Tuesday, August 29, 2006

CC: Mad Cow Coffeehouse and Deli

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Mad Cow Coffeehouse and Deli (no website)
Location visited: Mitchell, SD
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 2+ [see key]

On a "magical" trip through South Dakota, my friend and I made a point to stop in the town of Mitchell to see what the 3,232 Corn Palace billboards were about. We arrive in Mitchell to see this bohemith building of corn (it was not that amazing) but of more interest, right across the street was this odd-looking coffee establishment.

Having driven since Chicago without seeing a coffeehouse, the Mad Cow looked much more intriguing then I thought possible. We strolled in, greeted by the South Dakotian feel of mismatched furniture, the occasional cow art, and the counter at the back.

As advertized, they had a coffeehouse menu and a deli menu. I ordered a BLT to satisfy me hunger (it was lunch) and then poured over the coffee menu. They have two roasters from which they get their coffee (I guess they're indecisive in SD). One is Black Sheep and the other is Great Plains, both located in the lovely land of South Dakota. The one I had (they didn't say which it was) wasn't half bad. They were firm followers of the "brew in a hot plate coffee maker then transfer to a carfafe" philosophy.

The espresso was another story. The machine looked older then my father and as a result, the shots were a little messy and didn't taste too hot. The tea and chai didn't catch me eye, for we were in a hurry.

If you're traveling through South Dakota and you need a cup of joe, you might consider stopping in Mitchell for the coffee and grabbing a glimpse of the "wondererous" corn palace.

Monday, August 21, 2006

CC: Beans Coffee Shop

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Beans Coffee Shop

Location visited: Woodstown, NJ
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

CLOSED as of 8.24.11

Woodstown belongs to the part of South Jersey that most people don't accidentally run through. A pretty town yes, but until I knew people there (my church pastor and his family), I had no reason to travel there.

Anyways, I ran across Beans before it opened. I was driving through on the way to a church picnic and saw that Woodstown was getting a coffeehouse right on its Main St. I'm always happy to see another coffeehouse spring up (though I pray that it won't go the route of "corporate charcoal" or "all music and horrible coffee") so I made a point to stop back in a few months to inspect.

Sure enough, I stopped back a few weeks after it opened. The decor is comfortable, though seemingly lacking a theme (I'm no interior decorator but it seemed off to me). A thing that did stand out was that
they actually had an "adult seating area", a rarity in coffeehouses (though I'm not sure it's a need in many). The baristas seem to consist of mostly high school students; fortunately it looks like they know what they're doing (i.e. had some training).

They serve Kaffe Magnum Opus, a coffee roaster out of Millville. The coffee tasted decent, though I don't think amazing. Last cup I had was a little stale, but that is more the brewing method then the actual coffee. The espresso was good, with just the right zing, but once again, no shockwaves. The tea and chai I cannot recollect.

Overall, if you're in Woodstown, it's a nice spot to sit and have {your favorite beverage here}, but coming from Glassboro it's definitely not a realistic trek (unless you're going to visit your pastor).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

CC: Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters
Location visited: Chicago, IL (Broadway)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Last week, as I was heading across the country with a friend, we made a stop in Chicago to get some lunch and afterwards refuel with a good cup of coffee. I had made a note that the guy who came in third at the World Barista Championship came from Intelligentsia, a Chicago-based roaster/coffeehouse that is absolutely "fanatical" about coffee.

After a little traffic getting up to their Broadway store, we found parking right in front but decided to grab a deepdish pizza, then come back for coffee. The pizza took forever (it was a place on Broadway that was known for their stuffed pizza) but boy was it amazing (even better cold).

Upon our return to Intelligentsia, we found the store pretty packed, with numerous people doing work or holding conversation. I noted that they had a completely seperate counter for their whole bean sales which I guess was more out of necessity due to volume.

From what I could tell, the coffee was amazing as was the espresso. Both were smooth and well-balanced. My iced redeye was neither sharp nor too bitter, but had the right bit of hootsba (sp?) to keep me glowing.

Oddly I don't remember seeing their tea or chai, but upon investigation on their site, they sell their own tea as well! A rarity indeed if the tea is as good as the coffee.

One of few places that needs no real review; they're reputation precedes. So if you're near Chicago, grab a stuffed (or deepdish) pizza and finish it off with a trip to Intelligentsia.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

CC: Chestnut Hill Coffee Company

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Chestnut Hill Coffee Company
Location visited: Chestnut Hill, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

This past week, the girlfriend and I had embarked to the Philly Zoo. Always a delightful experience (despite the heat and the high prices). We finished up around 2-3 pm and decided to grab some lunch (and some coffee) in Chestnut Hill. I had specifically heard rumor of a decent coffee company on Germantown Ave and figured today was as good a day as any to try it.

So we set off north, stopping for a delightful bite at Roxy's Sandwich Grille followed by a refreshing waterice at Rita's (they had mint chocolate chip, a flavor my girlfriend holds in the highest esteem). After some needless driving due to vague directions, we arrived at Chestnut Hill Coffee Co.

The decor and environment struck me as extremely creative. There were two floors (rare) with a variety of ample seating. I think they were even voted Best of Philly Magazine for child-friendly space.

The coffee was really good. Very smooth and full-flavored. It seemed they only had a limited offering of coffees (I didn't see anything else), though I'm pretty sure they roast their own and have more. They also seemed to focus on blends instead of single-origin, but I think they actually know what they're doing when they blend...

The espresso was well-done and very tasty. The barista who did it (I think it was John Hornall) was definitely trained in the ways of good technique and timing.

The tea was Mighty Leaf and the chai was probably powdered.

So if you're in the area, CHCC is definately worth a stop. It blends in on Germantown Ave, but it's right across from Borders in the ritzy part of town. I'd have to say that thus far, it's the best coffee I've had in PA.