La Colombe

Visiting La Colombe in New York’s NoHo neighborhood mid-afternoon on a Tuesday was a fun and energizing experience. The place felt like an old train station depot made new with high ceilings, decorative ceiling tiles and the hustle-bustle of a social gathering/grab and go cafe. My friend and I sped through the line and ordered lattes and an olive oil bread (tasted like a spice cake) and took a seat by the windows. There was plenty of time for people watching and that’s mostly what we did. It was busy and boisterous, and the experience was fun. The espresso machines looked bizarre with plastic tubes and whatnot—later I learned they were Steampunk machines made to replicate different brewing processes. The latte tasted great as did the spice cake. I wonder if Starbucks will go Steampunk soon?  

Roving around

Peregrine Espresso in Capitol/Eastern Market to me feels like a neighborhood coffeehouse with the stop and go convenience of a coffee chain. It makes sense with their name (according to their website one definition is ‘roving’). Customers come and go, though their patio and indoor space holds plenty of people longer. They offer Counter Culture espresso drinks, single-origin drip in the a.m. and a good amount of micro-brew is prepared to order throughout the day. The first time I visited here I tried one of their specials, a Cortado with taihini and fresh ginger (pictured below). It was like a gourmet Asian meal hopped into my espresso cup! 

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The second time I visited Peregrine was mid-city DC on 14th street and stuck to the basics: cappuccino and ginger cream scone. The drink looked nice with great texture, went a bit sour on sipping. I’ve had great luck with Counter Culture’s pour-over in the past, think I’ll stick to that. The scone was nice and dense and tasted great. I got some work done on the laptop, sans wi-fi. The man sitting next to me had a paperback copy of Persepolis lying face down on the table in favor of the morning news and kept saying ‘bless you’ when I sneezed. Nice atmosphere, clean scene.    

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(Their logo: cool upside-down letter ‘e’ on the wall art!)

Cup of Joe?

Joe the Art of Coffee in Chelsea makes for a trendy neighborhood stop-in. I went in early morning to check the place out (I’d heard they had multiple locations and were well-respected) and promptly ordered a cup of pour over that mentioned notes of peach. After running down the street to an ATM (they are cash only) I observed the barista prepare my drink. He was friendly and knowledgeable and chatted with a customer about the guy’s home espresso machine. The whole process ran smoothly, although it seemed during a rush things could get stressed. Sort of reminded me of Peregrine’s in Washington DC with a slightly different flavor of staff (nerdy-but-not-hipster and totally friendly, while keeping professional flair). Maybe this is a New York thing? image My friend ordered a similar one to compare taste. I still prefer the Adido’s sour berry notes as mine tasted fermenty-sweet (not sure if this was process related or just what peach notes in coffee taste like). I sometimes get over-excited about new menu offerings and forget that tasting is different than drinking a whole cup of brew and secretly wished I’d ordered a cappuccino. My friend and I enjoyed sipping nevertheless and surveyed customers chatting in the cafe who seemed to know the employees by name. Overall, nice experience and a blast of much needed caffeine as well as AC.

Nothing to be grumpy about

(note the frosted window decal)

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I had heard about Cafe Grumpy, and the name made me smile. My friend and I walked straight past it and a man out walking his dogs pointed us back a half block and across the street. Cafe Grumpy sits in a cool spot under leafy tree cover, behind angle-in parked cars in the middle of laid back Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, NY. Inside, it’s the same. Ample space, outdoor back patio, a cool vibe and non-assuming, friendly cafe folk who help you out when you ask.

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I ordered a white peach iced tea as I’d already had too much caffeine, and sipped on my friend’s latte. Both were fine and tasted great. It was great to sit there and just enjoy the atmosphere. I felt creative, contemplative. Near the end of our stay I went back up for a chocolate chip cookie. It tasted homemade. I mentioned how I liked the vibe of the place to the barista and that being from Seattle, it reminded me of being there. Turns out Grumpy’s is from Victrola’s in Seattle. You can definitely feel it in the bones of the place and in your own. 

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$10 for 2 dozen roses

One more thing to love about New York.

