Showing posts with label central new york. Show all posts
Showing posts with label central new york. Show all posts

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mugged: Copper Horse Coffee

Subject: Copper Horse Coffee Roasters
Coffees Mugged and Rating [see key]:
Ngoma Microlot #3 Burundi  6+
Bloom and Bough Blend  5+
Finca Auroro Xolhuitz Guatemala  5+

As a former resident of Central New York, it always warms my heart to see great coffee gaining a stronger foothold in the land of finger lakes and (seemingly) eternal winter. Back in my first days up north, the options for coffee roasters were few and thankfully, the options have grown varied and delicious ever since I left. One of the newer and more delicious of these entities is an Ithaca operation called Copper Horse Coffee Roasters. Getting three of their coffees sent down my way, I took each for a spin via pourover, french press and siphon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CC: Skaneateles Bakery

What's does "CC" mean? Location visited: Skaneateles, NY
Free WiFi ? : no
4+ [
see key]

Finger lakes hold some wondrous scenery if you hit them at the right times. The cold winters usually deter much merriment and the summer can get sweltering, yet a nice day amidst the nature and culture of the region stands as a lasting euphoria.

Personally, my favorite lake is Lake Skaneateles due to its crystal clear waters and the quaint town of the same name at the top. Granted the town can be pricey but aside from the surrounding nature, the town has a few great deals. One of them is the Skaneateles Bakery, located on the main stretch of town. This bakery serves up sweet small town treats with a modern flair and has been raved of by many a friend.

What drew me to the bakery one lovely day was less baked goods and more of good coffee rumors. Upon arriving on their doorstep, I spotted the Gimme Coffee sign in the window, which given the possibilities,
it was a step in the right direction (Gimme has many great coffees but many times the local shops only buy the cheap stuff). Inside, the counter holds plenty of baked items and to the side and back is a blue-and-brown space with a healthy amount of seating.

They did indeed serve Gimme, and thus I ordered a cup of their Asobargi via drip and an espresso. The drip coffee produced flavors of spicy mango salsa, tart cherry, a whiskey kick, a little earthiness and a heavy body touched with a tinge of bitterness on the end. The espresso, pulled short and with fading tan crema, held notes of bitter chocolate, graham cracker, sesame seed and a tinge of brightness. The tea is Harney and Sons.

Given the coffee source being Gimme, I'm positive that this bakery could do better but if nothing were to change, they do a pretty decent job with their coffee (oh, their chocolate chip cookies were amazing too). When in town, stop by the bakery.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

CC: Dryden Community Center Cafe

What's does "CC" mean? Location visited: Dryden, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes

3+ [
see key]

Community centers, places where the townspeople hang out, seem to be a thing of lore these days. Sure there's your typical fire hall or space that can be rented out for large events, but an actual community center where people can just stop in without incurring a cost seems to be extinct in most lands.

But it just so happens that the town of Dryden, a small town between Ithaca and Cortland, not only has a community center but has a community center cafe that apparently uses volunteers to staff the counter. Curious how a cafe dependent on volunteer labor looked, as well as the fact that I happened to be in the area, equaled out to a quick stop by the DCCC.

The cafe is located on the corner of what seems the town center. The building is a lovely brick structure with open windows. The interior looks kind of like a community center, with out-dated decor and mostly old dorm furniture, but despite the shortcomings, the cafe demonstrated a nice environment (especially by the windows).

They serve Coffee Mania via pump pot and espresso (for ridiculously low prices too!). I ordered a small cup of drip and via their selection of brews brewed, I went for the Brazil Magiana, a sweet coffee that had reminded me of Yoo Hoo, sweet bread and sunflower sprinkled with cayenne pepper and a little sauciness (I think it was a little stale). The espresso, a medium shot with not much crema, smacked of citrus, milk chocolate and beef broth amidst a milky body and a tingle of bitterness on the end. The tea was available in various bagged assortments.

Given the above drinks were fairly decent AND came from unpaid community volunteers, I have to say I stand slightly impressed. This community cafe took the time to use a decent, local roaster and also take their espresso (at least somewhat) seriously. If I could also give out points for heart, I would.

This is a place that deserves business and hopefully with time, will improve greatly. Stop by the Dryden Community Center Cafe.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

CC: Heavenly Cup Coffee Roasters

What's does "CC" mean? Location visited: Painted Post, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes

5+ [
see key]

Sheer luck is wonderful (though I like to think of it more as a divine jackpot), especially with shot-in-the-dark coffeehouses.

While visiting the Corning area, I had a few possible coffee stops, with one called Heavenly Cup Coffee Roasters located in Painted Post, outside of Corning. Being the farthest off the beaten path, I slotted it as the first stop (with my party's permission) on our route.

