Showing posts with label fair trade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fair trade. Show all posts

Sunday, September 27, 2009

CC: Modern Times Coffeehouse

What's does "CC" mean?
(inside Politics and Prose)
Location visited:
Washington DC
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

The bookstore and coffeehouse combination is one that has such familiarity anymore that when I walk into a big bookstore, I'm surprised not to see at least a coffee cart. Yet rarely do these intra-bookstore coffee operations have promising practices, either serving well-marketed swill or showcasing the latest in automatic espresso.

So I can honestly declare that I hit the first bookstore and coffeehouse duo that had a promising looking set-up. In DC, the spacious Politics and Prose Bookstore has a basement coffeehouse called Modern Times Coffeehouse. As one walks down the stairs, the cafe is tucked away in a cozy yet surprisingly accommodating space with a nice flow of natural light and a mellow collection of furniture and art.

They serve Righteous Bean Coffee (warning: website has music) a fair trade and organic coffee that seems bullish on social justice. I ordered the Costa Rican drip, which sampled balanced and a little bright, though sadly it tasted pretty bland and a bit stale. The espresso was of similar caliber, with a medium pull that demonstrated a tinge of caramel, darkness and a little cardboard. The tea was free leaf.

Thus, while Modern Times Coffeehouse didn't blow my bookstore/coffeehouse paradigm out of the water, it did give me hope that books and good coffee can get along.

If you're looking for a good book and a cup of coffee, stop by Politics and Prose.

Monday, June 29, 2009

From the Ground Up

Recently had the chance to check out the documentary From the Ground Up, a coffee documentary that does exactly what the title says; takes the viewer on a journey from cherry to peddled beverage.

As coffee documentaries go, it was decent. It had great footage of coffee picking, the wet process, drying, sorting, bagging, exporting and importing. If you've never seen it done, I imagine it would be somewhat confusing as much of the film had no narration and thus, one unfamiliar with what was going down could get lost. But even if you didn't know the lingo, the film made it all pretty easy to follow. Also, the film really makes one aware of the hard work the farmers go through for so little and thus indirectly pushes better conditions (the film is also directly dedicated for more than fair trade).

The only stabbing annoyance in the film stemmed from the soundtrack, which consisted of a singular old-timey song called the Java Jive (here it is performed by the Manhattan Transfer) played in spurts throughout the whole film. If you're one easily annoyed by such a song beaten to death, I would recommend putting the film on mute unless you see someone talking.

Overall, grab From the Ground Up if you're curious to how coffee gets to your local purveyor or you really wish to raise your awareness on what people go through so you can enjoy your morning cup.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CC: Sleepless Goat Cafe

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Sleepless Goat Cafe
Location visited:
Kingston, ON
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

While it seems hard to believe for me as I've been to various countries, this is my first international coffee post. I guess it's probably because rarely have I been able to find a coffeehouse in places like the wilderness of Russia or the island of Bermuda. But those are other stories...

This story begins some months ago with a seed planted in my head by my supervisor in regards to the city of Kingston in Ontario. She had mentioned that there was a coffeehouse on every corner and that it would be a great place for me to visit. I thought to myself that such news was odd since that in my Canadian online research and in talking with Canadians, no one had ever mentioned anything worth a stop in Kingston. So without knowing where to go from there, I filed the thought off to the side.

Then a couple weeks ago, it just so happened that the wife and I happened to be going to Kingston for some relaxation amidst the beautiful onset of spring. So upon arrival I dusted off the past conversation about coffeehouses on every corner and made sure to keep my eye out. Sure enough, there were literally coffeehouses all around the downtown area. But then a horrid reality seemed to sink in as we popped into a few; most of them didn't seem to have a lick of an idea of what a good coffeehouse looked like. Some had espresso machines that seemed massacred by a robot army, others proudly touting how great their French Vanilla Cappuccino was.

Finally we stumbled upon a place that looked half decent called the Sleepless Goat Cafe. The front of the place boasted a renaissance-fair-ish sign above a small awning that did a fair job in shading a few spots of outside seating. The interior was a little roomier though a bit grungy and very bohemian. The seating consisted of tables and a few booths that proved very hard to get in and out of with their cushions not nailed to the seat.

The coffee comes from a Canadian coffee roaster called Equator that basically focuses on fair trade and organic coffees (as do all things served at the Sleepless Goat). I was served a coffee called Dr. Joe (or something like that) that came off bright but a bit burnt. The espresso was fair though it tasted more like a dark cup of french press then espresso. I think the tea was free leaf (didn't write it down) and as a side note, they also serve alcoholic beverages.

While I can say that the (lack of) signs had warned me, it's always sad to walk away from an establishment (never mind a whole city) that is in need of coffee refinement. Inversely, I could see the Sleepless Goat really transcending their neighboring coffee establishments with a slight aesthetic makeover as well as more passion on the coffee quality.

If you happen to be in town and not feeling so adventurous to hop through the many coffee establishments, give the Sleepless Goat an attempt.