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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For the love of Lovo espresso

My perfect ending to a perfect weekend visiting San Luis Obispo ends with a departing breakfast at Sally Loo’s Wholesome Cafe. This means a large iced soy latte and acai bowl.

Sally Loo’s is proudly pouring Four Barrel Coffee. They only use organic milk, and you have a choice between whole, nonfat, raw, almond, and soy. I love places that actually have both non-dairy alternatives, soy and almond, and love the dairy-free trend (and I’m even more impressed when they have coconut milk as an option).

They are obsessive about the way they pour their shots. They dial in the espresso (to make it pull correctly by checking how corse and fine the espresso beans are going into the porta filter) and they are constantly playing with it throughout the day to make sure the taste and flavor profiles are matching the espresso specks, checking for how heavy it should be and how long it should pull for and the amount of grounds you should look for, given to them by Four Barrel. The baristas constantly taste it (rough life) throughout the day. This is a new single origin espresso, called Lovo, Nicaragua, from a single farm that knows how to grow great beans. Each single origin espresso they have right now has their own flavor profile, and Lovo is bright, juicy and citrus.

I strongly recommend a stop by Sally Loo’s for their quality choices in coffee and espresso, as well as for their food offerings.

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Espresso Treat

I have decided that a good shot of espresso is the best after-work treat, especially when it’s from Blue Bottle!

The Blue Bottle on Mint is (dangerously) conveniently located in between work and the Powell Bart stop I get on to go home, making it incredibly difficult NOT to stop any time that I’m not in a rush or pressed for time. The tall ceilings and tall windows let in plenty of natural light for a bright and upbeat atmosphere. One day I want to try their extremely concentrated and mad-scientist looking slow drip cold coffee system- maybe a morning in the near future. I’ll keep you updated. For now this adorable espresso shot and small glass of sparkling water are the perfect amount for me.

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Klatch: Where Coffee is the Conversation.

I shared my first Klatch Coffee experience with Hugo, the man who introduced me to this wonderful place. Klatch is defined as a social gathering, especially for coffee and conversation, and it was defined by Hugo as something along the lines of a social experience, which I think aligns perfectly. Klatch, as the most famous coffee shop in San Dimas, is into everything fair trade. Something that you would not expect is that Klatch Coffee Inc. is the largest wholesale coffee company, a specialty coffee roaster who specializes in single-origin coffees and world best espresso blends.

Although I’m not even the biggest dessert person, once I saw the s’mores kit option I was too intrigued to pass it up. Hands down, this was the most unique and creative dessert idea I’ve ever seen at a coffee shop. The s’mores kit came on a round wooden board with two wooden skewers, each with four marshmallows. The entire assortment of supplies was enough to make four extra-gooey s’mores sandwiches, with eight gram crackers and four squares of Hershey chocolate. I wish you were able to chose which type of chocolate you received because I would have preferred a bit of dark chocolate to balance the flavor out with a tad of bitterness, but I know that milk chocolate is much more traditional and preferred by the majority of sweets-lovers. It even came with a mini campfire for you to roast the marshmallows! The black pot had some type of flammable pinkish-purple keratin gel that one of the baristas lit for us, producing an entirely blue flame. This crackling flame licks the marshmallow to a perfect toasted level right at your table!

On to the drinks. First, we ordered our classic: a hot soy chai with a shot of espresso. The tea is pre-spiced and on the sweeter side of the chai scale, steeped with brown sugar and vanilla. The chai smells like velvet (how is that possible?) and spice. Maybe it’s the smooth velvet appearance of the light-tan foam? The drink itself is very smooth. In fact, it goes down so smoothly that it feels light, as if drinking a chai flavored cloud. This sweetened chai tea has a lot of strong flavors, all while maintaining a calm, balanced, mild flavor.

The second drink we ordered on a whim because of a San Dimas Newsletter we saw posted near the register, which listed The Naked Verbena on the seasonal menu. The picture sold me before I even read the description, which stated “This 2003 USBC Winner is a Klatch favorite! The combination of lemon verbena, lemon zest and simple syrup make for the perfect summer pick me up.” They make The Naked Verbena by pulling two espresso shots and throwing it in a shaker with lemon rind. They infuse with leaves and shake everything with ice before they run it over simple syrup to create a layered look (note: make sure to stir before drinking). The Naked Verbena is an espresso dominant beverage, and the sweetness comes from the simple syrup. Good to know: it has no milk, and therefore I did not have to compromise any flavors by switching out for soy or almond milk. The Naked Verbena was innovative and very different from anything I’ve ever experienced, being the first time I’ve ever tasted refreshing hints of lemon in coffee. Very fresh and sweet, while the espresso overpowers the simple syrup in a perfect balance that dances on your tongue and confuses your taste buds to a point where they are frantically running around with excitement and end up crashing into each other. It tastes like it could be a tea, but you know it’s actually espresso. A perfect refreshing iced drink for summer.

