Friday, May 25, 2007

Visited: May 2007

After graduating from Purdue we hit the road to Seattle .. here is a map of my rout. I kept a little dairy of my coffee shop visits so here it is ... enjoy!

St. Louis

There were 2 coffee shops that I was going to check out Kaldi’s and Northwest. We tried to find the Northwest store in central west end but failed, as the maps weren’t clear, so we went to Kaldi’s the next morning.

Kaldi’s – Coffee Roasting Company

Located in the suburbs of St. Louis it’s a pretty long drive out of down town. The company roast their own coffee and have a large selection of both single origins and blended coffee in open jars. Among those, a good amount of Sumatran peabery and even some harah.

The equipment set up looked very promising a brand new GB5 with bottomless portafilters and mazzer majors. The house roast itself was very dark. My expectations didn’t really live up to the cup I got. A clearly overextracted shot with bitter notes, very watery with pale crema. Anyways, it didn’t leave a good impression. The café itself was pretty big with lots of people inside. A large outside area with fancy umbrellas and of course don’t forget the laptop culture, with people that isolate themselves from everyone. The neighbourhood was very fancy, with mostly older crowds that don’t drink espresso.

I think that Northwest would have been a better place as it was my first choice but still … never the less there is still nothing coming out of St Louis apart from the terrible taste of Budweiser, and Busch which is even worse.

Kansas City

To be perfectly honest I wasn’t expecting such quality out of Kansas City, after doing my crafty coffee shop research I ended up with two espresso bars on my list. One of which was about a six-minute drive from where we were staying, and the other south of downtown Kansas City.

Espresso Dell’Anatra – really really nice, hands down the best out of the two shops we went to. Outside a shopping mall complex, this modern “clean cut interior” espresso bar offered much more than I had expected. Working on a Linea Marzocco and Mazzer major grinder, our barista produced one of the best shots I have tried in America. Coffee was made with precision, excellent technique and REAL passion for good espresso. Not a high volume shop, every cup is ground fresh. The barista we had used a very strange technique for pulling a double shot. He pulled a single shot into a cup and than pulled another shot into the cup on the other group, never the less the coffee was outstanding. Extractions for both shots were roughly the same so it didn’t make a difference, still I’ve never seen anyone do that nor do I know why he did it.

The coffee was great in both smell and taste. Distinct smell of toast, cocoa and dark smooth chocolate and on the palate a strong nutty profile with distinct sweet melted milk chocolate. This coffee was full of body and certainly wasn’t lacking crema. The smooth mouth feel really added to the overall picture, just picturing that shot slowly rolling down my tongue makes my mouth water. Long lasting aftertaste, just great!

Their blend was 100% arabica and had 3 brazils.

Broadway Cafe – this coffee shop was recommended to me by the barista from Dell’Anatra he said that they are the closest thing to a quality espresso in all of Kansas city. Conveniently located close to Starbucks, this coffee shop is very popular amongst lots of people. I couldn’t help but notice a very large gay community that really set the theme for this coffee shop. A very social, busy café with long benches against the outside windows of the shop made it look like Melbourne’s St. Kilda area. The coffee itself was very Melbourne-like, with a long extraction with over roasted coffee and slight bitterness, as well as a lack of crema and general lack of flavour.

Hippy looking guys full of tats and piercing run the show behind the bar. The 4 group LaMarzocco Linea was at total rest, and whilst there were lots of people getting various drinks none of them were espresso based. The wall full of flavouring syrups didn’t impress me at all. The cup was ground on demand and the coffee was not brewed immediately and sat in the group for at least a good 5 seconds, whilst the barista reached over to grab the cup and feel its warmth.

Overall wasn’t as smooth as Dell’Anatra, but still a more than drinkable espresso.

I was very fortunate to find outstanding coffee in Kansas City, as I didn’t expect it.

Dodge City

This “one horse town” doesn’t have any coffee. The closest thing to it was the percolator coffee offered at the motel. If you are ever in dodge city I recommend a very nice steakhouse we went to - Casey’s Cow House on trail street.

Montana - Missoula

Butterfly - My next coffee shop worthy of mentioning would have to be a very long way away from Dodge City in a small town in Montana called Missoula. We spent few days there and I found myself in a very interesting place called butterfly, this shop was deep within a bizarre bookstore and very much added on to the overall atmosphere of the shop. Those guys don’t roast their own; but buy from 16 different roasters from all over the world. Their house espresso blend was absolute garbage a definite overextraction, so I couldn’t pick out any characteristics out of my shot. On the other hand they had all the right equipment. They were running 3 group Marzocco Linea along side automatic Marzocco Swift grinder. I have never actually seen a Swift in action but it looked indeed swift and very quick on grinding and tamping.

I was staying with a good friend of mine and she had a little starbucks espresso machine at home. So I decided to buy the house blend and play around with it at her house. The beans that I got were well over a month old and have been sitting in an open container so they were stale. I couldn’t wrap my finger around a decent shot after many attempts and different extraction methods. On top of things this poor espresso machine had a 10g filter basket with me packing 14g hitting the shower screen and trying to fit as much as possible. Anyways I was disappointed with the coffee. Overall the coffee shop ambience is outstanding but espresso is lacking.

Coeur d’Alene

This trip is almost over but we still have few more spots to visit. I heard some nice things about this one coffee shop in small town in Idaho, Coeur d'Alene. This is a very small town with few cool pubs and even an award winning local microbrewery that serves great beer. Café DOMA is located on main street among the pubs. A trendy looking, very modern place has an absolute eye candy at the bar, MIRAGE Classic by Kees van der Westen. I very much adore this machine both inside and outside in it’s unique design aspects. In my opinion one of the most beautiful coffee machines ever designed. I was in total love with the Mirage, unfortunately my love was cut short by a very mediocre espresso shot.

I really like the way they set the shop with a very eye catching, beautiful machine, so I visited them later that day once again and had my 2nd shot of the day. This time a different barista has made my coffee but it was still very average. DOMA roast their coffee just outside Coeur d’Alene and sell to surrounding coffee shops.

I really enjoyed driving across the staes, it has definitely given me an amazing experience that I will never forget. Going through all the national parks and seeing small towns has been a blast. Coffee wise I can clearly say that Kansas City impressed me the most. Hope you enjoyed reading my blog … I will post a whole separate blog on Seattle so check back soon!