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.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Specialty Coffee in Atlanta!


Ever wanted to network with some of the best in the coffee and tea industry? If you're in the area of Atlanta (or you wish to be) on April 16 - 19, you definitely should stop by The Specialty Coffee Event SCAA 2009 (i.e. the SCAA's 21st Exposition)

Events will include the World Barista Competition (there's still some regional competitions going on if you'd like to get into some local amazing-ness) and some other amazing workshops.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Product Review: FortePromo's Cafe Set


Coffee House Cafe Set
3+ (translates to "good")

offee and tea are only good if they can be enjoyed correctly. What good is coffee if you cannot brew it, espresso if you have not the proper machine or grinder, or tea... well, if you have not a cup full of close-to-boiling water (let's face it; it doesn't take much to enjoy tea).

Consequently, quite often we beverage geeks really pay a lot of attention to equipment. So when sent me their cafe set to try out, I was interested to test out the quality.

Though I've personally not had much experience with, it seems the company has a great deal of background in personalizing products for promotional purposes (which is also easily deduced in that you need to buy 24 sets for the low price of $25) and also produces what seems to be pretty decent products.

The cafe set arrived in a nice black box. The set includes a 1 cup french press (around 18 oz) and two small mugs fashioned in likeness to the french press (i.e. glass in a wire frame). As I've noted in my explorations, the lid and plunger really define the set and thus, I noted that the lid is a basic two-layer plastic (there's a separable white plastic dome under the lid) and the plunger is a plastic and mesh composite.

After a couple runs, I felt that I really got the full experience of the set. To start with the less complex, I found the cups to be quaint and of decent quality. The only detraction was that the coffee residue (the fine grinds that always sneak in) looks a whole lot worse in a clear cup.

The french press proved overall decent. The glass pot seems to hold up under the wear-and-tear of use, the frame proved durable, and the plunger did a good job of holding back the grinds. My only dislikes were that the plunger's only rest position was in full plunge (i.e. the plunger was not wide enough to stop at various degrees of altitude), which made keeping the lid on between the initial mixing and 4 minutes later a bit difficult.

In the end, I found the set to be decent (especially for the price!) with but a few drawbacks. I would get this set for someone who's just getting into coffee, someone looking for a press for travel, someone who has a good coffee marketing idea, or someone who has dire need for a lot of reserves.

If you're in the market for a regiment of french presses, give a try.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

CC: Darling's Cafe & Famous Cheesecakes

What's does "CC" mean?

Darling's Cafe & Famous Cheesecakes
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA
(20th St location)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

Enigmatic as it is, I love cheescake but don't care for cream cheese. It could be that I prefer a spread of peanut butter on my bagel to a smear of cream cheese, and guacamole or salsa instead of a high-calorie taco dip (sorry mom). But for an odd reason, when the combination of ingredients that produce a good slice of cheesecake is laid at my fingers, I'm all over it.

And what else would go well with a good slice of cheesecake besides a good cup of coffee? I surrender that I can think of little else. Especially when it's good, local cheesecake.

Apparently the folks at Darling's Cafe & Famous Cheesecakes agree, as to my surprise amidst my first visit I found they had a full coffee menu. Sadly, they serve La Colombe, a moderate-to-fair Philadelphia roaster. The coffee followed suit as it was smoothly bland and had a bit of an off-taste (not to mention a wee bit stale, but that's on the barista). The espresso fared a little better, as it had hints of cocoa and lemon, but overall the shot was quite charred. The cheesecake most fortuitously twas delicious; I felt morose that I hadn't a better coffee to ingest it with.

Walking out of the cute little cafe, I made a note to stop by Darling's the next time I'm in need of a cheesecake. But unless things change with the coffee operation, I'll probably be pairing it with coffee of better pedigree.

If you're nearby Philly, give Darling's Cheesecakes a try.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

CC: La.Va Cafe

What's does "CC" mean?

La.Va Cafe
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

Though I greatly enjoy long urban hikes, it's rare when good company, good surroundings and good weather cooperate. Sure you plan for the best, but sometimes you just get stuck with a bitter cold day, four morose companions, and a list of horrible tips coming to fruition as a day spent wandering amidst closed stores.

And then once in a while everything works out just right, such as this past month when I was walking with friends in Philadelphia. We had a small outing planned: lunch at the Reading Terminal, coffee and then a stop at the Mutter Museum. The forecast showed cold temperatures and snow, but that only characterized half the day, as about 2 PM we encountered beautiful skies, a warm breeze and a beautiful neighborhood along the Schuylkill River.

Thankfully, the nice experience lasted throughout the rest of the day, even into the early evening when we were ready to head home. On our walk out, I spotted a sharp-looking corner coffeehouse with large windows called La.Va Cafe and deduced that given our fortune thus far, it could be a nice spot to stretch our legs and grab a quick cup of coffee.

The interior stretches out into a vaulted space with warm decor and classy furniture. The coffee comes from La Colombe and upon sipping their drip, sadly my usual fears were realized as I noted the same tastes of a typical (disappointing) La Colombe cup; bland with hints of char. The espresso sipped a little better, as the barista had decent skills and pulled cherry-toned shots though it still possessed a good deal of char on the end. I didn't note the tea, but aside from the coffee they have a very full menu (which I unfortunately didn't get to try).

While La.Va ended my day in a fair manner, the coffee experience could've been better, especially given what seems to be strengths in other areas. Thus, if you're in the neighborhood, give La.Va Cafe a try for a meal and/or some moderate coffee.