Showing posts with label republic of tea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label republic of tea. Show all posts

Friday, October 15, 2010

CC: Saint's Cafe

What's does "CC" mean?

Saint's Cafe
Location visited: State College, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
5+ [
see key]

Central Pennsylvania has always been greatly overlooked in my travels. I have driven across it many times but aside from the scenery along the turnpike, there was little else I managed to see.

That sad trend met its end when I found my way to State College. The quintessential college town, State College surpassed my meager expectations with its bustling streets full of alluring stores and eateries (unlike some other college towns that shan't be named).

But what put my delight into hyperdrive was the presence of Saint's Cafe. Serving up Intelligentsia, Metropolis and Counter Culture, this coffeehouse was the first cafe I had heard of between Philly and Pittsburgh that knew about good coffee (never mind served it).

Parking in the metered lot across the street, I walked over, into their busy yet open cafe full of whites, greens and tans (all influenced by complimentary lighting). The space had an overall warm environment as well as plenty of seating.

I ordered an espresso of (Intelly's) Black Cat and a Clover-brewed Rwandan (also from Intelly). The espresso was pulled pretty well, appearing with a great crema and the flavors of creamy chocolate milk, lemon rind, clove and a bit of pepper. The shots seemed a bit off from normal Black Cat but the quality still proved splendid. The Rwandan displayed mild hops, caramel, wheat grass, raspberry yogurt, a tinge of tobacco and a small measure of fig (i.e. a delicious coffee). The tea is free leaf and Republic of Tea.

My experience with the cafe left me pleased, as the service and product both boded well. Along with Penn State's world-famous creamery (which was practically bursting with fervent customers that day), Saint's Cafe easily produces a good reason for making State College a place to hit soon.

Monday, February 08, 2010

CC: Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery

What's does "CC" mean? Location visited: Hammonton, NJ
Free WiFi ? : yes

3+ [
see key]

When you get in between Philadelphia and the Jersey shore, you roll into an odd region of the state known for its sandy soil and weird pines (the pine barrens). Around this habitat, you find a lot of cranberry and blueberry farms and accordingly, such towns as Hammonton (the self-proclaimed blueberry capital of the world!).

While passing through town, I decided to try out a local coffee operation called Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery. Granted I never had heard of it before, but since I don't frequent the area a lot, I figured to give it a go.

Casciano sits on the main avenue of Hammonton in a charming brown store front with a few outside tables, complimented with free parking and a second entrance in the back. The interior displayed a long shop split in half by the kitchen and bathrooms; the counter and some tables in the front and much more seating in the back. The overall ambiance seemed to focus more on average American decor and though not compelling, proved very comfortable.

The coffee hails from Mountain Peak Coffee Roasters, based out of Forked River, NJ. I sampled a cup of their Colombian via drip; the brew proved bright with hints of lime, flavors of olive oil, oregano and Earl Grey all encapsulated in a medium-bodied coffee that wasn't half bad. The espresso, pulled short/medium, had a grapefruit sourness followed by a strong milky taste and ending with cardboard and a deep, charred flavor (i.e. the espresso could stand to improve). The tea is Republic of Tea.

While Casciano shows a lot of promise, I can see some areas that, if developed, could send them further towards the top. In the meantime, if you are in town, give Casciano a try for yourself.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CC: Hub Bub Coffee


Subject: Hub Bub Coffee
Locations visited: Philadelphia, PA, various
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Updated 12.30.13 (see below)

Philly's newest coffee development has finally brought the city a true mobile coffee venue. Hub Bub Coffee, a coffee truck that just drove onto the scene in October, serves up the all-too-popular coffee of Stumptown and even before the initial opening, the operation had accrued quite a bit of publicity.

Since the truck often parks on 38th and Spruce on the weekdays, I tried making a stop on a recent Friday but unfortunately, my plan failed. So I tried a Saturday, tracking Hub Bub's location via twitter since the truck wanders to different spots on the weekends. And after walking a few blocks on a windy day of shopping and merriment, I caught sight of the big red coffee machine.

The truck is beautifully simple enough; menu and order window on the passenger side with a shiny metal interior full of all the necessary coffee tools (fastened to the counter I believe).

I requested a cup of the day's drip, Stumptown's Guatemala Finca El Injerto. The coffee had a pleasant earthiness with notes of bourbon (fitting, given it's a Bourbon Varietal), sugar cane and a little sweet cigar and black tea. The espresso, unavoidably served in a paper cup (the mobile coffee truck that can solve this dilemma should get an award!), was pulled well and had a good showing to boot; good crema, dark body with pleasant chocolate and lime flavors ending with a sweet whiskey-esque bite. The tea is Republic of Tea.

On the whole, I thoroughly dug my trip to Hub Bub. If you happen to be near U Penn on the weekdays or you're looking for a weekend treasure hunt, go to Hub Bub.

*Update 12.30.13*

In the recent past, I've made it to their Logan Square and Spruce St locations. Both bring the Hub Bub quality to the gorgeous brick and mortar structures the city so richly loves.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

CC: Burlap and Bean Coffee


What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Burlap and Bean Coffee
Location visited:
Newton Square, PA

Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

eriods of extensive work almost always go hand-in-hand with lots of good coffee but there are a few occasions (such as in this past month) where I have so much to do that getting out to get some good coffee becomes a challenge.

So after going about a week without a stellar cup of coffee, I made sure to make a couple stops that included a visit to a long-time favorite Crescent Moon Coffee as well as to a new place west of Philadelphia called Burlap and Bean Coffee.

