Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CC: Matching Half Cafe

Location: San Francisco, CA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

As many folks of the Bay Area espouse, despite the small land mass there sure is a vast variability in climate. It can be foggy five blocks from someone lying out in full sun. Do people exaggerate? Sure. Did I experience this weather weirdness? Absolutely. 

One sunny (then foggy, then cloud choked & then sunny again) morning, I took a trip over to Matching Half Cafe for a visit. Rumor had it that they were pulling skilled shots with great coffee over in the Western Addition, using local Sightglass Coffee and also providing good food, beer & wine. Finding a parking spot downhill, I hiked up to a corner building with a red wood exterior, a heavy section of outside seating and nice open windows peering into the muted space within, complete with a fair amount of inside seating and metallic blue walls. 

As for my coffee, I ordered an espresso of Owl's Howl and a Sightglass El Salvador via Chemex. The 'spro, pulled short with brown crema, tasted of chocolate, lemon, cane sugar, vanilla icing, salt and cilantro; a delicious infusion with a nice body. The El Salvador smacked of honey, melon, rye toast, caramel, a subtle earthiness, hefeweizen and cream, gladdening my tongue with the nuances of a smooth and sweet coffee. 

To put it plain, Matching Half ponied up a whole lot of excellent coffee. If you happen to be in the Bay Area, make a stop by. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mugged: Sumatra Permata Gayo [Rockin' Coffee]

Subject: Rockin' Coffee
Mugged: Sumatra Permata Gayo
Rating: 4+ [see key]

New to the coffee scene as of Fall 2011 is Rockin' Coffee, a coffee roasting operation birthed from PAID Inc's love for freshly roasted coffee. The first of their two coffees that I had the pleasure of trying was their Sumatra, a coffee produced from the Permata Gayo Co-op in North Sumatra. Roasted medium, I brewed infusions of drip, siphon and french press accordingly. 

The drip threw out notes of biscuits, honey, sweet mango, slight cloves, leather and jasmine amidst a medium body. A sweet and wheaty coffee.

The french press produced the flavors of biscuits and more of a concentrated cherry with maple syrup sweetness, along with bourbon and slight bacon, within a light/medium body. A smooth, eclectic infusion.

The siphon held out bourbon, notes of wheat, bit of apple skin, mango and jasmine in a medium body. Like the drip, this brew was full of wheat and sweet characters. 

While flavor-wise this Sumatran was diverse, it proved fairly tasty. If you're in the market for a decent coffee of Sumatra, check out Rockin' Coffee.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

CC: Istria Cafe

Subject: Istria Cafe
Location: Chicago, IL
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

While coffee gets much of it’s spotlight in the morning hours and amidst the work day, I have to admit that some of the best coffee times I have are at night when I can slow down and relax with my coffee. Given a divine blessing, caffeine rarely affects my sleep patterns, so while some might unwind with a cup of chamomile, I’ll occasionally treat myself to an espresso or pourover as I sit in my ninja turtle footie pajamas.

Where the evening coffee treat really proves lovely is when I’m in a town with a coffee establishment with later hours. Chicago being one city with a plethora of cafes that are open when the street lanterns are lit, I made my way to a local coffeehouse called Istria Cafe right after clocking out of work that eve. Located at the Hyde Park Art Center, it proved close to my last stop on business.

The café has large open windows that allow the approaching patron to take in the café well before the door opens. Inside, the café is a mix of orange-cushioned walls and white counter space, complete with beautiful lighting and plentiful seating. For my order, I decided on an espresso of Intelligentsia’s Black Cat and a pourover of Counter Culture’s Ethiopian Idido.

The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, held notes of lemon, cola, bitter cocoa, a bit of pepper and a dash of dough; a good pull of Black Cat. The pourover plowed into my tongue like a mac truck of raspberry and tomato, with aftershocks of wheat, rose petals and potato skin. The pourover proved well extracted and quite delicious. They also serve gelato, free leaf tea and a decent food menu. 

Aside from some minor issues in finding a street parking spot (it is Chicago), Istria was a glorious stop that ended my work day and gave heed to my evening activity beautifully. Give Istria Cafe a hearty hello if you're nearby. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mugged: Vista Alegre [Henry's]

Mugged: Vista Alegre (Brazil)
Rating: 3+ [see key]

When I get coffee, I like to look up the origin if the specific location is given. With the second coffee I had from Henry’s House of Coffee, I looked up the locale of Vista Alegre on the webs to try to get an idea where it hails from (Henry's site didn't have specifics). According to Coffee Review, there happens to be one estate of that name that has made it's name as an operation that dry processes their cherries by leaving them on the trees to dry (instead of drying post-harvest).

