Archive for the ‘Really good coffee’ Category

What Is Your Favorite Place for Really Good Coffee?

It’s been two years since the post Where Do You Go For Really Good Coffee

That’s almost hard to believe – yet, alas, it has been…

Maybe you’re like me. It seems as if things have changed so much since then – that sometimes there is a sense of being disoriented – or out of phase, somehow. Yet throughout it all, amidst all the transition, the movement, changes in life, the economy and the world, there remains at least one constant – one anchor that keeps us connected to a sense of belonging, of comfort, and something familiar amidst so many things that are un-familiar.

There has been really good coffee everyday.

Remembering really good coffee moments, maybe you can relate…

Peets Coffee and Tea – Seattle

Enjoying that hot, fresh doppio at Peets in the Seattle Fremont district looking out the window from the mezannine – watching the traffic go by – silently – in the world outside, hearing the sounds of milk being steamed for lattes and the grinder – consistently, intermittently running – filling the room with the luscious smell of freshly ground beans, hearing the soothing, gentle murmering sounds of voices and coffee language from the counter at the espresso bar – the way we used to hear our parents voices talking as we fell asleep as children…

Lighthouse Roasters – Seattle

Sitting down to a fantastic, freshly drawn espresso – extracted consciously by the expert barista crew at Lighthouse Roasters on Phinny Ridge (one of my personal favorite micro-roasters in the whole country) – creating palate magic before my very eyes and then being able to verify that coffee resonance AGAIN – as with every other time before this one – and fully enjoy the essence of the bean with every living tastebud – on the front of the tongue, at the back near the throat followed by the burst of lingering, condensed after taste that permeates its way throughout all the coffee sensing tools within the human body for at least a half an hour afterwards…

Homemade French Roast

Perhaps it is the time, grabbing a deep rich cup of melita drip Fresh Roast – in the favorite procelain cup – on the way to a very important discussion, pondering the outcome and experience of the meeting to come and fully taking the time to enjoy that cup of really good coffee – from start to finish in the privacy of the car while driving to the meeting – without interference, or interuption and in spite of any time considerations.

Over the last, five years we’ve had really good coffee in West Vancouver – BC, Scranton – PA, Sarsota – FL, Dallas – TX, Atlanta – GA, Palo Alto – CA, Berkeley – CA, Los Angeles, Whistler – BC, Morley – Alberta, Hamilton – MT, Richmond – VA, Plymouth Meeting – PA, Egg Harbor Township – NJ, Goochland – VA, Portland – OR, Spokane – WA, Missoula – MT, Sedona – AZ, Siesta Key – FL, Boca Grande, Fl… and many other places.

Somehow a good cup of coffee always brings me back to a moment – a memory or feeling – of unshakeable warmth and safety and connectedness. Each of us coffee lovers relates to coffee in our own way.  Share your experiences with us and let us know about your favorite coffee places – and why you like them. We want to share this with other people who don’t know where to get a cup of really good coffee when they travel. Share your favorite spot, or your favorite baristas – or blend or style of coffee with us.

What is your favorite place for really good coffee?

Have a fabulous day…

I AM Michael Barrett and I love coffee…

Really Good Coffee – Lelu’s Coffee Lounge – Siesta Key

Really Good Coffee at Lelu’s Coffee Lounge in Siesta Key Florida…

After a good workout – some qigong and Tibetan Rites, a 3 mile walk and a swim at Siesta Key, we love to go to Lelu’s – a cyber cafe in Siesta Village – and grab an awesome cinnamon roll and a cup of French roast Java. In a former life, I sold a bakery line commercially to the foodservice industry for about 5 years. During that time I prepped, proofed and baked thousands of cinnamon rolls.Lelu’s cinnamon rolls are tender and delicious and the cream cheese icing has great flavor but is not excessively sweet, like many.And without a doubt, Lelu’s are the best we’ve had in many years…The coffee is always really good and Lelu’s has a pleasant, beachy ambiance. The decor is comfortable and welcoming and the staff is upbeat and glad you’re there. It is an ecclectic mix – a cross between Jimmy Buffet, American Graffiti and the laissez-faire lifestyle of a well established beach community. If you’re not familiar with the beach lifestyle it’s almost tribal in it’s own way.The slogan under the Lelu’s Coffee Lounge sign is:

“Caffeine and Cocktails.”and on the outside of the building the sign reads:“Sleep Later – Drink Coffee Now.”

