Sunday, April 29, 2012

CC: Asado Coffee Co

Subject: Asado Coffee Co
Location: Chicago, IL
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Back before smart phones, I landed in Chicago for a university conference and one night I determined to go for a walk. The weather was fair and I was feeling energetic, so taking in the fair sights of Chi-town, I kept walking in a straight line for some time. After a good 2 hours or so, I finally came to my senses and since I naively viewed public transportation as more of a headache than a time-saver, I had a long walk back. But I made the best of it, took a different route and made my way home to my room with burning feet and a nice walking tour of the city under my belt.

These days I rarely strut that far, but in all of my travels in Chicago, I occasionally stumble upon places that look familiar from my fabled long walk. One such place is Asado Coffee Co, a Chicago roaster that exists in a small, uniquely-colored shop on West Irving Park Rd. My last trip, not being as interested in it's hard shell as I was the gooey center, I stepped into a shop with tiled ceiling, green walls and a cozy-but-spacious use of space between seating, the counter and the roaster. 

As for my coffee, I ordered an espresso (I did not catch a unique name for the coffee used) and a pourover of their Ugandan. The espresso, pulled short/medium with light brown and blonde crema distributed a light yet punchy beverage with notes of ginger, cocoa, sweet milk and salt (a fine showing!). The pourover had notes of sweet molasses, salted pork, cocoa, fresh dill, a little elderflower and a medium body that all in all proved to shine as a delightful cup of coffee. 

Thus, if you're looking for some well-roasted coffee in Lakeview, give Asado Coffee a try. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

We have a winner!

We extend a hip hip huzzah to our "Win Excellent Coffee" winner Lindsay, and her favorite coffeehouse, Verve Coffee Roasters! Her husband is pictured on location above. 

We had several nice pictures sent in, so below are a few of the entries. Thanks to all for participating and keep an eye out for future contests!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mugged: White Peony [Teavivre]

Subject: Teavivre 
Mugged: White Peony I Bai MuDan
Rating: 4+ [see key]

White tea has always seemed like the most exotic of teas to me, with its reputation as the tea of emperors and a drink not really known in the western world until relatively recently. Others reasons that contribute may be it's method of harvest (hand selecting the best buds and leaves), the toted health benefits or maybe it's just the higher price tag. 

Yet regardless of the economical or historical factors that elevate white tea, it certainly offers a delicious style of tea that black, green and oolong do not match. Recently I had the pleasure of sampling a bag of White Peony from Teavivire. The bag was full of large, dry leaves with the usual white tea look of little processing. In my infusions, the peony offered a splendidly smooth, light-bodied tea. Flavors were reminiscent of champagne, lily, sage and slight leafiness. A mildly acidic and flavorful cup of tea. 

While I wouldn't rank this as a top shelf white tea, this White Peony still offered a pleasant infusion. If you're seeking a delicious white tea, seek out this one.

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

Mugged: Tai Wai Oolong [Teavivre]

Subject: Teavivre 
Mugged: Tai Wai Oriental Beauty Oolong I Bai Hao
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Oolong to me is the "shades of grey" between green (unfermented) and black (fermented) teas. Having a lot of different flavors and profiles, I can't say I've had many oolongs that have identical properties.

Recently I was able to add Teavivre's Tai Wai Oriental Beauty to my list, the last of the four teas I was sent to review. The buds offered a tea with pear, hibiscus, carrot, bit of dandelion and spearmint. To succinctly put it, the tea was overall smooth and subdued; a nice tea that would pairs swell with light fare.

If you would like a decent oolong that has muted yet varied flavors, give this beauty a try.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

CC: Bull Run Roasting Co

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

I must say, if I haven't said it already, that Minneapolis is laid out quite beautifully. Not only were things fairly accessible by multiple means of movement (auto, bike, foot AND bunnyhop) but it was clearly set up to be a liveable town; a beautiful marriage of suburbia and city, with your nice house but a short walk from your corner coffeehouse or eatery. 

Bull Run Roasting Company is one such corner establishment that caught my attention when I was in the fair Twin Cities. Their sharp red exterior gave a pleasant foreshadowing of the cozy interior of wood, brick and orange walls amidst the long corridor inside.

After wandering in and making my way to the counter, I ordered an espresso (the name of the coffee twas not spoken) from their La Marzocco and a drip of their Mocha Java. Pulled short with brown crema, the espresso bore the notes of chocolate, cherry, salt, wheat bread and a little whiskey within a velvety texture; a scrumptious pull that was both vibrant and tasty. The drip held flavors of strawberry, caramel, shortbread, a little nutmeg, a mild earthiness and just the right about of sweetness to make it punch true (i.e. also delicious). 

