Archive for the ‘caffeine’ Category

oddfellows is coming, soon!

ODDFELLOWS.jpg

Capitol Hill Seattle brings welcome news [chs] about Oddfellows, the latest from Linda Derschang and Erica Burke. According to Joey Veltkamp, they’re on track to open the cafe + bar at the end of the week in an unexpectedly open and light space. In his report about the opening, he gets a description of the idea for the place from Linda:

… a comfortable all day, all night neighborhood hangout. It will be lighter and airier and (gasp) no taxidermy! It will also have an adorable outdoor patio (15’ish people). [joeyveltkamp]

Most amazing of all, it will be open at 7 am. I imagine that this means that they’ll have to do some serious recruiting for morning people to join the usual team of late risers and night owls. In any case, it sounds like a great addition to the corridor and it will be nice to have another cafe close to Cal Anderson now that Vivace has moved on to the North end of Broadway.

Oh, gingersnap

Starbucks’ holiday drinks usually leave me cold — not for me Josh’s strange Peppermint Mocha Fetishism. But this year I’ve turned a new leaf (or rhizome), as their 2008 Winter Lineup includes an imaginative re-thinking of the old standby: Gingerbread Latte. New this year is the Gingersnap variant, which marries a reformulated sugar syrup with a genuine ginger innovation: “authentic Austrian crystallized ginger.” Yes, it’s the Kurt Waldheim of caffeinated beverages.

The only problem comes when you order the drink for the first time, thinking you’re going to get a beverage and not a substrate for sprinkled candy topping. Upon gradual consumption of the drink the crystallized ginger eventually settles to the bottom of the cup, where it engorges itself on milk and syrup, transforming itself into something resembling soggy bits of syrup-sponges. Exactly what you won’t know, at least not the first time you tip the cup all the way up to suck up the last dregs of latte and get, instead, some kind of bizarre lukewarm chewy invader. It’s like a bizzaro-world version of Bubble Tea: The Drink You Masticate®.

Despite this frightening first encounter with drink invaders of the Middle European kind, I’ve gradually accepted the Gingersnap into my ordering habits, soggy ginger and all. Any thoughts on this or other members of Starbucks’ red cup brigade?

Starbucks Not Very Profitable

STARBUCKS INSIDE by photocoyote

STARBUCKS INSIDE by photocoyote

Starbucks profit dropped 97% in the fourth quarter this year, an indicator that perhaps people have cut back on buying coffee mugs, overpriced espresso machines, and $4 lattes. Starbucks claims that it’s the cost of closing under producing stores, but perhaps special promotions from competing companies like McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts has something to do with it too.Ref.

StarbucksWatch: a pinch of salt

We can’t believe it either, but apparently one of the fall drinks Starbucks is launching is Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. This is a custom variant of its new Signature Hot Chocolate — kind of like a suggested customization of the drink. “Sprinkled atop the whipped cream is French sea salt, blended with Hawaiian Turbinado sugar. The salt is smoked over burning chardonnay barrels in Woodinville” notes the P-I, while StarbucksGossip tracks the reaction from customers.

"I Liked Their Old Stuff Better"

When a band gets too popular and its hipster fans get a little put out, it always seems that the new music gets denigrated due to its commercial success by its fickle fans. So while the old Vivace on Broadway was special, charming, etc., let’s take some time to judge the new location in the Brix condos on its own merits. I agree with Voracious that they did a good job of retaining the feel and decor of the old place, especially keeping in mind that retail in condo buildings usually means Quiznos.

Yesterday was the first day of business; when I showed up at 10am their was a minor glitch that only permitted them to pour shots, so they offered me a gratis espresso. (Thank you, Vivace.) I came back later for an americano and all was well. So what do you think?

Espresso Vivace
700 Broadway E

Local Business Brews Global Interest

Text by Stan. Photographs by Peter Leonard.

The combination of Seattle and coffee has become just a little trite; however, that doesn’t make it less true. With a café on every corner, and a populace that appears to have travel tumblers welded to their hands, over the past 20 years the latte has become as emblematic of Seattle as the Space Needle or apples.

Part of the blame rightly belongs to “the little coffee show that could,” Seattle’s Coffee Fest. Coffee Fest is exactly what it sounds like, a three day exposition dedicated to all things caffeinated. Founded in 1992 as a consumer coffee show with just 65 exhibitors and 2500 attendees, Coffee Fest is one of the fastest growing trade shows in the US, hosting 400+ exhibit booths and packing venues in Las Vegas and Chicago, as well as Seattle. This year, Coffee Fest will make the jump to an international trade show, premiering in Hong Kong, November 7-9th.

What makes these hometown heroes so special? Unlike many trade shows, Coffee Fest continues to welcome members of the general public: for just $40 any Tom, Jenny, or Pat can spend three days sampling coffee, tea, chocolate, and pastries, swoon over high-end espresso machines, boggle over the newest and strangest devices designed to extract caffeine from a humble bean, or watch master baristas battle it out in the Free-Pour Latte Art Competition, fighting for a grand prize of $5000.

This year’s Seattle show is, sadly, over, but while it was here local and international businesses got to strut their stuff for crowds of attendees. Coffee Fest is the show to attend if you own, or want to own, a coffee business. Larger companies, like Starbuck’s and Tully’s, might send a few product managers to see what’s hip and new, but the show is focused on the needs of single café, coffee cart, and local chain proprietors. Everything you would need to get your business off the ground can be found, and purchased at attractive show discount, in one place.