There’s always some awesome music playing in the background with comfortable couches to lounge in if you prefer. There is free WIFI with tables inside or out on the patio/deck (in front) if you’re in the people watching mood and the sun isn’t too hot yet.Lelu’s is part of the Siesta Key Village culture and it’s great place to grab a cup of really good coffee and catch up on your email.When you come to the west coast of Florida, visit this place. You’ll like it.

I AM Michael Barrett and I love Really Good Coffee.”

Really Good Coffee – Lelu’s Coffee Lounge – Siesta Key

Really Good Coffee at Lelu’s Coffee Lounge in Siesta Key Florida…

After a good workout – some qigong and Tibetan Rites, a 3 mile walk and a swim at Siesta Key, we love to go to Lelu’s – a cyber cafe in Siesta Village – and grab an awesome cinnamon roll and a cup of French roast Java. In a former life, I sold a bakery line commercially to the foodservice industry for about 5 years. During that time I prepped, proofed and baked thousands of cinnamon rolls.Lelu’s cinnamon rolls are tender and delicious and the cream cheese icing has great flavor but is not excessively sweet, like many.And without a doubt, Lelu’s are the best we’ve had in many years…The coffee is always really good and Lelu’s has a pleasant, beachy ambiance. The decor is comfortable and welcoming and the staff is upbeat and glad you’re there. It is an ecclectic mix – a cross between Jimmy Buffet, American Graffiti and the laissez-faire lifestyle of a well established beach community. If you’re not familiar with the beach lifestyle it’s almost tribal in it’s own way.The slogan under the Lelu’s Coffee Lounge sign is:

“Caffeine and Cocktails.”and on the outside of the building the sign reads:“Sleep Later – Drink Coffee Now.”

There’s always some awesome music playing in the background with comfortable couches to lounge in if you prefer. There is free WIFI with tables inside or out on the patio/deck (in front) if you’re in the people watching mood and the sun isn’t too hot yet.Lelu’s is part of the Siesta Key Village culture and it’s great place to grab a cup of really good coffee and catch up on your email.When you come to the west coast of Florida, visit this place. You’ll like it.

I AM Michael Barrett and I love Really Good Coffee.”

Really Good Coffee at Big E’s Sweets & Gourmet Coffee in Sarasota

Big E’s Sweets & Gourmet Coffee is a real college coffeehouse hangout in Sarasota, Florida.

Internet, food, friends, and of course, lots of conversation for the homesick art students at the Ringling School of Art which is right across the street.  Late hours, large round tables that you can pile books on, and great coffee for the college crowd palate. Perfect. 

orange_coffee_cupBig E aka Eric – is like the Godfather of the neighborhood in the nicest of ways because he makes sure the students eat egg sandwiches and milk often enough that he knows they are getting their nutrition while in his care. Eric would never let a student starve. It just isn’t in him and everyone loves the guy. Eric carries a great selection of homemade sandwiches, soup, pizza, and other healthy food made fresh for starving students. It’s much better than Micky D’s. 

A good selection of gourmet coffee and tea provides something for every palate. Cold drinks and milk are very popular along with hot pie a la mode. No smoking and no drinking permitted on the premises. Eric and staff run a clean shop and we would never have spent so much time there if that were not true. 

Big E’s Can Use Some More Used PC’s…

WIFI is available. Bring your laptop and your appetite.  Big E’s only has two personal computers available to use in his unique cyber cafe and Eric does not charge for the use. That is a rarity!  If you know anyone with a better than average and relatively new computer to donate; I am sure he would be glad to have it.  Students are always waiting to get on and check email from home, do research, or see what’s going on for the weekend. Many students have laptops but actually lots don’t have them and the computers are always in demand.

Wouldn’t it be great to see a flurry of donations from someone who really understands how crucial it is and how much it would help to have a few more? I remember how good it felt to get out of a dorm to work sometimes.

There is lots of parking at Big E’s and the lot in back is large and safe. Actually, the entire area is safe and there are kids walking back and forth constantly.  Food takeout is a frequent demand…what are they feeding those poor kinds across the street??  They are always hungry when they come in.  Last summer Eric started making his own pizza’s with a little help from the students who surely all want to be coffeehouse entrepreneurs when they finish art school and deck their own walls!  Naturally, the walls at Big E’s are covered in art renderings of all kinds. More than anything else, Big E’s is about comfort and camaraderie.

