Sunday, June 30, 2013

CC: Sit and Wonder

Subject: Sit and Wonder
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

A lot of my trips to NYC involve a lot of spirited walking to and fro, running to the many coffee spots I wish to check out. Since I love seeking out the city's constantly evolving coffee scene, my visits are harried and rarely relaxing.

Thus, I found it like a strange omen out of a Dickens novel when one of my coffee stops was Brooklyn's Sit and Wonder. A quaint shop situated on Washington St, this cafe peddles Stumptown Coffee and offers a copious amount of inside tables as well as a spacious, eclectic courtyard in the back.

During my visit, I ordered an espresso of Hairbender and an Indonesian coffee via drip. The espresso, pulled short with a light brown crema, wove a delightful profile of cocoa, basil, lemon, brisket and vanilla ice cream within a smooth body. The drip of Indonesian in turn also proved tantalizing, with notes of fruit punch, hibiscus, biscuit, rosemary and a little nougat amidst a medium body.

Given some free time, I actually had time to tarry a little longer than usual so as to fully enjoy my experience and then some. If you seek a great cafe with great coffee, hunt down Sit and Wonder.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CC: Joe Bean Coffee Roasters

Subject: Joe Bean Coffee Roasters
Location: Rochester, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Of the towns I've frequented in Upstate NY, Rochester is by far one of my favorites. The city holds a lot of nifty sites, good memories and despite the exodus of some large companies like Kodak, the city still seems to grow in its appeal with every visit I make.

One relatively new development (at least to me) was Joe Bean Coffee Roasters. Located down the street from the George Eastman House, Joe Bean is on the bottom floor of a medium-sized office building. The cafe opens up into an extremely warm shop, with a huge island counter allowing for many points of barista-customer interaction plus lots of small tables orbiting on the perimeter.

As an accomplished roaster, they offer a nice variety of beans, and on this visit I sampled a Nicaraguan via pourover and an espresso of their espresso blend (Dolce Vita I believe). The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, held notes of lemon, dark cocoa, nutmeg, ginger, white wine, a pinch of salt and a little balsamic vinegar; a tart yet smooth espresso. The pourover (via Hario) doled out red grape juice, snickerdoodle, vanilla cola, a twang of mango and a dry sauvignon blanc, which in the end made for a vivaciously juicy and sweet coffee.

To frankly summarize, Joe Bean proved one of the better coffee establishments I've been to in NY state. If you're in Rochester, give Joe Bean a shot.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

CC: Broadcast Coffee

Subject: Broadcast Coffee
Location: Seattle, WA (Capitol Hill location)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Often when I listen to the radio during my frequent commutes, I more and more have come to fully grasp the heavy handed power of sponsorship. Between commercials and overtly redundant product placements in broadcasts, it''s a wonder that I still listen to the radio.

Fortunately, the cream rises to the top and with a society of cream lovers, you'll hear the wonders of great establishments regardless of their radio ad budget. Places like Broadcast Coffee in Seattle exists as one such place I would extol as a coffee spot worth a go. With two locations, I was able to wind my way to their Capitol Hill cafe one gloriously sunny afternoon. With it's red flat awning and a line of chairs, the shop owns a simple exterior that leads inside into a warm interior, with high-top wood tables, sleek black chairs and ample lighting.

The coffee hales from Sightglass and Stumptown, both excellent roasters starting with "s." I ordered an espresso of a Sightglass Guatemala and Clever Dripper of a Stumptown Ethiopia. The espresso, pulled short with a brown crema, smacked of vanilla, orange, sassafras, nutmeg and some butter, all together producing a bright and slightly malty sweetness that delivered fireworks. The Ethiopian rolled out notes of mellow cocoa, pear, sweet lobster, wheat and shiitake amidst a medium body, also proving delicious in its totality.

To reiterate the basic gist, I found my visit worthy of remembrance. Next time you're around Seattle, tune into Broadcast Coffee for a visit you can set your presets to.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mugged: Ethiopian Yirg [Coda]

Subject: Coda Coffee Company
Mugged: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
Rating [see key]: 5+

When I was out in Colorado, I was impressed by the reach of Coda Coffee Company. Out around the country I had not heard a whole lot about them but in Colorado, I found them in almost every town I stopped at.

Coming back east, I was fortunate enough to receive an offer to try out their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Having had good experience with them amidst the purple mountains majesty of Colorado, I accepted, infusing the coffee in my pourover, Espro Press and siphon.

The pourover demonstrated a multifaceted cup of dark cocoa, buttermilk biscuit, raspberry, pear, romaine lettuce and nutmeg amidst a medium body. Sweet and bright with a pinch of wheat.

The Espro Press created a similar cup, brimming with dark cocoa, raspberry, cherry, nutmeg, buttermilk biscuit and slight spiny melon within a medium body.

The last brew of siphon was the smoothest of the three. Full of chocolate milk, buttermilk biscuit, cherry, pear, nutmeg, tarragon and pronounced spiny melon, the brew had a lighter, medium body with a creamier and more distinctly wheaty profile.

