Sunday, October 25, 2009

CC: Northampton Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?
Location visited: Northampton, MA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

very time I pass through central Mass, I get to unearth something pleasant. This trip, I got a chance to explore the lovely town of Northampton amidst some beautiful fall foliage. The nice weather amidst the flowing streets and unique stops (like Thornes) really made my day boom.

On top of all that, there's Northampton Coffee, a coffeehouse that turns out to be the sister/parent coffeehouse of lovely Amherst Coffee. After a hearty lunch with some colleagues at the Northampton Brewery, we waltzed down to Northampton Coffee's doors and inside, I found a cafe layout very similar to Amherst's (so maybe more like a twin sister), though Northampton had no alcohol and more seating.

The coffee comes from Massachusetts's own Barrington Coffee, a roaster that has shelled out tasty coffee in my several experiences. I had the Sumatran, a nice sweet cherry nectar with a little nutmeg and a bit of darkness. The espresso was a quality short pull that smacked of almond, cocoa, mango and had an overall velvety mouthfeel. The tea is free leaf.

Much like Amherst Coffee, Northampton proved to be a wonderful coffee stop. When in town, try to land thyself at Northampton Coffee.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old SCAA Exec Imprisoned

Got this interesting news of justice from the SCAA:

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) announced today that former Chief Operating Officer, Scott Welker, has been sentenced to federal prison for embezzling in excess of $465,000.00 from the association. Welker’s sentence includes a 33 month jail term to begin in January, 2010, three years of probation following release from custody, and a restitution order of payment to SCAA of $467,665.73.

You can read more on the SCAA blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CC: Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters

What's does "CC" mean?
Location visited: Farmington, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

ittle detours for coffee on common routes can really add the necessary pizazz to make it a worthwhile expedition.

One trip in need of such spice was a small day trip to Letchworth State Park. I-90 can suck the moisture out of your eyes with boredom, so I managed to isolate a possible decent place called Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters. Since I had sampled their coffees in other locations with varying stats, I traveled with a tinge of promise of a good stop.

This location of FLCF exists in a strip mall right off of 90. The bright red letters on white exterior overshadow a basic exterior with three nicely shaded tables. Upon entering the cute, high ceiling-ed store, I noticed first the assaulting aroma of vanilla-flavored coffee and then more subtle details such as the many coffee vats along the wall and the overall mountain lodge feel.

I chose their Peru La Florida, an attractive single origin available via pump pot. The coffee didn't do much for me, as it held a nice sweetness but otherwise was too saucy, stale and seemed fairly bleh. The espresso didn't start off well as the small/medium pull came to me in a paper cup; it threw out some cranberry and deep cocoa as well as some strong bitterness on the end. The tea was Numi.

Fortunately, Letchworth balanced out the trip with some wonderful vistas (though it never ceases to disgust me at how NY truly left little pristine to their State Parks. I mean who thought iron gates all over the trails was a good idea?!). If you're looking for fair coffee, stop into one of Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters many locations.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

CC: Lovers and Madmen

What's does "CC" mean?
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

he University City district of Philadelphia has always been a cool place to walk around, especially the U Penn area (Drexel is getting better). But despite the old charm and variety of things to do, the area has always lacked a great coffeehouse...until recently.

Word reached my ears that a coffeehouse
serving Counter Culture Coffee called Lovers and Madmen had alighted on 40th St. Such news called for a quick side trip to confirm, so the next time I had a free day, I took the wife and a few friends out for a short field trip.

Lovers and Madmen possesses quite an noticeable street presence, as the cafe is painted a very bright blue with a stripe of red across the top. On the inside, the cafe continues the blue theme with compliments of brown and a silver ceiling. Together with the color scheme, the open windows and nice array of furniture truly makes for a nice place to hang or work.

I ordered Counter Culture's Moka Java via French Press. The coffee proved surprisingly dark with hints of cherry, Riesling and lemongrass. The espresso, pulled short, had the flavor of vanilla and cinnamon, with a milky texture and a slight bit of dark bitterness. The tea is free leaf and from what my friend claims, their chai tasted marvelous.

So, the good news of good coffee west of the Schuykill is true. Give Lovers and Madmen a try if you're nearby.

