Friday, July 07, 2006

CC: Double Shots Espresso Bar


Subject: Double Shots Espresso Bar

Location visited: Philadelphia
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]


*CLOSED and reoccupied*

Often have I wandered the streets of Center City, looking for a coffeehouse of promise. Sure, there are places to get coffee, but good coffee is a rarity.

I found Double Shots last summer during a time of avid trips to Old City. It's got a prime location, nestled right next to Market St, a whole hoopla of historic sites, and a hopping night scene. The decor is beautifully done, with maroon walls and bright woods all coercively decorated with the right mix of furniture.

The coffee is what won me over. Caffe Pronto is the name of their roaster (I think out of Maryland), an outfit that produces a very full-bodied cup of coffee. The espresso was also up there in quality; strong but not overpowering. Didn't try the Revolution tea or the chai. Going by the fruits of their labor, the baristas were of noticeable skill.

My only complaint with this place is the random hours. It's gotten to the point that I will drive past to make sure they're open before I park. Too often have I lead a party of expectant coffee drinkers forth with the sad realization they're closed! And with no website, the only way to find out is to go (or tatoo the hours on your arm, but that might prove futile when they change).

So my recommendation: go, but go during the middle of the day so you're not greeted with the close sign.

4 comments:

barron42 said...

..if you care.

Cafe Pronto: Annapolis, MD

Lousy everything except coffee which is grand.

http://www.caffepronto.com/store/index.php

peteathome said...

Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007

First, I want to thank you for your blog. It's been very helpful in locating decent espresso in the region.

After reading your review, I bicycled over to Two Shots from New Jersey on this beautiful Sunday morning to give it a try. Seeing a sidewalk chalk board advertising "Pumpkin Spice, Blackberry and Maple Spice" I immediately lowered my expectations. Entering, I noticed the barista was using a small counter top Faema to pull shots rather than the San Marco that looked to be their regular machine. I asked about this and he said it was being repaired. I noticed he appeared to be a student (he was wearing a U Penn t-shirt) so I suspect he might not be a fully-trained barista.

I ordered a small cappuccino to start. Now this is always a dangerous maneuver around here. There's just too much that can go wrong.I agree with another coffee blogger, trying cappuccinos makes you feel like Charlie Brown. You know Lucy is going to yank that ball away, but you keep hoping that this time it's going to work out.

The smallest single shot cappuccino was 12 ounces, so I asked the barista to make it with no more than 3 ounces of milk. He asked if I meant I wanted a "dry" espresso. I explained that I wanted it short, so that that the milk, foam and espresso was about 6 ounces. Surprisingly, he dumped a shot into my cup that had been already made ( maybe the unused shot from a double pour). He then refoamed some milk and added it to my paper cup.

The result was horrid. The cup was completely filled with stiff meringue foam, with a few ounces of liquid in the bottom. All I could taste was milk. With maybe a hint of hazelnut from the espresso.

I decided to try an espresso to get the taste out of my mouth. The barista brewed directly into a warmed ceramic cup. The espresso had a decent amount of tight crema on it. However, the crema almost completely dissipated within 30 seconds. Perhaps they need to dial-in the grinder better for their temporary machine. I hope it's not due to stale beans. In spite of the crema, the espresso was pretty good. It had a buttery, full mouth feel. Quite a bit of brightness/acidity on top of the roast notes. It left a very pleasant, persistent aftertaste.

If the crema had been better, it might boost this espresso from a good+ to very good.

Bill said...

peteathome,

Thanks for reading, not to mention the evaluation! I LOVE hearing from other coffeegeeks, especially from Philly.

Seems like you either hit Double Shots on a really really bad day or they have been decreasing in quality. I often don't dare the traditional cap test as very few establishments know how to complete such a feat, but I do wish the bar on barista training was higher so such a compensation wouldn't be so justified in my head. One day I hope...

As far as the poor practices and barista performance, I think you might be more impressed with the skills on weekdays.

All the best!

~Bill

peteathome said...

Don't know why I kept referring to it as "Two Shots" instead of "Double Shot". Must of been thinking on "One Fish, Two Fish". I hope it was an off day there. I'll try again in a few weeks when maybe their San Marco is working.

Yes, getting a decent cap is nearly impossible around here unless you make your own.
And finding decent, freshly roasted beans with a roast date is hard, so you've got to roast your own beans for the espresso or mail order them.

It's a puzzle to me. If I can make a very good cap on a simple home machine, why can't most of the baristas around here do it with their commercial machines?

The Manayunk La Colombe ( but not so much the Rittenhouse Square store) makes a nearly perfect Cap - microfoam with a little foam art, total volume about 5 ounces, perfectly pulled espresso. Served in very nice china. But, of course, it is made with the La Colombe coffee. Yawn.