Sunday, March 31, 2013

CC: The Hub Coffee and Cones

Subject: The Hub Coffee and Cones
Location: Grand Lake, CO
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Rocky Mountain National Park is easily one of the most breathtaking parks in our fair nation. Tons of gorgeous mountain terrain, breathtaking vistas and plenty of wildlife make it a nature lover's Never Never Land. When I made my first visit there, I sadly certainly did not allot enough time to see all that I had hoped and was left like a child made to leave Chuck E Cheese before getting a chance to bury himself alive in the ball pit.

But on the way out, my entourage and I stopped in the lovely town of Grand Lake for some dinner and coffee prior to a 2 hour drive back to our base camp. We found a delicious evening meal of rocky mountain oysters and bbq at the Sagebrush BBQ and Grill but a couple different internet searches for coffee in the town made our hopes for evening joe bleak. Fortunately while we were driving down Grand Avenue, we spotted a place called Hub Coffee and Cones with a spacious patio in a cabin-like structure. Knowing little of what to expect, we walked through the metal patio furniture, up the porch and inside to a nicely arrayed venue of red and black that sported a decent amount of chic interior furniture and local art.

Turns out the coffee comes from reputed Denver roaster Coda Coffee Company, a fairly popular choice in the central CO region. I ordered an espresso of the Notorious Espresso Blend and from their legion of pump pots, a drip of their Mexican. The Mexican, a light roast with a medium body, doled out notes of milk chocolate, green tea, apple and sassafras; a sweet coffee with a root-ish quality. The espresso, pulled short/medium with a brownish-blonde crema, spoke of lemon, a little chocolate, salt, some spinach, lavender and a touch of cardboard; not the best shot but still pretty good. Also, as the name indicates, they serve a nice variety of ice cream.

After finishing up our short respite before embarking back onto the open road, I left the Hub happy to have randomly found a coffee oasis in an area with few great coffee options. If you're on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park and in need of a good cup of coffee, hit up the Hub Coffee and Cones.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mugged: Various [Crop to Cup]

Subject: Crop to Cup
Mugged: Various (see below)
Rating [see key]:
- Burundi Bukeye 5+
- Uganda Sebei 4+
- Uganda Bugisu 4+

With all of the fun surprises we're finding about our processed food these days, it's no wonder that there's an ever-increasing demand to know more about where our food came from and what went into it. This seems to be one of the reasons why Direct Trade growing in popularity, along with the desire to provide the best price to coffee producers for their stellar coffees.

One company out of Brooklyn focusing exclusively on Direct Trade is Crop to Cup. With a full line of African coffees, they recently sent me out three of their single origins to sample: Uganda Sebei, Burundi Bukeye and Uganda Bugisu. Through a series of infusions, I had each via pourover, french press and siphon.

First up was the Uganda Sebei, a wet-processed coffee from the region of Kapchowra. The pourover produced notes of asian pear, date, sassafras, rye bread, malt and a tiny bit of curry, while the french press proved a bit more chocolatey, also following with date, malt, a little pretzel, spinach and cream in a deeper body. The siphon was similar to the french press in flavors, though a bit more nutty and salty, with the flavors of peanuts, chocolate, malt, pretzel and some spinach. In totality, a coffee with deep cocoa and malt tones with noticeable salt in all of the infusions, yet still sweet and largely smooth in the end.

The Burundi Bukeye was second. One of the original regions for Crop to Cup, this coffee is produced high in the land and is known to sing brightly (and bright it was). The pourover wove a web of blueberry, fig and a little corn, followed by croissant and thyme. The french press brought a cocoa element amidst the strong presence of blueberry, fig, corn chip and croissant amidst a light, juicy body. The siphon finished off with the least berry and the most cocoa, though still delicious with clear soft notes of blueberry, buttery croissant and corn chip. Head and shoulders the best coffee of the three and one of my favorites as of late.

The Uganda Bugisu finished off the coffee trials, another washed community coffee from the land down-mountain from the Sebei coffee. The pourover dealt out notes of pretzel, malt ball, dark cocoa, a little basil and some slight pea within a medium body. The french press had similar flavors but with a bright kick of apple juice, nutmeg and acorn squash with a slight nuttiness akin to almond. The siphon held a little bit more sweetness with a distinct honey taste amidst cocoa, biscuit, nutmeg and a little chianti. Simply put, the coffee was tasty and very multifaceted, but a little too heavy in body at times.

