Showing posts with label coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coffee. Show all posts

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Coco Cafe: Coconut Water and Coffee? Yes!

Two hyped-up beverages meet in this carton package: Coffee and Coconut water!
It's true, Coco Cafe is a combination of coconut water - believed to be a source of plenty electrolytes and subsequently good for hydration (and hangovers) - and cafe latte which, for its virtues and despite its vices most of us cannot live without. As their packaging says: "Hydrate. Caffeinate."

I first saw this at a gym in Venice and was intrigued but didn't make the jump. Then, coincidentally, they sent me a case to review. OK, on to the drink. As you can see, it looks pretty much like a Starbucks bottled frappuccino.

Does it taste weird, you ask? Actually, no! I found that it tastes predominantly like cafe latte (that's not too sweet). The taste of coconut water subtly comes out at the end. I liked the coconut water aftertaste, but if you're still worried about the combo, don't. It's just like a cafe latte, but it's better for you and it's made using fair trade coffee.

Coco Cafe is now available at the SoCal Whole Foods markets and Vicente Foods, among others (and apparently certain gyms). You can also buy it online.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Munching Around Santa Monica with Six Taste Tours

What better way to explore one area's food than a walking tour with an expert, tasting 4-5 places all in one go? Six Taste Tours, started by two USC alums, aim to do just that with their tours in various regions in LA, including Thai Town, Little Tokyo, Arcadia, and more. Each area's tour is guided by an expert in that particular area/cuisine. I was invited to go on the Santa Monica tour recently with their guide, Therese.

Godmother Sandwich
Godmother sandwich, with on ocean view.
I don't want to spoil all the fun of the tour for you, so I will just go through some of the things we ate and leave you with some surprises if you ever take the tour!

They said they consider the Santa Monica tour to be their international tour, and you will see why. Our first stop was Rockenwagner Bakery.
Rockenwagner Bakery
12835 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 578-8171
Röckenwagner Bakery on Urbanspoon

Our guide, Therese

PhotobucketOther than the baked goods, Therese told us that Rockenwagner has a great Austrian coffee. We tasted some and it was indeed pretty smooth.

Apparently Hans Rockenwagner and his pastry chef invented the pretzel croissant by dipping a croissant in caustic acid, so of course we had to try some! Because of the pretzel-like crust, the croissant doesn't leave as much of a buttery mess on your fingers. 
Pretzel Croissant

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Scoops Westside is in Business (Congrats!)

Fellow blogger Mattatouille's project, Scoops Westside, is finally in business! The second extension of the famed Scoops ice cream opened its doors on December 1st in a little strip mall in Palms, just down the street from Chego!, serving Tai's beloved ice cream along with Intelligentsia coffee and tea.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Four Barrel Coffee, SF: The Cappuccino and Dynamo Donut Routine

When there's great coffee 4 blocks away from a BART stop, you STOP.
When the free UCSF shuttle goes from campus to that BART stop, well .. you take an extended coffee break every day around 4 and get a cappuccino and maybe one of the Dynamo donuts they also happen to be selling there.
Ever since Sam Kim from LAist told me about this place, that's pretty much what I've been doing ...

Four Barrel was started by the co-founder and co-owner of Ritual Coffee, Jeremy Tooker.
I had a hard time deciding between the free wi-fi at Ritual (there's no wi-fi at Four Barrel) or the dynamo donuts at Four Barrel, but Four Barrel's proximity to the 16th/Mission BART stop won after all.

The seats and tables are arranged like desks and you can see people working on their laptops but don't be fooled, like I said, no wi-fi, so just get your coffee and enjoy it.
Freshly roasted beans are always available for purchase, of course, from Sumatra beans to Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Burundi.
A strong and dark cappuccino that's smooth and without the bitterness.

The apricot cardamom donut from Dynamo was moist and held the fruit inside. Nicely spiced and the glaze wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. I was very happy with this.
The passionfruit donut was covered in chocolate chunks. A nice tartness and passionfruit flavor here. My friend passed on my invite to get donuts at Four Barrel but I brought her this anyway and she changed her mind and went to get her hubby a dozen Dynamo donuts the week after.

(On another note, the chocolate spice one in the first picture didn't fare as well with me. It had nice flavors but the donut itself wasn't as moist as these other two).

I'm not enough of a coffee connoisseur to tell you if the coffee here is better Intelligentsia, Ritual, or Blue Bottle (well I do think it's better than Blue Bottle ... ). All I know is that the coffee here is darn good and they sell Dynamo donuts. 'Nuff for me.

