Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CC: Sunrise Coffee Co

What's does "CC" mean?
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Free WiFi ? : yes
5+ [
see key]

Las Vegas has a reputation for a lot of things but one of them has not been coffee. As a town that seems to live off of travelers, local places did not seem to take as easily as in other towns. This boded poorly for the prospect of good coffee, as the average coffee drinker is still satisfied with sub-par coffee that the big chains ever so happily pump out.

But in this coffee desert, I managed to find a distant oasis near the airport. I caught wind that Sunrise Coffee happened to serve Klatch Coffee, a superb coffee roaster from San Dimas, and the first chance I found, I made my way over.

I found Sunrise on the corner of a small strip mall in what seemed like a part of town that is just recently developing. Save for a tacky collection of paper back novels, the shop interior held a chic look with a slate wall, lots of interesting art and a overtly pleasing aesthetic.

The coffee was indeed Klatch, with a full rotation of their coffee as well as two espresso blends on hand. I had an espresso of the World's Best Espresso (voted so at the 2007 World Barista Championship) and a drip of their Rainforest Blend. The drip I had a mixed experience with, as my first cup was really stale and thus I asked that when they brewed a fresh pot, if I could have some of that instead, to which they ever so apologetically agreed. Thus my second, much fresher cup of the Rainforest Blend held notes of toffee, pepper, oregano and buttermilk amidst a medium body that didn't win me over yet proved decent (I've never had the blend before but it tasted a bit darker then a medium roast).

The espresso on the other hand was a juggernaut-in-a-cup that garnered my vote to its worldly superiority. The shots were pulled painstakingly well with a marbled crema, all conveying notes of sweet pound cake, white chocolate, a bit of ginger, vanilla and orange; overall, there was a nice bitter/sour balance amidst a staunch sweetness that made the cup shimmer.

The tea was free leaf (they offered bee pollen for your tea too, a sight I have never seen).

Aside from the stale coffee I was first served, I found myself happier then a man winning a hard million off his last quarter. If you make it into Vegas, take a detour from the strip to hit Sunrise Coffee.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Product Review: Espro Press



Espro Press
5+ (translates to "great")

It might just be me, but there seems like there are thousands of different french press-type apparatuses on the market. Personally, I've reviewed traditional glass ones and disposable ones, not to mention a few bodums I've gone through over the years. All operate off the basic concept of a metal mesh plunger trapping the coffee grounds at the bottom of the vessel, letting only the coffee escape into the mug, yet most french press designs never seem to trap the finer, silty grinds which make the final sips of coffee more akin to the reverse of a whale sieving plankton through baleen.

Fortunately, the folks at Espro seem to have found an end to filter failure. The Espro Press, a french press at first glance, sets to improve on the design by changing the metal filter to a super fine double micro-filter with a plastic seal that altogether is supposed to keep all sediment out of the final pour.

The kind folks at Espro sent me out one to field test and after a few infusions, I found their claims to be true. Each cup, brewed 3 minutes (with a brief stirring in the middle) and then gently pressed, produced a remarkably clean cup with no noticeable sediment in consumption or left in the cup at the conclusion (even when I let the press drain extensively). The metal design also kept the coffee insulated while brewing and all of the pieces proved very easy to clean. My only criticism was that it only produced an 8 oz cup of coffee, which works for only one person but would prove inconvenient with guests.

Therefore, if you are on the hunt for a new french press, I would give the Espro Press strong consideration, especially if you're tired of sediment in your cup.

note: product was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CC: Shot Tower Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
6+ [
see key]

My cousin moved to South Philly a couple months ago and while I envy not her daily hunt for street parking or the inconvenience of grocery shopping, I do covet the fact that she lives within walking distance of several great coffeehouses.

One coffeehouse newcomer is as new as my cousin's lease, a corner cafe called Shot Tower Coffee. The coffeehouse has made a local splash as Philly's newest Stumptown Coffee slinging operation bent on quality. I made my way over one Saturday to the corner of 6th and Christian to find them in a brick building with olive trim around large windows. Inside, the space is spiffy, with nice decor, seating along the windows and a massive table to the right of the door.

