Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Alabaster Coffee Roaster and Tea Co.




Subject: Alabaster Coffee Roaster and Tea Co.
Location: Williamsport, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

A lot of folks forget about the many beautiful towns dotting Pennsylvania. From Punxsutawney to Bethlehem, there exists plenty of hidden gems clustered all across the state, little pockets of sunshine I try to visit when I travel the Keystone State. Until recently, one city that had long eluded me was Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series and Lycoming College. But some months ago I set out on a trip to the region, booking a room at the historic Genetti Hotel (which was a superbly pleasant stay at a great rate) and staying within easy walking distance of another draw to Williamsport: Alabaster Coffee Roaster and Tea Co.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Lackawanna Coffee



Subject: Lackawanna Coffee
Location: Jersey City, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When making my way through Jersey City, I am often encouraged by the growing number of decent coffee establishments popping up in the area. One of my favorites is a fairly spacious joint with an excellent courtyard, a shop called Lackawanna Coffee. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Breville Oracle Touch



Over the past couple of years, decent home espresso machines have become far more accessible. I remember ten years ago, walking into a department store and finding the average espresso machine to be a glorified water heater, never mind a precision tool that produces excellent espresso. But now, the consumer market is finally catching up to the geeks, and household brands once overlooked in the quest for good espresso are emerging as contenders.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Source Coffeehouse




Subject: Source Coffeehouse
Location: Bridgeport, CT
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

After a gorgeous weekend relaxing in a New England cabin, the only thing left to round out the experience was a stop by a great coffee house. Fortunately, my path led me through Bridgeport directly past a coffeehouse I had been looking to try since their 2013 inception: Source Coffeehouse.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Grace Street Coffee




Subject: Grace Street Coffee
Location: Washington DC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Georgetown displays some of the best scenery in DC, with lots of historic architecture, cobblestone streets and occasionally-filled canals. Striking a great balance of conservation and new construction, many of the local businesses operate out of beautifully rendered venues, making a sunny walk down M Street a window shopper's paradise.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Double Knot




Subject: Double Knot
Location: Philadelphia, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Until recently, I never realized how much an izakaya was missing in my life. The equivalent of a tavern or pub, izakayas became popular watering holes in Japan along main routes during the late eighteenth century. Today, these Japanese establishments serve far more than sake, with some offering light fare along with various beverages, while others serve "an all you can consume" option with a set time limit.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ahh, Coffee




Subject: Ahh, Coffee
Location: Houston, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

As far as convention centers go, George R Brown takes the cake as a top favorite. Whether it's the peaceful park outside its front doors or the Texas-shaped pool in the adjoining Marriott Marquis, I list it among convention centers at which I don't mind being stuck.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lorca



Subject: Lorca
Location: Stamford, CT
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

If there's a state in which I started off on the wrong foot, it was Connecticut. As one of the first states to grace my youthful eyes, the land debuted as merely a glorified series of congested interstates. No sooner had I entered into Connecticut did I wish to be rid of it on the other side, destined for tourism in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and other points north. Now older and wiser, I have realized how many gems I have missed in the many towns of CT. To make up for lost time, I recently began retracing old road trips but using time-tested logic of seeking local dining establishments instead of truck stops and coffeehouses of repute versus caffeinated drive throughs.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Qathra Cafe




Subject: Qathra Cafe
Location: Brooklyn, NY
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Many people think that most of New York City is a blurring labyrinth unfit for the visiting motorist. Sure many people who live and work in the area drive around, but most tourists to Manhattan tend to think that driving in the other four boroughs are just as bad as gridlock in Times Square. The truth is that once one gets out of Manhattan, the majority of NYC neighborhoods are fairly drivable and less chaotic.

