Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CC: Sola Coffee

Subject: Sola Coffee
Location: Raleigh, NC
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

The more I hear about North Carolina, the more I am attracted to it. I've seen much of the state at one time or another in my brief existence, and from what I recall (some trips were long ago) I loved the parts I saw, especially Asheville and Charlotte. 

But oddly, all of my trips managed to miss the triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, that is until recently when I had to head down on official business. Blessedly, I found plenty of great coffee establishments to possibly patronize in my travels. 

My first morning in town, I let geography pick my coffeehouse and I made my way over to Sola Coffee in North Raleigh. A huge building all to itself, Sola is flanked with beautiful horitculture, ample outside seating and a lovely stone edifice. Inside, the place emanated a warm aura with a hip yet rustic decor, full of numerous tables and seating bathed in pleasant light. They had a large counter as well, with a separate pourover bar.

As for coffee, they serve up local Counter Culture. I ordered an espresso of Toscana and a drip of Farmhouse. My espresso, pulled short with brownish-tan crema, held notes of cocoa, vanilla, lime, season salt and coriander; a deliciously executed drink. The drip also proved delectable, with a rush of passion fruit, hibiscus, tomato, olive oil, oregano and nutmeg amidst a medium body.

After a getting a little bit of work done, I made my off into the morning traffic satisfied in the great experience Sola Coffee delivered. When you're in Raleigh, Sola is a grand option.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mugged: Hope Blend [Bonlife]

Subject: Bonlife Coffee
Mugged: Hope Blend
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Tennessee is a great southern state, home to superb bbq, gorgeous hiking and legal adoption for folks over 18. It's a state I can say I've traversed numerous times and each time, found something new. 

But having been away from the honky-tonk state for some years, I've been unable to sample the developing coffee scene that has been gaining steam in the years past. One such coffee entity to set down roots is Bonlife Coffee, an international company that opened its doors in Tennessee this past summer. They asked if they could send out some coffee for my opinion, and after some quick communication they sent me out a pound of their Hope Blend. I sampled the coffee via pourover, french press and siphon.

The drip produced vanilla followed by sweet cocoa, along with notes of butter, grass, caraway seed and some toasted almond, all within a mild body. A delicious brew with a nutty sweetness. 

The french press proved mellower, with vanilla, cocoa,wheat, caramel and toasted almond amidst a light, buttery body. A sweet and smooth cup.

The siphon came third in order and in favor. The cup held more of a bittersweet cocoa, along with fig, flemish sour ale and strong nut notes, coupled with some wheaty undertones. A little heavier but still a good cup. 

To sum it up, I would definitely order the Hope Blend again, as it proved to have a nice profile of nuts and sweet cocoa with some other varying positive characters. If you happen to be in Cleveland, TN or an internet purchase away, give Bonlife a whirl.    

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

Sunday, October 21, 2012

CC: New Wave Coffee

Location: Chicago, IL
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

While most folks prefer their coffee in the morning, I really think I enjoy my coffee more in the evening. Maybe it's beacuse my taste buds have awoken more fully by night; perhaps it's due to the fact that late-night studying largely birthed my love for coffee. Regardless of the reason, it's always a delight to grab a swell cup of coffee for what lies ahead when the sun goes down. 

Last I was in Chicago, I decided to pay a twilight visit to a cafe called New Wave Coffee, a cafe known to be serving Metropolis Coffee and doing fine things with it. Straddling Milwaukee Ave and Logan Blvd, the place has an entrance on each side with a creamy center containing a pink and blue tile floor, some interesting art pieces and a pleasing mix of random furniture.

For my coffee beverages, I ordered an espresso of the Redline Espresso and a drip of a Costa Rican. The espresso, pulled short with a dark brown marbled crema, held flavors of mellow chocolate, Seagrams, salt, sugar cookie and apples; a delicious showing of Redline. The Costa Rican extended out notes of raspberry, cherry, torte, pie crust, a little hot cocoa and a tad bit almond milk; an overall crowd-pleasing coffee. 

To put it plain, I thought my visit to New Wave proved delightful and fulfilling, especially on the part of the coffee. Surf over to New Wave for good stuff regardless of when you like to imbibe your coffee.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mugged: 2012 Reserve [Manana Madera]

Subject: Manana Madera Coffee Estate
Mugged: 2012 Reserve
Rating: 4+ [see key]

It’s not often that I get to try the same coffee from the same farm 2 years later, but fortunately there are botique operations out there like the Manana Madera Coffee Estate in Boquete, Panama that grow, harvest and roast their own beans (along with offering a pretty sweet coffee getaway). They had sent me their beans in 2010 for review, and with a pretty favorable rating I was very intrigued to see what this year’s crop would behold. 

One sunny day, I received the coffee in similar packaging as last time, straight from Panama. I tested out the coffee via pourover, french press and siphon, but since I had written my notes of the siphon on a medium I lost (i.e. I accidentally deleted it), only my actual notes on the drip and french press are below.

The pourover held strong notes apple, nutmeg, light smokiness, raspberry and biscuit. A medium/heavy bodied coffee with a pleasant array of flavors, overall ruled by a sweet tartness and hearty notes.

The french press produced varying flavors; a little smokiness, some apple, nutmeg, a little peanut, raspberry and bit of burlap. A light/medium body infusion with a twinge of a carbon on the end, this infusion proved sweet though a tad darker than I would want. 

The siphon I remember being closer to the pourover in flavors with a slightly heavier body, but alas it is only a memory. 

Thus, I would say that despite some smoky characteristics that gave it a tobacco-esque back end, I would say that this Panama proves quite delicious especially if you’re looking for a coffee with flavors of sweet fruits countered with a smoky character. I would not mind sipping this coffee on the patio their plantation villa getaway. If you’re ever on the hunt for a unique Panama coffee from a unique farm, give Manana Madera’s Reserve a try.

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

Sunday, October 07, 2012

CC: Espresso Bueno

Subject: Espresso Bueno
Location: Barre, VT
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Part of the charm of Vermont is the prominence of small towns and cities that dot the landscape. Places like Barre, a small mining town that even in their industrial peak only held about 10 thousand folks, really beget a simple yet extraordinary existence. 

Like every town and city should have, Barre is home to a reputedly great coffeehouse called Espresso Bueno. Operating out of a brick store front on Main Street, the cafe provides a warm environment of orange and black, full of soothing woods and comfortable chairs. 

As for their beans, they sling coffee from Vermont Artisan Coffee out of Waterbury. The day of my visit I ordered an espresso of their espresso blend and a pourover of their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. The espresso, pulled short with dark brown crema, trumpeted notes of smooth chocolate, salty grapefruit and a little basil amidst an overall balanced flavor and pleasant mouthfeel. The pourover remitted accents of asian pear, pound cake, hot cocoa, a little oregano and a pinch of wheat; a delicious coffee within a medium body. 

To find that Espresso Bueno proved as scrumptious as their advocates had advocated was that extra bit of sunshine to make a day truly sparkle. If you happen to be in or around Barre, make sure to stop by.