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Table Talk


Grassland Coffee: Where fresh meets prairie


Each cup is crafted using fresh beans roasted on site. Photo by Grant Leatherwood


By Jocelyn Pedersen F


Nicole and Tim Hicks own Grassland Coffee. Photo by Hayley Leatherwood


WATCH! Photo by Jocelyn Pedersen


If viewing our digital edition, click here to get to know the Oklahomans behind Grassland Coffee. Access our digital edition at www.ok-living.coop or fi nd our FREE app at the Apple Newsstand, Google Play or Amazon.


luffy yellow eggs, bright green spin- ach, tender onions and rosy tomatoes in the form of omelets await at Grass- land Coffee in Elgin, Okla., where a homemade coffee roaster sits in the corner emitting the delicate scent of the last beans it tenderly prepared.


Lovers of coffee and good, fresh food, own-


ers Tim and Nicole Hicks opened their own restaurant and coffee shop along US 277 in Elgin just under a year ago. Now they serve fresh delicacies prepared by chef Chris Martini. Tim Hicks started roasting coffee for the couple when they lived in Arkansas and, al- ways having wanted to own his own business, when he retired from the Air Force, the couple moved home to Elgin. When a retail space became available, “we jumped on it,” Nicole Hicks said.


As for naming their new venture, “we want- ed to make it sound like Oklahoma,” Tim Hicks said, and having grown up in Elgin, “what came to mind was being younger and being outdoors in the summertime in nice weather, surrounded by tall grass.” And so the name was born. Just as the name stands out as unique, so does the coffee Grassland serves. Tim Hicks explained most coffee shops these days use a lot of milk and sugar “which takes away from traditional espresso drinks. We’re trying to bring that back.”


Every menu item is made from scratch. Photo by Grant Leatherwood


At a time when everyone wants “the Starbuck’s taste,” as Tim Hicks called it, he’s trying to go back to a more traditional coffee experience using fresh beans he roasts right on the premises. Tim Hicks explained most coffee shops serve coffee that was roasted and bagged about three months prior. The coffee fl avor starts to diminish after roasting—“almost im- mediately” according to the National Coffee Association—so serving coffee that was roasted a day or so prior makes the coffee really fresh. “To me, there’s not really any bad coffee if it’s roasted well,” Tim Hicks said. “Anything from Sumatra to Africa to New Guinea—we


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carry coffee from every place that grows it. We normally have about half a dozen options to try at any given time.” Tim Hicks said he fi rst tried roasting coffee in a popcorn popper and it was so good “the fl avor wasn’t even comparable. It was like I was drinking dirty socks and now I’m drinking real coffee. Now I roast my own all the time.” Tim Hicks built his own roaster and roasts


between one and four pounds of coffee at a time. He takes between eight and 16 samples during the roasting process, which translates to obtaining samples even seconds apart so the beans don’t dry out. All this care and tend- ing creates a quality product. “I like making things from scratch, from nothing,” Tim Hicks said. “I like making car- amel and chocolate sauce for our drinks. I like making corned beef, ketchup and mustard. I enjoy seeing people’s faces when they say, ‘Oh, you made the mustard?’ Ninety-eight percent of our customers say it’s ‘the best they’ve ever had.’” From coffee to condiments, the food served at Grassland is all homemade including their breads, scones, soups, pizzas, biscuits made with buttermilk cultured in house, and bagels in traditional fl avors and unique varieties like lavender honey.


Grassland offers private dinner settings through a supper club. Tim Hicks explained the intimate dining experience is “not only about food, it’s about conversation and the social side.” Tim Hicks and chef Martini will cook all day to prepare food that’s “not gourmet—not snobby, just good food,” Tim Hicks said. They have introduced foods that are per- haps uncommon but have been around forever. “Just give it a chance; it might be the best thing you’ve ever had,” Tim Hicks said. Coming up with fresh ideas to combine with fresh ingredients takes creativity. “Tim and I come up with some pretty awe- some, challenging ideas,” Martini said. Although he never trained as a chef, Martini has been cooking since his youth. He likes to pick and choose different aspects


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