Monday, October 02, 2017

The Spoke and Bird




Subject: The Spoke and Bird
Location: Chicago, IL
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Having gone to McCormick Place in Chicago more times than I have eaten deep dish pizza, it has become a point of mine to find good coffee in reasonable walking distance from the giant halls that occupy much of my day when I visit Illinois. Over the years, Chicago's blooming coffee scene has made this hunt for quality coffee less and less daunting, with this past visit turning up a coffee shop a mere three blocks away. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

River Wards Cafe




Subject: River Wards Cafe
Location: Philadelphia, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Long have I looked upon Port Richmond and awaited the arrival of a quality coffeeshop. As a fan of the local Polish outposts, I have wished for a coffeeshop to throw open wide their doors in this under-appreciated Philly neighborhood. Thankfully, my wait has come to an end.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mudsmith




Subject: Mudsmith
Location: Dallas, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

If I've said it once, I'll say it one thousand times: I love quality coffee shops that (can) stay open late. Years ago, the only way a caffeinated establishment would dare stay open late (at least on the east coast) would be if said coffeehouse had an open mic night. But now, across the nation more and more coffee bars keep their doors open past 5 PM, whether it's because they have delved into the food + liquor scene or simply because patrons are just fans of late night lattes.

Monday, September 11, 2017

West Chester Coffee & Ice Cream Bar




Subject: West Chester Coffee and Ice Cream Bar
Location: West Chester, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Many people find it odd that my wife does not really care for coffee. Maybe it was God's way of balancing out my great coffee affections, but every time we go to a coffee shop, she simply declines a drink and stands to the side, not even desiring a latte or spot of tea.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Common Grounds



Subject: Common Grounds
Location: Waco, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When I was a college student, I often yearned for a great coffee spot near campus where I could study, meet up with friends or catch some live music. Now in my older age, I'm not so much looking for acoustic renditions of Everlong but I definitely still appreciate quality coffee spaces that can accommodate open mic nights.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Mugged: Barefoot Coffee


Subject: Barefoot Coffee Roasters
Coffee Mugged and Rating [see key]:
- Sonora Honey, Costa Rica 6+
- Limu, Ethiopia 6+

While I walk around barefoot much of the year, summer offers the best opportunities to live life without shoes. Like most folk, I enjoy the grass between my toes, the ocean splashing my ankles and occasionally some warm soil under my feet. To take it a step further, I usually cannot justify putting on shoes unless there are laws or broken glass in my way.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Orange is the New Black - Function Coffee Labs


There was a time a decade or so ago when I considered citrus to be an anathema to coffee. I felt that the two did not mix, like teenage mosh pits and acupuncture. But then about the time I started this blog, I became acquainted with coffees possessing natural citrus flavors, and slowly I understood that citrus not only had a place at the coffee table, but it deserved a seat of honor.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Weekend Coffee




Subject: Weekend Coffee
Location: Dallas, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Weekends are usually the focal point of a person's week. Outings get planned, ideas become daydreams and recreation gets Grouponed. We are a culture that lives and dies by our weekends.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Sawada Coffee




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

With the various business developments currently happening in the specialty coffee realm, it always peaks my interest when I find a unique collaboration. Take Hogsalt Hospitality, a restaurant powerhouse responsible for some of Chicago's snazziest venues, and Japanese coffee champion and Steamer Coffee Company originator Hiroshi Sawada. Thanks to a chance meeting in Japan and some clever teamwork, the two entities put together a splendid coffeehouse in the West Loop of the Windy City that definitely catches a discerning eye.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Houndstooth Coffee




Subject: Houndstooth Coffee
Location: Dallas, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

As a young lad growing up a Philadelphia Eagles fan, Dallas always seemed like a place I wasn't supposed to like, especially in the autumn. Naturally as I aged I learned to confine my disdain purely to the Cowboys, and the more I discovered distantly of Dallas' blossoming coffee scene, the more I began to yearn for a lengthy visit. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Drip N Scoop




Subject: Drip N Scoop
Location: Ocean City, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

I have seen many attempts to bring good coffee to the NJ coast and sadly, only a few enterprises have succeeded. Whether it's an affinity for over-roasted beans, cutting corners, a disregard for training/quality, or any combination of the three, I've seen it all at the Jersey shore. Thus, when a shop does things right, they deserve their praise due. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Big Shoulders Coffee