Curious as to whether Henry's Vista Alegre was such a coffee, I was interested to see what qualities the coffee would hold. Preparing it in the usual three methods of drip, french press and siphon, I commenced sipping.

The drip birthed a cup brimming full of tobacco with cloves, all spice, tootsie roll, rye, a little vanilla and a hint of lime; a smoky yet sweet coffee with a medium body.

The french press also held notes of cloves, tootsie roll and vanilla as well as a little sesame seed. While a little thicker, it was still sweet and tobacco-esque.

The siphon achieved higher levels of vanilla and a mellower profile, with smoother flavors of cloves, cocoa and vanilla.

Given that this coffee was roasted a bit dark, it was not surprising that there existed a cloves-centric presence, but fortunately it was decently balanced with the sweet aspects. The coffee didn't really produce the round fruitiness I would associate with dry processed coffee, but then again, maybe it's a different coffee if roasted lighter. Not my favorite Brazilian coffee but by no means my least. Give Henry’s Brazil a go if you’re looking for a darker coffee with nice compliments of sweet and smoky. 

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

CC: Kaladi Brothers

Location: Anchorage, AK
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

If any coffee spot commands attention with the citizens of Anchorage, it seems Kaladi Brothers is king. With ten locations in Anchorage (as well as 4 outside the city limits), I am impressed with the amount of loyalty they have accrued to keep that many coffee locations working. 

Suffice it to say that my trip to Anchorage would remain incomplete without a stop at by one of their shops. While I had a coffee in passing at the New Sagaya coffee stand and a fair espresso at Cafe Ristretto (a cafe that utilizes Kaladi Bros beans), I made for the downtown location for a full evaluative experience. The outside happens to be bit stark (it's a round brick office building), but the inside was quite well decorated and laid out, with an assortment of colors, crystal chandeliers and all kinds of seating amidst the unique interior layout.

From the research I had done, Kaladi as a coffee roaster seems to stick to the older ways ("2nd wave"), aiming for darker roasts, not to mention has a curious method of storing their whole bean coffee in a fridge (at least downtown they do). For my beverages, I ordered an espresso (I did not catch the blend's name) and a drip of their Rwandan. The espresso, pulled medium with brown crema, displayed notes of tobacco, bitter cocoa, cabbage, oak, a little sugar and a wee bit of rhubarb; alas, it was a noticeably burnt and bitter with a heavy potency, but still fairly good. The Rwandan, labeled as a lighter roast, tasted more like a medium-dark roast with flavors of sweet oats, blackberry jam, vanilla, pear and slight almond in a medium-to-heavy body. As for a medium/dark roast, it was also fairly tasty. 

Given the roast level of both the espresso and the coffee, Kaladi did deliver a decent coffee experience (i.e. neither tasted that poorly despite the darkness). If you're into darker roasts or you just want to see what all the Anchorage-ians are drinking, give Kaladi Brothers a visit.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Mugged: Colombia [Henry's]

Mugged: Colombia Lite Roast
Rating: 4+ [see key]

While San Francisco is currently brimming with lots of new coffee talent, local coffee roasting is something that has been with the city for some time. Sure you have Peet's Coffee that originally launched in Berkeley many decades ago but there is also other roast operations such as Henry Kalebjian, who has been roasting in SF since 1965. 

Recently, his House of Coffee sent me out some coffee to sample, one of them their Colombia Lite Roast. I sampled it through drip, french press and siphon infusions. 

The drip delivered notes of milk chocolate,corn, raspberry, au jus, spinach, milky and a little wheat. A fairly tasty brew with a medium body.

The french press held flavors of corn, milk, cocoa, little wheat, romaine, fig and apple. Not as bright as the first cup but a little sweeter.

The siphon delivered corn, milk, cocoa, raspberry, au jus and spinach. This cup was good, though much more meaty with a little hint of iron.

Of the Colombians I've consumed, Henry roasts a pretty decent one with some delightful flavors. Give it a go, whether you're in town or ordering online.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.