Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hotel RL + Victrola Coffee


Many people expect a decent cup of coffee in the morning when they stay at a reputable hotel. Is it too much to ask for a hot cup of joe that doesn't taste like old cigarettes? Experience would echo with a resounding "yes." Sadly this expectation for good hotel coffee has been eroded over time, with tons of mediocre (at best) coffee experiences regularly tarnishing the mornings of coffee lovers across the globe.

But fortunately, some hotels are exceeding expectations in terms of coffee excellence. Take the Hotel RL, who not only offers great coffee from Seattle juggernaut Victrola Coffee Roasters but they have actually gone as far as to build a legit coffee bar in many of their lobbies. Having the opportunity to stay at their Baltimore location this past weekend, I was able to experience this hotel rarity firsthand.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Pretty Bird Coffee Roasters

Subject: Pretty Bird Coffee Roasters
Location: Yardley, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

I once knew a somewhat unpleasant fella from Yardley. It wasn't that he tried to be off-putting, he just never had anything to contribute except woe and headaches. Sadly, due to the fact that he was the only constant association with Yardley, I subconsciously allowed my love for this river village of Pennsylvania to grow cold over the years. Thankfully news of a decent coffee roaster surfacing on the main drag sparked a return one afternoon to sip some coffee and give Yardley a new chance.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Mugged: The Barn

Subject: The Barn
Coffees Mugged (coffees were not rated on the normal scale due to small amount mugged) [see key]:
- Nano Challa, Gera, Ethiopia
- Amaca - Los Anayes, Cauca Colombia
- La Isla, Naranjo, Costa Rica
- La Montana, Narino, Colombia
- Fazenda Um, Minas Gerais, Brazil
- Nguguini AB, Kirinyaga, Kenya
- El Diamante, Intibuca, Honduras

Lots of coffee roasters extend across the continent of Europe, but only a handful have a strong reputation internationally. One of these roasters is The Barn Coffee Roasters in Berlin, a German roaster that has been growing in reputation since their inception in 2010. Sadly I have not set foot in Europe during the past 8 years, so my interactions with their coffee have been fleeting and subject to luck in finding them here in North America.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Black Swan Espresso

Subject: Black Swan Espresso
Location: Newark, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Having driven through Newark hundreds of times this past decade, it has been a constant pang of grief that the city possessed little (if any) in the way of great coffee. Yet despite my fruitless searches, I never gave up searching for a long-lost caffeinated diamond in the rough, and finally after ten years of combing the internet, I found Black Swan Espresso.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sawhorse Cafe

Subject: Sawhorse Cafe
Location: Williamsport, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Some towns have all the luck. While I am not one to let envy overtake me, I definitely get a little green in the eyes when I find a town has more than one great coffeehouse. With most towns operating with zero quality shops, it is truly great fortune when a small geographic area gets two (or more!) great coffee operations.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Backyard Beans

Subject: Backyard Beans Coffee Company
Location visited: Lansdale, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

While I hold firmly to the opinion that turnpikes ruin road trips, I have come to embrace their necessity. Sure, tolls effectively suck the fun and loose change out of life, making a carefree drive into a financial balancing act, but having driven much of the United States I have come to terms that toll roads are a fair compromise until flying cars become a reality.  

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Loma Coffee

Subject: Loma Coffee
Location visited: Wilmington, DE
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Many people often overlook tax-free Delaware when it comes time to plan an outing, but the more I visit state the more I find new reasons to return. One particular area of interest is the region's blossoming cafe culture, with a once arid coffee landscape becoming an increasingly lush place to find good beans. One of the oases I've encountered as of late resides in Wilmington on a beautifully walkable stretch of Lower Market Street (aka LoMa), a shop thus aptly named Loma Coffee.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mugged: Ferris Coffee

Subject: Ferris Coffee and Nut
Coffees Mugged and Rating [see key]:
- Costa Rica Sumava 5+
- Guatemala San Sebastian 6+
- Ethiopia Misty Valley 6+

Most coffee roasters older than disco do not produce coffee worth coffee drinking. Whether one attributes it to a fear of change or the stubborn fortitude of old habits, most coffee purveyors that predate Alfred Peet still usually purvey subpar coffee. Thus in light of the disappointing odds for old coffee roasting operations, it's pretty amazing that Ferris Coffee and Nut, having been around for nearly a century, delivers some pretty amazing coffee.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

e-shot Cafe

Subject: e-shot Cafe
Location visited: Larchmont, NY
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Even though I am a huge fan of the automobile, trains are still my favorite way to get around a metropolitan area. Sadly when those trains get out into the suburbs, most towns do not possess a complimentary infrastructure, with the train station often being far from shops and cafes (usually to accommodate parking). Thus, to find a decent coffeehouse near a train station appears as rarely as an open seat during the morning commute. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Wydown

Subject: The Wydown
Location visited: 14th St, Washington DC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Long weekends on the road often make coffeeshops the perfect oasis for some leg stretching and refueling. Recently after spending some time relaxing with friends in Crystal City, my family was heading north towards NJ, when a (typical) major traffic upset sent us on an odd detour through the middle of DC. While driving through our nation's capital can be an inconvenience, in this case it actually made for a perfect opportunity to hit a coffee establishment that's been on my list for some time: the Wydown.