Subject: Big Shoulders Coffee
Location: Chicago, IL
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

In the oppressive heat of summer, I like to look back to the chilly adventures of winter past. One of my recent favorites was to Chicago's River West section of town, over to a corner coffee roaster named Big Shoulders Coffee.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Coldwave


Iced coffee has always been easier for those adept at planning. Whether it's cold brew with it's overnight brew time of around 12 hours or regular hot coffee chilled in the freezer for an hour, making iced coffee takes time. For those of us wanting it done fast and/or fresh, that usually only leaves the option of flash brewing your coffee, basically brewing a double-strength pourover straight over the correct volume of ice so that the finished iced coffee results in the correct brew ratio.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Southside Espresso




Subject: Southside Espresso
Location: Houston, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Oddly enough, for the reputation Texas has for its sun and oppressive heat, I seem to manage to visit mostly on rainy, somewhat mild days. Yet even when rain clouds the Texan forecast, an excellent coffee stop always manages to brighten my skies.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ethiopian Guava Smash - Cup and Spoon



One of the best facets of summer are its refreshing caffeinated creations. Though I tend to be a purist when it comes to my coffee, I have grown to appreciate a well-made concoction, especially when it's cold and refreshing, as there's something almost transcendental about a great iced beverage with a splash of quality coffee.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cafein



Location: Chantilly, VA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

While strip malls are typically not the most coveted locations to drop a coffeehouse, they tend to be the only affordable/realistic place to host one in the midst of suburbia. Fortunately, not all strip malls are created identical, so some offer space far better suited to hosting a third space brimming with excellent coffee.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Metric Coffee




Subject: Metric Coffee
Location visited: Chicago, IL
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Growing up in the American school system, I always wondered why I had to learn two systems of measurement. It took up precious daylight and to this day I struggle to convert calories to joules (btw it's 1 kilocalorie = 4184 joules).

Friday, June 09, 2017

Cultivar



Subject: Cultivar
Location visited: East Dallas, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

I am told supermarkets made their rise primarily because they made many stops into one. Instead of hitting the butcher, the farmers market and the dry goods emporium, folks could get it all in one shot. While I am a strong advocate of shopping at specialty vendors (ie I love going to a butcher), in practice I absolutely see the value in convenience, so when quality small businesses team up to share a location, my heart soars.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mugged: Anodyne Coffee


Subject: Anodyne Coffee
Coffees Mugged and Rating [see key]:
- Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Gelena Abaya 6+
- Colombia Tolima ASOPAP 6+

Certain North American regions are definitely under-appreciated, one of them being Wisconsin. Full of beautiful landscapes and interesting cities, most people (at least the ones I run into) seem to overlook Chicago's northern neighbor. The same tends to go for Wisconsin coffee, as America's Dairyland is home to quite a few great roasters such as Kickapoo, Colectivo and the subject of today's post, Anodyne.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fill in the Coffee Map - 2017 Edition



After a long run on the last Fill in the Coffee Map leg, the series will launch a third go! As one can observe from the many quality coffee establishments already mapped, there have been many places visited but still so many more places to herald.

Like the the past efforts, I will definitely need the aid of sponsors. To clearly designate their assistance, you will see their banners highlighted on the side bars of the blog and at the bottom of each post. These banners highlight their aid in helping fund the costs of acquiring/producing this content but never any influence on the content tone. As usual, I fully assure you that my posts are still 100% my own and remains completely uninfluenced by anyone. The sponsors only help me get to these coffeehouses, and no sponsor had any knowledge of or input on any content whatsoever (I say all of this as I am a huge proponent of transparency, and thus I wanted to emphasize the role of my sponsors and that the Pure Coffee Blog still only operates in the realm of objectivity).

Thus, if you are interested in coming on as a sponsor in the coming weeks, please let me know by shooting me a quick email at bill.purecoffee@gmail.com and stay tuned for new shops to add to the map!