Last summer, on Sundays, Michael and Alexandra did a morning meditation for the students and some of them actually got up and came out every Sunday. True, that all they had to do was walk across the street but they did. They got up and came. We really enjoyed leading the meditation, and it gave purpose to our coffee hour on Sunday mornings.  Eric is off on Sunday but his staff of young art students were helpful and interested in knowing more about how to meditate. We described it as ignoring the mind chatter and listening for God.  It is a worthwhile reason to get up on Sundays.  Even some of the local adults came to meditate with us.

Big E’s was Eric’s dream when he came to Sarasota from a corporate layoff in Michigan or Ohio, I forget which, but he found a purpose and a family of students who really appreciate the comfort and ambiance of Big E’s, their home away from home. 

Large umbrellas and tables are in front of the store and you can almost always see a collection of bikes chained up while the owners get their fix on some hot caffeine to boost the mind between classes. It is a healthy, clean place where students can really relax and be themselves.  Parents can even send money to bank a tab for food when their students are broke. The place is clean and the crowd is intelligent. Students exchange info about local house-shares and rentals, yoga classes, music, art-art-art, and love. There is a lot of creativity happening at Big E’s and the laughs relax everyone. It is exactly the kind of place I’d like my daughter to hang at while going to school away from home.  We appreciate the way Eric looks out for everyone.

Stop in an grab a hot cup of French Roast or Colombian and check it out.

Big E’s

2805 N. Tamiami Trail

Sarasota, FL 34234

941-355-4432

P.S. They will even put some water outside for the dog!

I AM Alexandra Barrett

Really Good Coffee at Big E’s Sweets & Gourmet Coffee in Sarasota

Big E’s Sweets & Gourmet Coffee is a real college coffeehouse hangout in Sarasota, Florida.

Internet, food, friends, and of course, lots of conversation for the homesick art students at the Ringling School of Art which is right across the street.  Late hours, large round tables that you can pile books on, and great coffee for the college crowd palate. Perfect. 

orange_coffee_cupBig E aka Eric – is like the Godfather of the neighborhood in the nicest of ways because he makes sure the students eat egg sandwiches and milk often enough that he knows they are getting their nutrition while in his care. Eric would never let a student starve. It just isn’t in him and everyone loves the guy. Eric carries a great selection of homemade sandwiches, soup, pizza, and other healthy food made fresh for starving students. It’s much better than Micky D’s. 

A good selection of gourmet coffee and tea provides something for every palate. Cold drinks and milk are very popular along with hot pie a la mode. No smoking and no drinking permitted on the premises. Eric and staff run a clean shop and we would never have spent so much time there if that were not true. 

Big E’s Can Use Some More Used PC’s…

WIFI is available. Bring your laptop and your appetite.  Big E’s only has two personal computers available to use in his unique cyber cafe and Eric does not charge for the use. That is a rarity!  If you know anyone with a better than average and relatively new computer to donate; I am sure he would be glad to have it.  Students are always waiting to get on and check email from home, do research, or see what’s going on for the weekend. Many students have laptops but actually lots don’t have them and the computers are always in demand.

Wouldn’t it be great to see a flurry of donations from someone who really understands how crucial it is and how much it would help to have a few more? I remember how good it felt to get out of a dorm to work sometimes.

There is lots of parking at Big E’s and the lot in back is large and safe. Actually, the entire area is safe and there are kids walking back and forth constantly.  Food takeout is a frequent demand…what are they feeding those poor kinds across the street??  They are always hungry when they come in.  Last summer Eric started making his own pizza’s with a little help from the students who surely all want to be coffeehouse entrepreneurs when they finish art school and deck their own walls!  Naturally, the walls at Big E’s are covered in art renderings of all kinds. More than anything else, Big E’s is about comfort and camaraderie.

Last summer, on Sundays, Michael and Alexandra did a morning meditation for the students and some of them actually got up and came out every Sunday. True, that all they had to do was walk across the street but they did. They got up and came. We really enjoyed leading the meditation, and it gave purpose to our coffee hour on Sunday mornings.  Eric is off on Sunday but his staff of young art students were helpful and interested in knowing more about how to meditate. We described it as ignoring the mind chatter and listening for God.  It is a worthwhile reason to get up on Sundays.  Even some of the local adults came to meditate with us.

