Subject: Zeke's Beans and Bowls
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Rating: 5+ [see key]
The word "bean" is a word I forever have mentally associated with black beans. When someone alludes to beans in a general way, my thoughts go straight to black turtle beans freshly fried. I don't know why this association runs so deep; I mean I must eat black beans only six times a year at most, whereas I drink coffee daily. Yet no matter how many times people use that word, I first must pass through images of sautéed frijoles prior to realizing they speak of coffee beans (or something else).
I mention this to better contextualize the frustration I experienced when I initially wrote off Virginia Beach's Zeke's Beans and Bowls as a place that probably specializes in chili or rice-based dishes. It wasn't until some time later on a recent visit that I realized that Zeke's was a coffeehouse and that my bean stereotype had deprived me of a great coffee experience.
Thus without further ado, I made a quick beeline for Zeke's. Standing out with their bright blue building and huge coffee cup sign fixed above the front door, I found some convenient parking across the street and made my way inside. The space is cozy and a nice mix of beach and bohemia, with surfboards, vintage furniture and lots of natural light.
The menu illuminates the context of the name, as "bowls" refers to various dishes of acai, poke and salad, whereas the beans (obviously) refer to quality coffee beans. Serving up various selections of Intelligentsia and Three Ships Coffee, a nice mix of a national and local roaster, I ordered an espresso of Intelly's Black Cat and a pourover of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from Three Ships. The espresso, pulled short/medium with brown crema, held notes of sesame seed, bittersweet chocolate, a touch of pepper, rosemary and (what I think were) hints of sulfur from the beach water, thus making for a good infusion though definitely not the best (maybe they would fare better with a stronger/better water filter?). The pourover proved much tastier and cleaner, with notes of blueberry yogurt, vanilla, wheat, chocolate chip, a bit of corn chip and nice syrupy-smooth texture within a light body.