Tiramisu Latte with Coconut Milk

Yesterday I was told to take more risks in life.  Naturally, I took this as a challenge and decided to try out the new tiramisu latte at Starbucks.  I also tried their coconut milk for the first time.  Maybe it was the combination of coconut milk and the fact I never order sweetened drinks, but this was almost unbearably sweet for my sensitive taste buds (I think their caramel macchiato is the most sugary-drink I can handle).

Somehow the syrups added made this taste both bitter and overly sweet, with a slight artificial-flavoring taste.  I can see why the product development team at Starbucks felt like the tiramisu latte would work well with the brand offering, as tiramisu is a coffee-flavored Italian dessert and Shultz was inspired in Italy for the cafes.  I’d recommend this beverage to the Starbucks lovers who usually go for the Frappuccino and other sweeter beverages.

Jane on Fillmore

Do you know about Jane?

If you don’t know where that is or what I’m talking about then you absolutely need to quickly add it to the top of your bucket list.

Jane on Fillmore is one of my favorite coffee shops in San Francisco because of it’s ability to combine friendly and knowledgable service, high quality coffee, a solid food offering (everything’s great, from toast to granola), and a breathtaking decor and atmosphere. The wooden floor works well with the black and white theme (which carries over from the floral wallpaper to the logo to the pattern on the tables to the graffiti on the giant mirror to the ‘for here’ mugs). Their flag logo triumphantly declares Jane to the world, seemingly full of pride as it blows with the wind in it’s 2D form. With good reason! I love everything about Jane on Fillmore, the original Jane of San Francisco, one of my all-around favorite cafés. Even though it’s in Pacific Heights, finding parking is reasonably easy. Or maybe I’m just lucky here and the coffee-Gods just want to get me to my next cup at Jane as quickly as possible; who knows.

They brew Stumptown, and this partnership seems to work perfectly: combining the quality roasters quality beans with the quality baristas quality brewing skills.

Today I ordered an iced soy latte and toast, while Robyne ordered an iced mocha with almond milk, which she described as good choice, well balanced and not too sweet. My latte was craftily created with soy and Hair Bender espresso, a blend from Stumptown that changes throughout the year. It’s well rounded and tries to cover all the profile notes, leaning more chocolatey than floral or citrus.

IMG_1109.JPG

IMG_1108.JPG

Snowbird Coffee

For our post-Halloween coffee fix Amanda and I decided to go to Snowbird Coffee in Inner Sunset. I was attracted by the fact it was a new coffee shop I’ve never visited, as well as their chalkboard sandwich sign outside and their navy-blue and tan color scheme inside. There’s a long pathway/slope that you walk down and further in to the coffee shop, building excitement with every step closer to the smell of quality coffee.

We ordered two hot almond milk lattes and this is a decision I would both repeat and recommend. The drink itself was beautiful in the areas of taste + design + balance. They roast their own espresso at a warehouse in Oakland (they aren’t allowed to roast in their current spot on 9th Street because people live above it). The latte uses their Neverland Espresso blend, which they explained goes with theme of coffee shop, where everyone who works here comes from some creative background. Also, they just opened 3 weeks ago, and mentioned how, with the timing, they dedicated the Neverlend blend to Robin Williams (who played Peter Pan in Hook).

The Neverlend is a blend of a few Guatemalan beans. It has a nutty and cacao flavor – somewhat like dark chocolate covered espresso beans mixed with dark chocolate covered almonds.

Their hand stamped cups show their attention to detail and quality, and I felt the orange colored stamp was appropriate for post-Halloween raging coffee.

Because Amanda and I are only human and sometimes clumsy, one of us spilled. You know what they say, don’t cry over spilled milk, only spilled coffee.

IMG_0057.JPG

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…

DSC_1003

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.

20140921-113822.jpg

20140921-115042.jpg

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.

20140916-181254.jpg

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.

20140724-185203.jpg

20140724-185230.jpg