Big E’s was Eric’s dream when he came to Sarasota from a corporate layoff in Michigan or Ohio, I forget which, but he found a purpose and a family of students who really appreciate the comfort and ambiance of Big E’s, their home away from home. 

Large umbrellas and tables are in front of the store and you can almost always see a collection of bikes chained up while the owners get their fix on some hot caffeine to boost the mind between classes. It is a healthy, clean place where students can really relax and be themselves.  Parents can even send money to bank a tab for food when their students are broke. The place is clean and the crowd is intelligent. Students exchange info about local house-shares and rentals, yoga classes, music, art-art-art, and love. There is a lot of creativity happening at Big E’s and the laughs relax everyone. It is exactly the kind of place I’d like my daughter to hang at while going to school away from home.  We appreciate the way Eric looks out for everyone.

Stop in an grab a hot cup of French Roast or Colombian and check it out.

Big E’s

2805 N. Tamiami Trail

Sarasota, FL 34234

941-355-4432

P.S. They will even put some water outside for the dog!

I AM Alexandra Barrett

7 Reasons Why Fundraising with Really Good Coffee Makes Sense

7 Reasons Why Fundraising with Really Good Coffee Makes Sense

What does fundraising have to do with really good coffee?

Here’s what…

While the economy is putting on the brakes in many segments, entire industries are coming to a screeching halt and bankruptcies are skyrocketing, we’re stepping on the gas with a new program to support non-profits.

Non Profits Are Feeling the Crunch

Many not for profit organizations are feeling the crunch from diminished contributions. As the economy softens and people tighten their belts a bit on non-essentials in the monthly budget, priorities are shifting. Many families are re-evalutating donations and support of their favorite charities and organizations simply in an effort to stretch their dollars further.

One thing we have observed over a long period of time (and through a number of economic cycles over the last 30 years) is that no matter how tough the economy gets, people keep drinking coffee. As a rule, when money is tight, we might cut back on the number of times we go out to eat in a week, or we might rent videos instead of taking the whole family to the movie theater or shorten our vacation itinerary.

But the vast majority of coffee drinkers still have coffee in their budget. We love our coffee – and in particular – we love our "really good coffee".

To address this issue on behalf of some of our clients and to do something constructive for organizations that are having a tough go of it, we’re developing a new coffee program designed to raise money for worthy causes that we feel has the potential to really make a difference.

Really smart money people are telling us that we’re looking at 3-4 years of tight money and a tough economy.

Our fundraising program is designed from scratch with the long haul in mind. That means this program will become a permanent fixture in the fundraising kit bag of non profits long into the future even after the current economic situation improves and turns around.

So what makes out coffee fundraising program different from existing ones? We will be unveiling this program in the near future and presenting all the details after we have througoughly test marketed the idea and tweaked the logistics and infrastructure.

Right now we’re not going to give you all the details – just enough to give the idea some clarity.

Coffee Fundraising That Makes  a Difference

Why the really good coffee fundraising program will work better than existing programs:

  • First and foremost is our coffee quality. Remember our name.

  • Second, many coffee fundraising programs are stale worn out concepts, not as effective as they once were.

  • Third, painless logistics and a bullet proof infrastructure for both the end user and the non-profit organization itself.

  • Fourth, awesome customer service – a regular customer service ‘SWAT’ team. Real people who answer the phone, real answers and real solutions to problems – quickly.

  • Fifth, simplicity. Budget constraints make it even harder for non-profits to stretch their existing resources – including manpower available for fundraising. While most fundraising systems are labor intensive, our system is simple – kind of a ‘plug and play’ program that requires very little effort on the non-profit’s part.

  • Sixth, we think most people will love the idea of being able to increase support for their favorite non profit without increasing their actual monthly budget.

  • Finally, our system will generate results effectively. We’re excited about helping organizations that do good work in a fundamental way and we’re confident our coffee fundraising program will really do a lot of good at a time when it is needed most.

     

So keep a watch out for further announcements from us and – in the meantime – if you’re part of a non-profit organization yourself or if know of one that might be interested in this idea, simply go here:

MyOptInPage2.com/

to find out more and get on our list so you can stay in the loop when we launch this officially.

Have some really good coffee today!

7 Reasons Why Fundraising with Really Good Coffee Makes Sense

7 Reasons Why Fundraising with Really Good Coffee Makes Sense

What does fundraising have to do with really good coffee?

Here’s what…

While the economy is putting on the brakes in many segments, entire industries are coming to a screeching halt and bankruptcies are skyrocketing, we’re stepping on the gas with a new program to support non-profits.