Heavenly Cup's base of operations and cafe is a free standing structure on a local road next to the Interstate. The building looks new and has a wrap-around parking lot that doubles partly as a drive-thru. Walking indoors, the cafe is arrayed in a very warm, two-story space with a beautiful balcony and open atrium layout. Besides the balcony, the roasting also happens on part of the second floor (conveniently right over the counter, which could work well if they ever invest in a dumb waiter or coffee chute).

I ordered a cup of their Breakfast Blend to kick it off. The coffee had a smooth nuttiness, followed with fig, cocoa and a sprinkling of wheat grass on the end. A good, light cup all around. The espresso, a short/medium pull with some nice crema, passed on a bittersweet chocolate with hints of lemon (nice contrast), a noticeable brightness on a milk-like texture and only small tinges of what I would call unsavory bitterness (thus, a pretty good cup sayeth I). The tea is loose leaf.

As I finished up, I was counting my blessings to have struck such a proverbial gold strike (a happening that occurs about as much as cold fusion in a bear's ear canal). If you're close to Elmira or Corning, you need to give Heavenly Cup a visit.

Friday, February 13, 2009

CC: Boulder Coffee Company

What's does "CC" mean?

Boulder Coffee Company
Location visited: Rochester, NY
(Alexander St location)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

While I am tremendously aware that good interior design is hard to come by, I still find it a bit depressing to find so few good examples of it in coffeehouses. Sure, other things factor in (location, economy, etc) but with so many resources out there for the design-challenged (like IKEA and blogs like Apartment Therapy to start), it just seems so wrong to sit in a boring white wall cafe adorned with Walmart art and coffee puns.

But recently I stumbled upon a swanky coffee pad in Rochester called Boulder Coffee Company. The place sits in the downtown area of Rochester in a rather large brick building. The inside opens up into a beautiful facility with high ceilings, candle-lit tables,vintage furniture, a ceramic-tiled stage for performers and a beautiful collection of eclectic art. And judging by the website and nice stage, it seems that a lot of local talent go through their doors.

They roast their own coffee and seem to have a fair amount of offerings. I had the Boulder Blend, a fair coffee with hints of honey but with strong shades of char, not to mention a little stale; can't say I was thrilled with it. The espresso actually proved slightly unique in a good way; the shots were pulled long and the closest thing I can pin the taste to is like chocolate milk with a nice acidity and only a hint of char. Besides the coffee and tea (the tea I forgot to note), they also serve wine, beer and a full food menu.

While I can skim little from the actual intended coffee practices from the website, I feel that Boulder seems on the right path. I definitely would like to give Boulder another try the next time I'm in town. If you're nearby and looking for decent coffee and a beautiful place to sit, give one of Boulder's locations a try.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

CC: Coffee Mania

What's does "CC" mean?

Coffee Mania
Location visited: Cortland, NY
( Port Watson location )
Free WiFi ? : no
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Growing up in NJ, espresso shacks were uncommon, so when I first was acquainted with them, I became enamored with the concept. But over the years, I've come to understand that most espresso shacks have decent coffee at best, and more often then not they only provide a convenient caffeinated jolt for the rushed commuter.

But on the few occasions where I run across a good one, the operation has a unique factor or two. My most recent brush with such a rarity was in Cortland, NY at a visually nonchalant venue called Coffee Mania. I had researched coffee in the area and found that while Coffee Mania was a drive thru, they actually roasted their own beans (they even use Cup of Excellence!).

Driving up to the Port Watson location, the drive thru displays a retro 1960s look, complete
with tan siding and a large winged roof. There wasn't much else to the property except that the parking lot has a spacious layout and made pulling up simple.

As mentioned above, they roast their own beans (though they roast under another name called Coffee Depot). The coffee on tap (drip) was a Mexican Chiapas that sampled smooth, earthy and nutty, although also a bit stale; a good coffee but not all that distinct. Looking to to the espresso, while it was served in a paper cup, the shots tasted surprisingly good: decent crema, low acidity, and a nice lemony sweetness with but a smidgen of char on the tail end. I failed to note the tea.

Driving away, I have to say that while the facilities could stand some visual stimulus, the coffee operation of Coffee Mania really left me impressed. It seems that the business itself is expanding and hopefully one day, they can fully realize their full potential. In the meantime, if you're in Cortland, give Coffee Mania a try.

Friday, September 19, 2008

CC: Funk N Waffles

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Funk N Waffles
Location visited: Syracuse, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

*Updated 9/27/09*

Some words you rarely see together but when they combine, they sound kinda good. Chocolate and sonata, anarchy and shutterbugs, or even fruit and fireworks (this last one I personally enjoy). Similarly, it wasn't until I ran across a small wafflerie near Syracuse University that I first heard the words 'funk' and 'waffles' in the same breath.