Café D’Arte has been exhibiting at Coffee Fest since the beginning, according to Peyton Woodruff, whose double-heart cappuccino art can be found on You Tube. Peyton, and half a dozen other exhibitors, plied attendees with freshly pulled drinks– including our photographer, Peter, who was catching a flight to Boston after the show. Peter pronounced his latte “good,” but was far more excited about the Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Company booth.

At Caffe Vita’s exhibit, Heather Ruiz demonstrated a cold-brew siphon pot that produces a beverage as smooth as ice-cream. At 6 hours to brew a pot, or 43 drips per minute, the siphon pot is a dramatic contrast to the 20 second shots that are typical in the espresso industry. The siphon pot itself looks like something out of a steampunk novel: sexy, but not very practical for your average home brewer.

Coffee Fest offers something for just about everyone… as long as everyone drinks coffee, and at Coffee Fest, everyone does. Coffee Fest will be back in Seattle the weekend of September 25th-27th, 2009, so mark your calendar.

Beer, Coffee, Cheese, and Chocolate

A beer tasting at Aster

A beer tasting at Aster

What more could you possibly want?

Tonight, at Aster Coffee Lounge in Ballard, you can participate in their most excellent beer tasting. I was lucky enough to attend their last beer and cheese tasting and let me tell you… for $7, it is an incredible value.

You get 5 tastes of beer, and they are generous tastes. Each is at least 2-3 ounces of beer.

Along with the beer, you get cheese samples and at least one chocolate sample. The beer tonight is all from Unibroue.

They will have a live DJ, and of course, their excellent coffee and snacks. The tasting runs from 4pm to 8pm.

Aster Coffee Lounge
5615 24th Ave NW

Iced Clover

Here’s an interesting sidelight to the whole Clover/Starbucks brouhaha – they’re now promoting iced coffee produced from the the whizbang machines, as part of their rollout of the automated french presses to more locations in the city. Greenlake’s machine produced (after an initial bit of barista confusion) a superb drink, brewed double-strength and poured over ice, from Verona beans. Granted, recent weather patterns have made iced drinks a bit of an affectation, but once the sunshine returns Clover-generated iced coffees might win a spot on my rotating list of drinks.

Exploring Seattle: Killing Off Seattle Landmarks


Last Day for Espresso Vivace, courtesy of HonuPhoto

With Ryan’s report on Asteroid Cafe closing, I realized that somehow, in the short time I’ve been here I’ve managed to make it to nearly every notable spot that’s been closed down or demolished a grand total of once.

On that list:

1. Crocodile– Shortly after moving here in February of last year, my friend’s band came through town and played at the Crocodile. It didn’t close until December, but I only managed to get there once. And I really meant to go to the I Heart Rummage show. I know it’s moved on to Chop Suey, but it seems to me like the Crocodile was the perfect location for it.

2. Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen- First Iteration– A pair of friends took us to Bimbo’s in spring of 2007. I loved it- the kitschy decorations, the fun stuff under the tables, and so much pink! It was fabulous. But its entire block was demolished, and while it managed to move in elsewhere on Capitol Hill, it just hasn’t been the same. I miss the old one that wasn’t decorated entirely in Mexican wrestling decor…

3. The Sunset Bowl– It’s all in the post, but I only got there once for a friend’s mid-winter party before it closed down in the spring.

4. The aforementioned Asteroid Cafe. Again, it’s in the post, but I never did make it back for that romantic date (well, guess I’ve got two weeks).

5. The Vivace at Cal Anderson Park. A good friend took me there for a cup of coffee this spring, not more than a month before they closed. I found out the hard way, by trying to take my parents to the loveliest coffee shop in the city while they were visiting in mid-July and walking up to boarded doors and windows. It was incredibly sad to lose that location, particularly to lose it so soon after discovering it.

So, I’m kind of feeling like the Typhoid Mary of Seattle businesses these days. The time between visit and closing seems to get shorter and shorter, in addition. But one of my fellow Metbloggers suggested that instead of being sad about my anti-Midas touch, I use my powers for good and not evil. With great power comes great responsibility and all.

So, Metblog readers, what businesses do you really want to see move on and be replaced by condos and light rail? I’ll be happy to go visit them, and keep you updated on their impending demise immediately following.

Belfair’s Coffee is Too Steamy

I like a little steamed milk with my coffee, but patrons at the Espresso Gone Wild coffee stand are apparently getting a little more steam than the business is zoned for and county officials have stepped in to cool things off. The Seattle Times reports that Mason County officials have deemed the baristas “erotic entertainers” due to their less than matronly outfits and sent the owners a letter saying that the outfits would have to go (presumably they also stated that they would have to be replaced with more conservative dress).

As recently as two weeks ago, Espresso Gone Wild was advertising on Craigslist. In case the text gets pulled later today, it reads:

WE HAVE A GREAT “CATCHY” THEME THAT KEEPS OUR CUSTOMERS COMING BACK OVER AND OVER AGAIN (AS SEEN @ www.cowgirlsespresso.com)
WE ARE LOOKING FOR MOTIVATED PEOPLE THAT ARE READY TO WORK IN A VERY FAST PACE ENVIORNMENT AND THINK THEY MAY HAVE THE FOLLOWING TRAITS:
RELIABLE, ENERGETIC, UPBEAT, POSITIVE, HONEST, OUTGOING, DEDICATED, AND WILLING TO GO THE EXTRA MILE FOR THE CUSTOMER.

Cowgirls Espresso lists a number of locations in and around Seattle. I wonder if they will also soon be getting official letters too?

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