Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Mine Cafe




Subject: The Mine Cafe
Location: Jerome, AZ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Not since watching the aerial shots of Minis Tirith in the Lord of the Rings have I seen a town as married to a hillside as Jerome. In the high places of Arizona exists a curious with levels instead of avenues and winding streets exceedingly fun to navigate (except when there's ice). Yet despite its unorthodox layout and engineering challenges, Jerome still stands pretty much the same as it has these last hundred years, albeit a little less populated now then in its heyday.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Grind



Subject: The Grind
Location: Morgantown, WV
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

A college town without an excellent caffeinated haunt strikes me as a country without a capital or a whale without a blowhole. What good is college if you lack a great coffeehouse from which to grab an early AM red eye or a late-night chamomile latte?

Monday, October 22, 2018

Boxwood Coffee




Subject: Boxwood Coffee
Location Visited: Summit, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Despite the immense population density of northeast NJ, the options for great coffee are still fairly sparse in these congested lands. One can usually stand on any main road and spot a coffee-slinging entity, yet nine out of ten times that shop is hardly worth the visit. It's almost easier to find an honest NJ politician than a good cup of coffee.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Travellers House Coffee




Subject: Travellers House Coffee 
Location: Springfield, MO
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

In my experience, too few coffee shops are open past supper. Yes, for the most part I get the economics as to why most shops close up around four, but man does an evening meet-up over well-crafted coffee hit the proverbial spot.

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Board and Brew




Subject: The Board and Brew
Location: College Park, MD
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

It often astounds me how few board game cafes I have come across in my travels. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but I can count on one hand the number of coffee shops and eateries that have boasted copies of Settlers of Catan and King of Tokyo, never mind full shelves of games unknown to even the nerdiest of poindexters. But fortune shined upon me one cloudy evening traveling through Maryland when I found a true diamond in the rough.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Green Engine Coffee




Subject Green Engine Coffee Co.
Location: Haverford, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Sometimes it amazes me how many coffee shops fall short on the basics, whether it be the quality of their coffee beans, the skills of their baristas or the lack of atmosphere. In traveling through different towns, I aim to try out as many different shops as I can afford, and in my experience there are approximately three subpar coffeehouses for every great one.  

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Roast Rider


Subject: Roast Rider Coffee + Tea
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Many people love their local coffee shop for no other reason than it provides a pleasant place to congregate. Sociologically coined the "third place" by Ray Oldenburg, all people naturally yearn for a communal gathering spot, and in locales possessing a beautiful, somewhat-spacious coffeehouse, it's no wonder that townspeople flock to such spaces to enjoy their coffee.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Trenton Coffee House and Records




Subject: Trenton Coffee House
Location: Trenton, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Having passed through Trenton many times, I have often yearned for a well-placed coffee shop to afford me a cafe worthy of braking. Finally at some point in the past year or so, Trenton Coffee House and Records opened their doors on Cass Street and my longing finally came to an end.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Void Coffee Company


Subject: Void Coffee Company
Location: Charleston, WV
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

I have had my eye on the area around Charleston, West Virginia for several years now. Along with the progressive revitalization in the city itself, the surrounding countryside adds plenty of beautiful scenery and bucolic towns perfect for recreational detours. I finally found a perfect window to head west and arrived in the capital one sunny afternoon, tired from the drive and thirsty for a good cup of coffee. Hearing about a newer establishment in the West Side neighborhood, I landed at Void Coffee Company ready to try out their wares. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Coffee Box


Subject: The Coffee Box
Location: Plainfield, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

The thick suburbs of northeast New Jersey possess countless places that peddle coffee, but surprisingly offer few shops where the coffee is worth the stop. Fortunately for many North Jersey-ites, great coffee has become more readily available each month, with new spots slowly emerging in the lands surrounding New York City.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Talking Irons Coffee Saloon


Subject: Talking Irons Coffee Saloon
Location: Pearce, AZ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