Heritage Outpost




Subject: Heritage Outpost
Location visited: West Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Early in my adult life I found an apartment across the street from what looked like a decent coffeehouse. The place hadn't opened yet but due to strange designs, it was set to open its doors about the same time as my move-in date. Unfortunately, rampant delay and poor decisions foiled my dream of living mere steps from a decent coffeehouse, as the shop turned out to be a dud and the business closed down a shortly after I moved out. To this day I am leery to let local amenities influence my real estate decisions.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits




Subject: Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits
Location: Waco, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Prior to 2017, I am not sure if I ever passed through Waco. I distinctly remember driving through Texas with my family well over a decade ago and seeing a sign that said something to the effect of "Entering Waco City Limits." But then again, in tracing past family road trips on a map, I don't recall ever passing close to Waco. Since it's not something that keeps me up at night, I am content to leave it all a mystery (though I would like to figure it out one day).

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Factory Fuel Co.



Subject: Factory Fuel Co.
Location: Flemington, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Growing up in NJ, I have come to appreciate interstates and large highways. Sure some lack aesthetic beauty (especially in the northeast corner, near NYC), but with the amount of volume pumping through the veins and arteries of the state, I have become less concerned with the natural vistas when I am trying to get from Bordentown to Rahway in under an hour.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Damn Fine Coffee Bar




Subject: Damn Fine Coffee Bar
Location: Chicago, IL
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

The first time I heard the words "damn fine" were in the King's English in a CS Lewis book (technically "dem fine"). The Magician's Nephew, still my most loved of the seven Chronicles of Narnia, features an eccentric uncle who refers to the short-tempered Queen Jadis as a "dem fine woman." At the time when I first read this, I took this as scandal, as I was 11 and didn't read books with "sentence enhancers." But years later, after learning all 13 bad words and then banishing them from my lips (as fancy sophisticates should not stain their lips with cursing), I have personally sought to find more creative vocabulary. And so, even though I really don't see the word "damn" as a foul word (unless you use it as a verb, and then you are telling the person/thing to go to H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS, which is kinda bad if you believe in hell (and I do)), it's a word I just don't use casually any more just to play it safe.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rally




Subject: Rally
Location: Philadelphia, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

It always brings me joy when a quality-driven shop opens up in a beautiful space that had been abandoned by a long-closed predecessor. Such was the case with Rally, a multifaceted coffee-based institution that offers services ranging from aid with your business ventures to catering and space for private events.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Behmor 1600 Plus and Should You Roast at Home?


Home roasting is a trend that seems to pick up more steam every year. For some, it's the science that draws them. For others, it's the creative nuance. For most, I would venture it's (initially) to save some money on their overall coffee consumption (which does not always hold true, but we can get to that later). Whatever the reason, home roasting is certainly a hobby that isn't going anywhere.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Mugged: Great Circle



Subject: Great Circle Coffee
Coffees Mugged and Rating [see key]
- Ichamara Kenya 5+
- Pixcaya Guatemala 5+

It was not long ago that a quality cup of coffee in Miami would be something one would be hard-pressed to locate, especially at a trusted shop in the area. But over the last 7 years, the coffee scene has taken hold in southeast Florida and the number of excellent purveyors of coffee in the region has steadily increased. One roaster to recently cross my path is an establishment called Great Circle out of Miami, and while I have not visited them in person yet, I was recently sent out two of their coffees to take for a spin at home through pourover, french press and siphon.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

La p'tite Brulerie




Subject: La p'tite Brulerie
Location: Deschambault, QC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

While living in Montana and Syracuse, I really began to appreciate the offerings of small villages. Not only are they typically rich in history, but the retail establishments tend to be more authentic and unique. This trend held true along the St. Lawrence river, with numerous quaint settlements bordering the riverfront. One particular village of Deschambault yielded my favorite find of the lot, a coffee roaster called La p'tite Brulerie.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Blacksmith


Subject: Blacksmith
Location: Houston, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

