So, I typically really enjoy drinking coffee from Intelligentsia. It’s always complex, smooth and worth every penny. I’ve only visited their coffee bars two times. Last summer I went to the Millenium Park Coffeebar (53 East Randolph Street) and I fell in love. I couldn’t tell you what kind of coffee I ordered because it was quite a long time ago, but I remember thinking it was delicious and I bought a 12 ounce bag to go. While I was perusing the coffees for sale I was approached and offered suggestions by a super friendly barista, even though the place was packed. It made for a very good experience and I had been wanting to visit again.

So, last week or so, when I had a day off and had some errands to run downtown I thought I would stop in again. However, I wrote down the address to the Monadnock Coffeebar instead. No worries though, because it would probably be a good idea to try out a different location, right?

Not really. I was totally bummed out by my experience there. It was nothing like the magical experience of my summer visit. The coffeebar was clean and classic, it looked really nice. They had bookshelves lining the wall full of bags of coffee. I lingered by the shelves reading bag descriptions and prices and was having a difficult time trying to make my decision. There were four baristas behind the bar (all wearing suspenders, no joke). And not a single person in line. Yet, no one asked me if I needed assistance or had a question. Which was more weird than annoying. I am a barista. I love talking about coffee, especially the differences in beans and trying to pair my customer with the bag that fits their palate perfectly.

While I am fairly knowledgable when it comes to coffees (I’ve been working with coffee for almost five years now) I still felt overwhelmed because of the huge selection of beans available. Plus, no matter how much I may (or may not) know, I hadn’t had any of these coffees yet. These baristas had been working with them. They knew them. Or, should have.

So, whatever. I’m over that, I’m sure the free cup I receive after purchasing my coffee will rule and I’ll totally forget that I was bummed, right?

Wrong again. Because I bought a bag of Tres Santos Columbian they offered me a free drink (which rules, I love when places do that!!!) and handed it to me in this:

a stupid paper cup.

Actually, two paper cups.

Which, I shouldn’t be too bent out of shape over since it was free, but c’mon! And perhaps all of their free drinks come in paper cups. The last time I had bought a bag at the Millenium Park location I declined because I was overly caffeinated and didn’t want the shakes. If that is the case though, get it together, ya’ll. Ceramic mugs are where it’s at.

Anyways, besides the paper cup, the coffee wasn’t very good. I asked what I was drinking, and wouldn’t you know it was the Columbian that I had also purchased. The bag boasted of a creamy body, but this was flat and thin, barely lukewarm, without any kind of distinctive flavor. I didn’t have to wait at all for my coffee to be prepared, so maybe it had been sitting out for a few minutes. Which would also be un-good. I left Intelligentsia pretty bummed out by both my experience there and because I thought I had purchased a whole twelve ounces of a coffee that I thought was actually bad. Not just mediocre, but “I threw it into the garbage down the block” bad.

Mmm ... blooming.

Mmm … blooming.

The next day I brought the bad of Columbian beans to work with me and made myself a pour over with my new coffee. And, what a freaking delightful cup of coffee. It was incredibly creamy, with notes of berries and a wine-like acidity becoming prevalent as the coffee cooled. This was the Intelligentsia coffee I had been introduced to the past summer. This was what I had expected when I went to the Monadnock Coffeebar.

I won’t stop going to Intelligentsia. But, maybe I’ll try the one up north on Broadway next time, or go back to the Millenium Park Coffeebar. The Monadnock location left a bad taste in my mouth. But dang, if prepared correctly, their coffees are incredible!

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Hey friends, 

So, I’m heading out of town this weekend to head over to Las Vegas. I have a friend who lives there. She wrote a book. I edited the book. And in two days I’m flying out there for said book’s release. 

She said we could do whatever my little heart desires. And of course, my heard desires  coffee. Can anyone recommend a good spot? I’d prefer locally roasted. And a place that offers a few different brewing methods would be dope (AeroPress, maybe?)

C’mon, blogosphere. Whatchu got?

Love, B

p.s. Here’s a photo of a lazy latte (f)art heart I made today in a huge latte. Because I totally get that posts are more interesting with visualzzz. 

