Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ahh, Coffee

Subject: Ahh, Coffee
Location: Houston, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

As far as convention centers go, George R Brown takes the cake as a top favorite. Whether it's the peaceful park outside its front doors or the Texas-shaped pool in the adjoining Marriott Marquis, I list it among convention centers at which I don't mind being stuck.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Subject: Mudsmith
Location: Dallas, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

If I've said it once, I'll say it one thousand times: I love quality coffee shops that (can) stay open late. Years ago, the only way a caffeinated establishment would dare stay open late (at least on the east coast) would be if said coffeehouse had an open mic night. But now, across the nation more and more coffee bars keep their doors open past 5 PM, whether it's because they have delved into the food + liquor scene or simply because patrons are just fans of late night lattes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Common Grounds

Subject: Common Grounds
Location: Waco, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When I was a college student, I often yearned for a great coffee spot near campus where I could study, meet up with friends or catch some live music. Now in my older age, I'm not so much looking for acoustic renditions of Everlong but I definitely still appreciate quality coffee spaces that can accommodate open mic nights.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Weekend Coffee

Subject: Weekend Coffee
Location: Dallas, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Weekends are usually the focal point of a person's week. Outings get planned, ideas become daydreams and recreation gets Grouponed. We are a culture that lives and dies by our weekends.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Houndstooth Coffee

Subject: Houndstooth Coffee
Location: Dallas, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

As a young lad growing up a Philadelphia Eagles fan, Dallas always seemed like a place I wasn't supposed to like, especially in the autumn. Naturally as I aged I learned to confine my disdain purely to the Cowboys, and the more I discovered distantly of Dallas' blossoming coffee scene, the more I began to yearn for a lengthy visit. 

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Southside Espresso

Subject: Southside Espresso
Location: Houston, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Oddly enough, for the reputation Texas has for its sun and oppressive heat, I seem to manage to visit mostly on rainy, somewhat mild days. Yet even when rain clouds the Texan forecast, an excellent coffee stop always manages to brighten my skies.

Friday, June 09, 2017


Subject: Cultivar
Location visited: East Dallas, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

I am told supermarkets made their rise primarily because they made many stops into one. Instead of hitting the butcher, the farmers market and the dry goods emporium, folks could get it all in one shot. While I am a strong advocate of shopping at specialty vendors (ie I love going to a butcher), in practice I absolutely see the value in convenience, so when quality small businesses team up to share a location, my heart soars.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits

Subject: Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits
Location: Waco, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Prior to 2017, I am not sure if I ever passed through Waco. I distinctly remember driving through Texas with my family well over a decade ago and seeing a sign that said something to the effect of "Entering Waco City Limits." But then again, in tracing past family road trips on a map, I don't recall ever passing close to Waco. Since it's not something that keeps me up at night, I am content to leave it all a mystery (though I would like to figure it out one day).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Subject: Blacksmith
Location: Houston, TX
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

In Texas, the only thing that exists in a diminutive state is winter's chill. Especially the further south one travels, temperatures seem to stay above 50 F most of winter. But naturally when visiting the brand new Marriott at the George R Brown convention center complete with Texas-shaped pool, I found the temperature well below freezing, mirroring the icy Philadelphia I had just left.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mugged: Kenya Kiruga [Evocation]

Subject: Evocation Coffee Roasters
Coffee Mugged: Kenya Kiruga via My Coffee Pub
Rating [see key]: 6+

In my visits to Texas, I've only traversed the panhandle once, and that expedition was but a quick drive that only allowed for a single gas stop prior to Amarillo. I remember the spot well, right off the highway at a gas station without prices. Seeing that I was running on fumes, I didn't care to risk looking for a second option, so I pulled in and counted my cash to make sure I had enough to pay for a little more than usual. The lady did ending up charging me (what I thought was) too much, but since I was in a hurry and in little position to argue, I paid, hopped back in my car and raced on through Amarillo into New Mexico.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Mugged: Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate [Kohana]

Subject: Kohana Coffee
Coffee Mugged: Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
Rating [see key]: 4+

In light of cold brew growing in popularity, it seems like the greatest hurdle for true expansion is creating a shelf stable product. Lots of companies grow through it but it seems few come out on the other side with a drinkable product that can survive long out of the fridge (check out this great Atlantic piece on Blue Bottle).

