Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CC: Mudhouse

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Location visited: Springfield, MO
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

n the couple times I've encountered Springfield, every time has involved a stop at the locally fabled Mudhouse. First time I was escorted by Springfieldans, as I think it was the only local coffee joint at the time. Then it was but a mediocre establishment but now it seems to be a vastly improved operation.

The Mudhouse consists of a beautiful shop in the middle of downtown Springfield with large store windows and a warm, open interior chock full of prime seating and intriguing art. Locals and out-of-towners of all shapes and sizes fill the seats constantly.

The coffee is roasted in-house and as aforementioned, has grown in quality over these past years, with their drip on my most recent visit having a nice body and smooth flavor. The espresso was decent with a sweet tang but overall, nothing that great. To note the tea, it's free leaf.

While Mudhouse is no longer the only local coffee establishment, it seems like it has a good track record and history within the town. If you're ever nearby, make sure to give it a whirl.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Old Post Updates

any times after I write a review, I go back and update them for various reasons. Here's two I added substantially to as of late:

11.26 - Crescent Moon review update of information (expanded offerings)

11.25 - Brew Ha Ha! review update of information (went up in quality!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Clover: Map and Article

uite possibly one of the biggest (and more expensive) new machines to hit the realm of specialty coffee is a machine called a Clover, that many (including myself) attest to the wonderful cup of coffee that it produces.

Anyway, here's two things Clover-related that I ran across in the past week:

1. There is a Clover map on the website, which allows you to find a Clover near you (and if there is one near you, you really need to go out of your way to try it). Take a gander at the map.

2. Clover recently appeared in The Economist, an article that largely speculates the possibility of Clovers taking off nationwide. At this time, having seen Clovers in action, I don't see most businesses dropping $11,000 on a coffee machine never mind use it to its full potential. But weirder things have happened...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CC: Kind Coffee Company

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Kind Coffee Company
Location visited: Syracuse, NY
Free WiFi ? : maybe
Rating: 3+ [see key]

bandoned warehouses turned into cool chic venues must be one of my favorite looks. The recycling of an old building for a new purpose (given of course that it's still structurally and environmentally sound) makes so much more of a statement (not to mention sense) then tearing it down and erecting another, usually pre-fab, structure.

So looking at Syracuse, NY with its abundant supply of abandoned warehouses, I grew excited when I stumbled across Kind Coffee Company near downtown Armory Square in what looked like an old industrial building. The spray paint making up the majority of the signage and the rich red exterior impressed upon me that it was indeed the makings of an intriguing establishment.

To say my initial intrigue was satisfied when I walked in would be putting it lightly. As I entered through the front door, I am greeted by the perplexing sight of a barely rejuvenated warehouse with barely any artificial light (not to mention natural sun) and some truly mysterious furniture. Don't get me wrong; I love the bohemian look to coffeehouses, but Kind took it to the level that I was not comfortable sticking around.

The coffee is roasted in-house fresh every weekday, with the coffee darkness escalating as the week goes on (i.e. you want to come in Monday or Tuesday if you want a light roast and Friday if you want it dark). He roasts in an industry culinary oven of sorts (which you can do at home in your basic kitchen oven) that seems to give roasts with varying shades (not a bad thing, just a factor from experience that makes roasting a little harder to predict).

The coffee in-house wasn't bad, both cups full-bodied but both were coffees that were roasted day-of, as Kind does not keep coffee past the day its roasted (and coffee doesn't reach maturation until about three days after roasting). I also took a pound to go and to my distinct pleasure, it proved to possess decent quality.

The espresso on the other hand was shady, coming from a machine that looks like it's seen a couple wars. As far as skill, the shots were definitely over-pulled. Didn't catch if they had any tea.

Needless to say, Kind is quite a unique establishment and could hold some promise for future improvement. For now, I would only recommend Kind if you're in the market for a pound of coffee or quick cup of drip coffee to go.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Men Get Their Coffee Faster?

I was flipping through the morning e-papers and found an article from last weekend in Slate about a study performed in Boston about how women wait an average of 20 seconds longer to be served then did men.

I'm guessing the large majority of the eight coffee establishments polled were chains such as Starbucks and such, but I wonder if the same holds true for local places? Realistically, it could very well be a Boston thing or some other factor, but I can't see how or why any barista would have such a dichotomy in service between genders (unless there's a subconscious mechanism at work?).

Monday, November 12, 2007

CC: InFusion Coffee and Tea Gallery

What's a Coffee Commentary?

InFusion Coffee and Tea Gallery
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA
(Bella Vista location off Carpenter St)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

City life has always appealed to me, though I cannot say entirely why. The parking problems, the smells, and the proximity of your neighbors are all things that have never allured me but they seem to be minimized by being so close to everything, the eclectic culture, and the idea of being able to wake up and take a stroll to my favorite haunts.

InFusion Coffee and Tea Gallery seems to have that "favorite haunt" feel, having heard lots about them via various Philly food sources (nothing from my coffee resources) and further confirmed by their homey (and heavily residential) surroundings.

I arrived with the wife on a day in the city, purposefully out of the way of our usual stops to get my morning coffee from InFusion. The place is in a mostly residential area with a nice store front and it's overtly colorful logo prominently displayed on its gray walls across from a very well-kept city park. The inside of course reflected a much warmer, friendlier tone (though very compact) that you can observe better via this video they sent me last week.

As far as their coffee offerings, they offer Torreo and Equal Exchange. I have had Equal Exchange before in several places and it tends to be a heavy-roasted coffee with some rough screams of bitterness. No real experience with Torreo.

The coffee they served me was a dark roast which wasn't so bad, but nothing great either. The espresso was decent, with a nice acidity yet nothing to write home about (unless home reads my blog, and then I guess it is?). The tea is free leaf.

In the end, I don't think I'd be satisfied if I lived by InFusion, as I feel it would be satisfying as a local haunt but not as a place I'd drink my coffee (often). Yet another coffeehouse of mediocrity in Philly...

Friday, November 02, 2007

CP's Top Picks

While I rarely agree with "Best of" articles put out by local papers and periodicals, I usually refer to them to see who was "honored" this time around. But I think I fell in love with CityPaper's truly clever rendition that came out Wednesday, with such categories as "Greatest Advancements in the Field of Mussels" and "Worst Haunt for Nonsmokers." The ones that applied to the coffee and tea arena I've listed below.

Best New Stay-At-Home Dad Destination: InFusion Coffee & Tea Gallery

Greatest Place to Grab a (Yerba) Mate: Premium Steap

Best Suburban Sandwich Stop: Elcy's Coffee House

Most Charming Soy Chai Latte: Walnut Bridge Coffee House

Tastiest Iced Coffee: Beauty Shop Cafe

While I'm always a fan of clever writing, I'm even more of a fan of accurate reviews (!!!!). Though I've only been to one of the places above (InFusion) and attempted to go to another (Premium Steap (can never get there when they're open)), the things they're "best of" are believable unlike the oh so typical "Best Coffeehouse EVER" designation that after a good while loses it's meaning when you give it to such a random assortment of places that have little in common with their best-ness.

Take a gander at the article for yourself!