Non Profits Are Feeling the Crunch

Many not for profit organizations are feeling the crunch from diminished contributions. As the economy softens and people tighten their belts a bit on non-essentials in the monthly budget, priorities are shifting. Many families are re-evalutating donations and support of their favorite charities and organizations simply in an effort to stretch their dollars further.

One thing we have observed over a long period of time (and through a number of economic cycles over the last 30 years) is that no matter how tough the economy gets, people keep drinking coffee. As a rule, when money is tight, we might cut back on the number of times we go out to eat in a week, or we might rent videos instead of taking the whole family to the movie theater or shorten our vacation itinerary.

But the vast majority of coffee drinkers still have coffee in their budget. We love our coffee – and in particular – we love our "really good coffee".

To address this issue on behalf of some of our clients and to do something constructive for organizations that are having a tough go of it, we’re developing a new coffee program designed to raise money for worthy causes that we feel has the potential to really make a difference.

Really smart money people are telling us that we’re looking at 3-4 years of tight money and a tough economy.

Our fundraising program is designed from scratch with the long haul in mind. That means this program will become a permanent fixture in the fundraising kit bag of non profits long into the future even after the current economic situation improves and turns around.

So what makes out coffee fundraising program different from existing ones? We will be unveiling this program in the near future and presenting all the details after we have througoughly test marketed the idea and tweaked the logistics and infrastructure.

Right now we’re not going to give you all the details – just enough to give the idea some clarity.

Coffee Fundraising That Makes  a Difference

Why the really good coffee fundraising program will work better than existing programs:

  • First and foremost is our coffee quality. Remember our name.

  • Second, many coffee fundraising programs are stale worn out concepts, not as effective as they once were.

  • Third, painless logistics and a bullet proof infrastructure for both the end user and the non-profit organization itself.

  • Fourth, awesome customer service – a regular customer service ‘SWAT’ team. Real people who answer the phone, real answers and real solutions to problems – quickly.

  • Fifth, simplicity. Budget constraints make it even harder for non-profits to stretch their existing resources – including manpower available for fundraising. While most fundraising systems are labor intensive, our system is simple – kind of a ‘plug and play’ program that requires very little effort on the non-profit’s part.

  • Sixth, we think most people will love the idea of being able to increase support for their favorite non profit without increasing their actual monthly budget.

  • Finally, our system will generate results effectively. We’re excited about helping organizations that do good work in a fundamental way and we’re confident our coffee fundraising program will really do a lot of good at a time when it is needed most.

     

So keep a watch out for further announcements from us and – in the meantime – if you’re part of a non-profit organization yourself or if know of one that might be interested in this idea, simply go here:

MyOptInPage2.com/

to find out more and get on our list so you can stay in the loop when we launch this officially.

Have some really good coffee today!

Really Good Coffee at Northern Light Espresso in Scranton, Pennsylvania…

Who would have thought – really good coffee in Scranton?  Go figure….Northern Light Espresso is awesome.My wife – Alexandra – my closest and most diligent coffee apprentice – found Northern Light and took me there last weekend. She gets the prize this week.A blue ribbon…Here’s a view from the loft – looking down on Mandy Doria – a barista at Northern Light Espresso.Northern Light Espresso upstairsIf the ‘coffee snobs’ I know were going to talk about places to get really good coffee, more than likely they wouldn’t talk about  Scranton, Pennsylvania.But they would be wrong – and I know this because that was my impression too – and I stand corrected.By the way, when I use the term coffee snobs, I am using poetic license – kind of tongue in cheek. If you’re not familiar with real coffee snobs this is my definition:

A “real” coffee snob has a palate that is more developed than the average coffee drinker. In spite of  a more complete understanding and more experience, they do not belittle people who have less coffee knowledge. They just move on quietly to a better cup elsewhere, without saying anything about it. An intolerant or unkind coffee snob is not a true coffee snob. People like that are just wanna-be coffee snobs.