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Twitter

Do you enjoy receiving updates on Twitter?

If so, you’ll be delighted to know that The Caffeine Addict is now on Twitter!  If you’d like to, please follow @CaffeineFoodie for short versions of what’s posted here, mostly just witty taglines about wherever I happen to be drinking coffee, tea, and chai.

BONUS: If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll get to know which coffee shop/cafe I am going to be writing about BEFORE it even ends up on WordPress!  And you’ll get to see if these locations also have Twitter accounts that you can follow, since I’ll be tagging each location on Twitter as well.  

Let’s see how this goes!  The hardest part?  Character. Limit.

 

Samovar Tea Lounge

The chai at Samovar Tea Lounge, like many other chai teas, is a black tea and spice blend.  In the chai, they put a mixture of cloves, cardamom, black tea/English breakfast tea, cinnamon, and ginger. One of their special features is the taste freshness and strong flavors that come from brewing consistently throughout the day in large copper pots.

Samovar has both traditional and vegan versions, with almond and coconut milk for the vegan, and the vegan is visibly darker than the original. They came up with the recipe themselves and are the new shop on the block, having been open for just a few weeks. There are three other locations, but those are more restaurant style.

The ceramic cups were designed by a company in Oakland specifically for Samovar, smooth on the inside and texture on exterior. Interestingly enough, they designed the cups before the space. The design is clean, organized, and simple. The colors are white, khaki, tan, and beige, with lots of limestones. You sit on very smooth and well-finished white finished concrete blocks anchored against a white wall for seating.

We could smell the chai as we walked by, which is how we ended up walking inside. We found out they only served chai and tea, choosing to be specialized and serve a niche market. They specialize in full-body caffeine through tea, rather than the caffeine effects of espresso and coffee.

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Too-Clean Chai

Sally Loo’s is my favorite, as well as every other girl’s favorite, breakfast cafe in San Luis Obispo. The acai bowls are my favorite part, but as Hugo and I waited for our breakfasts to come, we shared a large chai latte with almond milk. I am glad we shared, which is unusual for me, but it was fun passing the white mug and saucer back and forth across the smooth wooden table.
The almond milk chai latte looks absolutely beautiful, with the design in the foam and the cinnamon generously sprinkled on top. The large gulps are smooth yet spicy! The tastes of cinnamon overpower the chai, which was too watered down in the ratio of chai to almond milk.

I wish I got it dirty. I regret this decision greatly, as this drink truly needed the addition of some good espresso (which I know from past experience Sally Loo’s always has).

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Duboce Park Cafe. Smoothie?

I felt my caffeine-dependent blood flowing slower through my veins, craving the morning coffee IV drip, as I slowly pushed open the door to Duboce Park Cafe on Sanchez Street in San Francisco. The word “coffee” was the only thing on my mind as Stephanie and I walked inside. I ordered a chai crush smoothie with a double shot, which is their house brewed chai, banana, honey, and almond milk. I was so tired and coffee deprived when we got here that I was a walking zombie in search of coffee rather than brains. I decided to get the chai smoothie with double shots of their Sightglass espresso because of their extensive specialty smoothie menu. I don’t know why I got a frozen drink on this foggy morning, but I’m pretty sure I can trace that decision back to my ordering mentality. I wish I could taste the espresso more, but I get that’s what you get with smoothies. The chai was great and had lots of flavor. I think I need a stronger and warmer drink next time.

Roaster

Walk in for a breath of coffee air in Union Street Coffee Roastery. I had high expectations, due to the name of the café and my assumption that the coffee would be freshly roasted. Additionally I had been on a roll with good coffee shops in SF, and was expecting my lucky streak to continue. Unfortunately the staff was neither helpful nor friendly. When asked what type of espresso it was, the barista told me “bean.” When asked if they roast their coffee daily, the barista told me “no, only twice a week.” Luckily they had two different types of non-dairy milk alternative (almond and soy) for the lactose-intolerant. The worst was yet to come: the coffee came with an advertisement sleeve for Claritin (awkward ad placement that makes this place look very cheap) surrounding a cheap almond-milk latte that tasted and smelled like instant coffee. It was so terrible I couldn’t even finish, and both Carmen and Stephanie agreed it didn’t taste right and that there was something seriously wrong with it.

Gibraltar at Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle. At The Market Pier 1. The line around the corner foreshadows something special enough to be worth the wait. Apparently it’s the best in the city. Barista said soy latte will blow my mind.

This is how I somehow ended up trying my first Gibraltar in San Francisco. The Gibraltar was named after the glass, and Blue Bottle claimed they were the first specialty coffee store to have this specialty drink. It’s espresso with steamed milk in a 1:1 ratio espresso to milk that is steamed to 120 degrees. It started out as a barista drink that baristas could drink fast; supposed to be drunk in under a minute or two (hence why it’s only available to order for here). Single origin Costa Rica coffee of the Red Catuai varietal with a tart finish.

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