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Mugged: Chania Estate and Mirador Finca La Bolsa [Tweed Coffee]

Subject: Tweed Coffee
Coffee Mugged: Guatemala Mirador Finca La Bolsa and Kenya Chania Estate
Rating [see key]: Guatemala 4+ and Kenya 5+

One of the great facets of the current coffee world is the many choices one has in coffee roasters. Gone are the days where you had a few choices as to where one obtained good beans; now, like wine and other beverages, quality variety has become extensive.

Many of the new faces in roasting have come from the expansion of coffeehouses into microroasters. It almost seems to be an inevitable progression, that if a shop excels at slinging spectacular coffee, eventually the siren call of roasting will be but too strong to resist. One of the more recent to take up the mantle of roasting is Tweed Coffee Roasters, the relatively new roasting operation calved from Houndstooth Coffee of Texas fame. I was fortunate enough to receive a package from them some weeks ago with two coffees to try out: their Kenya Chania Estate, a dry processed coffee from the area of Thika, and their Mirador Finca La Bolsa from Guatemala. Each I sampled via pourover, french press and siphon.

Starting with the Kenya pourover, the coffee demonstrated a medium-bodied brew of fuji apple, sea salt, unsweetened cocoa, rosemary, chicken broth and a bit of black tea. The french press proved less salty and richer in flavor, with strong notes of apple juice, pie crust, vanilla, white chocolate and snap peas. The siphon drew out salty caramel, fuji apple, white chocolate, snap peas and some malt. All together, a rich coffee with lots of sweet and sumptuous flavors, only proving just a tad salty.

The Guatemalan proved a touch heavier and heartier. The pourover doled out notes of berries, croissant, chorizo, apple cider, whole milk and cinnamon. The french press held croissant, apple cider, whole milk, wheat and a touch of cinnamon, all together proving lighter and sweeter but still a little spicy. The siphon proved the deepest, with notes of raisin, apple, cola, cream and nutmeg within a medium body. A sweet and deep coffee with some nice flavors and noticeable spice.

Thus Tweed arrives on the scene with some great beans and many years to further hone their craft. Check out their website to order a bag or if you happen to be in Texas, swing by one their Houndstooth affiliates.

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

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mugged: DeNossA Signature Blend [Memoria]

Subject: Memoria Coffee
Mugged: DeNossA Signature Blend
Rating [see key]: 3+

A cooperating community of professionals is a great thing, and many an organization has aimed to harness its power for the collective good. In Dallas, a group called Memoria has taken the initiative to create a member-driven community that includes a nice-looking lounge and a spiffy cafe.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship, they offer their own blend of medium-roasted Colombian coffee called the DeNossA Signature Blend. They sent me a pound to try out at home and I sampled it via pourover, french press and siphon.

The drip infusion doled out notes of whole milk, tobacco, pretzel, graham cracker, cherries, lemon pepper and a bit of corn. A sweet brew with a deep body and primarily bitter notes, though some nice brightness peeked through.

The french press held graham cracker, tobacco, pretzel, milk, nutmeg and corn amidst a deep body. Still malty and bitter, but less sweet and more peppery.

The siphon doled out a similar brew, with notes of graham cracker, pretzel, cocoa, nutmeg, milk and corn amidst a heavy body. Still deep and sweet.

While the coffee was a little too dark in roast for my tastes (much closer to a medium-dark roast), the coffee did have positives with some sweet and hearty flavors. If you're looking for a darker Colombian coffee with your networking possibilities, give Memoria's DeNossA Signature Blend a try.