As the waffle and coffee trend seems to be on the rise, I was curious to see how the musical stylings of funk played into the equation of Funk N Waffles. The wafflerie stands in what appears to be a back alley called Campus Plaza between Marshall St. and Adams St. Walking in, you must first head down a treacherous set of steps in order to access the underground lair of Funk N Waffles. The shop opens up into an eclectic venue with various types of furniture and eyebrow-raising art along the walls, with the stage off to the back for when they have performances (which is frequently).

The coffee hails from Ancora Coffee Roasters, a Wisconsin coffee company new to my ears. The coffee brewed usually is the House Blend, which comes off with a slight bit of char and not too much flavor (seems to be a bean problem). The espresso is also not so hot despite baristas who seem to know what they're doing. The espresso usually tastes strongly of bitter oils, albeit slightly sweet with a nice hang (also a bean issue?). The tea is free leaf and from the looks of the menu, the waffles look amazing.

Granted the coffee aspects of Funk N Waffles seems like they could improve a bit (maybe change coffee roasters), but the business seems to be a thriving hangout and
music scene for student and local alike. Thus, if you happen to be in Syracuse and looking for either a place to groove to some local tune-age or a good place to grab a waffle and fair cup of coffee, head to Funk N Waffles.

*Update 11/22/08

Funk N Waffles recently swapped over to Equal Exchange. A depressing move in the wrong direction (can't say that Equal Exchange coffee has ever been anything but over-roasted). Maybe they'll change again soon?

*Update 9/27/09

They upgraded this past summer, this time to Gimme Coffee. The espresso has definitely improved a little bit due to the change in bean but it given use of good beans, the shots could still use some refinement. And while the drip is also Gimme, it seems to be very much the darker Gimme Coffees which I can't say I care for.

So, improvement with the coffee roaster but I assume that they're still adjusting.

Monday, July 28, 2008

CC: Recess Coffee House and Roastery


What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Recess Coffee House and Roastery
Location visited:
Syracuse, NY

Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

ne of these days when I settle down, I would love to move into a nice house with at least two full bathrooms, a nice spacious backyard, in a good neighborhood, and two or three doors down from a quality coffeehouse. I also would like an nice arboretum close by, but I know you can't have everything so I'm willing to let that one go.

So when I first drove by the Recess Coffee House and Roastery in Syracuse, I thought maybe I'd found a good neighborhood. The coffeehouse sits nestled right off the main drag of Westcott St amidst a series of houses, an old converted house itself. The exterior looks sharp albeit a little run down (though it has definitely been improved in the few times I've visited), complete with a nice wood front porch with a nice access ramp and garden. Walking inside, the coffeehouse is decked in various eclectic decor and plenty of random seating all throughout, almost all of it full of local patrons.

The coffee is roasted in-house, all Fair Trade and Organic. The coffee has been of differentiating quality in my visits, all brewed on a hot plate brewer. My latest coffee was a Tanzanian that tasted pretty decent; very smooth despite a bit of char. The espresso has been a steady improvement, though still no climax yet. Most recently, my doubleshot had a nice sweetness but was overshadowed by darkness. I failed to note the tea.

So when it comes time to buy that house, I could see myself considering the area around Recess as I do think the place has a good deal of potential to rise (and if they added an arboretum in their backyard, that could close the deal). In the meantime, if you're looking to try some local java amidst some serious bohemian influence, make sure to give a stop at Recess.

Friday, February 15, 2008

CC: Ithaca Coffee Company

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Ithaca Coffee Company
Location visited: Ithaca, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

It really comes as a surprise to me how much influence pretty architecture, decor, and design has on my bearings when I come across businesses, especially (and obviously) coffee establishments. It's always refreshing to see a local, regional, or even national establishment put creativity and pizazz into their decor. Not to mention that a business that puts you to sleep with its drab walls or eye-burning decor needs to spend a little time rethinking the importance of first impressions.

So when I pulled up to Ithaca Coffee Company, I was very used to the flat brick exterior as there's not much one can (cheaply) do with the outer face; it's the inside that should shine (though they had very nice red awnings). Yet when I walked in, I was a little perplexed, as the sign said "Ithaca Coffee Company" but the coffee establishment in my midst said "Cafe Quik-E Mart." The place was very much filled with all kinds of products, even beer towards the back of the space. Upon further inspection of the company, it seems they produce a whole lot more then coffee so consequently the space serves dually as a cafe and store (at first, caught me as weird but now it seems to be a wise service of convenience). To their credit, the place has a decent look and moderate seating, but I think it could use a bit more design love.

Onto the product, ICC roasts a number of varieties of coffee, with a good handful that look pretty promising according to their website. In-house, the coffee sampled nicely with some floral and berry accents in the coffee (I recall it being the Ithaca blend). The espresso was also not bad, as it possessed a nice fruitiness in the cup and a barista that seemed to have qualified skills. I failed to note the tea.

