Showing posts with label Baltimore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baltimore. Show all posts

Friday, October 01, 2021

Vagrant Coffee

Subject: Vagrant Coffee 
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Despite its proximity, there's not a lot of motive for me to visit Baltimore these days. Sure I blame it partially on the pandemic, but I would also chalk it up to just a lack of good impetus to visit the city in general (though as I write this post, I am chalking up some interest in a visit). Thus, when I found a Baltimore coffee roaster had set up a Philly presence, I figured that would be a perfect compromise for the time being.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Order and Chaos Coffee

Subject: Order and Chaos Coffee
Location: Baltimore, MD
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Over the years, I have had many conversations with friends and colleagues on how they sate their desire for a good cup of coffee at the office. Some bring a thermos; others have a hot water kettle and pour over set-up right at their desk. But very few are as lucky at the folks at Baltimore's Planit Agency, where a superb in-house coffee bar keeps their employees, as well as the surrounding community, on task with excellent beans.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bird in Hand

Subject: Bird in Hand Coffee and Books
Location: Baltimore, MD
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Some of my favorite memories involve drinking coffee while perusing through a bookstore. Though some booksellers sadly refuse to embrace the calling of serving excellent coffee, there have been many establishments that do a wonderful job weaving the written word and the well-roasted bean. One such literary oasis new one to my eyes emerged during a recent trip to Baltimore, when I found that Artifact Coffee and The Ivy Bookshop had created a beautiful space adjacent to Johns Hopkins campus in Charles Village called Bird in Hand.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hotel RL + Victrola Coffee


Many people expect a decent cup of coffee in the morning when they stay at a reputable hotel. Is it too much to ask for a hot cup of joe that doesn't taste like old cigarettes? Experience would echo with a resounding "yes." Sadly the expectation for good hotel coffee has been eroded over time, with tons of mediocre (at best) coffee experiences regularly tarnishing the mornings of coffee lovers across the globe.

But fortunately, some hotels are exceeding expectations in terms of coffee excellence. Take the Hotel RL, who not only offers great coffee from Seattle juggernaut Victrola Coffee Roasters but they have actually gone as far as to build a legit coffee bar in many of their lobbies. Having the opportunity to stay at their Baltimore location this past weekend, I was able to experience this hotel rarity firsthand.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

CC: Pitango Gelato

Subject: Pitango Gelato 
Location visited: Reston, VA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

The concept of gelato + espresso seems to be a concept so familiar yet still so rarely done well together. Back in 2008, the concept of gelato was building steam and for many shop owners, adding espresso seemed to be a further nod to the Italian tradition. Today, it still seems a decent amount of such shops offer both coffee and gelato but sadly, the coffee side of said businesses are usually an afterthought, a facet that was given some financial and cranial investment, but usually much less than the vastly stronger gelato arm of the enterprise. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CC: Charmington's

Subject: Charmington's
Location: Baltimore, MD
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When guiding a large entourage of people through the country, most people are content to frequent the many interstate truck stops for some vending machine coffee and a little rest. And while it's very fitting for time efficiency, a rest area nestled right off of America's asphalt arteries smacks of a dull, hollow excuse for refueling and leg stretching. If the opportunity allows me to take my large entourage briefly off the beaten path to break at a quality, local establishment, than so be it.

This is how I and two twelve-passenger vans found ourselves at Charmington's. Needing a break in the vicinity of Baltimore, I noticed in my preplanning that the physical location of Charmington's was but 15 minutes off the path we were traveling. And with what looked like a spacious interior, this spiffy-looking coffeehouse seemed like a perfect spot for my enormous gang to take a quick coffee break. 

Located in a large, brick building, Charmington's boasts a substantial venue with gigantic windows, two long rows of tables and a warm atmosphere that definitely gets some glow from the friendly staff. As for their menu, they serve Counter Culture Coffee and a full offering of food ranging from sandwiches to sweets. Starting off the ordering for my two vans, I got an espresso of Toscano and a drip of the Buziraguhindwa Burundi. The espresso, pulled medium with a light brown crema, dished out notes of lemon, chocolate cake, can sugar, sage and sugar cookie, proving well-extracted and flavorful. The Buziraguhindwa trumpeted out delicious bing cherry, wheat cracker, pound cake, a bit of spinach and thorough milkiness within a medium body, making for a great cup of African coffee. On a side note, I was impressed with the calm demeanor and consistent quality in which they handled the entirety of my group.