While most excellent coffeehouses reside in cities and heavily-populated regions, occasionally there exists outstanding coffee a little off the beaten path. I found myself in one such instance as I was driving through Arizona, from the storied Tombstone streets to the old mining boomtown of Pearce. Heading northeast, my journey began typically enough on a rural road through the desert, until I found myself being directed by Google Maps onto a road called Ghost Town Trail through Dead Mexican Canyon. After making the turn I soon realized the word "trail" was not just a linguistic flourish, as the empty dirt road seemed better fit for a wagon (or at least a four-wheel drive truck) than my tiny sedan. Nonetheless, I persisted for a solid half hour, watching torrential storms a mile to the right and every mile or so, a road sign warning that the trail floods heavily in rain.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Rustic Cup




Subject: Rustic Cup
Location: East Prospect, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

The more I drive around the country, the more I appreciate small towns. While cities still cradle a chunk of my heart, there's nothing like a tree-lined boulevard, easy parking or finding a great coffee shop on a country road. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Herman's Coffee



Subject: Herman's Coffee
Location: Philadelphia, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

As many entrepreneurs have now proven, auto garages make excellent coffeehouses. Maybe it's the rough-and-tumble aesthetic or maybe it's because people like large garage doors, but either way I've seen cafes successfully set-up shop across the country in similar concrete shells, each one offering a great community hub, especially in the summer.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Malvern Buttery




Subject: Malvern Buttery
Location: Malvern, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Since taking up beekeeping as a hobby, I have found that I do not mind driving around with swarms of bees in my car. Granted said bees are in contained boxes called "packages" so the danger of injury is limited to the box opening somehow, but nonetheless there is still something invigorating about high-risk insect chauffeuring. 

Friday, July 06, 2018

Coperaco



Subject: Coperaco
Location visited: Harrison, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Few coffeehouses have a jaw-dropping physical presence. Given the cost of real estate and the rather boring architectural options developers create for retail, most shops end up working with your standard rectangles and visual cues. But some cafes are fortunate, able to capitalize on beautiful and/or unique concepts, adding a glorious third space for their local community.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Dog and Hat Coffee



Subject: Dog and Hat Coffee
Coffee Mugged and Rating [see key]:
- Horsham Coffee Roasters, Rwanda Bwishaza, 5+
- Cafe Mokxa, Boliva Genaro Mamani, 6+

There is nothing like coffee arriving at your door, especially when the coffee made a trans-Atlantic voyage. Recently I had the opportunity to try out Dog and Hat Coffee, a coffee subscription operation catering mainly to folks in the UK and Europe. Not only do they deliver fresh, whole bean coffee from a variety of excellent European roasters each month to their members, but they also offer occasional goodies and special deals from time to time.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Order and Chaos Coffee




Subject: Order and Chaos Coffee
Location: Baltimore, MD
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Over the years, I have had many conversations with friends and colleagues on how they sate their desire for a good cup of coffee at the office. Some bring a thermos; others have a hot water kettle and pour over set-up right at their desk. But very few are as lucky at the folks at Baltimore's Planit Agency, where a superb in-house coffee bar keeps their employees, as well as the surrounding community, on task with excellent beans.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Three Ships Coffee



Subject: Three Ships Coffee
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When my sister first moved to Virginia Beach some years ago, I remember having an excruciating time finding a good place to grab coffee between Williamsburg and the ocean. But then around 2015, I came across a young company called Three Ships and ever since, it seems the availability of good coffee in Virginia Beach has been slowly blossoming.

Friday, June 01, 2018

NJ's Great 8 Coffee Roasters


What makes a good coffee shop? Many coffee establishments thrive on selling gigantic coffee milkshakes and sugar-bombed lattes, but if you really analyze it, when the syrups are pushed aside and the whipped cream is blown away, you need good coffee to make such concoctions work. Thus for a local cafe to make great coffee beverages, they need good beans, and to utilize good beans means a shop must either source from a quality coffee roaster or take up the herculean mantle themselves.

