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Subject: Cool Beans Coffee
Location visited: Haddon Heights, NJ
(615 Station Ave)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 1+ [see key]
Multi-faceted businesses have an odd attraction of getting the best of multiple experiences at once. Take for example a combination barbershop and bar, MR of San Francisco. It seems like a great idea to grab a shave and a beer while watching a game with friends as it takes the social barbershop experience to a new level (even though alcohol and a blade seems like a bad combination).
But not all combinations work out for the best. Take a local coffeehouse in NJ called Cool Beans. I'd driven past it multiple times over the years, noticing the striped white and red awning as well as the simple attractive sign in the window. A recent lunch out with my wife and female in-laws (mother and sister) provided an opportunity to finally stop by. As I approached, I noticed they had videos on the wall and instantly thought "Hmmmm, video rentals and coffee...not a bad idea" and then, I walked in and noticed things seemed a bit out of sorts. Besides the video-lined wall not looking like it had been updated in some time, the shop was set up a tad unorthodox (i.e. dim lights, couches congregating around a central television, and only two tables at the front near the windows).
Still intrigued as to the workings of this shop, I stepped up to the back counter and placed my order. The coffee turned out to be La Colombe, and although my drip was fresh (I waited while they brewed it), the coffee predictably turned out a bit bitter and none too wonderful (most likely a bean problem). The espresso proved even worse, with a pair of really strong bitter shots that made me wince. The tea consisted of assorted bags.
As I was saying up top, not all combo businesses work out. In a brief conversation with the barista, it turns out Cool Beans is in the process of getting out of the video business (guess it's hard to compete with the big boys these days) and focusing on the cafe. And while the convenience of grabbing a latte and a flick has a fair ring to it, it's definitely best to recognize when the combo isn't working. Hopefully in the days to come, the cafe has a bright future of massive improvements (better coffee and better interior) in the single-facet coffeehouse business.
If you're in town, give it a gamble.