When the time came for us to bid adieu, I felt a touch of remorse that Charmington's could only be a brief respite. Hence, if you are ever in Baltimore north of the harbor and seek a great cup of coffee within a great location, check out Charmington's of the corner of W 26th and Howard. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CC: Spoons Coffee Cafe

What's does "CC" mean?

Spoons Coffee Cafe
Location visited:
Baltimore, MD
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

Baltimore is a lovely city but it strikes me silly that I cannot find a single recommendation for decent coffee in the city limits with the exception of an upscale restaurant called the Woodberry Kitchen. Thus in an effort to increase my pool for a recent trip, I decided to try out some places that were off the radar but looked promising.

And that's how I landed at Spoons Coffee Cafe in the Federal Hill area on a bustling Sunday afternoon before a Ravens Game. The cafe seemed to have some promise, as they roast their own coffee as well as some decent latte art on the website. And since I found nothing better around the harbor, my beautiful wife and I bounded for the door of Spoons amidst the masses of Raven fans.

Given the game, Spoons was plenty full that day. The interior is a warm, multi-level structure that accomodates quite the dine-in crowd. Looking only for the usual, I made my way to the front counter. The drip was their East Timer blend, a bright coffee with the flavors of grape, chocolate milk and a subtle hint of sweet grass; a fair coffee. Not so much fortune did I find with the espresso, as it was a decent pull that had decent crema but I was hit with a really bitter, dark taste with flecks of pepper. The tea is Rishi Tea.

Even though I can't say I'm surprised I didn't find a hidden gem in Baltimore (coffee geeks mine them out well), Spoons Coffee Cafe wasn't a half bad spot. If you're in Baltimore, try Spoons out for yourself.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

CC: La Mill Coffee

*Update for May 27, 2013*
Subject: La Mill Coffee
Location: Baltimore, MD
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Baltimore's inner harbor is a great destination that, for a long time, only seemed to be lacking a great coffee joint. Thankfully, the harbor is now home to the first east coast location to La Mill Coffee, a Los Angeles blockbuster receiving all too many accolades for great coffee and great service. Keeping with their illustrious reputation, LA Mill managed to find a home in the Four Seasons right in downtown.

Swinging by one lovely morning, I found the familiar La Mill sign not far from the hotel entrance. Walking in, I found a gorgeous open shared interior with the hotel tavern that was chock full of various seating, large windows and beautiful design. For my coffee, I ordered a pourover of a Guatemala and an espresso of their Bliss Espresso blend. The Guatemala pourover smacked of sugar cookie, sassafras, wheat, malt and nutmeg, proving sweet with a nice malty finish. The espresso, pulled short with a brown crema, tasted of herbs de Provence, cocoa, salt, milk, lemon rind, grapefruit and a little pepper.

As I had hoped and longed for, this expansion of a westerly gem retained all of its luster. If you're downtown or around the harbor, stop by the Four Seasons for a great cup of coffee at La Mill.


*original post from February, 2009*
Subject: La Mill Coffee
Locations visited:
Los Angeles, CA 
Free WiFi ?
: yes
6+ [see key]

There is nothing like a nice warm respite in the warmer parts of the country in the dead of winter. But there is also nothing worse then getting there and finding it cold and rainy. Alas, my fate was somewhere between those two maxims in a recent trip to LA; warmish weather with spells of torrential rain. Fortunately I had some wonderful coffee prospects to keep my spirits soaring.

One particular gem I've had my eye on for some time was a ritzy establishment called La Mill Coffee. It had developed a reputation for taking the coffee experience to new heights, with table service, exquisitely-skilled baristas and higher end products.

Needless to say, I wasted no time in getting there. I arrived on a sunny morning, seeking parking on the crowded streets of Silver Lake. To my surprise, La Mill had it's own parking lot despite being on a crowded thoroughfare. Walking up to the front, the cafe stands out from the rest of the street with it's glaring red store front and beautiful windows. Inside the red continues into a well-decorated interior full of beautiful art, chandeliers and a large array of upscale dining areas.

The coffee is their own, consisting of four coffees that day. I decided to try their Nicaraguan, brewed on their Clover. I usually am not visually affected when I first sip coffee, but this one made my eyes roll into the back of my head and caused me to take a deep breath. This coffee tasted like a smooth light roast and had distinct flavors of toasted nut and chocolate. The espresso was pulled really short and demonstrated similar amazing-ness; smacks of honey, super velvety texture and light acidity. The teas were free leaf and La Mill also offers what looks like a decadent full menu.

On the whole, I left La Mill walking on air. I would say that this place needs to be a detour if you're visiting the area and a common hangout if you live nearby.