Showing posts with label Las Vegas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Las Vegas. Show all posts

Sunday, January 01, 2012

CC: The Cup

Subject: The Cup
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

My final coffee stop in Sin City was a place that was also located in the Crystals, a shop located very discreetly in the back first floor called the Cup. Rumored to me by one source to have decent espresso, it took me a walk or two around the Crystals to actually find it but only around the corner and down the stairs from my earlier coffee stop.

A cute-looking venue with a huge orange window and tons of white, the place has a nice array of art and furniture, perfect for the tourist looking for a break from the crowds. Asking the barista of the coffee, they informed me it was "their own" (which in trying to clarify, I wasn't able to decipher whether it was a "secret supplier" situation or they roast their own, though my guess is the former). I ordered a doubleshot off their Victoria Arduino machine of their espresso blend and their signature blend a la regular drip.

The espresso, pulled short/medium and with a flat brown crema, was a tad burnt in the front, with notes of dark cocoa, deep sassafras and lapsang souchong; an overall decent pair of shots though the extraction could have been better. The drip proved pleasant as well, with a smooth, light body and notes of honey, hyacinth, multigrain, wheat grass and brazil nut as well as a tinge of slight staleness (twas later in the day, so the pot probably sat). The tea is Stash.

While I wasn't as floored as I had hoped to be, the Cup still provided a fair coffee and espresso experience, especially compared to the many other coffee stands doling out over-roasted swill nearby. Thus, if you're in the Crystals looking for a cafe that has a nice environment and decent coffee, try the Cup. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CC: Social House


Subject: Social House
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Free WiFi ? :yes 
Rating: 6+ [see key

Vegas is definitely a land of where appetites fare strongly. Between the buffets, endless oceans of gambling and the various shows, there's plenty to take in. 

Yet for all of their indulgent opportunities, Las Vegas is but beginning to blossom with their quality coffee scene. As I mentioned in other posts, only years ago there was not one decent place to grab a well-prepared coffee. But slowly, different places are opening up. 

In my online perusals, I had heard of a sushi place serving great siphoned coffee called the Social House, located all to conveniently at the Crystals on the Strip. The unfortunate part was that as an upscale sushi venue, they did not open until 5 pm and so it took a pre-dinner miracle to make it over for some coffee. 

Walking in, I confirmed that it's clearly a restaurant aiming more for customers seeking a classy night scene versus a park-with-your-laptop coffeehouse. Amidst the suave Asain decor, the coffee bar was located off to the one side unmanned. Fearing they weren't serving coffee, I approached the hostess and asked how I would go about obtaining some coffee, to which she said she would need to track down a specific gentleman (I don't recall his name) and sure enough 5 minutes later he arrived and the adventure began.

I admit that when I had heard that the Social House made a good siphoned coffee, I was hesitant as I had been to Asian restaurants that served siphon coffee to keep with cultural trends. But after examining their choice of beans (True Beans Coffee Roasters), their expensive halogen/siphon set-up similar to the one that had made a big splash in CA in 08 and the barista's knowledge/performance, I quickly began seeing a lot more potential in this unassuming coffee bar.

I ordered their Ethiopian Harrar via siphon and a doubleshot of the True Espresso blend. The barista navigated the siphon operation smoothly and poured a cup smacking of wheat, blueberry, caramel, almond, cocoa (which increased as it cooled) and a touch of grass within a medium body (scrumptious). The espresso, pulled well with a marbled crema, displayed notes of bright chocolate-covered cherries, ginger and jasmine, all in a nice balance (a surprisingly good spro). They serve also a vast assortment of teas. 

Leave it to an upscale sushi joint with no morning hours to be the coffee star of the Strip. If you happen to be near the Crystals and in the mood for a great evening coffee, stop by the Social House.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

CC: Vosges Haut-Chocolat

What does CC mean?

Subject: Vosges Haut-Chocolat
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Free WiFi ? : no
Rating: 3+ [see key]

For many people, boutique chocolate consists of Whitman Samplers, Godiva and Ghirardelli, all of which can be easily picked up at your neighborhood pharmacy or department store. But if you really want to get quality exotic chocolates, the big name I know is Vosges, who not only focuses on great ingredients but also focuses on unconventional yet tasty combinations (like aged balsamic vinegar, hazelnuts and chocolate, not to mention a full line of bacon truffles).

When I was in Vegas, I made my way over one afternoon not for the chocolates but for the coffee. I had heard that their Las Vegas store served Intelligentsia coffee, a tip that upon arrival proved true. With little delay I plopped down at their bar and ordered a double espresso yet as the barista began, I became aware of an odd difference. I had initially noticed the absence of a typical commercial coffee grinder for the espresso but what followed next shocked me a bit. The barista pulled out a pre-made, pre-ground espresso pod with an Intelligentsia wrapper.

