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

Happy National Espresso Day!

photo: The Coffee Compass

November 23 is national espresso day here in the US. Glad tidings to all who celebrate.

If you’re looking to joyfully slug back some of that dark brown nectar today, here are some cafés I highly recommend (basically, all those places that have received The Coveted Asterisk of Quality from my guide):

Ozo Coffee Company, Boulder, CO
Corvus Coffee Roasters, Denver, CO
Crema Coffee House, Denver, CO (Larimer Street)
Huckleberry Roasters, Denver, CO (Dairy Block)
Pablo’s Coffee, Denver, CO (13th & Pennsylvania)

Arethusa a mano, Bantam, CT
Coffee Pedaler, New Haven, CT
J. Rene Coffee Roasters, West Hartford, CT

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coffee napping

Lately I’ve become aware of the coffee nap. Apparently it’s a thing. A thing about which there’s been a lot of research and articles written. I would link to a few articles for you, but frankly if you google coffee nap you’ll find a zillion of them, all laying it out for you in essentially the same way. I’ll also try it for you, thought it’s kind of technical.

So forgive me for getting too science-y, but there’s this goo called adenosine that builds up in your brain. Sleep clears the goo away. Clearing out that goo helps make caffeine hit even better, without all the jittery stuff. And the final piece of the equation is that it takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to affect the brain.

So, basically, the idea is to drink coffee quickly. Preferably espresso or cold brew so you can drink it fast and not loose any precious mind goo clearance time. No milk or sugar or sweetener, just black. Immediately close your eyes and nap for 20 minutes. Wake up refreshed, alert, and ready to carpe all the diems you can handle.

So I decided to try it. Here’s the results of my highly scientific studies.

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what a bargain!

photo: Eventbrite

My Father’s Day gift this year (I was asked what I wanted) was an on-line home espresso class, offered by Breville in conjunction with Onyx Coffee Lab. My session was yesterday.

I’ve taken classes before at Counter Culture and Vigilante, but it had been a while and this offer was too good to be true.

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guest mini-review: Amargosa Café

Ed: This review is written by my friend Rachel Hayden, whom you may remember from our recent gambol at Car Wash Coffee. Hope you enjoy a different voice.

On our way from Las Vegas to Death Valley on a recent weekend, my husband and I accidentally discovered the Amargosa Café at a crossroads that looks a little like a ghost town.  Originally built as an outpost for the Pacific Coast Borax Company, the Amargosa now hosts a small, funky hotel, an opera house, and the café. We actually thought the buildings were abandoned, but we got nosy and decided to poke around.  Happily, our curiosity was rewarded with a delicious breakfast and coffee worthy of a mention on this prestigious blog. And, luckily, it happened to be a Friday because the Amargosa is only opened Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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mini review: Baked & Wired

ignore the fat man reflected in the window

see my Georgetown field report

Our venture through Georgetown ends at what, at first glance, seems to be a nondescript building next to the C&O Canal, its bricks painted the color of Kaopectate.  But look a little closer, at the big casement window framed in hot pink, at the built-in marble bench, and then step inside for the neighborhood’s finest cup of coffee.

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mini review: Blue Bottle Coffee, Georgetown

see my Georgetown field report

Blue Bottle, a roaster and cafe operator founded in Oakland, California, is a leading player in coffee’s third wave. It has grown significantly since raising capital from private equity investors, and global food megaconglomerate Nestlé now owns a majority stake in the company. 

What was once a spunky little indie now is a growing global presence, with stores in California, New York, DC, Miami, Boston, Japan, and soon South Korea. But unlike certain other global coffee chains (cough cough), you’ll still get an amazing coffee from Blue Bottle.

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mini review: Bluestone Lane

update 8/9/2021: Georgetown location now closed; five other outlets open in DC

see my Georgetown field report

Just below the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, Georgetown’s commercial ground zero, you’ll find a handsome spot serving delicious coffee.  This old brick building, originally a firehouse, is the home of the Georgetown outlet of Bluestone Lane, a New York coffee roaster and cafe operator which seeks to replicate the coffee culture of Melbourne, Australia.  Bluestone Lane can be found in New York, Philadelphia, California, and DC.

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