Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mugged: Costa Rican Peaberry [Apres Coffee]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Subject: Apres Cafe
Coffee Mugged: Costa Rican Peaberry
Rating: 3+ [see key]

As many of you may have noticed, July and August are the craziest time of year for me (overtime!). And while that results in a few less blog posts and less time to hunt out good coffee, it really makes the coffee I ingest really hold more of a morale boost than its usual luxury status.

One such coffee that helped push me through such tumultuous times was Apres Cafe's Costa Rican Peaberry. I had good fortunes with their La Esmeralda prior, so I had a good feeling about this coffee as well. Visually, the Costa Rican had a darker look than the La Esmeralda but not too dark to be written off on first glance.

I brewed it via french press first. The brew had a d
ark and nutty earthiness, with a tinge of cocoa and noticeable bitterness in the back. Via drip, the coffee produced a buttery, smooth taste with much more darkness pronounced along with the hints of cocoa as well as some mild apple. Overall, the Costa Rican managed to spell out a decent coffee roasted a little too long.

Thus, while I felt that the Costa Rican could have proved better, it still held me up amidst my crazy weeks. Give the peaberry a whirl if you're looking for a dark, sweet and earthy Central American coffee.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

CC: Amherst Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?

Amherst Coffee
Location visited: Amherst, MA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Early morning coffee stops can be a wondrous experience if planned well. Too often, people grab their coffee like a falcon snatching up an unfortunate rodent. But a nice slow stop at a grand cafe really starts the day off right.

Yet sadly, good coffee always seems to elude me in the morning. Thus, when I was last on a business excursion in Massachusetts, I decided to put the morning coffee stop at the forefront and going on a tip, I drove over 45 minutes to a place called Amherst Coffee.

The coffeehouse sits in the main stretch of town in a gorgeous large-windowed building next to a theater. Inside the cafe has a spacious bar on the right, a nice array of wood furniture and an overall inviting ambiance.

Amherst Coffee uses Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, a lovely roaster that produces quite a grand cup of coffee. I ordered the Sumatran (a very bright Sumatran) that had flecks of cranberry and oolong with an overall bold yet smooth taste. The espresso was pulled short and had a sweet whiskey-ish tang, a decent crema and a hint of semi-sweet chocolate. The tea is free leaf and they also exhibit an extensive wine bar.

After grabbing a seat, I managed to take some time to enjoy my morning brew and then, drove quite quickly (yet legally) to my work destination. If you happen to be close or in Amherst, definitely give Amherst Coffee a sampling.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mugged: Los Milagros [Crescent Moon]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Subject: Crescent Moon Coffee & Tea
Coffee Mugged:
El Salvador Los Milagros

Rating: 5+ [see key]

ood coffee produced from a quality farm always hits jolly on the spot. Many times, the desire to do right for the coffee producers and harvesters falls under the tires of horrific roasting (so many coffee companies dedicated to social justice never seem to roast well) and hence, so often the hunt for quality taste overwhelms the quest for coffee traded fairly.

But coffees such as Crescent Moon Coffee & Tea's El Salvador Los Milagros restore my hope that just coffee can be roasted just right. The coffee comes from a woman-owned cooperative that is also USDA organic and bird friendly. I first took notice of it on an Independent Coffee Cooperative flier and made a point to try it out.

Fortunately, I landed a pound and excitedly made my way home to try it out. I had it via french press, vacuum press and drip, each one a bit different but all of them similarly wonderful. The french press proved the most luminous, with a strong taste of honey and hints of flowering grass and apple with a subtle earthiness. The vacuum press and drip also produced similar results, both equally refreshing and lovely.

Overall, I savored every cup of Los Milagros and am glad to see such a tremendous coffee offered all over Philadelphia. If you're looking for a good sustainable Central American coffee, give Crescent Moon's Los Milagros a try.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

CC: Sova Espresso & Wine

What's does "CC" mean?
Location visited: Washington, DC
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

How far would you walk for amazing coffee? I would bank that on my daily routine, I would be ok with a ten block walk (with a block equaling on average of 271 ft) out of the way to grab good coffee and a 2 mile hike every once in a while.

In my past visit to DC, my one friend lamented that he found a truly excellent coffeehouse that was not only way out of his normal travels but was also a bit of a hike from the nearest metro stop (Union Station). This distant gem he called Sova and on on my latest visit, he insisted a stop.

Trusting my wise friend, we made our way to the Sova, a modest tan, brick store front accented with maroon. Inside, the place really opens up into an extremely gorgeous two-story cafe, complete with various arrays of really splendid furniture and decor (seriously one of the nicest layouts I've seen).