If you live nearby, I would say I envy thee. And for the transients among us, make Bull Run a stop on your sojourn. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Thanks to the great folks at GoCoffeeGo, we're fixing to give away a free bag of coffee to one lucky winner! 

To boost some local coffee love, all that we're looking for is your favorite local coffee-serving establishment.

Specifically, we're talking about independent, non-chain establishments (i.e. no Dunkin or McDonalds) that serve up a sensational cup of coffee and/or espresso. Also, if you send a picture that you took of said establishment (kinda like the above one), you get a second entry! Additionally, if we get enough quality pics, we might put them up in an album/slideshow (so make it good!).




Entries will be received up until 11:59 PM on Tuesday, April 24 EST. Then, one lucky winner will be drawn and they will get to pick any coffee from!

Other Rules:
- Contest is only open to those 18 and older with a shipping address in the 50 United States. 
- One email entry and one picture entry per person.
- The coffee establishment must currently be operating and a legal business (i.e. your kitchen doesn't count).
- Pictures must be original pictures and the person entering this contest must have full rights of the image.
- The image sent must be in a jpg or png format. Do not send pdfs or other file formats.
- The availability of certain GoCoffeeGo 'Limited Offerings' for this contest is left to the discretion of GoCoffeeGo.
- The coffee chosen from GoCoffeeGo can vary from 8-16 oz. so if you win, look carefully at the bag weight.
- Misleading or false information can lead to disqualification from this contest. 

 God speed!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Mugged: Bailin Gongfu Black Tea [Teavivre]

Subject: Teavivre 
Mugged: Bailin Gongfu Black Tea
Rating: 5+ [see key]

The other week I decided to grab a Malta to accompany my entree at a local Caribbean eatery. Having never really consumed a full bottle in one sitting, I was surprised at how intense it was. Had it been scaled back a bit, it would have been much better.  

But I finally found the flavor of malt in a well-balanced medley, albeit in a slightly unlikely place: Teavivre's Bailin Gongfu Black Tea. In my infusions, this black tea proved to hold a truly sweet, malty flavor accompanied by a milky mouth-feel, a subtle smokiness, light cocoa and a twang of cinnamon. While this naturally sweet and hearty tea made for a delicious beverage, if you have an aversion to malt you might not be as satisfied. 

Still, whether you're a malt-lover or hater, give this tea a try. It's a perfect compliment to any breakfast or dessert course, proving both satisfying and sweet.

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

Mugged: Dragon Well Green Tea [Teavivre]


Subject: Teavivre 
Mugged: Premium grade Dragon Well Green Tea
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Anticipation is sometimes almost as good as the object anticipated. Personally, I don't want to think like that but in looking back, I definitely do seem to cherish the planning and waiting for something positive ahead. 
On that note, today begins a four part, long-time-coming review of Teavivre's wares that I've been anticipating for some time. I had hoped to get these reviews out sooner but circumstances held me at bay. And of the four teas I was sent to review, I chose to tackle their green tea first.
The Premium grade Dragon Well had a much fresher appearance then most greens I've sampled, with flat and vibrantly-colored straight leaves. Though the tea offers a very light color, the flavor is very distinct. The lovely flavors of honey, light spinach, sesame, grass and grapefruit leap from the cup, demonstrating smooth yet sassy infusions that proved both refreshing and soothing. 

Amongst the green teas I've had, this one definitely ranked high as a solidly delicious green tea. Personally, I would utilize this Premium Dragon Well for both hot or cold infusions (the cold could be beautifully accented with some honey or mild citrus). 

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

Sunday, April 01, 2012

CC: Stable Cafe

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

As you walk through a city, it's interesting to see how some businesses cooperate to make the most of a space. Granted, it's rare but sometimes, you see a well-executed set-up where two or three businesses share a common space and make it work beautifully.

In my time in San Francisco, I happened upon Stable Cafe, a coffeehouse and eatery that was reputed to serve some superb infusions of De La Paz coffee. When I arrived, I discovered that the space was home to several businesses, including an architect, bike courier and the Three Babes pie counter (their salty honey walnut pie set my tongue a-dancing).

But pie and bikes aside, I was really there for the coffee. The place was designed most appealingly, with a black exterior, large windows and an adjoining patio area. Inside, the cafe is two levels, with exposed wood rafters and an effective capitalization of space for seating.

I ordered an espresso of the Oscillations blend and a drip of the El Sana Morello. The drip produced notes of honey, corn, sassafras, vanilla, maple and a smidgen of beef broth; a tasty cup with a mellow sweetness. The espresso, pulled to a medium volume and with light brown crema, gave off the flavors of dark cocoa, basil, lemon torte, sesame seeds and bran. Both the coffee and espresso were prepared well and aside from minor imperfections, were both delicious.

If you are looking for an inspiring space to grab some good coffee and possibly get some other things done through stellar local businesses, give Stable Cafe a visit.