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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mugged: Cafe de Chiapas Medium Roast [Chiapas Farms]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Chiapas Farms
Coffee Mugged:
Cafe de Chiapas Medium Roast

Rating: 4+
[see key]

exico always seems to be cast in a negative light. You hear about drug overlords, poverty and illegal immigration but rarely do you hear of positives.

Recently, I received a pound of organic coffee from Mexican farm company Chiapas Farms. At first I thought it was just a small operation, with a couple families offering coffee but it turns out that the outfit is quite mammoth and aside from coffee, they offer a plethora of produce as well. For their coffee, they claim to buy directly from a cooperative of Mexican farmers (direct trade) and if it is so, that's at least a step into the positive.

As for the coffee I received, it had bits of a bean sheen and an overall dark brown color (a little dark for a medium roast). I brewed up the coffee in the usual three methods: drip, siphon and french press.

The drip held notes of almond, nougat, caramel, cream, a little rhubarb and a smidgen of squash and prune. The coffee was smooth and had less bite then I expected for the roast level.

The french press gave a stronger coffee, with a darker cocoa, potent almond, cherry, lemon pepper, saltines and a little bit of grass and caramel on the end. A more potent brew for sure.

The siphon demonstrated more like the drip, with caramel, cashew, a faint grass, toasted wheat, apple, mead and a bit of cream. A mellow brew that was much akin to the drip.

While I can't vouch for their dark roast, Chiapas Farms medium roast held some decent flavors and was pretty solid. If you need a cup of direct trade, organic coffee from Mexico, give Chiapas Farms a whirl.

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

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Mugged: Black and Tan Blend [Aduro Bean]

What does "Mugged" mean?

Aduro Bean Micro-Roasters
Coffees Mugged:
Black and Tan Blend
2+ [see key]

Blending coffee (mixing certain single origin coffees to make a desired flavor) has been a widely-used practice for some time. While I don't know if they were first, Italians truly made popular the art of coffee blending in order to better harness the right mixture of coffee beans to better make their espresso pop (most places still do it today). In the non-espresso arena, coffee entities have looked to blending for years in order to keep a similar flavor profile for a consistent product.

As for appearance, I can't say I've seen too many blends that have beans that look vastly different from one another. But I managed to find such a mixture with an Aduro Bean coffee that mixed a dark and a medium roast into what they call their Black and Tan Blend. Despite some concern of how the darker roast would play with the lighter roast, I assumed the best and dove in.

Thus, in getting started with the sampling, I took a crack at the coffee with my french press first. The cup proved
bitter right up front, followed by a tickle of strawberry, some nice mention of chocolate and then more bitterness in the end and aftertaste. There was also a little bit of a jalapeno burn and overall, the cup was not so smooth and a held a very heavy body.

Next up was the drip. I definitely still tasted the bitterness and pepper but a nice pear-ish and watermelon sweetness swept underneath soon after. This cup had a smoother body once I got past the lingering darkness.

Lastly came the siphon. This cup threw out the least bitterness and pepper of the three, held more of the watermelon than the drip and had a fair earthiness. The body seemed smoother as there was less lingering darkness.

To put it simply, I think Black and Tan might be better off left to blending beer. While the coffee embodied some nice flavors, they were all overshadowed by the dark beans. Maybe if the "black" component of this blend was more of a medium/dark roast (i.e. no oil on the outside), it may fair better.

If you're looking to try out an unconventional blend, try out the Black and Tan.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mugged: Artisan, Medium/Dark [Aduro Bean]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Subject: Aduro Bean Micro-Roasters
Coffees Mugged: Artisan, Medium/Dark
Rating: 3+ [see key]

Little nuances in how coffee consumers control their coffee have become interesting trends as of late. Specifically, I speak of the "make your own blend" and "select your roast" trends. While it gives the customer the proverbial steering wheel, I'm curious how customer satisfaction usually ends up panning out (i.e. you might not be happy with what you thought you wanted).