While I definitely loved the Burundi most because of its sweet brightness and pleasant flavors, I thought all three of the coffees proved delicious (albeit each Uganda had some minor aspects I would change). Thus, if you're looking for a great coffee sourced directly from farm relationships in Africa, try out one of Crop to Cup's coffees.

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

Sunday, March 24, 2013

CC: Je & Jo

Subject: Je & Jo
Location: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Amongst the many things I hold an affection for, there are three things I love that I rarely see together: great coffee, great ice cream and a small NYC cafe off the beaten path. And praise the Lord above, I found them all manifested in Je & Jo, a small creamery/coffeehouse in Hell's Kitchen.

Located in a small space with enough room for a bar a long the window (par the course for many places in Manhattan), Je & Jo still pulls off an amazingly warm and cozy shop. As for coffee, they serve Cafe Grumpy and offer french press and espresso, of which I respectively got the El Cielito, Santa Barbara Honduras and Heartbreaker Espresso. The Heartbreaker as an espresso was anything but, with notes lime, cinnamon, chocolate, au jus and sage within a short pull with nice brown crema (aka delicioso). The Honduras hit it out of the park as well, manifesting a medium-bodied coffee smacking of wheat, sugar cane, nougat, basil and a bit of broth. As for the ice cream, I had the pleasure of sampling many of their flavors, all of which have proven dynamite.

I really don't know who could turn down a shop like this . If you happen to be in Manhattan whether for a Broadway show or work, make your way over for a delightful respite of coffee and ice cream at Je & Jo.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mugged: Peru Cenfrocafe [Sunergos]

Subject: Sunergos Coffee
Mugged: Peru Cenfrocafe Microlot
Rating [see key]: 5+

I've only once had the fortune of gracing the great state of Kentucky and yet in that trip, I had the misfortune of visiting over a New Years weekend when I could find not one open coffeehouse. Alas, it was a mixture of poor technology and bad timing that left my sole Kentucky excursion to date a coffee-less one.

Of course I hope to rectify this one day, especially with the growth of good coffee in the state. One coffeehouse/roaster that seems to be doing some spiffy things is Sunergos Coffee out of Louisville. Recently they sent me out a pound of their Peru Cenfrocafe Microlot to take for a spin, which I had the pleasure of doing via pourover, french press and siphon.

The pourover relayed a medium bodied coffee ripe with nougat, honey nut cheerios, sweet cream, apple and Italian bread. A delicious brew reminiscent of dessert, full of chocolate and fruit notes.

Of the french press, it also proved scrumptious, with notes of milk chocolate, elderberry, wheat, a little sage and a little ginger amidst a silky and smooth body.

The siphon was the final hurrah, with more nougat, wheat, sauvignon blanc, raisin, cashew and a little shitake within a medium body. A sweet cup with a dry finish.

Through and through, this Peruvian coffee boasted a splendid profile that would make any breakfast or after-dinner meal delightful. Give Sunergos a try if you're looking for a great cup of coffee.

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

Sunday, March 17, 2013

CC: Crema Coffee House

Subject: Crema Coffee House
Location: Denver, CO
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

One sunny Denver morning, I had the delightful luxury of taking it slow and having a lackadaisical coffee stop before starting my day. Given my geography at the time, I set my sights on a local establishment with an effervescent reputation, Crema Coffee House.

Sitting in a black brick building on a corner lot, Crema has a unique exterior with a lot of sleek design elements that pull forward your eyes to its existence. Inside, the place reverberates with a stylish yet efficiently purposed space, complete with a chandelier, lots of natural light and some interesting art.

Their coffee is as copious as it comes, with numerous roasters on hand such as Counter Culture, Novo, Boxcar, Herkimer and Dogwood. That morning, I had an espresso from Herkimer (their Espresso Blend I believe) and a french press of a Colombian from Novo. The espresso, pulled short with a brown crema, held notes of dark cocoa, a little clove, light sugar, a bit of ginger and a smoky finish, all of which combined to form a sweet and balanced infusion. The Colombian doled out a delicious light-medium bodied brew that smacked of wheat, pear, black tea, banana nut muffin and broth.

All together (now!), Crema provided great coffee, great service and wonderful ambiance; I couldn't have chosen a better spot to start off my slow day. If you're in or around Denver, give Crema your patronage.