Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mugged: PT's Coffee [Finca La Felicidad - Guatemalan Antigua]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Subject: PT's Coffee
Coffee Mugged: Finca La Felicidad - Guatemalan Antigua
Rating: 5+ [see key]

ecently, a number of coffee roasters have made great strides in creating direct trade with coffee farmers (i.e. cut out the middle man), a move that develops long-term relationships with the farm and ends up benefiting both parties with a greater product and fair pricing across the board (quite often the farm benefits many times more then Fair Trade certified farms).

PT's Coffee would be an example of one such roaster working hard at it. When they recently sent me a bag of Finca La Felicidad - Guatemalan Antigua to try out, I was thrilled to find the coffee comes from such a Direct Trade relationship.

As mentioned on PT's website, the coffee beans did produce a lovely potent buttery aroma. I sampled the coffee via french press, vacuum press and drip. The french press produced a deep chocolate taste, medium smooth body and followed with flecks of spice and molasses. The vacuum press had similar flavors, with the spiciness a little more pronounced and a bit more of an earthy flavor that came out. The drip had a much smoother body and little more subdued expression of the flavors (especially the cocoa).

On the whole, this coffee rocked my socks off. If you're looking for a great South American coffee, try Finca La Felicidad for sure.

Friday, March 27, 2009

CC: Redcat (their lounge)

What's does "CC" mean?

Subject: Redcat's lounge
Location visited: LA, CA

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

oing to the theater has a very rushed and uncomfortable feeling to it, probably because I'm always late, I usually have to look swanky and the seats usually are made for a much shorter fella than I.

But when I last walked Los Angeles, I got word of a theater sounding somewhat the opposite. The Redcat in downtown LA had a reputation not only for good shows, but for their lounge renowned for serving up good coffee.

Needless to say I made my way over to investigate. After finding parking far away (which is absurdly priced to boot!), I walked into Redcat's beautiful spacious lobby and found the lounge about 200 ft from the entrance in an outcove on the left. The space is a beautiful wood-paneled space with a nice mix of natural light, art and seating.

The coffee they serve is from Espresso Vivace out of Seattle, a welcome addition to the coffee variety of LA. Unfortunately, my drinks hardly did justice to the bean's reputation. The espresso possessed hints of nougat and condensed milk but was also pulled really long and lacked the pizazz of a Espresso Vivace shot. The drip coffee was horrible; a stale brew with strong hints of exterior oil with but only hints of mild sweetness. The tea is Tazo and they also serve alcohol.

While I didn't see a show at the Redcat, the interior (lounge included) did make the theater seem a like a nice place to take in a show, with its chill atmosphere and open feel. But nonetheless, it's a shame to have such excellent coffee and not use it to its full potential (maybe I was there on an off day...).

So if you're in LA and looking for a show, try out Redcat and maybe try the coffee.

Monday, March 23, 2009

CC: Jones Coffee Roasters

What's does "CC" mean?

Subject: Jones Coffee Roasters
Location visited: Pasadena, CA

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

Multi-tasking shines as a quality valued a little too much. Sure you might be able to type a letter while painting a self portrait and clapping cymbals between your knees in half time, but can you do it well? Few of us can.

Yet my recent trip to Jones Coffee Roasters revealed what seemed quite a feat of simultaneous operations. Located in lovely Pasadena (quite the gorgeous town), my wife and I stopped in toward the end of the night on our way back to our hotel. We walked up to the open garage door of the cafe, nestled in a pretty nondescript office building/strip mall, and found the cafe a little slow but still serving drinks on their island of a counter in the front of what apparently also doubles as their storage and roasting facility.

The great feat of multi-tasking manifested itself in that the barista not only worked the counter, but he also managed to monitor a batch of coffee on their large drum roaster in the back of the warehouse. Some may see this as an easy ball to keep suspended in the juggle, but from personal experience, it takes a lot of effort to keep a conscious watch on something so volatile in detail.

Looking to the coffee, I had the Gamble House Blend which proved to have a smooth and bright character, with touches of honey and a tea-like body. The espresso (which the barista did actually forget initially) displayed well in a pair of short shots that carried a nice lime tang and sweet hints of cocoa but sadly ended with a little bit of harsh char on the end. The tea is a free leaf of their own.

All together, Jones Coffee Company seemed to illustrate multi-tasking as something doable but by no means an easy task. Either way, it gave good closure to that particular warm evening with the decent coffee (espresso appeared that it could improve) and the intriguing juggling act. If you happen to be around the area, drop on by for some decent cup o joe and just maybe, a show.

Carrying your coffee with a finger...


As I'm always looking to make my life a bit easier amid my rushed existence, I found this product interesting. It's a coffee sleeve with string grips that allow you to carry your coffee like a bag. Granted the concept is nothing groundbreaking, but then again, most handy innovations are but something tweaked a step further.

If you happen to have used or experienced this, I'm curious as to its true potential.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CC: Blue Spoon

What's does "CC" mean?

Subject: Blue Spoon Coffee Co.
Location visited: Manhattan, NY

Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

I've always been curious what kind of coffee Wall Street traders would drink as they get ready for their crazy days. Fortunately for at least the NYC Financial District, there are a few coffee places relatively close by to grab a quality cup of joe.

One that seems outfitted for the working Manhattan-ite on the go is a place called the Blue Spoon Coffee Company, a small coffeehouse located right on Chambers Street open only during the traditional M-F work week. I had made a few attempts to stop by over the years but since I rarely went up to New York City during the week, stopping in proved difficult.

Finally, I had an excuse one day to stop by early during the rush hour commute of a Monday (which might I add, navigating the subway with that much chaos is no fun) and hence, I wandered over to their shop. The venue sits in a cute cafe with a metal exterior with decent windows and a quaint inside with a good deal of spacious seating for the space.

The coffee comes from Intelligentsia, and from what I understand Blue Spoon stands as one of the first in NYC to peddle the Chicago coffee. I had the Blue Spoon Blend, a coffee that purveyed a fiery spice on the front that ended subtly in rice pudding. The espresso, pulled short and by practiced hands, had sweet notes of strawberries and cream as well strong hints of cocoa. I didn't spot the tea.

As I had been waiting to go to Blue Spoon for a while, I was glad that it delivered on my hopes of it being worth the trip. If you happen to be south in Manhattan during the work week, make a detour to the Blue Spoon Coffee Co.