Burlap and Bean has been a coffeehouse that I have heard bits and pieces of praise of over the past few months. Word was that they knew what they were doing with roasting and that they've caught the attention of some credible people, but overall I had nothing conclusive. So when I drove into their small strip mall after dinner one evening, the bustling droves of people outside of their big storefront windows proved a welcome sight. Walking in, the inside proved packed and beautifully decorated; gorgeous wood furniture, art mounted on burlap, and a nice color scheme all demonstrated an aesthetically pleasing location to sip some coffee.

The coffee is roasted in-house, varying in single origins and blends. I sampled their house blend, which surprisingly blew me away as usually house blends prove normal, but this one had a hopsy fruity mellow flavor that really made me smile. The espresso emanated a floral sweetness and a nice tang, and all in all definitely appeared to be pulled by trained hands. The tea was Republic of Tea.

In the end, Burlap and Bean left me a chipper man. Not only was I able to make stops at two good coffee establishments (Crescent Moon was pleasant as usual) but now when I'm in Upper Darby or along I-476 I have a good spot to stop at (probably sooner then later). If you are in the area, make sure to give Burlap and Bean Coffee a go.

Friday, August 22, 2008

CC: Creekside Books and Coffee

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Creekside Books and Coffee
Location visited:
Skaneateles, NY

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

ome would say that with every breathtaking vista one visits, it takes less and less breath away. To a degree, I would have to agree as the Appalachians seem small and lowly compared to seeing the Rockies, yet on the other side of the coin I do believe it's all about the way you look at it.

Thus, when I first made a trip to the wealthy picturesque finger-laked town of
Skaneateles I can't say I was too impressed. Sure the main street was bustling with folks, the lake beautiful, and some of the houses breathtaking but the majority of the shops were not of much interest to me and there was not one decent coffeehouse in sight. Consequently, after that trip I didn't think much of the locale.

But recently, I had a few conversations with a friend who knew the area and so when I was there the other day, I had a few recommendations as to what do and see in town including a coffeehouse off the main stretch called Creekside Books and Coffee. From what I understood, the coffeehouse/bookstore combo was a bustling haven for locals and actually served decent coffee.

Pulling up to the transformed house-now-coffeebookstore, I was surprised to see a spacious looking structure with two entrances and a parking lot on the non-street side. Walking in, you enter a foyer with the books to the one side and the coffeehouse to the other. The bookstore area reminded me of a library; a little too sterile for my tastes. The coffeehouse conversely was a beautiful loft-ish space with a nice stone tile floor, tan walls, and even a balcony-like second floor.

The coffee is roasted in-house in an odd looking Java Master roaster (the model 2002 air roaster). They roast a variety of different coffees, from blends to single origins. That particular morning, I had the Papua New Guinea which had a mildly earthy taste with shades of char; a good cup of coffee yet it had room to improve. The espresso was pulled of average quality. It had moderate crema and some heavy oil, but it did demonstrate a noticeable sweetness and fair body. The tea was Republic of Tea.

So in the end I did enjoy my visit to
Skaneateles more this time; besides the enjoyable trip to Creekside, I had a good breakfast and was able to relax from the business I had at hand that day. I do hope Creekside continues to thrive (and possibly also grease some of their rusty facets). If you're in town, make sure not to waste your time on lesser coffee on the main drag but make a stop a little further out at Creekside.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

CC: Shamballa Cafe and Coffee Roasters

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Shamballa Cafe and Coffee Roasters
Location visited:
Baldwinsville, NY

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

ocal musical and artistic talent can really enhance or destroy a coffeehouse. I've been to great coffeehouses with horrific musical acts that sent my ears pulsating and my coffeehouse experience lacking. Yet a good musical act can sometimes make the worst coffeehouse seem like a gem (though sometimes that isn't good, especially when a coffeehouse abandons their coffee passion only to be a music venue).

Anyway, I recently made a stop with my bride in a small upstate NY town called Baldwinsville and lo and behold, there happened to be a coffeehouse called Shamballa Cafe and Coffee Roastery open with some live music inside. At the time, we didn't have many other ideas of things to do so we parked and sauntered over.

The exterior of Shamballa consists of a small front with a few outside tables, with a front and back entrance (the back entrance leading to a parking lot). Walking in, the shop unveils as a long space with lots of tans, greens, and salmon colors as well as a curtain wallpaper (while a bit 3D-ish, also a bit tacky). The shop also has a moderate amount of tables, a couch area in the back, and the live music to the left as you walk in the front.

According to their website, Shamballa actually sprouted out of a home-roasting habit of the owners and apparently blossomed into the coffee roastery and cafe. I purchased a cup of the Ethiopian Standard, which provided a decent cup of coffee with a slight brightness but an underlying char.

The espresso operation seemed to be fair at best. While I watched the barista pour a fairly poor latte, the espresso accordingly was pulled not so badly (they had quite an interesting tamper) though a little long for my tongue. The espresso came off brightly with a smooth acidity, though also a bit sharp in taste. The tea is Republic of Tea.

Going back to the live music, the artist on stage while I was there was actually very conducive to the environment and proved to really enhance my experience.

In regards to Shamballa itself, I would have to say the coffeehouse shows some promise but at the same time, a bit of lack in a few arenas. Nonetheless, the coffeehouse definitely provides a welcome watering hole amidst the town so if you're ever in the area, make sure to pop in.