The coffee comes from Intelligentsia (not as common in DC, but still familiar). First on my order was an espresso that displayed condensed milk, hints of pear and lemonade as well as a speckling of nutmeg. As for their drip/pressed coffee, they were out of Intelly that day, but they served me up a delightful organic Ethiopian from Counter Culture that had a tart blueberry smash up front, with a balanced tea-like body and a beautiful smoothness. The tea is free leaf and they also have an extensive wine bar on the second floor.

After soaking the Sova experience in fully, I would definitely walk out of my way to stop in. If you're looking for an amazing coffeehouse and possibly a little exercise, than go to Sova.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Tokyo Aged Coffee


Got a heads up from thinkmore on this interesting coffeehouse in Tokyo that serves coffee aged as long as thirty years (seems to be a trend gaining momentum, like aged liquor once did).

Friday, August 07, 2009

One Stellar Coffee Trip

In one of my blog readings, I stumbled across this website called the Cafe Circuit that is dedicated to a couple of baristas' western coffee pilgrimage via motorcycle posse.

The website is quite well-done and the reading well worth it. I have to say I wish I could fit a trip like that in while the weather is fine.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

CC: Sidamo Coffee and Tea

What's does "CC" mean?
Location visited: Washington, DC
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Ethiopia has always been a country that has interested me. One of the few African countries that never really endured colonial rule, Ethiopia has stood the test of time with thousands of years of rich history. Of that history, one topic of great interest to me is that Ethiopia is the championed birth place of coffee.

But alas, my low funds have kept me from a trip to Africa and so when I decided to make a stop in DC to visit a friend, I was intrigued when he suggested we visit an Ethiopian coffeehouse called Sidamo.

Located east of Union Station on H Street, Sidamo stands out with a huge ceramic pot jutting out over their open storefront windows. Inside, the cafe has a long layout with nice exposed brick, beautiful pieces of art and a gorgeous garden patio in the back.

The coffee is roasted in-house and all sourced from Ethiopia (at least that's what I interpreted). I had a decent cup of their Ethiopian Sidamo that demonstrated a bright cinnamon, cherry-esque coffee that was just a tad too dark and had minor hints of cardboard. The espresso faired decently as well, with a short pull producing hints of white chocolate, a buttery texture, fair crema and a bit of a bitter bite on the end. The tea is free leaf.

While I wasn't blown away, I really savored my experience at Sidamo. It's rare to find a coffeehouse based on one country's coffee and plus, the people there were super nice. Hopefully, the place keeps getting better as it seems to have a lot of potential.

If you happen to be around, give Sidamo a swirl.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

CC: Caffe Pronto

Subject: Caffe Pronto
aka Ceremony Coffee's last vestige of it's old name
Location visited: Annapolis, MD
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

*UPDATED 02.10.14, at bottom*

While I've always wanted to visit the city of Annapolis to see the rich Chesapeake Bay history and Naval wonderment, time unfortunately held me to a short pit stop.

Wanting to utilize my time and cup of coffee wisely, I chose amongst several locations of a popular coffeehouse and roaster called Caffe Pronto. Having had several of their batches before at a couple different other coffee establishments, I have actually been aching to make a stop at one of their own stores to see how they wield their beans.

Based purely on geographical proximity to the highway, I made a beeline for their spot amidst the humongous Festival at Riva shopping megalopolis. Wading through the immense mall traffic, I finally landed outside the corner shop with its beautiful huge windows and bright brick shell.

In I walked into Caffe Pronto's open cafe, a very nice space with plenty of furniture and an overall very luminous atmosphere. As mentioned, they roast a mean batch of coffee and they brew their coffee by the cup via a pourover (aka manual drip). I ordered their Brazil Cerrado, a smooth earthy coffee with the sweetness of a pear, a touch of earl grey and a nice body; a pleasant coffee in totality. The espresso made for a pretty good cup, as the short/medium pull possessed decent crema and displayed a little like a chocolate-covered cherry with hints of dark bitterness. The tea is Revolution Tea.

Including a pleasant interchange with both baristas, I really found my stop at Caffe Pronto to be a gust of refreshment. If you happen to be near a Caffe Pronto or one of their purveyors, give them a slurp.

*Update 02/10/14*

Despite the image change to Ceremony Coffee Roasters, this lone vestige of Caffe Pronto remains. The shop has been updated (I love the birch trunks behind the wood booths) and the coffee has improved categorically (hence the update in rating).