Monday, April 29, 2013

CC: Metropolis Coffee

Subject: Metropolis Coffee
Location: Denver, CO
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Back in 2007, I had a road trip planned through Denver and naturally, had a list of coffeehouses to hit. Sadly, because of time lost during that fabled road trip, I only made it to one place outside of Denver (Calders Coffee right during their last few days of operation). Additionally, since my scrapbooking stinks, I don't recall all of the spots I had hoped to patronize in one: Denver's Metropolis Coffee. I remember it solely because Metropolis Coffee of Chicago was also on my list, and unlike the Denver Metropolis, I was able to hit Metropolis Chicago (note that the two Metropolises are unrelated).

But finally, after many long years, I was able to hit Metropolis Coffee of Denver at their Golden Triangle location. Sitting in the corner retail space of a swanky apartment building, Metropolis' interior consisted of vaulted ceilings, deep red walls and tons of window space surrounding a nice assortment of seating.

As for coffee, they serve up Herkimer Coffee out of Seattle. While visiting, I ordered an espresso of what I believe was the Espresso Blend (my notes do not name it but my memory recalls it so) and a drip of a Kenyan. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, proved sweetly delicious with notes of rock candy, semisweet chocolate, a little salt, a bit of bourbon and sassafras. The drip of the Kenyan purveyed notes of strawberry, barley, tomato, sugar cookie and a little parsley, a coffee proving light and succulent.

While I am not a fan of waiting, Metropolis Coffee of Denver was well worth it. If you're in town, make sure to stop by this Denver gem.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mugged: El Chupacabra [Happyrock]

Subject: Happyrock Coffee Roasting Co.
Mugged: El Chupacabra
Rating [see key]: 3+

Naming coffee blends remains always an interesting task. Most of the time, roasters either stick pretty close to convention (breakfast blend, french roast, etc) or pick something completely inane (like Sam's Super Summer Fist Pump). But every now and then, a roaster will pick something that actually foots the bill of creativity and effective description.

Take Happyrock Coffee's El Chupacabra blend. A coffee recently sent out to me, I found the name at first a little scary for a coffee blend, being that chupacabras are rumored to be creatures of the night that suck the blood of livestock. But putting my mental associations to the side, I took the coffee for a spin in my pourover, french press and siphon.

The pourover doled out notes of cocoa, rye bread, tobacco, honey apple and a little cola, all within a sweet, medium body with a bit of a bitter kick on the end.

French pressing the coffee gave the beast girth, with this infusion proving heavier and more laden with tobacco flavors, along with remnants of butter, apple with skin, cocoa and cumin. A sweet brew still but much more of bitter presence.

The siphon was a medium-bodied coffee full of apple with skin, minestrone broth, chile powder and cumin. A heartier brew with bitter sweet highlights.

Thus, this coffee truly lived up to its name as a "dark" brew with a "bite." If you're looking for a full-bodied coffee with sweet aspects and a bitter kick on the back end, try out El Chupacabra.

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

CC: Metronome Coffee

Subject: Metronome Coffee
Location: Tacoma, WA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When I get over to the Seattle area, I try to make it outside the city for at least one adventure in a nearby destination. This last time I went out of my way to Tacoma, the "City of Destiny", to do a quick driving tour and of course grab some evening coffee.

Catching wind of a few places, I settled upon a spot with a rather large space called Metronome Coffee. Situated in a corner building with a gorgeous outside patio (for nicer weather), the interior is eclectic with clean horizontal lines, bright lights and an overarching classy feel. Their coffee of choice was Victrola (a perfect choice given the musically-related names of each establishment) from the north, of which I had the Streamline blend for espresso and an Ethiopian Wote Konga for a pourover. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, held nicely balanced notes of vanilla, fig, cocoa and salty peanut; a stellar beverage throughout. The Ethiopian pourover rang of fresh blueberry muffin, wheat, teriyaki, sage and slight Dr. Pepper in a medium body, rounding out to be one deliciously bright and delicious coffee.

After hanging about for a little open mic fun, I made my way out back to my Seattle hotel left with a desire to see more of Tacoma another day. If you make it there before I, give Metronome a stop for some great coffee.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

CC: Kava Cafe

Subject: Kava Cafe
Location: Breckenridge, CO
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

There's something about old wood buildings that makes me chipper. Maybe it's my love of spaghetti westerns or maybe it's the rustic feel of days past, but no matter my impetus, it is also quite the trend in many places to set up shop in old barns or bungalows.

One town that is full of such spiffy-looking digs is Breckenridge, Colorado. Walking down and around the main thoroughfares you are bound to see some intriguing constructs, ranging from salons to outfitters. One particular establishment that caught my eye for it's character also drew my gaze for the contents: a small shop slinging small donuts and coffee called Kava Cafe.

