Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CC: The Warehouse Cafe

Subject: The Warehouse Cafe
Location: Jersey City, NJ
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Jersey City used to confuse me. When I was a wee lad, talk of JC came up between two adult relatives and as they bantered, Jersey City was conveyed to my spying ears as the NJ version of New York City (I don't recall what caused this dot connecting; it just happened). My young mind thought that it was amazing that there were two huge metropolises right across from one another. But then again, at that time I was also convinced that there was a live dinosaur buried in the backyard of my friend's house. 

Years later, my perspective on Jersey City has changed for the better and my love of this Jersey haven has grown. Not only is it a city full of history but it's got a lot of little nooks worth a visit. One particular operation to catch my eye as of late was the Warehouse Cafe, a coffeehouse located on the lower level of a historic warehouse that now contains some swanky lofts. The space is actually above street level, providing a nice patio, and with the aid of their large windows, it all seems to blend beautifully inside to the cozy, well-outfitted interior. 

The coffee comes from Intelligentsia, consisting primarily of a custom house blend and Black Cat. With my decision predetermined for lack of choice (sometimes a good thing), I had a cup of the house via drip and an espresso of Black Cat. The drip served notes of tomato, shortbread, lime juice, nougat, cider and a bit of bay leaf, making a for a medium-bodied, well-balanced coffee. The espresso, pulled to a medium volume with brownish-tan crema, held notes ginger, coriander, cocoa and a little spring mix salad; all together a good infusion of Black Cat. 

As for places I will probably refrequent, I can add the Warehouse Cafe to the short list of NJ establishments serving coffee worth drinking.  Next time you happen to be in lovely Jersey City, take a stroll over to the Warehouse.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

CC: ReAnimator Coffee Roasters

Subject: Reanimator Coffee Roasters
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

First impressions are a bit of a red herring. I often tell one of my favorite friends that when I first met her during a job interview, I had written her off as a snotty and demanding person by the end of 45 minutes in the same room. Of course, I turned out wrong and years later, her tribe and mine both are fond cohorts.

The misleading nature of first impressions goes for businesses as well. For example, the first time I made the acquaintance of ReAnimator Coffee Roasters was in a cozy Thai restaurant in South Philadelphia outfitted with sub-par coffee equipment. Another friend and I were enjoying a leisurely and delicious lunch when I glanced to their drink area and made out what I later learned to be a bag of ReAnimator Coffee. Not liking coffee with Thai food, I passed on the coffee but I recall my brain making an unconscious frowny face on the brand.

But like most ill-conceived notions, that frowny face quickly turned into a gaping smile with my first real interaction with ReAnimator. Then after my second and third positive run-in with ReAnimator, I became convinced that this then new-to-the-scene Philly coffee roaster was destined for greatness. Thus, when the first ReAnimator brick-and-mortar shop opened this past autumn, I was all too excited to try out their wares in their own house.

Located at one of the five points of the intersection along with Loco Pez and Cedar Point Bar and Kitchen, ReAnimator Coffee adds a much-needed caffeine haven to the area. Walking through the front door at the building vertex, I sauntered through the minimalistic interior past various tables and chairs until I reached the gorgeous, custom concrete counter at the back. After some brief barista banter, I ordered an espresso and a pourover of their Ethiopia Kochere. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, smacked of blood orange, chocolate nibs, some lime zest, sage and a touch of Wheat Thins, making for a bright and delicious infusion. The pourover version of the coffee proved sweeter and more mellow, with notes of honey, peaches, candy caramel, wheat cracker, birch and kale within a medium body.

Needless to say, I had a field day at ReAnimator. Make ye your way to Fishtown for some great coffee. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

CC: Dub Pies

Subject: Dub Pies
Location Visited: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : I think not
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Pie has to be one of the single best mediums for conveying flavor. I can think of few items that tempt me and often allude me more than sumptuous pie delights like salty honey walnut, peach ginger and fresh, no-syrup-filler apple pie. And of course, I stand with the masses whose love for pie is seemingly only eclipsed by the inability (due to finances, geography or both) to get great piece all the time.

Yet for all the wonders of pie, America has not the fervent love for meat pies that our Aussie and Middle Earth (aka New Zealand) counterparts kindle. Sure we have chicken pot pie and shepherds pie, but how many of us have had a steak mince pie or a thai chicken curry pie? Not nearly enough of us. And to battle this pie-lessness, Dub Pies of NYC beats the war drums of their pie march upon the urban landscape around them. 

