Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life Enhancement

To one and all, I apologize for the lag in content. We just got a wondrous new addition to our family and it's been a long week of adjustments.

I plan on posting early this week. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 19, 2010

CC: Water Avenue Coffee

Subject: Water Avenue Coffee
Location: Portland, OR
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

While I consider myself a big outdoors person, I really savor old, industrial areas within cities, especially ones that have been revitalized to serve a residential or commercial purpose. One of my top picks is Portland's Southeast Industrial District, not just because it's a pleasant place to stroll but also because it has great coffee.

The coffeehouse I refer to is Water Avenue Coffee. A relative newcomer, having just opened their doors only months ago, their venue initially bedazzled me with their gorgeous wood counters (made from a local, reclaimed tree), huge neon sign (inside) and open space.

With quite the qualified staff, I was practically chomping at the bit to try out their coffee. That particular day Water Ave had their El Salvador as both their espresso and french pressed coffee, and even though I'm a fan of variety in my coffee selection, I'm also pretty flexible, so I went with the flow.

The espresso, pulled short with a nice crema, held tart apple, a smattering of cocoa, a little lemon candy, some whiskey and a bit of peach (very good). The french press had similar sweetness, but more akin to honey as well as some earthy notes, flecks of wheat grass and glazed walnuts. I would agree with their claim on the website that denotes that this coffee has a "versatile profile." The tea was not noted.

Yet another gem in Portland's coffee crown. Make Water Avenue a stop on your route.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mugged: Kopi Luwak [Cat's Ass Coffee]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Cat's Ass Coffee
Coffee Mugged:
Kopi Luwak

Rating: 2+
[see key]

opi Luwak, the only coffee lucky enough to enjoy a trip through a civet, is a coffee that I have long sought to try. Sure it sounds gross to drink a coffee that has been defecated out of the jungle equivalent of a raccoon, but with a price tag in the hundreds for a single pound, who wouldn't be curious?

But my long abstinence came to an end when Cat's Ass Coffee offered to send me out a sampling. Completely flattered, as this coffee is not cheap, I readily accepted with hopes of trying something different.

I received the coffee one sunny day and opening up the coffee, I noticed that the beans were big, plump and extremely black (the darkness from being really over-roasted). I brewed the coffee in the usual three infusions of drip, french press and siphon.

The french press was my first endeavor. The brew produced a really dark coffee with overpowering notes of bitterness and campfire followed with notes of butter, cocoa, a little wheaty ale and a syrupy texture.

The drip delivered a similar result, with primary flavors of bitterness and a little curry along with some flecks of rum, apple, wheat, a little nut and a heavy body.

The siphon proved a little better, as I purposely brewed it a little weaker to compensate for the uber dark roast that emerged in the first two. The result was still a dark coffee with a potent body but much more cocoa, nuttiness, wheat as well as bits of rum and apple.

All three brews displayed little initial reaction with the water, displaying a flat brew common to stale beans (my deduction).

Alas, my first interaction with Kopi Luwak proved not as great as I had hoped. The coffee proved too darkly roasted to enjoy the other flavors and as mentioned above, it seemed pretty old (quality control?). Overall, there was little in this coffee (sadly) that would make me buy it for the price of normal coffee, never mind the price tag of Kopi Luwak.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Monday, November 08, 2010

CC: Herkimer Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?

Herkimer Coffee
Location visited: Seattle, WA
(Greenwood Ave location)
Free WiFi ? : yes
6+ [
see key]

It's still a rare find these days to see coffee roasters focus exclusively on coffees that are environmentally and/or socially responsible. But slowly enough it seems, such practices are becoming more and more common.

One Seattle coffee operation that seems to hold a healthy outlook on their products is Herkimer Coffee. I had caught wind of them due to their reputation for serving quality beans but upon a little more investigation, I was impressed to find their aims for quality extend into the ethical arena (organic, fair trade, etc).

I paid my visit to Herkimer's Phinney Ridge location one lovely weekend morning when the streets were flurried with activity and their shop full of patrons. The entire cafe has a lovely wood construction that makes it seem rugged yet dapper, not to mention the splendid accompaniment of gorgeous lighting, complimentary decor (especially the animal art) and extensive seating (both inside and out).

Of their coffee, I sampled their Colombian via drip and an espresso (which utilizes their espresso blend). The filtered coffee marched in a honey-sweet, grassy coffee with a nice earthiness, a little bright Belgian ale, some bourbon chicken and a subtle darkness that did not hinder the other flavors, but shadowed them well. The espresso espoused bitter cocoa, lemon, glazed doughnut and some dry-roasted peanut all rolled in a well-pulled short shot with robust crema. I did not note the tea.

The glory of Herkimer proved all it was foretold to be. I tip my hat to their tasty products produced responsibly. When nearby, go Herkimer.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

CC: Southside Coffee

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

Making it into Brooklyn for coffee is never easy for me. Despite knowing better, I always figure the subway to take a fraction of the actual travel time and when I finally do arrive at my stop, I realize I only have a small bit of time to enjoy my coffee.

So of course, to make sure I have more time for coffee, I briskly walk to my targeted coffeehouse, Southside Coffee on the corner of 19th and 6th. Having caught wind of some local praise and journalistic favor, my unexpected exercise was fueled by high hopes of finding a genuine gem.

Southside sits on a tranquil corner, with outside seating gated off from the sidewalk. Inside, the environment emits a decent coziness amidst orange walls and more tables then usual in a NYC coffeehouse.

Serving up Intelligentsia, I ordered a cup of their House Blend via french press (pre-brewed in a pump pot) as well as an espresso of Black Cat. The House coffee provided sweet honey, a little pear, orange juice, wheat, nutmeg and a bit of almond. The brew had a lot of sweetness to it and despite being a french pressed coffee, it didn't have a lot of sediment. The espresso also proved delicious, with flavors of lemon, peppercorn, cocoa, cane sugar and a touch of Merlot. I did not note the tea.

To put it simply, Southside satisfied my curiosities splendidly. They displayed decent skills along with good coffee to make me one happy camper. I just wish I had given myself more time.

When in South Slope (or nearby), stop by Southside Coffee.