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A Not-So-Average Experience at Not Your Average Joe…

Not wanting Starbucks again, I decided to try a new place for coffee and coffee-inspired beverages the other morning.

I figured I’d hit up a new snazzy place in the downtown area becoming famous for dishing out fresh pastries, nifty sandwiches, and, even more, their own coffee drinks. But, of course, by the time I got there at 10am, they were closed, making me feel like the universe was against me.


Still feigning for the caffeine inspiration I needed, instead of kicking the dirt, I drove to Midtown, figuring a coffee shop must be nearby. That’s where I found Not Your Average Joe, at 1227 N. Walker Ave.

I had actually heard of this spot, but for some reason, had never been. It’s a tad different from the stuffy, regimented coffee shops that have sprung up around OKC over the past decade, as they include “students and adults with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities” in their workforce.

Working here gives these folks something to do, a steady paycheck, and the gravitas that working at a coffee shop can truly bring. As a survivor of a massive stroke requiring lifelong physical and speech therapy, it’s a cause I admire and identify with.

When I stepped foot inside the doorway, I was immediately amazed and captivated by how Not Your Average Joe resembled the coffeehouse I frequented in the late 1990s. With the mismatched furniture, chalkboard menu, and boho patrons chilling on the patio, the smell of brewing coffee piqued my senses.

I swam to the counter where a young woman was on the register. Like most places, I was trying to read the menu and was flustered on what to order.

When I asked for recommendations, she suggested the Dragon’s Breath Mocha, known for its fiery aftertaste, and the Suspicious Sandwich, inspired by Elvis Presley’s 1969 hit “Suspicious Minds.” That was all I needed to know.

After my girlfriend placed her order as well, we sat down at a groovy table. Man, the throwback of the tangential atmosphere—the “good vibes”—made this a great place to take coffee with a friend, read a long-winded novel or, like me next time, have a cup with my dog Sean in the shade.

(And in case you were wondering, yes, they have plenty of dog treats by the door.)

As soon as my late breakfast/early lunch arrived, my barista was definitely right: Dragon’s Breath was pure scorched earth. Dark mocha with blood orange and Mexican chile syrups topped with a sprinkle of cayenne made this the absolute bomb, giving me the adrenaline shot of caffeine I needed that morning.

My girlfriend, on the other hand, had the non-adventurous order of cold brew with oat milk and sugar-free toffee nut syrup. While this order, though tasty, was kind of so-so in the writer’s room, she thankfully made up for it with her order of the chicken tortilla soup.

Wafting the smell from the glass bowl, this homemade soup was very bold and very rich. The tomato soup base with hearty black beans, corn, and other vegetables made it a true winner in my eyes. We shared the bowl along with my lasting pride, the Suspicious Sandwich.

If ever you’re caught in a trap and you can’t walk out, you can count on the Suspicious Sandwich, a true Memphis original…by way of Oklahoma City.

It’s a hunka-hunka burning peanut butter sandwich on toasted blueberry bread with bananas, bacon, and Made-in-Oklahoma raspberry jalapeño jam. Alternating between very sweet and subtly hot, with the amazing bread, this PB and J is one of my top sandwiches in the city.

My fandom of the King aside, this is a truly remarkable taste.

Picking up my trash and putting my bowl in the dirty dish cart, I realized that Not Your Average Joe is now my new coffee house. The welcoming aura of the great employees, the thrift-store décor, and, best of all, the inventive drinks made this “second” choice my only choice for coffee in OKC.

The universe is definitely working in my favor.


Follow Louis Fowler on Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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