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Subject: Ridgewood Coffee Company
Location visited: Ridgewood, NJ
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]
The land of NJ that lies to the northeast is a land fairly different than the rest of the state. The number of roads and highways obviously is much greater and the proximity to New York City makes the place a congested nightmare during the waking hours of most days.
With such a large amount of traffic, you would think there at least a few good coffee places, especially with New York City's ever-improving coffee scene. But alas, few good places have sprung up in northeast NJ.
Yet every now and then, a prospect pops up, the most recent being a place called the Ridgewood Coffee Company in the lovely town of Ridgewood. Rumor had it the place was doing great things with great coffee, so the first time I needed to go through the area via automobile, I made sure to make a stop.
I arrived in Ridgewood one brisk weekday morning, finding the coffeehouse sitting pretty on a corner along a main stretch of town. The outside had a collection of plastic porch chairs (some had blown away) and the building itself had but one large window. Inside, the seating forks on either side of the coffee counter in what was a fairly dark room with most of the light coming in from the window.
The coffee comes from three coffee greats: Ecco, Novo and Intelligentsia. With such an arsenal, the fact that Ridgewood can show them off on a Clover makes good sense. I had the Novo's Colombian via Clover which came out lovely with the sweet taste of pear and dough; an overall mellow and wonderful coffee. The espresso, which was pulled so-so (the barista was definitely half asleep), expressed a tart lime-ish tang in front followed by notes of cane sugar and (sadly) a strong amount of char on the back end. The tea is Stash and Tazo.
Sadly, the whole coffee experience was soured by the two baristas working that day. Not only did they both give me their coldest shoulders when I first came in (they were still slowly setting up) but despite a completely empty shop, I had to initiate every inch of my order (including payment!). Even after I sat down 5 ft away from the counter, they were loudly grumbling about how they needed more money as well as other woes in their life. Normally, I give a slip in customer service the benefit of the doubt, but this topped the charts as the worst I've ever suffered. Hopefully I just experienced a negative anomaly (so it seems, as others seem to have had good experiences).
Thus in the end, I drove away from Ridgewood let down with the overall experience but pleased that a coffeehouse with potential of blooming has taken root in the northeast of NJ. While I'm not up in that neck of the woods a lot, I do hope to make another stop in soon, with hopefully better results.
If you're nearby, give Ridgewood Coffee Company a try; I pray your encounter plays out better then mine.