Blue Bottle Cold Brew in Downtown LA

Cold brews are necessary during LA heat waves.

I was surprised at how empty, calm, and quiet the Blue Bottle in Downtown LA on Mateo was on a Monday morning.  The bright and spacious Blue Bottle reminded me of the location in Mint Plaza, including the somewhat unfortunate fact that neither have wifi.

Blue Bottle’s single origin cold brew from Honduras, served black, was complex and refreshing, with nut-forward tasting notes and low acidity.  It had a milk chocolate body with stone fruit quality; strong and very concentrated.  As I’ve noticed with many coffees from Central America, the chocolate notes were prominent. The process for Blue Bottle’s cold brew includes a Toddy Brew, finely grinding the beans, steeping them in water for 18 hours, then draining them through a filter, and serving over ice.

One of the aesthetic highlights of ordering Blue Bottle’s cold brew is the bright-yet-simple blue logo on the side of the cup. DSC_0731

Three pours later…

Three pours later, I was able to enjoy one of the best pour over coffee blends I’ve tried yet. Farley’s East, a little cafe on Grand in Oakland near Lake Merrit, with a logo featuring the silhouette of man with a blower hat and cane (a mix between Charlie Chaplin and Planter’s Mr. Peanut). Locals pack this place for the large offering, including a range from an indulgent panini to a healthy salad, or any of their many varieties of pastries, as well as the solid coffee and friendly-yet-efficient staff. The space itself can best be described as hip, with local art on the walls and two levels of seating, with wood panels adorning the balcony, an outdoor patio lined with a slick metal enclosure with natural wood accents and seating, faux grass, and red tables, and chalkboards framed in red listing the daily specials. Another exceptional feature of Farley’s is their magazine selection: two walls full of the latest magazines, with multiple copies, free for reading in the cafe, and available for purchase if desired.

De la Paz is their roaster, and today’s featured pour over was Graceland, a blend of Honduras and Rwanda beans, roasted on February 3rd. Flavors of honey yellow peach and cocao, along with sweet and inviting coffee aromas, definitely made this blend a craveable coffee, best on it’s own (no need to add sugar or milks).

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My First Pour-Over

Single pour-over of Lovo Maracaturra from Nicaragua at Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission. Tasting notes of watermelon, cocoa, and baking spice (I was intrigued by the watermelon). Acidic (but pleasant) while maintaining flavors of watermelon and dark chocolate throughout. Poured by an Australian at the coffee bar. Consumed while watching (and smelling) the beans roast in the back. IMG_0797.JPG

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A Timeless Soy Latte

Today’s drink of choice: a Timeless soy latte made with The Tide espresso blend of Ethiopian and Colombian beans; full bodied and chocolatey with some sweet floral notes on the finish. Extremely smooth, a little nutty, and perfectly warm for this walk through the shops on Piedmont Avenue.

This was my first time visiting Timeless, the bustling coffee roaster bakery chocolate shop in Oakland, but I definitely will be returning for more espresso (and maybe even a chocolate next time!)

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The Winter Fir Cappuccino

Sally Loo’s holiday special is The Winter Fir; a soy cappuccino with house made pine syrup and bourbon-infused sugar. The fir on the side of the saucer (aka a small piece of a pine tree’s branch) is the perfect holiday touch. The bourbon-infused sugar gives the capp a drinkable and enjoyable sweetness, even for someone who usually prefers bitter or savory to sweet flavors. This was the first holiday drink I’ve tried at Sally Loo’s, and it held up to the high expectations I’ve had about it ever since I saw the @sallyloos Instagram post announcing it a week ago. IMG_0445.JPG

Inspired by Taste

To celebrate the eve of Artís Coffee’s one-year anniversary in Berkeley, I paid a visit and ordered an almond milk latte. Best decision of the day, and what a great push towards productivity.

I want to return tomorrow to celebrate; we shall if my life journey brings me back in time! Hopefully, because there’s a chocolate truffle and coffee pairing from 11-11:30am and a DJ/pudding/ice cream taco party from 1pm-4pm. Mark your calendars, Bay Area caffeine addicts!

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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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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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National Coffee Day

Happy National Coffee Day to all my fellow caffeine addicts and coffee lovers out there!

To celebrate this special holiday I started my day off with cold brewed coffee. But wait, it gets better. I started my day off with two free cold brewed coffees. Thanks to Fun and Cheap SF I knew that Bread & Cocoa was giving away free cold brewed coffee to the first 100 people, starting at 8am. Obviously I planned my day around making it there in time to take up this opportunity to celebrate my favorite holiday. I talked to the knowledgeable and friendly roaster and got to know a bit more about their commercial roasters company (Mr. Espresso Oak Wood Roasting) and the cold brewed coffees I was lucky (and determined) enough to enjoy. It turns out that they are the people that launched the coffee program that now exists at Bread and Cocoa!

The cold brew today was their 7 bridges blend, which relates well to the Bay Area and to connects with the people here. Since it’s never brewed hot, it allows you to really taste the coffee notes without bitterness and acidity because the coffee never has to be cooled down. The beans are from South and Central America, then roasted in Oakland. The main flavor profile is velvety, with flavor notes with different levels of sweetness, including brown sugar and dark chocolate. This blend is roasted pretty dark, mixed with dark and light beans that complement each other with smokiness.

A few takeaways:
1. I love cold brewed coffee.
2. It left an amazing after taste.
3. The best (and only real) way to celebrate National Coffee Day is with multiple cups of coffee.

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Cold Pressed Creation at Kreation

Cold pressed coffee + fresh pressed almond milk + fresh cold pressed cashew with cinnamon added. Kreation’s cashew milk is so smooth it’s great on its own, but just a splash adds a lot of flavor to their coffee. However, even just the cold pressed coffee in the glass jar on its own is great & I don’t think you actually need to add anything- I was just feeling experimental and couldn’t resist their fresh pressed nut milk bar (if you’re not lactose intolerant they also have regular dairy milk options for you).
Since it was cold pressed my initial coffee sips were a pleasure: less acidic & so delightful!

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