Friday, June 16, 2006

CC: Last Drop

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: The Last Drop (no website)
Location visited: 13th and Pine St, Philadelphia
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

A relic of my youth, this coffeehouse has been one of the few coffee spots in Philly that I've been to avidly. I was first introduced to the Last Drop about five years ago by a friend who's uncle has some employatic tie (which worked out since the first time we went there, my friend and I happened to meet up with his uncle, who got us both free drinks). The place was very eclectic and hasn't changed much since.

Today the place is constantly packed; seems the place draws a very young, artsy crowd (being right near the Art schools on Broad St, it's no real surprise). The environment is efficient, sometimes smoky (due to tobacco-dependent patrons), usually blaring with music, and has an "interesting" basement hangout, which five years ago looked a little demonic, but fortunately has improved in decor and happy tones over the years.

The coffee and espresso are La Colombe, with a very basic list of menu offerings. The tea, well I couldn't find out what kind they had since last time I asked, the barista didn't know (which is kinda sad). Overall, their coffee and espresso are consistent; nothing amazing, but pretty good. I don't know about the tea (and I'm reluctant from my last experience...), nor could I tell you bout the chai.

The selling point of this place is it's always open late, like 11pm or midnight. I've only actually sat to drink me coffee there once (it's always smoky and loud, so not my top place to sit) but it's a great place to chill if you like that kind of thing. They even have outside seating in warm weather. Personally, I usually grab my java to go.

Update 9/26/07:
The Drop has apparently not been a smoke-full environment for two years now; my mistake. Enjoy it smoke-free.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

CC: Teavana

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Teavana
Location visited: King of Prussia Mall, PA
Free WiFi ? : NO
Rating: 5+ [see key]

This past Tuesday I went to the King of Prussia Mall with the girlfriend, who might I add is a queen of a woman, always coming with me on my coffee/tea explorations (this one was random, I promise). Anyway, we were window shopping at the mall when we stumble across this seemingly-odd store of Teavana, lured over to it by the free samples of tea at the storefront.

Now further intrigued, we ventured in. It was a tea emporium, with all kinds of tea hardware (kettles, cups, tea sets, etc) with some very intriguing tea brewing contraptions as well. But most of note was the wall of loose tea behind the counter. They ONLY serve loose tea (which tends to be much fresher and more complex then bagged tea), a welcome feature not found in many malls, never mind many coffee/tea establishments.

I'd say the only drawback was the price, with 2 oz. (or 25-30 cups worth) of some tea costing as much as $25. Needless to say, I sampled an expensive tea of Monkey Picked Oolong (which was pretty good) and brought home 2 oz of Lapsang Souchong (which my girlfriend and I affectionately call Campfire tea, though she doesn't like it).

Overall, I don't get the chance to see many quality loose tea establishments but it was easy to recognize that these guys have something of greatness here. You can order from their website as well, so don't be put off if you're not near by a location.

photo credited to

Thursday, June 01, 2006

CC: The Point

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: The Point
Location visited: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]


This past Saturday, some friends and I embarked off to NYC (not "the city", which we South Jersey folk reserve for Philly). The travel/arrival part was quite a story all to itself, with the short version as: we drove up, got turned around, parked in Jersey City, took the light rail to the PATH train, and took that (quite haphazardly as the trains run funny on weekends) finally into Greenwich Village.

Anyways, one of the first places we stopped I saw from a distance. It looked a little odd but as we got closer I noticed it was a knitting cafe. Just as I was about to turn away in disinterest I noticed they had an espresso machine. Always curious, I poked my head in to inspect. I asked the usual series of questions about what kind of coffee, what kind of espresso, etc (unfortunately I did not remember a single answer) and the gentleman behind the counter politely replied with good answers (had they been bad I woulda left :) ).

So the coffee was pretty good. I tried the hot coffee but since it was a scorcher, I got an iced coffee with a shot of espresso. It truly hit the spot. Fairly priced as well. As I was pressed for time (I couldn't keep my fellow travelers waiting too long...) I didn't get to try anything else.

I'd have to say it's a good spot. From what I could deduce, they genuinely care about their product and the whole knitting option is a great asset to the business. I'd be interested to hear from locals what they think.

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 :).