I got to San Francisco’s airport early this morning, and after passing through security I saw a reflection in a nearby window of the word CAFE. Wandered over to see a small coffee kiosk, but on closer inspection it was a Café X, ‘manned’ by a robot. Ugh.
I was going to bypass it on principle alone, but I felt an almost journalistic imperative to try it, and was made to feel slightly better after using the QR code to open the menu, where I saw the beans were from Intelligentsia. So I gave it a chance.
Verdict: you will love this if you have the patience for a very fiddly website that makes the payment process painful, enjoy watching a robot wave at you and dance around instead of just giving you your coffee, and/or like a completely watered down, neutered, tasteless coffee. Otherwise, give it a hard pass and find an actual human being making your drink on an espresso machine instead of a pile of wires and bolts grabbing you a sadness cup out of a basic fully automatic coffee maker. What a waste of good beans.
And tell those kids to get off my lawn.
That reminds me, I need to give the folks at Old Glory Insurance a call to update my policy.
This year I’m taking a slightly different approach to my previous gift guides (2018, 2019, and 2020). While some of the models may have been replaced by newer iterations, pretty much all the recommended items in those posts would still make for great gifts. This version, however, is for those of you who just thought, “Oh $#%@!, it’s five days to Christmas and I haven’t written my annual gift guide post finished my shopping yet!”
So if the calendar is not your friend, supply chain worries are making you pull out your hair, and you’ve got a coffee lover in your life, here are a few suggestions.
As terrible as the year 2020 has been, the holiday season gives us a chance to end on a positive note and get ready for better days ahead. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the coffee obsessive in your life, or want to treat yourself, here are a few ideas for you. All are available online for those unable or unwilling to do in-person shopping. I also encourage you to take a look through my previous gift guides (links above), as most everything in there is still available and still makes for great presents.
Shop Local If your giftee’s favorite coffee shop is still open, you can bet they’re fighting for survival. Give a gift that will be appreciated by the recipient and the merchant. Look up the website of that favorite shop, there’s a good chance you can find electronic gift certificates, beans, and merch.
Ah, that time of year has come yet again. Kindly consider this an update to my holiday gift guide from 2018; all the items there are still recommended. I’ll try to add a few more suggestions, including add-ons to last year, to help you delight the coffee nerd in your life. Just a disclaimer, I’m not getting any kind of click-through payments or other compensation from anyone on these; just my own opinions, for whatever they are or are not worth.
I ran out of beans for making coffee at home over the Thanksgiving holiday. The last batch I went through was the seasonal Otoño blend from Intelligentsia, a big, bold monster with tons of flavor that produced a lot of crema. This time I wanted to get something from Heart, a terrific roaster from Portland, OR, which has become my favorite.
Not a lot of shops in the DC area carry Heart’s beans, but I knew of one which I had been meaning to try out, Colony Club in the Park View neighborhood in Washington. I had stopped in once before, but if was just after 5pm, when they stop serving coffee for the day and switch over completely to being a bar.