In the Kitchen With … Heather Walker

In the Kitchen With … Heather Walker

Story and photos by McKenzie Caldwell

Heather Walker thought she was out of the cafe business when, in July 2014, she and her husband, Lee, made the decision to close the Purple Turtle, a Washington Court House cafe and bakery she took over from her brother in 2012. In July 2017, however, Walker, her husband and her brother opened the Cream-N-Sugar Cafe in Greenfield, which Walker said started as a family business.

The cafe got its start because her brother, in an effort to spend more time at home, opened a home-based bakery. Walker’s brother sold his baked goods to local businesses, but Walker said that, with the amount of baking and transporting he was doing, he wasn’t able to spend time at home.

“My husband and I kind of talked. We didn’t really want to do baking because that was kind of the struggle. There was too much going on at the Turtle,” Walker said. “Our thought was like, if we opened a shop, we could have a storefront to sell his baked goods, so he could just bake it, fill the case here, and we would run the coffee part and just split it down the middle.”

Walker’s parents loved the idea of having a family business and leaving a legacy, so they helped fund the cafe, purchasing machinery and a building to house it, though the Cream-N-Sugar was already established at its current location by the time Walker’s parents closed on the other, larger space.

“We opened, we started selling my brother’s pastries, and we were doing the coffee. Then my brother started to feel like he wasn’t supposed to be baking anymore, so he stopped baking about a month in,” Walker said. “We knew that we weren’t supposed to close. We’d just spent thousands of dollars to open this place, and we couldn’t just shut her down. People were excited about the fact that we have this here. I mean, it’s one of those things that Greenfield kind of needs. You can go to McDonald’s and get a coffee, or you can go to Burger King and get some not-so-great coffee, but there was no place to get a good coffee or a pastry.”

The coffee for the Cream-N-Sugar comes from Rōst Coffee, a coffee roaster in Chillicothe. Walker said, though they did consider selling Crimson Cup like they had at the Purple Turtle, she and her husband knew from their first taste of Rōst that they wanted to sell it at their cafe. The owner of Rōst even showed them the “correct” way to brew Rōst coffee.

“After they showed us how to brew the coffee, I was kind of like, ‘We did the Court House place wrong,’” Walker said. “When we first tried Rōst, I got a black coffee, and Lee got a double espresso. He drank the espresso, and it didn’t leave a bitter taste in his mouth. He was like, ‘As long as the coffee doesn’t cost like $20 per pound, we’re done.’ We didn’t even hesitate.”

Many of the coffees on the Cream-N-Sugar chalkboard menu are standard espresso-based drinks like the cortado, the americano, and the Brown Butter latte — one of the cafe’s featured drinks — are Rōst recipes. But there is one drink that Walker will take credit for: the Doc Holliday.

“It’s a white chocolate, huckleberry latte. My husband likes the Wyatt Earp thing, and he was like, ‘We need a Doc Holliday,’ and I said, ‘Well, it has to have huckleberry syrup in it,’” Walker said. “We played around and came up with white chocolate and huckleberry. It’s kind of our shop’s thing.”

In addition to the specialty coffees, Walker also bakes the pastries sold at the Cream-N-Sugar. All the baking is done at Walker’s house in her single oven. She wakes up at 1:30 or 2 a.m. to begin baking the pastries for that day. Scones and cinnamon rolls are staples, but she uses local produce as frequently as she can, incorporating ingredients like strawberries from Barrett’s Strawberry Farm in Leesburg in the summer, apples from Karnes Orchard in Hillsboro in the fall and honey from Freshour Farms in Greenfield. All the pastries have to be done by 5:30 a.m. so Walker can transport them from her home to the cafe by 6 a.m.

“Since we don’t bake on-site, I have to have everything baked before coming here,” Walker said. “We don’t have a huge outflow of pastries every day, so it’s manageable.”

When the cafe opened, Walker’s husband, brother and several others who would come when they could met at the Cream-N-Sugar for Bible study in the mornings. Though that group dissolved after her husband took a job milking cows in the early mornings and her brother moved away, other people do come into the cafe to hang out for a little while. Walker said a woman and her granddaughter frequently spend a couple hours at the cafe working on homeschool work and projects. A man drives from Chillicothe at 7 a.m. to drink coffee and chat. Walker’s father and his friends come to the cafe to play chess. Walker said even the Greenfield police chief has joked about setting up an office in the Cream-N-Sugar. Even if people don’t stay long, though, Walker has multiple regulars who frequent the cafe.

“I feel like ‘Cheers’ sometimes. I know everyone who comes in the door, and if you come in multiple times, you probably have a regular, so I’m like, ‘Hey, do you want your regular?’” Walker said. “I’ve even ruined some of our customers to the point where they know what they like, but they don’t actually call it anything, so if I’m not here, they’ll be like, ‘I’ll have my regular,’ and my husband will say, ‘Okay, what is it?’ and they’re just like, ‘I don’t know. She just makes me a drink.’”

Walker said her goal is for the Cream-N-Sugar Cafe to be a light in the community.

“We wanted to be that comfortable place in the community, where people can just come in and feel like not attacked, not oppressed, not bombarded by everything going on. Just a respite, an area where you can take a breather and feel welcomed,” Walker said. “We’re going on two and a half years in January. We’re trying to be here forever. Not necessarily in this space, but in the community.”

Walker said eventually, she and her family want to move the cafe to Washington Street, where her parents purchased a larger space.

“It’s a full building, so it’s like 3,000 square feet across the bottom, so we could do the full kitchen and still have the coffee bar,” Walker said. “We want to focus less on coffee and to try to look at the other things the town kind of seems to be lacking, which is a nice sit-down place for breakfast and a quality lunch.”

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Cream-N-Sugar Cafe

412 Jefferson St., Greenfield

6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approximately one dozen 2-ounce cookies

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (light preferred, but dark works)

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Nestlé preferred)

1 cup all-purpose flour (Sapphire flour preferred)

1/2 cup pastry flour (gives a softer, chewy texture)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a stand mixer, or by hand, cream butter, sugars, salt and baking soda. Add egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly but try not to over mix. Add chocolate chips, mix well. Next add flours and mix until all flour is incorporated.

Scoop out about 2 ounces of dough and place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Press cookies down lightly. Bake for 8-9 minutes (ovens may vary so monitor cookies for doneness). Do not over bake. Cookies will continue to bake on pan for a few minutes after they come out of the oven.

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