well that’s a first

My drink of choice is a bit of a bastardization of a standard beverage, so it’s not unusual to find myself in a detailed conversation with the person at the register and/or the barista of what it is I’m looking for. How that plays out is often a good clue of where to set my expectations on a first-time visit to a cafe.

Sometimes the drink I end up with shows that I probably wasn’t clear enough. Phrases like “traditional macchiato,” “a little bit of milk,” and “not too much foam” can mean very different things to different people.

Today I visited a cafe I’ve been to before, and my request for a “macchiato with an extra double shot” didn’t phase the barista.

I was given something that I haven’t ended up with before:

bottom to top: macchiato; ‘extra’ double shot of espresso

Game changer

Sorry I’ve been silent for so long. No special reason, just been busy.

On a recent trip to Oregon I was visiting one of Coava Coffee‘s Portland cafés, and while waiting for my drink I noticed a display of instant coffee. I’ve been aware of the effort the last few years to make high quality coffee available in instant form, but hadn’t tried it yet. Probably too biased against freeze dried coffee, including memories of having Nescafé as the only option far too often. Figured I’d give it a try, so I grabbed a box.

Verdict: spectacular. Coava and their partner Swift Cup Coffee have managed to keep the great flavor you expect from craft coffee. It’s also the easiest way to get your fix, even more so than the single serve coffee bags from Counter Culture and others – no need for steeping time, no bag to dispose of. A real game changer if, like me, you don’t have many (or any) good coffee options near work. They also make decaf offerings, for all you latent Sanka fans out there.

Swift Cup, from Lancaster, PA, produces instant coffee for a number of specialty roasters in addition to Coava, including their own label. So if you see instant from a roaster you trust, shake off any freeze dried crystals prejudices and give it a try. You can also buy Coava’s instant from their website, sold in boxes of six for $16-$17, or in bulk pouches which deliver 25 servings for around $40.

Capuorange, the Update

Following up on my recent report about finding a unique beverage combining orange juice and espresso, I returned to D Light Café and ordered another Capuorange, this time to go. Being able to linger at the counter gave me a line of sight to how the drink is made.

The barista made a shot of espresso, poured it into a cup…… and then poured orange juice into a milk pitcher and steamed it with the espresso machine’s steam wand. Once the o.j. was hot and frothy, it was poured into the espresso. The ratio looked to be something like 10:1 juice to coffee.

Now things made a little more sense. Cuporange as in a cappuccino, with the milk replaced by orange juice. I hadn’t thought things through and assumed the juice was warmed on a cooktop or in a microwave. And I hadn’t realized just how much more juice there was than espresso.

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stepping outside the comfort zone

We went out for brunch this morning to D Light Café and Bakery, a new place we had read about which looked promising. It was indeed a delight (no pun intended), everything was delicious and the owners and their staff couldn’t have been nicer.

This bit in the article caught my eye:

And then there’s the Capuorange, a double shot of espresso mixed with orange juice. “It sounds strange,” admits Vira, who says the unusual wake-up concoction has earned a dedicated following.

Well that’s…. different. Sounded like it could be really interesting, really disgusting, or anywhere in between. The description brought back an unhappy childhood memory of the time I got the brilliant idea that if my orange juice and my bowl of Cheerios each tasted good, they would taste even better together! Spoiler: they did not. At all.

Past experience be damned, I figured I had to find out how this combination tasted.

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mini review: Café Unido

You may have read in the news of President Joe Biden’s visit on Cinco de Mayo to Las Gemelas, a taqueria in Washington, DC’s La Cosecha market. It’s too bad he didn’t go to the other end of La Cosecha, where he would have found one of DC’s finest coffee purveyors.

La Cosecha is a beautiful, high-end marketplace in the Union Market district, featuring merchants selling food, wine, apparel and household goods, all to showcase the diaspora of Latin American cultures. There you’ll find Café Unido, a stand in the market selling Panamanian coffees, with airy indoor and outdoor seating areas.

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they really shouldn’t have done it

A short time ago I mentioned that for some reason the people at Coca-Cola thought combining their iconic cola with “rich, luxurious” coffee was a good idea. I tried to forget about it, but recently I saw that Jenn Chen at Sprudge did a taste test and my curiosity got the better of me. I purposely didn’t read the article first, since I was already coming into this with negative preconceptions. Stopped by a local market, plunked down my money for a can of the stuff, opened it up and gave it a whirl.

Oof. No bueno. What seemed like a bad idea may be even worse in reality.

I won’t bore you with a long, detailed review. Basically, here’s the deal: if you like Coke, you will be disappointed. If you like coffee, you’ll really be disappointed.

Each sip starts with the underwhelming flavor of a poor quality off-brand cola that is nowhere near as good as Coke, and finishes with a flavorless sensation of weak, bland coffee. There is nothing rich or luxurious about it. They’ve combined two things many like and worsened them. They may be going for 1 + 1 = 3, but they flunked and ended up at 1 + 1 = -7.