What's a Coffee Commentary?
Subject: Freedom of Espresso
Location visited: Syracuse, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]
Giant corporations bullying small businesses seems to happen so often, especially in the coffee world. One prime example was when a small coffee business opened in Syracuse, NY called Federal Espresso. The story goes that soon after Federal Espresso's inception, package goliath Federal Express takes them to court basically because their name sounds similar and after extensive litigation, Federal Espresso changes to Freedom of Espresso.
So for anyone who's heard or read of this debacle, it's only natural to visit Freedom of Espresso when in Syracuse. FOE has several locations (three in Syracuse and one in nearby Fayetteville), all of which I've had the opportunity to visit. The Franklin Square location is by far my favorite, set in a lovely location with decent parking and a sharp dual level loft-ish interior (though the purple-ish ventilation pipe looks way out of place). The other three locations either possess a somewhat drab interior or challenging parking/exit options.
FOE roasts their own coffee and seems somewhat bullish on blends (not a bad thing if done well). Of the many blends, I've had the House Blend and the African Blend most often. The African tends to be darker with a nice sweetness while the House demonstrates a subtle bright smoothness overshadowed by darkness. Neither are a favorite but better then mediocre. On a side note, they do have a few single origins such as the ever popular Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
In my experience, the espresso usually delivers somewhat disappointing. My most recent visit produced the best doubleshot to my recollection; the shots were pulled decently, tasted fairly sweet, and possessed a velvety texture but the back end had a good deal of char. Overall, nothing fantastic. Of their tea, they serve a variety of bagged teas.
Overall, FOE does a decent job as a local coffee operation but with all of the initial Fed-Ex publicity and multiple locations, it really seems like the business could be so much more of a quality and cutting edge coffee operation then it is (I mean, they don't even have a website!). Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't say that I'm too impressed.
Whether your curious to try some coffee from the coffeehouse that took on Federal Express or your looking for a halfway decent place in Syracuse to grab some coffee, give Freedom of Espresso a sampling.