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Coffee Snob

August 4, 2009

I used to turn my nose up at coffee and forced myself to acquire a taste for hot tea. I conquered the aversion to tea, which I now adore with milk and honey, when working in Miami where the inside of every building sets their air conditioning to freezing temperatures to make up for the extreme heat outside. But not until recently did I begin to really drink and enjoy a good cup of coffee. I still would not consider myself a regular coffee drinker, as I tend to reserve it for weekends after dinner and real cravings and never in the morning like most people need to function that early. At first, I knew nothing about coffee brands or blends and I figured they all tasted the same – coffee is coffee. In most restaurants or delis or gas stations, that is probably the case, which is why I was never impressed by the bland taste. I don’t know the exact moment when I realized coffee could smell and taste heavenly, but now that I have honed the skill of identifying amazing coffee with one sniff of the ground beans, I can thoroughly enjoy and appreciate a good cup.

 My adventures in coffee discovery began with 1 Italian brand, which led to even more expensive and exclusive brands that are completely worth every cent. If you have a nice coffee selection in your grocery store or local specialty food store, I would recommend illy. For approximately $13 a can,

illy ground coffee

illy ground coffee

you are guaranteed a rich blend that smells great and is a definite upgrade from Folgers, Maxwell House and Chock Full of Nuts (which I recently learned is the preferred brand of a close friend, who knew?) There are illy branded cafes spread throughout select cities like New York and many coffee shops brew illy in-house, just look for the red square logo. Unfortunately the website does not list the shop locations, but I know the ones in New York are inside the public atrium in the Sony Plaza building in Midtown at 550 Madison Avenue and the L’Oreal building at 575 5th Avenue. illy also provides a home delivery program and manufacturers their own coffee and espresso machines. Keep your eyes out for their new iced coffee to go called illy issimo, I just spotted the silver cans in Duane Reade today.

illy issimo

illy issimo

Then one day we wandered into Chelsea Market and ordered the best cappuccino we had ever had from the Ninth Street Espresso café. We were immediately hooked and curious to learn more. At the time we discovered Ninth Street, they were brewing a brand of coffee called Stumptown Coffee Roasters, specifically a blend called Hairbender.

Hairbender by Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Hairbender by Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Stumptown is based in Oregon and can be found in very select cafes – we were sure to seek it out in New York City and Brooklyn. We discovered one of our favorite Brooklyn restaurants, Frankie’s 457, was a supporter of Stumptown and it completed our dining experience there. Stumptown Coffee Roasters founder, Duane Sorenson and the owners of Frankie’s 457 and Prime Meats recently opened their own coffee shop in Brooklyn, Cafe Pedlar at 210 Court Street in Cobble Hill, and the last time we visited friends in Carroll Gardens, we insisted upon a visit and a chance to introduce our friends to our favorite coffee. I read an article recently about the founder of Stumptown and his apparently arrogant attitude towards all coffee but his own. I’ll let you read it for yourselves and make your own judgement – but be sure to taste the coffee before you judge!

 A few months ago we learned that Ninth Street Espresso had stopped serving Stumptown Roasters and had switched to Intelligensia, another boutique brand that apparently allowed Ninth Street to mix their own blend to brew for their patrons, something Stumptown would not allow. We were disappointed, but figured Ninth Street would not disappoint with their new selection, and we were right. I have yet to determine if I think one is better than the other or if it is an equal tie, but now that we can’t venture to Brooklyn every time we need a new bag, we have become regular drinkers of Intelligensia and love it. Hence my excitement when we came upon the Intelligensia café in Chicago during our recent visit. We even bought Intelligensia mugs – unnecessary, but no less fun! If you are a real coffee enthusiast, enroll in a class at the Intelligensia New York Lab for classes such as Coffee and Food Pairing or a Barista Class.

Intelligensia mug from Chicago Roasting Works

Intelligensia mug from Chicago Roasting Works

 I admit I still don’t know what it takes to grow coffee beans or what makes one blend taste different than another, I am just a fan sharing my coffee recommendation. So administer the taste test yourself if you ever come across a place that brews these brands. It’s hard to describe the scent of coffee to convince someone that it is absolutely amazing, you’ll just have to take my word for it and know that we have converted many friends and family to follow our new found coffee snobbery!

Funny sidenote, this is a photo of the latte I received on the night I got engaged. He hadn’t even proposed yet, so the heart was a total coincidence!

heart coffee

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. lance permalink
    August 4, 2009 9:42 pm

    um, what stumptown owned cafe do you see anywhere on court street, especially on that block?

    • cb. permalink*
      August 5, 2009 12:30 am

      Actually, you are correct. I was referring to Cafe Pedlar at 210 Court Street that is a collaboration between Stumptown Coffee Roasters founder, Duane Sorenson and the owners of Frankie’s 457 and Prime Meats. I apologize if that was confusing, thanks for noticing the address typo. I have updated the post to include the correct street address.

      • Cynthia permalink
        August 7, 2009 10:26 pm

        ok next time you in are in bklyn, you better call me. i love cafe pedlar and illy coffee too actually.

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