Thus, if you seek a smooth Ethiopian with lots of cocoa and fruit, Coda's Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is a fine candidate. Check out their website or stop by one of the many shops around Colorado to give the coffee a go.

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

Sunday, June 09, 2013

CC: Overflow Coffee Bar

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

Staring at a map of Chicago, there are very few paths to get from the McCormick Place Convention Center to a decent coffeehouse. The closest I've found to date is a funky place on State St called Overflow Coffee Bar. Set in a very wide store front, the voluminous cafe seems to be home to many students during the course of the year, as there are a few institutions of learning close by and Overflow has a lot of tables, not to mention a slight, unique aura of a school bookstore.

Sauntering up to the centrally placed counter, I ordered an espresso of Ipsento's Wildfire and a drip Coffee Ambassador's Brazil. The espresso, pulled to a medium volume with light brown crema, blasted out notes of cocoa, cherry, oregano, sweet wheat and fig, proving in totality to be a smooth, chocolatey espresso. The Brazil dictated triscuit, apple, prune and a little basil, composing a bright and hearty coffee that made for many a delightful sip.   

Quite thrilled with my experience, I take heart that a mere 20 minute walk stands in the way between decent coffee and the endless halls of McCormick Place. If you're in town for a conference or for different strokes, meander over to Overflow.

Mugged: Peru and Malawi [Greyhound]

Subject: Greyhound Coffee Roasters
via BrewPony
Mugged: Peru Rainforest Alliance Organic and Malawi AA
Rating [see key]: 4+ for both

Coffee subscription services seem to be exploding out of the woodwork these days and it's getting harder and harder to find one worth the time. Having tried my share, I can say that though pricy, they hold a lot of promise for the wearied coffee fanatic looking for quality, regular shipments. 

The newest coffee subscription to my tongue is BrewPony, a company based out of Portland that seems to use a lot of local Oregon roasters. I was fortunate to try out their April shipment of Greyhound Coffee Roasters, a nifty operation that gets their name from their love of the noble greyhound (not to mention that a portion of their profits go to greyhound causes). Of their many coffees, I was sent the Malawi AA and the Peru Rainforest Alliance Organic, each I cupped via pourover, french press and siphon.

Leading off with the Peru in my pourover, the cup consisted of cola, molasses, fig, a little sage, minor wheat and some honey within a medium body. The french press held similar notes with the addition of some buttermilk, cracked pepper and pear skin, proving deeper, complex and a little bitter. The siphon finished off the least bitter of the three, with flecks of cola, wheat, pepper, fig and peanut in a medium body. Overall, a decent coffee with malty and hearty qualities.

The Malawi followed next. The pourover sang out notes of sesame, raisin, fresh rye bread, sunflower seed and a little honey, consisting largely of a sweet, seed-ful coffee. For the french press, the seed-y qualities seemed to vanish, proving more full of caramel, black tea, apple, anise, root beer and minor tobacco. The siphon seemed like a fusion of the last two infusions, with a balanced merge of rye bread, raisin, toasted almond, caramel, fig and a little tobacco. Summarized, a sweet coffee smacking of nuts and juice, backed with some astringent facets. 

All together, I can't say that these two coffees were my all-time favorites given their bitter and/or deep flavors, but at the same time they weren't half bad. Try out Greyhound Coffee Roasters and Brew Pony if you're looking to add a kick of Oregon to your coffee repertoire.

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

Sunday, June 02, 2013

CC: Turnstile Coffee Roasters

Subject: Turnstile Coffee Roasters
Location: Belmar, NJ
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Sandy sure did do a number on the Jersey shore. If you haven't had the horror of seeing it first hand, I can tell you that the experience is surreal. Picture perfect places that spawned so many memories are now forever changed.

But fortunately, some aspects of the shore were not totaled and some were barely hit. One encouraging sight for me was a place called Turnstile Coffee Roasters in Belmar. Planted a bit away from the beach itself, Turnstile is located in a gorgeous grey shopping center off Route 71. The interior emanated a classy charm that made one feel fancy and at home simultaneously, with an array of wood tables, a leather couch and superbly pleasant lighting.

The coffee available comes from both their in-house roasting operation as well as some outside roasters like Stumptown and Counter Culture. That day, I had a pourover of Turnstile's Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and an espresso of Stumptown's Hairbender. The pourover doled out notes of vanilla, cocoa, berry, a little black tea and buttered croissant; a sweet and creamy coffee with lots of potently delicious facets. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, tossed me notes of lemon syrup, cocoa, curry, caramel, whole milk and a tinge of sage, proving to be a great pull of Hairbender.

While NJ coffee has been improving (especially along the Jersey Coast Line; here's even an ongoing feature from the Anchor on some local baristas), Turnstile is definitely a rare sight still in these parts. They hold many torches, exemplifying a roasting operation, superb skill, great coffees from other great roasters and a nice location. If you're in town for vacation or just passing through, stop by Turnstile for some great coffee.