alexandra_upstairs300x338.jpgHere’s a picture of Alexandra – upstairs at Northern Light.First, the ambiance…The place has an eclectic sense to it – kind of reminiscent of a campus coffee house in Berkeley in the 60’s. But it also has a modern flare with a  well designed use of space, light and color. Nice coffee house. If you want to tuck away quietly upstairs with your laptop or watch unnoticed from above you can.The staff…is young but well schooled in the art of espresso. They are attentive first and foremost to quality not speed – and they are meticulous in the preparation with an unusual mechanical set up.Here’s a picture of Alexandra and Mandy.Mandy_and_Alexandra2.jpgPositioned in front of the Mazzer grinder – on the counter – is a circular machined piece of white plastic.There is some type of a locating pin recessed in the counter to keep this plastic from moving. Michael and MandyHere’s a picture of me and Mandy.It’s function is to hold the portafilter while the barista tamps the freshly ground espresso prior to extraction. I like the concept because it stabalizes the portafilter to get a really consistent and even tamp without requiring a lot of strength or force. My guess is that it also provides for consistency in the extraction. Cool idea I haven’t seen before.Whomever thought that one up really knew what they were doing.The counter is designed for flow and easy positioning for the staff. The espresso machine is a Mirage 2 Group Semi-automatic. To quote www.visionsespresso.com:

The absence of group-solenoids, pump and most electronic controls makes this a very reliable and easy to service espresso machine.

I was a Visions customer for several years and they have been in the espresso machine game for a long time. This is further evidence to me that the owner who set up the Northern Light coffee bar really knew what they were doing. The key here is not high volume – more like medium volume with a high quality focus.

The coffee…

Yummo.Northern Light gets their coffee from Gimme Coffee in Ithaca, NY and they use the Levitation Blend. I don’t know Gimme Coffee, but they are awesome roasters. Here is a description of their blend from their packaging and Alexandra (who says – “her favorite”):

  • deep cherry aroma
  • fully developed ripest cherry taste
  • buttery smooth body
  • sweet tobacco aftertaste

To me, the flavor is rich, sweet and complex – with a delightful and lingering aftertaste.The Extraction…The standard extraction is a a “triple ristretto”. The grind is calibrated to pull a 36 second shot.This a full bodied medium dark roast, similar to a “full city roast” in Seattle.Personally, I am not a latte drinker – I prefer doppios. However, I have to say that the dark extraction and the rich, deep blend is absolutely perfectly fomulated and extracted for lattes. I think that is one of the finest lattes I have ever tasted.And I have had a few over forty years.I loved the straight espresso too. Very thick and full of body. Excellent actually.If I were working the bar – at Northern Light – I would modify the grind for straight espresso so that it poured about 25 seconds – a bit lighter, to tweak the tastebuds a bit more for my own taste preference.But in all fairness, this espresso shop is a quality operation and they produce a quality product.If you ever get to Scranton, you have to stop and have a latte. And if you do, tell them we sent you.See you next time.

I AM Michael Barrett

Really Good Coffee at Northern Light Espresso in Scranton, Pennsylvania…

Who would have thought – really good coffee in Scranton?  Go figure….Northern Light Espresso is awesome.My wife – Alexandra – my closest and most diligent coffee apprentice – found Northern Light and took me there last weekend. She gets the prize this week.A blue ribbon…Here’s a view from the loft – looking down on Mandy Doria – a barista at Northern Light Espresso.Northern Light Espresso upstairsIf the ‘coffee snobs’ I know were going to talk about places to get really good coffee, more than likely they wouldn’t talk about  Scranton, Pennsylvania.But they would be wrong – and I know this because that was my impression too – and I stand corrected.By the way, when I use the term coffee snobs, I am using poetic license – kind of tongue in cheek. If you’re not familiar with real coffee snobs this is my definition:

A “real” coffee snob has a palate that is more developed than the average coffee drinker. In spite of  a more complete understanding and more experience, they do not belittle people who have less coffee knowledge. They just move on quietly to a better cup elsewhere, without saying anything about it. An intolerant or unkind coffee snob is not a true coffee snob. People like that are just wanna-be coffee snobs.