I received some coffee to try out from one such roaster, a Fort Worth coffee roaster called Aduro Bean Micro-Roaster (a roaster I had heard of mind you from the Texas Coffee People). While Aduro sent me their recommended roasts, they normally allow for patrons to select their own roast prior to ordering (Aduro makes their own recommendations of course).

The first coffee I tried out was their Artisan roast, their house blend roasted at their recommended medium/dark level. I sampled it in the usual three methods of drip, french press and siphon.

The french press produced a honey and jersey corn sweetness on the front, plus a bit of grain as well as a
harsh bitterness and pepper on the back end. The body was medium and somewhat smooth.

drip turned out a more subdued cup. Still had the corn and honey-like sweetness and a tinge of whole grain as well. The body was much heavier but also much smoother, as the bitterness and pepper were more confined to the aftertaste.

The siphon still had the same sweetness as well as a similar bitterness and pepper to the french press. Like the drip, there was a fairly heavy body but not as smooth. One unique facet was a guest appearance of grape in the middle of the cup.

Oddly, I wonder now that if I had the option of choosing a medium roast of this same bean that it would have proven a better cup. Only time (or $10.50 + shipping and handling) will tell.

If you're looking for a decent med/dark coffee, try out the Artisan blend of Aduro Bean.

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

Sunday, April 06, 2008

CC: Kick Butt Coffee

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Kick Butt Coffee
Location visited: Austin, TX
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Updated 4.16.08

or as much as I love some spontaneity in life, I really don't like hunting for hotels, especially when looking for a reasonable room amidst a basketball game in Austin. But after three hours of hunting and finally nailing down an overpriced Super 8 room (with no WIFI!), it was time for an overdue dinner.

Looking to stay cheap, my wife and I made our way to a nearby Wendy's anticipating a greasy dinner and quick return to our well-furnished hole-in-the-wall. But as we exited the parking lot, my wife spotted a coffee place across the highway that actually looked open. So even though neither one of us were really in the mood for coffee, we went to check it out to see if it was worth a morning trip.

As we roll closer, we notice the name is Kick Butt Coffee with a karate-kicking gent on the logo. Thinking it just a clever logo implying the caffeinated effects of their coffee, I was proven wrong after moving past their outside seating. Inside was a coffeehouse decorated in a dojo fashion complete with weapons on the wall and a Wii area in the back (what dojo doesn't have a Wii?). The place looked very new as little of the varied seating had much wear.

Kick Butt serves Republica Coffee Roasters, which upon some web research apparently seems to be located in Australia ( I later found out, as seen below in the update, that I was mistaken).
As it was evening, I decided just to have espresso, which was pulled fairly well with hight sweet notes and a nice acidity though it was a bit silty in composition. My wife and I did end up coming back the next morning, where I grabbed a cup of their Ethiopian Harrar that displayed smooth and full-bodied. I didn't catch the tea (I think it was free leaf); they also serve beer and wine.

Kick Butt's creative approach to the coffee business and decent product seem to be good signs for this budding business. While I am unsure of the Aussie coffee (how do they get it to Texas while still fresh), I would definitely encourage a stop by if you're in Austin.

Updated 4.16.08
Turns out that Republica Coffee Roasters is actually in Austin, TX! Thanks to a helpful comment, I did a more exhaustive search that turned up the simple one-page site. My bad!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

CC: Catalina Coffee

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Catalina Coffee
Location visited: Houston, TX
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

A rainy day never really spoils your day as long you have a good coffeehouse to sit in and wait the precipitation out.

Granted, rain is definitely a whole lot less welcome when you're in a much prettier place then you're accustomed to, but you have to think on your feet. So when the wife and I were recently in Houston, we decided to do the Kennedy Space Center (a little expensive but worth a one-time visit) as well as a local coffeehouse called Catalina Coffee.