One evening, I was able to make it out to their Greenwich Village shop for a savory pie before heading on my way home. To my surprise while ordering, not only do they bear great pies but also a love for great coffee. Sporting Counter Culture Coffee, I decided to order an espresso of the Espresso La Forza (a more traditional, southern Italian-style espresso) and a drip of Kenyan (I failed to note the specific origin). The espresso, pulled a short-to-medium with a light brown crema, unfolded notes of vanilla, lemon, sugar, bittersweet chocolate and a touch of pepper; definitely full of traditional flavor though it seemed it was pulled a bit hot. The Kenyan metered out a great infusion of apricot, chocolate cake, sweet Hawaiian rolls, berries and light sage, making for a smooth and bright cup. 

Thus, not only did I sate my ravenous pie lust but I also had a great coffee experience. Delay not a dub-ious second; round up your kin and make a trip to a Dub Pies location next time you're in town (be on the lookout for the trucks!) or if ye reside local, get it delivered.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mugged: Citron and Poire [Le Palais Des Thes]

Subject: Le Palais des Thés
Teas Mugged: Le Citron and La Poire
Rating [see key]: both 4+

Having recently finished up a weekend at the NYC Coffee Fest, I am always amazed at how much of the coffee and tea industry involves flavoring. Of course flavored coffees I forcefully embargo, and syrups rarely pass through my lips (I try to keep my sweetener intake low), but natural flavoring in teas seem to be the one instance where an additive to the medium has some legitimate ability to add some quality flavor without using harsh chemicals or sugar.

Recently, I took some tea from Le Palais des Thés for a spin, trying out their Le Citron (Lemon) and La Poire (Pear). Both teas are flavored and each claims natural flavorings and refreshing results. I sampled each tea according to the brew recommendations on the product pages. 

The Le Citron smacked of lemon candy, cherry blossoms and cake, followed by a strong backbone of Sri Lankan black tea. While the taste of lemon was more akin to a sugary lemon concoction than an actual lemon, the tea all in all proved light and tart with some fairly solid qualities.

The La Poire also had a sweet, albeit more subtle, candied quality of fruit about it (in this case pear), along with notes of lemongrass, chardonnay and flecks of a deep green tea. Complete with marigold petals, this tea makes for a pretty sight and a decent brew.

While, I can't say that these two teas were my all-time favorites (I usually prefer my fruit flavorings from a fresh source), they each made for a fairly refreshing cup of tea. For a taste of France, check out these as well as the numerous other tea options on the Le Palais des Thés website.

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

Sunday, March 02, 2014

CC: The Cosmic Cup Coffee Company

Subject: The Cosmic Cup Coffee Company
Location: Easton, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Long ago, I made many a trip back and forth between Philadelphia and Upstate NY, and in those trips I would always seek out new coffee stops. One of the potential stops if I ever went out of my way (I was mainly on 476 and 81) was in Easton, at a place called the Cosmic Cup Coffee Company. But for one reason or another, every time I had purposed to swing by, I was prevented by either incompatible hours or minor inconveniences.

But finally the fog lifted. Finding some flexible travel time, I was able to swing by the Cosmic Cup one lazy weekend. The day was lovely and the shop was aglow with cheery baristas and a gaggle of customers sitting amidst the red walls and upon a church pew bench. The coffee comes from Rhode Island's New Harvest Coffee Roasters, a reputed company that I've had pleasant experience with prior. I ordered an espresso of the Bicycle Blend and a drip infusion of the Rwanda Karongi Gitesi. The espresso, pulled short and slightly blonde, doled out notes of chocolate, lemon drops, rye toast and a little Chinese 5 spice, making for a tasty though slightly over-extracted spro. The Rwanda sprung forth a delicious assortment of great flavors such as Arcor cream-filled strawberry candy, fancy wheat crackers, nutella, a little celery, some nutmeg and a touch of green tea, proving to be a fantastically fruity and smooth coffee with a pleasant medium body.

Therefore, if you find yourself traveling through the area of Allentown or Easton (the Crayola factory is in Easton FYI), make sure to stop by the Cosmic Cup for a quality cup of coffee.