
She explained that while the yeast donuts are square, the cake donuts are traditionally round because the cake batter is too dense to hold the square shape. As far as its drinks go, clerk Anna Blair said you won’t find it on the board, but to ask for the off-menu Dirty Chai. It’s a chai latte with a shot of espresso.
To add some international culture to your hike along the Caffeine Trail, visit Tina’s Traditional Old English Tea Room at Range Line Road and Main Street. Whether you want to try high tea or are ordering off its luncheon menu, you’ll feel you’ve been transported to London for tea and biscuits. You can’t go wrong with its scones with Devonshire Clotted Cream and Lavender Jelly and the English Fruit Garden herbal tea.
Zing Café, on Meeting House Road in the village of West Clay, is the furthest stop from the Monon. Pop in for an espresso, coffee and something more substantial for breakfast or lunch. Online ordering is available here for your convenience.
Make it a goal to hit up all the local spots on the Carmel Caffeine Trail. Each one offers something special. Lace up your running shoes and check out all the shops. You’ve got some hiking to do.