I ordered an espresso of Stumptown's
Colombia Los Gauchos and a drip of their Burundi Kinyovu. The espresso, pulled short with marbled crema, sang of spicy cherry, chocolate cake, salt, ginger snap and jasmine (delicious!). The drip held notes of straw, caramel, butter, spinach, apple, sassafras and a subtle earthiness amidst a nice body (also delicious). The tea is Rishi.

Thus, while I will probably not be moving into South Philadelphia any time soon, I have a few good reasons to visit my cousin, with Shot Tower standing at the top of the list. If you're in the city, give Shot Tower a try.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

CC: Pound Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?

Pound Coffee
Location: Washington, DC
[visited former location]
Free WiFi ? : yes
6+ [
see key]

It amazes me with the quickness things change but in a world moving millions of miles a millisecond (ok...maybe a little slower) I guess I should not hold my mouth agape at sudden turns and surprises. One example is Pound Coffee in DC. There was word of a second location on Pennsylvania Avenue back in October but since I was in DC prior to its opening, I made a fun-filled trip to their NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue) location. Soon after, it turns out that they opened their second location only to then unexpectedly close down the first. Apparently it was not planned and fortunately the second location came just in time.

Thus, in sharing of my Pound experience, I shan't waste time on the details of cafe ambiance (but you can scope out pics here) but since the coffee seems to have remained constant, I shall share my coffee experience at their former geography.

Pound serves up coffee from Kickapoo Coffee and that fine afternoon I ordered an espresso (I believe it was their Ethiopian Sidama) and a drip of their Guatemalan. The espresso, pulled short with a blond crema, dictated bits of vanilla, hazelnut, tonic, mint and lime amidst a subtle milkiness (overall very nice). The drip held bright notes of lettuce, some pound cake, honey, baklava and an underlying nuttiness; a smooth coffee with mild but delicious flavors. The tea was Mighty Leaf.

While I'm looking forward to trying the Hill location, I'm sure that they're doing an even better job then in their former glory. Whether they move again or not, seek out Pound and give them a go.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Does filtered water make coffee better?

The short answer is usually. But no one puts stock in the short answer.

Ask any coffee enthusiast if the type of water matters in their coffee and everyone of them will (read: should) say yes. The three types of water available to the average household are usually filtered, tap and bottled water. To quickly rule out one option, I would agree with the growing number of people that bottled water is indeed a waste of money and resources, especially since numerous bottled waters are practically the same as tap water in terms of health and taste benefits.

That leaves the duel between tap and filtered water, with the two issues being health effects and taste. Depending on where you are, your tap water can contain harmful agents that you might not want in your body. But at the same time, there are some regions of the country with exceptional tap water. So, it really comes down to your specific geographical source and hygenic philosophy as to whether filtering offers any real benefits for your health.

And then there was taste. Since coffee is mostly water, clearly the water you use to brew your coffee will make a severe impact on the taste of your coffee. Thus, while I know some cities boast amazing tap water, we're all not so lucky. Thus, I took up an offer from Pur to test out a Pur Water Pitcher to see if it made a difference in the taste of my coffee versus coffee brewed with my tap water.

While I do not have the specific information on the health qualities of my local water system, I would say that it ranks fairly high in taste comparatively to other taps I've tapped. As for my methods of testing, I compared my tap water versus the filtered water in both glasses of water and in cups of coffee.

Drinking the water straight up, my tap water produced an alkali-esque quality in the aftertaste compared to the Pur water which had a much brighter and sweeter flavor to it. This held true through multiple trials and even when my wife produced me a blind taste test, I was able to differentiate the tap and the filtered.

As for my coffee, the results were similar. The coffee brewed via the filtered water was a little sweeter and acidic in taste while the tap water produced coffee slightly more basic with a metallic aftertaste.

Thus, I can vouch that the Pur Water Pitcher did make a noticeable difference in the taste of my water and coffee. If you're looking to get better tasting water from your tap, a water filter could do it for you though there's no guarantees. And if you like being uber careful about possible threats in your water, then filtration will definitely help you sleep better (whether it really does the job, only time will tell).

So if you have less-then-stellar tap water and/or you want to take a step in the direction of water safety, then try out a Pur Water Pitcher.
note: pitcher was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.