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I found RoosRoast totally by accident (kind of). I’ve been trying to come to terms with technology (WordPress still freaks me out), so I decided to use my smart phone to look up something that wasn’t a Starbucks while I was waiting for my bus back to Chicago a couple weeks ago. Miraculously, I was able to figure out the Maps app on my phone and less than a mile later the car was parked.
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RoosRoast is a tiny, walk-in coffee bar nestled in what seemed to be an industrial suite on a stretch of road not far off of State Street in Ann Arbor. I was immediately smitten with this charming little place, and it seemed so demanding of my tiny brain to be able to take everything in: the smells, the visuals, and the wonderful, minimalist menu. I wish I had taken some photos of the inside of this place, but I am from the generation immediately before the one who takes photos of everything, everywhere, all the time. I often find it difficult to stop experiencing in order to help others experience whatever it is, later.
 
However, after getting in contact with RoosRoast I asked if I could snag some of their photos and they offered me use of some pretty killer ones, taken by their friend Mark Bialek. You should check out his website here. All these killer photos are taken off that cool guy’s website. (I seriously can’t stop staring at that photo below of that shot being pulled!) 
 
 
While visiting this shop I decided to try their cold brew iced coffee (it was a freakishly warm and rainy January day). I’m generally not a huge advocate of cold brew, which may be different from your typical barista. 
 
But, oh my. What a delightful glass (plastic cup, actually) of iced coffee. Creamy, heavy and a distinctive flavor of toffee and roasted nuts with an almost, purple hue.  I was incredibly impressed.
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I was with my Dad and he ordered a small black coffee, which I initially thought was prepared Americano style. But, as explained by the folks at RoosRoast, it was actually done so using a triple long pull. Which, I learned, means the beans were ground a bit courser than they would have been for a typical espresso shot. Hot water is pulled through the grounds, filling the entire cup rather than diluting the “normal” espresso with additional water.  
My Dad will drink pretty much any kind of coffee. Folgers, Starbucks, Intelligentsia, whatever, usually without any bias or preference. And, even he realized the gem of a cup he held.
 
 
RoosRoast, why aren’t you closer to me? I just finished my bag of Honduran beans that I picked up after enjoying my first sip of that heavenly cold brew. And here I am, twirling the very last sip of what may be some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted around in my mug,  lamenting over the fact that I only bought half of a pound.
 
 
If you live near by, go there. If you live far away, go here. 
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Roaster: Metropolis CoffeePour Over

Country of Origina: Guatemala

Region: El Quiche

Farm/COOP: La Perla / Arenas Family

Varietal : Bourbon

Processing: Washed in the Xamac river, which means “sleeping woman” in Ixil, a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala.

Bright, full, velvety. Grapefruit, not entirely distinctive. Brighter as it cools, with a wet finish.

Metropolis has yet to win me over completely. I drink it often, and it is “good” coffee, but I have yet to fall in love with anything I’ve tried, (although the Fair Trade La Cordillera is a pretty great blend). However, I really enjoyed this cup of coffee. Freshly roasted, the crema was nice, if a tad thin. I have a feeling, that if I were to try this bean from a different roaster I’d like it even more.

According to Finca La Perla’s website, in addition to washing the coffee in the river, it is then transported by “noble mules”. Ah! The beauty of coffee, touching people and animals alike before it ever makes its way into my cup.

Love, B.

p.s. No apology that this photo is kind of a bust. I’m working on my photography skillz.

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Disclaimer: If you’re looking for pretension, look elsewhere. Because nothing is worse than a snobby barista [i.e. a Jerk] lacking a sense of humor.

I love coffee. I have a BFA, and still, I decide to work with coffee (that also may have something to do with the economy and the fact that I went to art school). I love the smell of it and the slight reside of oil on my hands after holding freshly roasted beans. I love their not-too-dark caramel color, the delicate but distinctive differences in aromas, feel and taste. I love the atmosphere of a well-loved cafe and the warmth of baristas who legitimately love their craft. I love experimenting with different brewing methods and different grind weights. So, let’s have some coffee talk. Please.

In this blog you will find a twenty-something barista ruminating on coffee and the people it encounters. From the farms and it’s workers, to the brokers, to the coffee shop, to the enthusiasts. Hardly any other crop or resource touches so many hands before it finally rests at the end of it’s journey. I’ll let you all know about delicious beans I get my hands on and I’m open to suggestions as well. I’ll fill you in on cool spots to kick it with a killer cup of coffee. Mostly, I’ll talk a lot about coffee and why I think it’s super tasty.

I don’t know everything about coffee (anyone who tells you they do is a liar, man!) and I’m hoping that this blog encourages me to continue learning, and to meet other enthusiasts who aren’t dicks. I also encourage questions, answers, and of course, most importantly, coffee puns.

Love always, B.
p.s. I took those pics ya’ll. Not a photographer, so I’m pretty stoked that they look nice.