In Texas, the only thing that exists in a diminutive state is winter's chill. Especially the further south one travels, temperatures seem to stay above 50 F most of winter. But naturally when visiting the brand new Marriott at the George R Brown convention center complete with Texas-shaped pool, I found the temperature well below freezing, mirroring the icy Philadelphia I had just left.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pikolo Espresso




Subject: Pikolo Espresso Bar
Location: Montreal, QC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When I travel, rarely do my overnight accommodations and coffeehouse aspirations line up near one another. Whether that's a reflection of my cheap lodging budget or a subliminal aversion to convenience, I usually end up driving out of my way to find quality coffee in distant lands. Yet ever so rarely, my fortunes prevail and I am blessed with a great cafe within a few hot steps of my front door.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Nektar Cafeologue




Subject: Nektar Cafeologue
Location visited: Quebec City, QC (Rue Saint-Joseph Est)
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

There are precious few North American cities that have incorporated long stairways right into the urban landscape, yet if I had to pick one of my favorites, it would be Quebec City. During a visit when temperatures were mild and above freezing, I found each set of stairs unique and full of personality, though sometimes a few steps longer than my lungs would have liked.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cup and Spoon




Subject: Cup and Spoon
Location: Chicago, IL
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

A Chicago winter certainly demands plenty of cafes in which to warm up and enjoy a mug of well-brewed coffee. Fortunately on a recent trip to the windy city, I found such a place to sip and relax at a local haven called Cup and Spoon.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Différance




Subject: Cafe Différance
Location: Montreal, QC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

A coffeehouse with a line is usually a great sign. I say "usually" because there exist some cafes that will make questionably poor choices that cause customer waits, like a lone barista operation pouring exclusively pourover during the morning rush or the cue being held up by someone who ordered 15 creme brûlée lattes for the office. But when a hefty line forms despite four employees moving like a Swiss clock, I take solace in the fact that the wait is almost definitely worth it. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Passenger Coffee




Subject: Passenger Coffee
Location: Lancaster, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Lancaster continues to be a wondrous bastion of continuing bean progress. I recall some years ago hunting fruitlessly for a great cup of coffee and today, it's nearly impossible to not find a decent shop with walking distance.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Cafe Frida





Subject: Cafe Frida
Location: Trois-Rivières, QC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

While the pickings are often slimmer, I greatly love finding good coffeehouses outside the city limits of a major metropolitan area. Sure, most cafes of merit exist in the urban jungles of the world, but there's something extra special when I come across a reputable coffee bar in a small town or in the midst of suburbia.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Paquebot Cafe


Subject: Paquebot Cafe
Location: Montreal, QC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Seeking out good coffee has the distinct benefit of exposing one to parts of a city that might not have been on the regular tourist route. More often than not, a good coffeeshop is like a songbird, singing an enticing song to beckon curious travelers to check out a neighborhood and its offerings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Groundswell Coffee Roasters




Subject: Groundswell Coffee Roasters
Location Visited: 4839 N. Damen Ave, Chicago IL
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

While Chicago usually bequeaths a tough winter fit for a caribou, the occasional mild days make walking the city streets a fairly pleasant jaunt. Naturally, when I take such an outing, one of Chicago's many excellent coffeehouses will be on my route. Always on the hunt for new-to-me establishments, I found myself out for a stroll one morning that ended at the doorstep of Groundswell Coffee's North Damen outpost.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stacks Espresso




Subject: Stacks Espresso
Location Visited: 260 Lark St, Albany, NY
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Though Albany has been the crossroads for many trips, it has not always been a dependable area for great coffee. Fortunately, the city is growing its cafe culture and establishments of repute have taken root in the capital city. One such business is Stacks Espresso, a shop with two locations in the city, one of which happened to be not far out of my way on a trip going north.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Buck 15




Subject: Buck 15 Espresso Bar
Location: Montreal, QC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Husband and wife duos make some of the best businesses. True, some couples do best to keep their day jobs apart, but sometimes a business of great worth comes from the combined dreams of two people.