Friday, May 25, 2018

American Bulldog Coffee Roasters




Subject: American Bulldog Coffee Roasters
Location visited: Ridgewood, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Long ago, I found the lovely NJ town of Ridgewood and it seems to only have grown in beauty since. Outfitted with a pleasant downtown, a slightly bucolic train station and good local coffee, I have visited the area more often in these past years than some towns 20 miles from my house. To put it simply, if I had to move to north, Ridgewood would be on my shortlist.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Amity Coffee Roasters




Subject: Amity Coffee Roasters
Location: Greenwood, DE
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

In my travels, rural northeast towns are some of the hardest spots in which to locate good coffee. I do love driving, but there remains only so much distance I can convince my passengers to detour for a decent cup of coffee. Thankfully, the regional prospects are getting better and fewer trips exists where a good, local shop is completely out of reach.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Evermore Coffee Roasters




Subject: Evermore Coffee Roasters
Location: Burlington, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

The city of Burlington sits a few River Line train stops below Trenton and arguably holds some of the finest architectural charm in the area. It's a town that has a beautiful view of the Delaware River, and even though Burlington has had a share of tough goings through the years with a declining business district, there are signs that the area could be on an uptick.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Adagio Tea



Subject: Adagio Tea
Tea Mugged [pictured above from left to right]:
- Golden Spring
- Ooooh Darjeeling
- Thai Chai

While coffee is my favorite drink, tea is certainly a close second. Especially in the past decade, it seems like the tea options have exploded, with a larger variety of teas becoming more easily available to the tea drinking public, not to mention a higher popularity of tea-based beverages entering the menu at local cafes (think match lattes and london fogs).

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bird in Hand




Subject: Bird in Hand Coffee and Books
Location: Baltimore, MD
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Some of my favorite memories involve drinking coffee while perusing through a bookstore. Though some booksellers sadly refuse to embrace the calling of serving excellent coffee, there have been many establishments that do a wonderful job weaving the written word and the well-roasted bean. One such literary oasis new one to my eyes emerged during a recent trip to Baltimore, when I found that Artifact Coffee and The Ivy Bookshop had created a beautiful space adjacent to Johns Hopkins campus in Charles Village called Bird in Hand.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Ohmies




Subject: Ohmies Coffee Bar + Yoga Studio
Location: Roselle, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Coffee pairs well with a lot of things in life. Chocolate, cake, long nature walks, mornings, chocolate cake, late nights and fruit are all things I think go well with a quality cup of coffee. Thus why not exercise? Aside from the risks of vigorous movement with a hot beverage, the coupling makes sense, especially since many people have come to accept black coffee as a delicious, healthy drink. Thus when I found a coffee bar and yoga studio in my travels through Roselle, I was surprised that I had not found such a place sooner.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Germantown Espresso Bar




Subject: Germantowan Espresso Bar
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Two decades ago, I would argue that Philadelphia really only had a handful of neighborhoods worth traversing. Now in 2018, there exists so many vibrant parts of Philly and yet, many breathtaking portions of the city are still overlooked or missed by most people. One such area is Germantown, a neighborhood as old as the Revolution (the site of the Battle of Germantown in 1777) and full of charming architecture and beautiful homes. Currently riding a rejuvenating wave of local improvements, there are many reasons to detour out to Germantown to sample the changes.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Coffee Bar



Subject: The Coffee Bar
Location visited: 1201 South St NW, Washington DC
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

While seasonal rain is welcome for purposes of irrigation and staving off drought, downpours during a day in the city sure make the day a little more challenging. Fortunately when recently I ran into this dilemma in DC, I had planned a visit to the African American Civil War Memorial Museum and a highly-reputed coffee stop nearby called The Coffee Bar.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hotel RL + Victrola Coffee

SPONSORED POST


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 the 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.