Sunday, February 18, 2007

CC: House of Coffee

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: House of Coffee
Location visited: Lahaska, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

Among the many Christmas traditions my family holds, one of them is to visit a small retail outfit called Peddler's Village nestled in Bucks County, somewhere west of Trenton and north of Philly. Though I haven't been there aside from the December/January time period, it looks like a lovely place for all seasons.

As any village knows, a decent coffee establishment is quite essential. Fortunately, Peddler's Village has its own coffeehouse called (quite originally) House of Coffee, located relatively in the center (I think) of it all. The interior divides into two rooms, one for whole bean sales and one for their coffee bar. Having come here mostly annually for the past 6-7 years, the inside hasn't changed much and kinda comes across functional but very blah, with few colorful accents.

They roast the coffee fresh, seeming to focus on both single origins and blends. I've had a variation of experiences with their drip (6-7 years) and since my tastes have fluctuated in that time, I figured I'd pay extra attention this time. Fortunately, they were brewing a medium (not dark) roast, which tasted pretty good that day. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try anything else. Thumbs up for now (my only concern lies in how dark their decafs are, though I've noticed decafs being extra dark in other establishments...).

The espresso was quite another story. My doubleshot held a severe bite that I didn't care for in the least. The baristas seemed skilled so maybe the espresso blend simply just lacks the necessary pizzazz?

I didn't catch the tea while I was there, though according to the website, it seems they do their own tea as well. Looks good; it'll have to be a drink another day (only 3 hundred-something days til Christmas!).

At the end of the day, I would say that the place serves the Peddler's Village niche of a decent coffee establishment. Despite the role House of Coffee has played in my Christmas visits, I still can't say I'm impressed with their operation. Nonetheless, make sure to pop in and try it out if you're by the village (you don't need to wait til Christmas).

Monday, February 12, 2007

CC: Venus Rising Espresso House

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Venus Rising Espresso House
Location visited: Butte, MT
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Every town has its highlights, the things that make the town really unique. But in West Montana, it seems that Butte (pronounced byute) has some odder claims to fame then most. For one, it has a mile-deep polluted hole full of highly acidic water, all as a result of copper strip mining (which still goes on today). The town was also home to one of the last legal red light districts, the Venus Alley, finally closed down in the 1970s with Reno, Nevada's.

Oddly enough, I managed to find a coffeehouse named (seemingly) after the old red light district, called Venus Rising Espresso House. Giving them the benefit of the doubt that they're not a front to bring back the old brothels, I and a couple colleagues checked the place out. The decor was very very bohemian, with a full art gallery in the back and a very random (yet well-placed) layout of furniture and art all throughout the place. The bar was an old saloon bar, complete with the huge mirror behind it.

They brew Montana Coffee Traders, which has been good at some places and poor at others but as always, I decided to give it a crack here in Butte. Stored in air pots, the coffee came off decent.

The espresso played out as a very odd anomaly. The espresso the first time I stopped relayed horribly blah and watery (poor baristaship mainly) but then the next trip, the doubleshot hit the spot, coming off fairly smooth though (still not phenomenol) due to much better baristas the second time.

The tea was Montana Tea and Spice Traders, a series of tea I finally got to taste only to find them mediocre and not very tasty (*tear*). I had higher hopes...

Overall, if you find yourself in Butte staring at a large hole full of copper water, I would take a side-trip to Venus Rising in "old" Butte.