Monday, October 12, 2009

CC: Breaking New Grounds

What's does "CC" mean?

Breaking New Grounds
Location visited: Durham, NH
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

n a time where people trust web content over verbal endorsements and a useful web page can be created by a toddler, it still amazes me that many companies and organizations lack websites. This realization becomes even more frustrating for me when I seek good coffeehouses on the web and a coffeehouse holds no legitimate web presence.

The lack of a website would be one reason why I passed over Breaking New Grounds in my initial New Hampshire research. Fortunately, I met a coffee-savvy local soon after rolling into town and he pointed me back to the NH coffee shop.

Breaking New Grounds' Durham location resides on a cute main street outside the University of New Hampshire. With their simple-yet-sharp outside furniture and proximity to a good bike rack, I really thought the spot perfect for a soothing read on a warm day. Inside, the venue is long in orientation, with seating in the front and back of the shop (even right in the front window) and lots of local art.

Breaking New Grounds roasts their own coffee, with many to pick from on their back wall. That morning they had their El Salvador available so I sipped on the lightly-roasted coffee with flavors of of sweet pear, flowering grass and caramel. The espresso was pulled short/medium with fair crema, a milky texture and flavors of sugar cane and chocolate; a decent pair of shots that with a few tweaks could have been amazing espresso. The tea is free leaf.

Once again, experience has retaught me not to rely purely on coffee operations with decent websites (no matter how easily everyone could have one). If you're in Durham or near the other location in Portsmouth, consider Breaking New Grounds for a short stop.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

CC: Peregrine Espresso

What's does "CC" mean?
Location visited: Washington DC
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

ot commonly do good things come of poor decisions, at least not entirely. Silver linings do exist in the heavens and a negative happening can often be seen as just the necessary action to spark a greater good, but it's usually the sad or negative that catches our eyes.

So when Murky DC went down, there seemed little promise for a replacement. Yet it turned out that this particular cloud had a silver coating, as a former Murky employee decided to snatch the place up and open Peregrine Espresso.

Many days elapsed since Peregrine opened to cosmic acclaim and finally, I found some time to visit. The cafe sits in a line of stores and cafes near the Eastern Market with a nice gated patio full of patrons buzzing away on their laptops. The cavity inside is a long cafe with a beautifully calm decor with nice green and wood tones.

The coffee is Counter Culture Coffee, an obvious pick given the owner also used to work with them. I had the La Goladrino via a pourover. The brew possessed a sweet asian pear taste with a light body and a tinge of honey. The espresso, pulled short by trained hands, lent a tart, sugary and bittersweet flavor with flecks of cherry and nutmeg as well as solid crema. It should also be noted that on top of their traditional coffee drinks, they had a nice array of cool specialty drinks (my friend ordered one with coriander which was amazing). The tea is Rishi.

Overtly pleased was my level of satisfaction with Peregrine and I couldn't help but think how fortunate DC is to have such a stellar coffeehouse. Needless to say, stop at Peregrine Espresso if you're in the Capitol.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

SCAA Upcoming Events


I've been getting a lot of word lately about such things as the Mid-West Barista Competition and so I took a gander at the SCAA Events Page and it turns out it has quite a few cool events coming up.

Check it out if you're curious and/or looking for a little coffee development.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mugged: Tanzanian Peaberry [Flat Black]

What does "Mugged" mean?

Subject: Flat Black Coffee Company
Coffee Mugged: Tanzanian Peaberry
Rating: 4+ [see key]

s I previously wrote, a coffee's freshness really sells a coffee. And while the previous coffee I received from ROASTe proved flavorful despite possible age, the Tanzanian Peaberry did not fair as well.

The first warning was that this coffee did not have much of a dry aroma, as when I first opened the paper bag, it smelled only like bag. I prepared the coffee in a french press, vacuum press and via drip. The press tasted sweet with tastes of Asian pear and a bit spicy with hints of cardboard. The vacuum press fared better, with a more balanced cup with similar notes of pear and spiciness. The drip produced nothing that the other two did not.

Thus, though I would say this coffee from Flat Black holds some promise, I would like to give it a try a little fresher. If you get a chance to try it, let me know how it works.