Taken back, as Intelligentsia rides a high horse of coffee quality and prepackaged espresso pods seemed like quite a fall from the saddle, I inquired to the barista as to why they didn't just get whole beans and grind them there. Not knowing much, she fetched her boss. The boss' reasoning was that their location in Caesars Palace amidst the Forum Shops did not pull in enough coffee traffic to warrant the investment. Yet, since quality coffee was still a part of their menu, they struck up a deal with Intelligentsia to send them the pre-ground pods close to roasting, with the understanding that Vosges would use the pods as quickly as possible (I believe she said within the week of receiving them). While I mentioned that I understood the reasoning, it still seemed like a lot of work for a lesser quality product.

Of course, I still imbibed the espresso I originally ordered. The shot was fairly long (voluminous), with blonde crema and it smacked of milk chocolate, nutmeg, a bit of milk and peanut. To put it simply, the shots contained far too much volume and hence were the least potent shots of Black Cat (the espresso blend) that I've had. But strangely enough, the ensuing beverage was still actually pretty tasty and I finished it quite easily.

While I was slightly depressed with finding that Vosges has a great coffee supplier but not the tools to adequately utilize it, it did help to put it into perspective that they never claimed to serve amazing coffee. Thus, if you're near Caesars Palace and you're in need of a half-decent coffee, it's still better than what surrounds it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

CC: The Beat Coffeehouse and Records

What does CC mean?

Subject: The Beat Coffeehouse and Records
Las Vegas, NV

Free WiFi ? :

4+ [see key]

Every downtown has coffee purveyors but not every downtown can boast good coffeehouses. Sadly, the problem still exists even in the biggest of cities, with mass-produced or month-old coffee passing as sophisticated or “gourmet” brews.
Until I arrived in Las Vegas, I had counted their downtown as one long bereft. But I was to be pleasantly surprised.

After dinner one night, I did a random google search that turned up The Beat Coffeehouse and Records in old downtown.
I made my way over for an after dinner foray, finding the Beat on the corner of 6th and Fremont amidst the usual neon lights. The place is becomingly arrayed, with records towards the back and plenty of locals hanging about their pleasingly-arranged furniture.

The coffee is from Colorado River Coffee Roasters, a local roaster I had been looking to try. I ordered an espresso and a drip of the Sumatra. The espresso, pulled to a medium volume with thin crema, held notes of dark cocoa, ginger, corn, cilantro, a bit of char and a tingle of vanilla; an overall fair (though could have been better) pair of shots. The Sumatran bestowed a nutty and earthy cup with notes of graham cracker, wheat and apple amidst a light and smooth body, though it was a tad lackluster. The tea was free leaf and they also serve beer (via keg) and wine.

Walking off into the night, I was thankful for a last minute blessing in the Beat. When you’re downtown in Vegas, shimmy over to the Beat Coffeehouse and Records for some decent coffee.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CC: Sunrise Coffee Co

What's does "CC" mean?
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Free WiFi ? : yes
5+ [
see key]

Las Vegas has a reputation for a lot of things but one of them has not been coffee. As a town that seems to live off of travelers, local places did not seem to take as easily as in other towns. This boded poorly for the prospect of good coffee, as the average coffee drinker is still satisfied with sub-par coffee that the big chains ever so happily pump out.

But in this coffee desert, I managed to find a distant oasis near the airport. I caught wind that Sunrise Coffee happened to serve Klatch Coffee, a superb coffee roaster from San Dimas, and the first chance I found, I made my way over.

I found Sunrise on the corner of a small strip mall in what seemed like a part of town that is just recently developing. Save for a tacky collection of paper back novels, the shop interior held a chic look with a slate wall, lots of interesting art and a overtly pleasing aesthetic.

The coffee was indeed Klatch, with a full rotation of their coffee as well as two espresso blends on hand. I had an espresso of the World's Best Espresso (voted so at the 2007 World Barista Championship) and a drip of their Rainforest Blend. The drip I had a mixed experience with, as my first cup was really stale and thus I asked that when they brewed a fresh pot, if I could have some of that instead, to which they ever so apologetically agreed. Thus my second, much fresher cup of the Rainforest Blend held notes of toffee, pepper, oregano and buttermilk amidst a medium body that didn't win me over yet proved decent (I've never had the blend before but it tasted a bit darker then a medium roast).

The espresso on the other hand was a juggernaut-in-a-cup that garnered my vote to its worldly superiority. The shots were pulled painstakingly well with a marbled crema, all conveying notes of sweet pound cake, white chocolate, a bit of ginger, vanilla and orange; overall, there was a nice bitter/sour balance amidst a staunch sweetness that made the cup shimmer.

The tea was free leaf (they offered bee pollen for your tea too, a sight I have never seen).

Aside from the stale coffee I was first served, I found myself happier then a man winning a hard million off his last quarter. If you make it into Vegas, take a detour from the strip to hit Sunrise Coffee.