Black Magic

Black Magic lives up to it’s name: mysteriously smooth, a classic Italian espresso with a supernatural kick and notes of dark chocolate and red berry.  This medium-roast is one of Groundwork’s Signature Espresso Blends and worth trying.  I fell in love with this espresso at first sip and would have to rank it as one of my all-time favorites.

My first time at Groundwork can definitely be described as magical (pun intended) due to the wonderful company (hello Pamela and Ian), the Pressed Juice, the non-dairy alternatives, and the high quality organic coffee beans.

I ordered the iced latte with hemp milk due to the following facts: I’ve never tried hemp milk, I love lattes, and I was feeling adventurous enough to try something new.

Okay, confession.. I sampled the hemp milk before ordering it for my entire 24 oz. latte. I wasn’t entirely willing to risk ordering this latte if the milk was going to end up ruining it.

The lingering taste in my mouth makes it seem as if I actually consumed a piece of dark chocolate instead of coffee; how did this happen?  I know I didn’t order a mocha and there was no cacao mixed in there. Magicians, never reveals their secrets…

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Peaberry Coffee

Coffee coffee coffee coffee!!

After a long hike through the hills of Berkeley Hugo and I desperately needed our fix of caffeine-fuel. We were directed (by Google) to the closest local coffee shop: Cole Coffee on College Ave in Berkeley.

I ordered the Kenya Peaberry iced coffee, which is a smokey and complex coffee with good acidity. A medium roast with a sweeter edge on the palate, it was completely drinkable sans-sugar and sans-milk. I chose this particular coffee (over my usual espresso-themed drink choices) because of my love of the rare peaberry bean. Also, since we just finished hiking through Strawberry Canyon, I found it appropriate to stay consistent with the theme of things that had “berry” in the name (even though I saw no berries).

Peaberry, also known as caracoli, is a type of coffee bean that occurs from natural mutation within the fruit/cherry. Normally the cherry of a coffee plant contains two seeds (the beans) that develop together, with one of their sides becoming flattened, looking as if it was cut in half. However, about 5% of the time, only one of the two seeds is fertilized, and this single seed develops with nothing to flatten it. This gives it an oval (or pea-shaped) bean known as a peaberry. They tend to be smaller, denser, a little sweeter and more flavorful than the average bean.

Hugo ordered the also-delicious hot Colombian Organic Fair-Trade roast, which was a classic French Roast, smooth with rich flavor. I think he just ordered this one because he’s Colombian and knows how great things from Colombia can be; obviously biased. IMG_9944-0.JPG

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Hello Monday

On those days you need more them your regular morning dose of caffeine I think it’s perfectly acceptable to go out and treat yourself to a second cup. Especially when these days fall on a Monday, and especially when these Mondays fall after great weekends that include visiting any sort of festival (in my case First Friday Oakland Art Walk and the Hardly Strictly Music Festival).

I decided to go for a relaxing walk to The Creamery, which I had happened to walk past last week and couldn’t get off my mind. The triangular outside looked inviting and I couldn’t help but be intrigued (you would too if you saw what I meant). When I walked in through the patio and up to the counter I saw the large-and-in-charge espresso machine to my right and instantly knew I’d made the right decision.

I ordered an iced soy dirty chai latte. They make the chai in house and they serve Ritual Coffee, which is a local roaster. Their chai is much more mellow than what you’d get at a Starbucks, and it’s much more of a tea drink than anything else. It had a thick layer (far more than just a sprinkle) of ground cinnamon on top, which slightly dissolved into the drink over the course of my lunch. Kind of. Not really, but it moved around. There wasn’t much soy, meaning it was a lot less thick and creamy and a lot more about the chai. What was different about this chai was the use of ginger and cinnamon, which gave it a subtly kick. Next time I think I’ll try one of their espresso centered beverages.

Since I was starving, on my lunch break, and feeling like pampering myself on today’s outing, I splurged. I also ordered the Strawberry Banana Nutella sweet crepe with a thick fresh vanilla bean whipped cream dollop on top. These two thick crepes with fresh fruit and a Nutella drizzle were definitely worth it.

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Tarts and Iced Lattes

Hello La Boulange Cafe & Bakery in Walnut Creek! Per our craving of fruit tarts and need for caffeine, we hastily decided this was a good, convenient, and reliable option. And once I found out Hugo had never been to La Boulange I knew I had no choice but to expose him to something that was so well known for their pastries (and capabilities of doing them on a large scale) that Starbucks bought them up.

We ordered an iced soy latte and an iced chai latte for here. We got the chai unsweetened and more on the spicier side because I figured we would have enough sweetness with the two pastries and good company. Hugo picked out the passion fruit tart and I got the more savory, but also delicious, pear and goat cheese tart. The passion fruit tart had the same consistency as a lemon tart but with the very obvious passion fruit flavor. They topped it with whipped cream and a raspberry, but I think it would have been more properly named if it actually had a slice of passion fruit (or any tropical fruit) on top instead of the berry. The goat cheese had a purple pear atop; neither of us know what it was that color but it was aesthetically pleasing nonetheless.

The latte has dark chocolate and earthy tasting notes. I was a bit disappointed by the fact the drink I had (very specifically) ordered for here came in a plastic cup, but the deliciousness of the drink that was contained inside made it worth it.

Today I favored the latte because I forgot to enhance my chai with a shot of espresso. I prefer both the taste and caffeine kick of chai’s when they are dirty, but this chai was able to stand on it’s own as a delicious and refreshing spiced ice beverage. The chai was still sweet but with a clear cinnamon-spice kick.

Two drinks (and two pastries) later I feel ready to get started with my day on the right note. That is the caffeinated-and-satisfied note.

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