Though I had heard word about their great small donuts, I had not heard anything of their coffee. Looking inside their shack, I noticed they purvey Coda Coffee out of Denver, and having had fair experience with them prior, I gave Kava's coffee a try. For espresso, I had the Harmony blend and for the drip I had their Sumatra. The espresso, pulled somewhat long with thick blondish-brown crema, held potent notes of pepper and cinnamon within a bitter dark bite with not much else for flavor (alas, not the best espresso I've ever had). The Sumatra on the flip side was one of the better Sumatran coffees I've sampled in recent memory, with notes of honey, apple juice, caramel and nutmeg amidst a smooth, well-balanced, medium body.

While I can't boast of the espresso service that I had, it's plausible I hit the barista at a bad time. But even so, Kava still seems like a great spot on the main drag of Breck for a good cup of drip and some great, freshly-made donuts. Give it a try if you're in town.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

CC: Ozo Coffee

Subject: Ozo Coffee Roasters
Location: Boulder, CO
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Some time ago when I was running a contest on my readers' favorite coffeehouses, someone submitted Ozo Coffee Roasters in Boulder. Not too familiar with the entity, the reader who claimed them as favorite was quite persuasive in their praise. So persuasive in fact that the next time I found some time in Boulder, I made a priority stop at their Pearl St. location.

Standing as one of three locations, the Pearl St. Ozo seems to be a well-loved fixture in the area. Walking inside, the place was packed with vibrant patrons stretching the length of the long, earth toned shop. The counter was a beast in itself, with two identical espresso machines (Synesso Cyncras I believe) and an army of baristas.

As for coffee, Ozo roasts their own, and thus I had an espresso of their Espresso 2012 and a pourover of their Peru Kikara. The espresso, pulled to a medium volume with brown crema, struck chords of blood orange, cocoa, oatmeal and ginger with a pinch of salt and oregano, overall hammering out a splendid spro with slightly astringent notes. The pourover reminded me of a German feast, with notes of hefeweizen, apple, challah, a little date and minor grilled chicken; a sweet and wheaty coffee with hearty undertones.

After spending some additional time soaking in the atmosphere, I could easily see why someone would vote Ozo as an all-time favorite. When you're in town, stop by Ozo Coffee Roasters for a great cup of coffee.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

CC: Tougo Coffee

Subject: Tougo Coffee Co
Location: Seattle, WA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Sifting through Seattle's coffee scene can be, at times, more work than one would expect. Sure you have greater chances of happening upon a great coffee joint than in many other cities, but the sheer volume of coffee options can still make it hard to find a spot truly worth your patronage.

Fortunately, coffee geeks tend to be vocal and the cream rises to the top. When I was last in town, I had heard great things of Tougo Coffee on Capitol Hill and sure enough, my rental car made its merry way easily through the miry weather straight to the threshold of Tougo. The cafe sits in a brick one-story building with big glass windows and some outside seating for what nice weather can get through. Inside, the place is well lit with a spiffy wood slat ceiling (the slats technically extended to the top part of the wall) and a pleasing assortment of furniture.

The coffee comes from a variety of roasters such as Stumptown, Ritual, Oslo and Kuma. That day I had an Ethiopian from Kuma Coffee via espresso and a mystery coffee via drip (the barista literally forgot what she brewed that morning). The espresso, pulled short with an even brown crema, held notes of blueberry, molten chocolate, sweet nougat, jam torte and a little sage; a bright spro with a smooth body. The unknown drip coffee proved delectable as well, with elements of curry, biscuit, deep cocoa, basil and a bit of cashew amidst a medium body.

All in all, Tougo tugged firmly at my sentimental gut strings, proving well worth the stop. If you travel to Capitol Hill, toot over to Tougo.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Mugged: Java Love [The Organic Coffee Co.]

Subject: Organic Coffee Co. of the Rogers Family Company
Mugged: Java Love
Rating [see key]: 3+

Having worked in a family company myself, I somewhat identify with organizations that are family owned and run. One new family company to my radar is the Rogers Family Company, a coffee roaster that's been around since 1979 and a company that holds numerous kin in their ranks. Recently they sent me out their Java Love blend to take for a spin. A full city roast of coffees from Latin America and Indonesia, I tried out this coffee via pourover, french press and siphon.

The pourover demonstrated notes of peanut, pepper, pear and a bit of licorice amidst a heavy body. A dark, peppery coffee with a nice element of nut and minor sweetness.

The french press proved much fruitier with notes strawberry and apple unskinned, along with flavors of pepper and cocoa. A sweeter brew though still astringent and deep.

The vacuum pot doled out pepper, nougat, apple, a bit of licorice and some cashew. Dark, yet sweet and nutty.

Overall, while I like family companies, I wasn't a big fan of this coffee. It proved a bit too dark for my liking and while it had some nice nutty and sweet notes, it was also a little to heavy in the body department. But then again, if you seek a darker coffee with a heavy body and sweet, nutty flavors, give your affection to Java Love.

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