alexandra_upstairs300x338.jpgHere’s a picture of Alexandra – upstairs at Northern Light.First, the ambiance…The place has an eclectic sense to it – kind of reminiscent of a campus coffee house in Berkeley in the 60’s. But it also has a modern flare with a  well designed use of space, light and color. Nice coffee house. If you want to tuck away quietly upstairs with your laptop or watch unnoticed from above you can.The staff…is young but well schooled in the art of espresso. They are attentive first and foremost to quality not speed – and they are meticulous in the preparation with an unusual mechanical set up.Here’s a picture of Alexandra and Mandy.Mandy_and_Alexandra2.jpgPositioned in front of the Mazzer grinder – on the counter – is a circular machined piece of white plastic.There is some type of a locating pin recessed in the counter to keep this plastic from moving. Michael and MandyHere’s a picture of me and Mandy.It’s function is to hold the portafilter while the barista tamps the freshly ground espresso prior to extraction. I like the concept because it stabalizes the portafilter to get a really consistent and even tamp without requiring a lot of strength or force. My guess is that it also provides for consistency in the extraction. Cool idea I haven’t seen before.Whomever thought that one up really knew what they were doing.The counter is designed for flow and easy positioning for the staff. The espresso machine is a Mirage 2 Group Semi-automatic. To quote www.visionsespresso.com:

The absence of group-solenoids, pump and most electronic controls makes this a very reliable and easy to service espresso machine.

I was a Visions customer for several years and they have been in the espresso machine game for a long time. This is further evidence to me that the owner who set up the Northern Light coffee bar really knew what they were doing. The key here is not high volume – more like medium volume with a high quality focus.

The coffee…

Yummo.Northern Light gets their coffee from Gimme Coffee in Ithaca, NY and they use the Levitation Blend. I don’t know Gimme Coffee, but they are awesome roasters. Here is a description of their blend from their packaging and Alexandra (who says – “her favorite”):

  • deep cherry aroma
  • fully developed ripest cherry taste
  • buttery smooth body
  • sweet tobacco aftertaste

To me, the flavor is rich, sweet and complex – with a delightful and lingering aftertaste.The Extraction…The standard extraction is a a “triple ristretto”. The grind is calibrated to pull a 36 second shot.This a full bodied medium dark roast, similar to a “full city roast” in Seattle.Personally, I am not a latte drinker – I prefer doppios. However, I have to say that the dark extraction and the rich, deep blend is absolutely perfectly fomulated and extracted for lattes. I think that is one of the finest lattes I have ever tasted.And I have had a few over forty years.I loved the straight espresso too. Very thick and full of body. Excellent actually.If I were working the bar – at Northern Light – I would modify the grind for straight espresso so that it poured about 25 seconds – a bit lighter, to tweak the tastebuds a bit more for my own taste preference.But in all fairness, this espresso shop is a quality operation and they produce a quality product.If you ever get to Scranton, you have to stop and have a latte. And if you do, tell them we sent you.See you next time.

I AM Michael Barrett

Where Do You Go For Really Good Coffee…

Where Do You Go For Really Good Coffee…

I came across a blog today that I thought was cool – written by a guy raised in Southern California.

He’s asking people where they get really good coffee in Japan…Where Do You Go For Your Cup Of Jo? (Sorry had to remove this link – original reference blog no longer exists)Moreover, having lived in the Pacific Northwest in the US for 8 years before coming to Japan, I’ve become a bit of a coffee snob so I figured, before coming here, that I’d have to learn to live without really good coffee. …

Being raised in northern California, having my first cup of Peets at age 14, then living 9 years in Montana and 15 in Seattle (where I got in to the business of really good coffee); thought there might be some similarities in our appreciation of coffee.

Kinda weird seeing a picture of a great bigStarbucks in Japanthat he describes as possibly the busiest Starbucks location in the world.

And here’s a site that provides all the supplies, instructions and table top equipment needed for roasting small batches of your own really good coffee…

Roast your own coffee at home

Nice idea. This is a neat site. I’m kind of spoiled by the rich flavor of dark roast Melita drip or pungently luscious freshly extracted doppios. Personally I prefer the complexity and flavor profiles of drum roasted blends in small batches.And one of the thing I really like about home roasted coffee is how fresh it is.And this blog shows a map and the picture of a storefront of The Coffee Plant to get really good coffee…

Funny thing is they don’t give an address:Let’s assume it’s great coffee, try really good coffee at Coffee Plant if you can find it.

If you’re in the Portland area, head out to:

Longbottom Coffee in Hillsboro for my very favorite – really smooth – air roasted coffees .You can also check out Michael Baccellieri’s blog here The Coffee Mariner

In Seattle… be sure to find this little place on the south end of Phinney Ridge not to far up the hill from the Fremont district…

Great doppios and excellent roasted – on site – espresso and lattes…Lighthouse Roasters

If you have other suggestions – for great coffee haunts in your town, let us know and we’ll stop in and check them out when we’re in your neck of the woods.That’s it for today.Where Do You Go for Really Good Coffee?

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