Monday, May 29, 2006

CC: Casona

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Casona
Location visited: Collingswood, NJ
Rating: 3+ [see key]

Last week, my parents gave me a call to meet them for lunch. We defaulted to Collingswood since it was halfway between me and home, my mom suggesting a Cuban place called Casona. Not being extremely picky with types of food (as long as it's good), I opted in.

Located on Haddon Ave (west side of Collings Ave) in a refurbished, what-looks-like-a-colonial blue house with a gorgeously structured porch, Casona was a perfect pick for the warm, spring day. To cut to the chase, the food was amazing (a little pricy). The portions ranged from hearty sandwhiches to smaller entrees. Most food was served with plantain chips, which were surprisingly good.

But the reason I'm writing about it was that they had a fully-functional espresso bar (and I'm not saying they served espresso, I'm saying they had a small coffee house within the restaurant). Always hesitant of such an arrangement (quite often such espresso bars get little priority in quality), I was surprised to find it not half bad. The brand of coffee was Lazza(?), a latin-american roaster that I've never heard of (or could find on google).

As far as how they brew the coffee, they had two industrial drip, hot-plate machines, kinda like WaWa, which meant burnt coffee (tear). I tried about 3 oz. and though I could taste the effects of the plate, it was pretty good. A very full but smooth coffee. Hopefully they'll get new coffee hardware.

The tea was Republic of Tea. I didn't have the hot tea but I had an iced pomegranate green tea, which was really good (though I swore it had some kind of artificial sweetner in it). Not a cheap drink but a tasty one for those of you avoiding sweets.

As far as espresso, I can't definitively say thumbs up or down b/c I had a latte (I wasn't in the mood for something strong). The latte itself was good though it seemed a little weak. From what I could tell, the espresso wasn't half bad but I'll have to try it again another day.

Though I didn't get a chance to try anything like the hot chocolate or chai, overall Casona's side coffee bar (which operates seemingly independent from the restaurant) was great. Overall, I'd recommend a trip to Casona for lunch or brunch to try out the food (the prosciutto in the Caesar salad was unbelievable) and a cup of java after.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Vigilante Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee Justice

As many people know, this past Tuesday was DD's "FREE Iced Coffee Day," a glorious day of the distribution of one of their finer products (as weird as it is, DD makes good coffee, a topic that will recieve future attention, I'm sure...).

So anyways, it was round 9 pm. I was out with the girlfriend making a late stop on FREE Iced Coffee Day. We walked in and were promptly greeted by "no iced coffee after 9!" and they pointed to the clock which read 9:12 pm. First of all, as the official signs (pasted everywhere) read the day exteneded all the way until 11:59 pm at all 24 hr DDs. So I persisted but after gaining no ground, withdrew to formulate my new attack.

Then an older couple walks in. I didn't really pay attention to what they were saying as I was trying to figure out how to persuade the lovely DD employees they were wrong. But just as I was about to try my rhetoric again, the lady in the couple, who had left seconds before, storms back in saying "the sign says until 11:59 pm! 11:59 not 9 o clock!" She proceeded to verbally wail the stubborn DD defense (with occasional "she's right" coming from my direction) until finally the DDers gave in.

Never in all my days has FREE coffee come at such a price, but in retrospect, I'm glad that lady was there or else I might not have got my evening brew :).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

CC: Cosi

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Cosi
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA (15th and Locust)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 1+ [see key]

Yet another example of a corporate giant (trying) to take over Philly. I've had several java experiences at Cosi (even before when they were XandOs) and every time, it's either uber weak or charcoaled-disgustingness. Recently, I stopped in around 10:30 pm with some friends (nothing else was really open) and I was really hoping for a good cup of evening java. Not wanting to chance getting charred coffee, I went for a latte. Served up in a soup bowl of a 20 oz. mug, it tasted like hot milk with some coffee residue. After inquiring our server, I find out that they only add two shots of espresso to a 20 oz latte! For you chocolate milk fans, that's the equivalent of tan-colored milk. Bleh.

The tea, well, according to their website, they don't even have tea. They do have chai, but I never tried it. Can't say I'd want to get a chai at a place that has no hot tea options (just doesn't feel right).

But Cosi's redeeming quality is that they have good sandwhiches and smores (though very pricy). Overall, I would only recommend the joint to someone looking for an overpriced sandwhich or someone with a craving for smores.

Definately not worth it for the coffee or espresso (and I'm guessing the same goes for chai). Especially in Philly, there are much better places to spend your $.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

CC: Treehouse Coffee Shop


What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Treehouse Coffee Shop
Location visited: Audubon, NJ
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Update 5/29/09

This coffee locale has been on my radar for some years now, as my first experience with it was over five years ago (it had different owners then). Back then I was less interested in coffee and more interested in entertainment; fun things to do on a Friday and Saturday night that didn't involve getting plastered. Treehouse was and still is today a good place for their open mics and live performances of different kinds. Over the years, I've seen a good share of interesting acts there, one that I oddly remember was a local artist named Sara O'Brien.

On to the coffee, I can't say that I'm excited or disappointed. The coffee is La Colombe, which is a local Philly-roaster, and I share in the sentiment that it's reeeeally overhyped. If you go over to Philly, every stinking coffee establishment with few exceptions brews it. I can't say that I've ever had an amazing cup. Back to Treehouse, they only offer 1 blend of regular coffee (they call it house blend) as well as several flavored choices. Overall, I'd say the coffee is decent.

Going to tea, I was a little stunned. They had Republic of Tea, an always welcome favorite, but they had every variety that I've ever seen. Good news for the tea-sipper.

The epresso was also La Colombe and wasn't too bad. I recently had an americano which was pretty good, so I give it a similar review to the coffee. On the other hand, I did have a latte there once that was truly poor but I give them the benefit of the doubt and say that it was just a bad day for them.

In conclusion, I definately recommend Treehouse, more for the stellar atmosphere and the entertainment but also for the coffee and tea. Plus, since it's located in up-and-coming Collingswood, there's a good deal of small boutiques and resturaunts to check out.

Update of 2/8/07

They switched their brand of coffee to Crescent Moon Coffee Roasters, as well as added several other positive upgrades.

Update of 12/31/07
The Treehouse is for sale!

Update of 8/13/08
The Treehouse has moved from Collingswood to Audubon. The information has changed above and on the map to reflect it. Next time I'm in the area, I hope to stop by to see what the new digs are like and if anything has changed menu-wise.

Update 5/29/09
In going back through my posts, I noticed I never commented on the updated menu. The coffee is still Crescent Moon and the drip often displays a tremendous cup. The espresso is pulled fairly short and as of my last visit, the shots had a good mouthfeel with nice tones of bittersweet chocolate.

Friday, May 19, 2006

More Charbucks-Initiated Misery

I don't really like paying one company a lot of attention (especially negative) but this article really packs a punch. A bit long, but sooooo worth the read.