After leaving, I gotta say I kind of envy Ithaca. They not only have Gimme! but on days where they want something different, they have ICC; especially if they need to grab a some cheese and a 6-pack.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CC: Kind Coffee Company

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Kind Coffee Company
Location visited: Syracuse, NY
Free WiFi ? : maybe
Rating: 3+ [see key]

bandoned warehouses turned into cool chic venues must be one of my favorite looks. The recycling of an old building for a new purpose (given of course that it's still structurally and environmentally sound) makes so much more of a statement (not to mention sense) then tearing it down and erecting another, usually pre-fab, structure.

So looking at Syracuse, NY with its abundant supply of abandoned warehouses, I grew excited when I stumbled across Kind Coffee Company near downtown Armory Square in what looked like an old industrial building. The spray paint making up the majority of the signage and the rich red exterior impressed upon me that it was indeed the makings of an intriguing establishment.

To say my initial intrigue was satisfied when I walked in would be putting it lightly. As I entered through the front door, I am greeted by the perplexing sight of a barely rejuvenated warehouse with barely any artificial light (not to mention natural sun) and some truly mysterious furniture. Don't get me wrong; I love the bohemian look to coffeehouses, but Kind took it to the level that I was not comfortable sticking around.

The coffee is roasted in-house fresh every weekday, with the coffee darkness escalating as the week goes on (i.e. you want to come in Monday or Tuesday if you want a light roast and Friday if you want it dark). He roasts in an industry culinary oven of sorts (which you can do at home in your basic kitchen oven) that seems to give roasts with varying shades (not a bad thing, just a factor from experience that makes roasting a little harder to predict).

The coffee in-house wasn't bad, both cups full-bodied but both were coffees that were roasted day-of, as Kind does not keep coffee past the day its roasted (and coffee doesn't reach maturation until about three days after roasting). I also took a pound to go and to my distinct pleasure, it proved to possess decent quality.

The espresso on the other hand was shady, coming from a machine that looks like it's seen a couple wars. As far as skill, the shots were definitely over-pulled. Didn't catch if they had any tea.

Needless to say, Kind is quite a unique establishment and could hold some promise for future improvement. For now, I would only recommend Kind if you're in the market for a pound of coffee or quick cup of drip coffee to go.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

CC: Cafe Kubal

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Cafe Kubal
Location visited: Syracuse, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Update 8/7/08

After just having a talk with a good friend of mine about the sad state of affairs with the Philadelphia coffee/espresso scene (the fact that 90% of the shops are operating off poor skills and inaccurate knowledge), it really made me appreciate the good places that really know what they're doing.

But whenever I travel to new places, I rarely get my hopes up for the prospect of hidden gems. Almost always, the coffee geeks of the world mine and expose them quickly so that if you haven't heard of them shouted from the rooftops, there's not much hope.

So on my first trip to Syracuse, I had only heard a yell from a porch (figuratively) about a local joint called Cafe Kubal that by all means of their web page looked legit, but how appearances can deceive. But what good are tips if you let them sit...

I arrived one sunny morning to find the shop in a strip mall in an extremely small space. The outside is all storefront windows with some outside seating (surely only useable 4 maybe 5 months out of the year) and a nice neon sign. The interior is a very efficiently and effectively used space with a couple seats by the windows.

Kubal roasts all of their own coffee in a truly old school roaster dating back to the early 20th century. As I've been back to Kubal several times now, I've had mixed experience with their coffee. In-house, it's superb with a real nice acidity and a good flavor. But I also bought a bag for home use only to find it rather oily and very gross. From what I observe, they roast dark and so my guess on the oil is that it's hard to control with the old roaster. But old roaster or no old roaster, exterior oil = angry mob down the digestive highway.

The espresso is truly where they won my admiration. The baristas really know what they're doing and the espresso comes out beautiful with good crema and a full, fruit-esque flavor. Wonderful!

The tea is mostly free leaf and it looks good, though I haven't tried it.

So as far as gems, I'd say Kubal is currently a fine sapphire in need of some shaping (mostly the dark coffee). I hear there are plans in the works to have a second shop in the downtown area of Syracuse, which if true will be a nice accent for the revival of downtown Syracuse. Final words: give it go, try the drinks there, but be wary of taking your beans to go.

Update 8/7/08

Cafe Kubal has definitely improved in several areas since I last scrawled this. First, I've had a couple coffees that were splendid such as their Indian Sitarra, a 100% robusta that has a lot of unique flavors to it. They have also extended and really spruced up their front patio area as well as upgraded their website. Also, I have learned that the while the roaster is a beautifully restored antique, the roast level still can be easily controlled by a knowledgeable roaster.

New final word: give it all a go.