Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CC: Locals Coffee and Smoothies

Subject: Locals Coffee and Smoothies
Location: Ocean City, NJ
Free WiFi ? : no
Rating: 5+ [see key]

The family resort town of Ocean City has been a frequent facet of my life for as long as I can remember. For various reasons, my family loved the place and I can often recall having summer vacations in town or nearby.

These days, the town still holds a lot of great memories but it still lacks a few things. Until recently, one of them was a stellar coffee operation. Sure, there was the Ocean City Coffee Company (local roaster and purveyor of coffee) but in years past, they never really impressed me (granted, my 2006 review needs serious redoing as some of my early posts were a little rusty). But this year, there opened up a small coffee bar in the arcade next to the 7th Street Surf Shop; a coffee bar that local food sage Craig LaBan gave a thumbs up to; a place dubbed Locals Coffee and Smoothies.

Walking the boardwalk, it was plainly located between 6th and 7th Streets in the front right corner of an arcade. The tiki bar with a few bar stools gave a decent summer vibe though it was not nearly enough to counter the not-so-soothing sounds of video games. The coffee comes from Rojo's Roastery all the way from Lambertville (first wholesale account I’ve seen of theirs).

Inquiring of their drip coffee, they informed me that they offer their house blend called Midwive’s Moonshine, a “bold” coffee more akin to a dark roast. As there were no other drip options aside from decaf (I tend to defer on dark roasts; not many are pleasant), I ordered a cup of the moonshine and an espresso. To my chagrin, the house blend actually turned out pleasant. While the coffee was more darkly roasted then most specialty coffees, it was still well below the threshold of most dark roasts, demonstrating notes of strawberry, shortbread, spinach, cracker, bran and honey amidst a medium-bodied coffee with only minor bitterness.

The espresso also boded well, despite receiving it in a paper cup after thrice articulating to the barista that I would drink the espresso there. The ‘spro embodied notes of lemon, sweet cocoa, a strong saltiness and a little nutmeg amidst a short/medium pull with lackluster crema (it was greatly disturbed in the transfer from shot glass to paper cup).I did not note the tea.

While I think some of their practices (paper cups for espresso) and philosophies (having a dark roast as your house) could improve, Locals Coffee and Smoothies definitely made good on their claim to be the best coffee on the boardwalk. If you happen to be in the vicinity, give the place a visit.


Endang said...

I do not understand what you mean Bill, as if using paper cups for serving an espresso is the typical of the cafe, because at some cafe I also find using a paper cup to serve an espresso.

Bill said...


The short answer is that paper cups tend to add their own flavor to espresso, where as a cup made of ceramic does not.

The long answer pulls in a bit more about customer service (for a drink that takes 1 minute to drink, I'm not worth the cup?), coffee philosophy (quality espresso demands meticulous preparation and presentation) and product quality (my espresso will not only taste different in the paper cup, but chances are it was thrown in there from another container).

If you own a cafe and proclaim you serve high quality coffee and can serve a well-pulled shot of espresso, serving it in a paper cup would make me question that. Sometimes, it's due to a barista not knowing better or miscommunication in the transaction, but other times its simply bad practice.

Endang said...

I already know about your short answer, and I thank you for your long answer. By the way why you gave the rating of 5+, whereas it seems you are disappointed with the paper cup and there were no free WiFi ? An inconsistency in the assessment, or evidence that taste is subjective ?

Bill said...


The ratings are an overall score, so in this case the paper cup only detracted mildly from the rating as the espresso still tasted good and the drip coffee also was pleasant.

Also, I don't really lower or higher ratings for WIFI; I just include that for convenience :).

Coffee Vans said...

Are you looking to purchase coffee vans and setup you own business? Once You Purchase a commercial Van, you can start marketing your Mobile Coffee Business. It is very true that most people cannot live without a cup of coffee, especially in the morning before they leave for work.

Wade said...

Sounds like a great little shop, and I'll definately check it out if I'm ever in the area. Yes, the barista should have given you a ceramic cup if you were staying at the shop. High quality coffee deserves the best drinkware.