Located seconds from downtown Houston, Catalina stands out a bit from the rest of their neighbors with their big letters and the outside seating (the plain beige brick and flat architecture don't help) and after spotting it, we turned to find a handy parking lot in the back (complete with rear entrance!). Walking in from the back, you come into a very dimly lit hallway and then a sharp looking main room, all smelling a bit like cat (why oh why?).

The coffee came from two places; Hopson Coffee and Katz Coffee, both seemingly decent companies. I had two different coffees, one via drip and one via french press, and both were pretty good (while they were both Katz coffees, I failed to write down which coffees they were). The french press rang bright and earthy, with an overall smoothness; the drip was balanced and smooth. The espresso also came off well. The barista did a good job pulling the shot and while it initially had a tempered bite, it filled out nicely. The tea was Revolution.

Aside from the cat smell and the slightly depressing lighting (could also have been the rain contributing dreariness) I enjoyed my experience at Catalina. The barista remarked that they should be roasting on their own soon, so who knows what's in store for this outfit. When in town, I'd give it a whirl to see how you like it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CC: JP's Java

What's a Coffee Commentary?

JP's Java
Location visited: Austin, TX
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

I might have missed something, but I really found Austin to not be all that great. I had looked at the University of Texas for graduate school and I had heard from many people that Austin was where it was at, but after making a visit to 6th St and the arboretum I was out of things to do.

But what made the whole trip not so bad was a stop by JP's Java, a coffee establishment nestled in what appears to be an old auto garage with a cute (very small but aesthetically pleasing) parking lot. The exterior is accented by their big owlish logo (derived apparently from a Mayan calendar symbol) and amplified by the beautiful outside patio juxtaposed against a pair of beautifully converted garage doors. Walking inside there are multiple seating areas ranging from a small outcove to a large open room with lots of table space.

JP's serves Zoka Coffee all the way out of Seattle (which it seems they deliver twice a week just around the third day after roasting to ensure quality). They boast a brace of Clovers which was definitely a welcome and pleasant sign. I sampled a Rwandan coffee which was a sweet and earthy brew seemingly devoid of bitterness. The espresso also impressed, as it had a velvety texture that led to a chocolaty sweetness and bright tang, not to mention that it was pulled very well. The tea looked to be free leaf and of a decent variety.

I really enjoyed my visit to JP's and wish I could have hung out a little longer, as I really don't expect to be back in Austin anytime soon. But if you happen to be in town for business or pleasure (good luck on the latter), make sure to make a swing by JP's for the coffee.

Friday, March 14, 2008

CC: Inversion Coffee House

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Inversion Coffee House
Location visited: Houston, TX
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

A visit to Texas in the winter was just what I needed. The warm temperatures, direct sunlight, and spicy food really took the winter blues clear out of my veins.

And what trip would be complete without a sample of the local coffee? Though eager to do so, I really wasn't sure where to start as I had never really heard of GREAT Texan coffee. But after doing a little research, I turned up a few places to try out.

One of them was in the lovely town of Houston called Inversion Coffee House. At first when I glanced at their website, I saw "March 5 Grand Opening" on a scrolling marquee and thought that I was going to be one of the first few visitors to walk through their doors only to find out later that they just haven't updated their website in a year (i.e. I almost made it for the first anniversary).

Inversion sits on a mild thoroughfare in a large warehouse-ish building, complete with ample parking, a small garden, and lots of outside seating. The inside is decorated with art of all sorts; some of it really nice and other parts of it just really seemed a bit overwhelming (mainly the pictures peering down from above the register). There's plenty of seating, though much of it was taken when I came in.

The coffee comes from Katz Coffee, a local roaster that seems to produce a decent product. The brew on tap at Inversion leaned a little dark and tasted spicy with a sweet aftertaste. The espresso was fair; a dark essence with slight char yet sweet, with a nice acidity. The tea is Revolution.

While I really enjoyed my visit to Inversion, they definitely seem like they could take up the quality to the next level. With such a wonderful space and a seemingly great location, Inversion could be a shining star amidst Houston.