So excited to see flower stands (and bakeries) on every corner. This one was in Chelsea. Beautiful!

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Counter Culture Coffee Cupping, DC

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July 19, 2013
A friend and I stopped by DC’s Counter Culture in Adams Morgan for a free coffee cupping. The training center is located in a newly renovated building front across from the Yes! Organic Market. Once buzzed in, we hopped up to the second floor where we were greeted by a welcoming space with lots of natural light. Set about the room were various pieces of equipment from Chemex brewers to sparkling espresso machines. A well-mannered coffee educator offered us filtered water and a seat at classroom tables. We chatted with the instructors while looking over our cupping forms which included space to fill out everything about the beans we were about to experience from ‘aroma’ to ‘break’ to ‘aftertaste.’ As more people began to arrive, the cupping began.  
Rather than two wet and one dry processed bean selections, three dry processed ones were offered, a special treat. All three were Ethiopian, the first being Idido Yirgocheffe, the second, Biloya Yirgocheffe, and the third Ethiopia Sidama. Taking turns getting our noses close to first the grounds, then the hot coffee liquid, we sniffed, broke, and slurped our way towards coffee heaven. I was surprised to taste the sour berry flavor of the Idido while its aroma was distinctly dark chocolate. The Biloya’s taste reminded my friend of eating marshmallows off the stick campfire-side while I detected a grapefruit citrus fragrance. The weirdest taste by far was the Sidama’s mint, then fresh-cut-grass aftertaste—its break had been berry-full and its aroma smelled faintly of a fresh seafood catch. 
Overall, a fun, communal activity. Cool that everyone gets something different. We chatted with a guest who had recently visited Seattle (and joked about taking the Ducks tour) and got to take home a sample of Sidama beans. Later that day I visited the cafe hotspot Northside Social in Arlington, VA that serves Counter Culture and bought a bag as a gift. The barista who checked me out mentioned this was one of her favorites and we chatted about the taste profile (apparently it’s part of required training). Cool beans!

Summer Ripe
Tearing teardrops
Shedding liquified light 
Spun up in a cinnamon nest
Nectar tickled the sun

Summer Ripe

Tearing teardrops

Shedding liquified light 

Spun up in a cinnamon nest

Nectar tickled the sun

Of Another Name
brightly colored flowers
pink and fuchsia hue
on a night walk
i did not take
the photo and yet
it plays out in my memory

Of Another Name

brightly colored flowers

pink and fuchsia hue

on a night walk

i did not take

the photo and yet

it plays out in my memory

before the night

like the rain
skiffed up the glass
speeding fast
sheets shun past
lovely lilacs 
smile
delivering shady eve
a light serenade
before the night
like the rain
skiffed up the glass
speeding fast
sheets shun past
lovely lilacs 
smile
delivering shady eve
a light serenade
what was her name again?
flower, in question, waits
balks in plain view
walkway scruff, scrounge
provide the clues

what was her name again?

flower, in question, waits

balks in plain view

walkway scruff, scrounge

provide the clues

cacophony
wedded whiskers 
comely in dew
minstrels blaring
the morning news

cacophony

wedded whiskers 

comely in dew

minstrels blaring

the morning news

ensnared in nature’s frame 
city fame
fumes 
delectable antique collectible 
mad central part
past
drips clean

ensnared in nature’s frame 

city fame

fumes 

delectable antique collectible 

mad central part

past

drips clean

who they were
fleeting mask of circumstance
passing orchestral cue
armor lifts their stems
sun pounds down  

who they were

fleeting mask of circumstance

passing orchestral cue

armor lifts their stems

sun pounds down  

nurselog
counter sounding board, backfeed tune
tower sleeps aflame

keying sound
respite found

nurselog

counter sounding board, backfeed tune

tower sleeps aflame

keying sound

respite found

buyer be wary
how many grams of worth
to a fragrant clump of pearls?
plants have skin not necks,
necessarily.

buyer be wary

how many grams of worth

to a fragrant clump of pearls?

plants have skin not necks,

necessarily.