Four Barrel Coffee
375 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-0800
Four Barrel Coffee on Urbanspoon

Dynamo Donuts
2760 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 920-1978
Dynamo Donuts & Coffee on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 5, 2009

Smell that Coffee. Intelligentsia Roasting Works Tour

The roaster's and barista's job is to bring the natural flavors of the coffee beans to the customers, without messing up the steps in between. This was (rephrased per my memory) what Nick Griffith from Intelligentsia (also recent Western Regional Barista Champion) told us during our tour of their roasting facility in Glassell Park.

Thanks to blogger friend Mattatouille, I was able to tag along on this tour with other foodbloggers Choisauce, Diglounge, LA&OC Foodie, and Teenage Glutster. If Los Angeles is having any sort of 'coffee movement', Intelligentsia is undoubtedly in the forefront. If it isn't, Intelligentsia is definitely working hard to change that.

The roasting facility is pretty noticeable with the Intelligentsia logo painted on the wall and their trucks parked outside.
Naturally our initial focus is drawn to their roaster - a beautiful vintage (from the mid-century) contraption attached to a giant vacuum (to suck out nails or whatever else that might've accidentally made their way into your beans).
Even though it's a vintage, it's been outfitted with modern technology to fit their needs here at Intelligentsia. It can roast up to 40 kg of coffee.
The roasting machine, along with many other things there, is decorated with the Intelligentsia logo.

Right near the roasters were the green coffee beans that Intelligentsia uses for its Black Cat Espresso blend, which now has become a standard for espressos at many restaurants and establishments.
The Black Cat blend is not a fixed blend of beans - they are modified depending on what high quality ingredients are available (since all produce is seasonal!) at the time to ensure high standards.

We also got a sneak peek at the individual barista's "station" which will be operational at the new Intelligentsia Venice on Abbott Kinney.
The idea behind these stations are individualized attention for each customer, and Nick Griffith likened it to choosing your hair stylist when you go get a hair cut. The stations have adjustable height to accommodate each barista. I'm definitely excited about checking this out when they open - I just hope this doesn't make the wait even longer :P

The tour ended in their training room a.k.a the lab, which is equipped with a La Marzocco espresso machine from the 1970's. La Marzocco has been producing handmade espresso machines since 1927, and while as of late there are quality competition entering the market, this Florence-made machines have pretty much been regarded as the top-of-the-line (at a price, unfortunately. Their home machine, the GS3, runs around $7500 ... ).
Trainees and also the baristas who are preparing for regional/national competition practice here. This Marzocco machine has a programmable water temperature to ensure proper brewing of different types of coffee blend - how fancy! I wish I can afford one (and know how to use it properly).

At the very end we huddled around a white board where they have left a graph of roasting temperature - you have to modulate the temperature properly so as not to bring out the best flavors. The conversation at this point became quite scientific (starch break-down, acid, caramelization, etc). We'll leave it to the experts here at Intelligentsia to do the proper roasting and brewing :)

I'm pretty much a coffee amateur but this tour was very interesting and educational. I can see why Intelligentsia has the reputation that it does. Thank you Nick Griffith for taking the time to show us around!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

SFO: Blue Bottle from the Non-Avid-Coffee-Drinker POV

I don't really drink coffee.
But I still wanted to know what all the rave surrounding Blue Bottle Coffee is all about, so since I had time to wait around for a friend after landing in SFO last time, I took the BART down to Blue Bottle.

I had a hard time finding it since Mint is this tiny street that leads into a plaza and furthermore the entrance is not actually even on Mint (just go around the corner!)

The cafe is small, with a big rectangular table in the middle where people can sit on stools and enjoy their drinks (and no, there's no wi-fi).
You can see their fancy machineries, chemex filters etc through a glass divider.

Again, I'm not really a coffee drinker, so I ordered the mocha - made with Recchiuti chocolate.
Just before this I finally tried out LaMill's (LA Mill? which is it?) mocha, made with Valrhona chocolate!
Both are very good. I prefer the richer taste of the Valrhona, but coffee-wise? I can distinguish between bad coffee and good coffee, but not the variations of good coffee, so ...

I was merely enjoying time to myself on a cold day, and can't tell you much about their coffee!
Their pastry selection is limited and pricey. When I was there the wait was not too bad until this group of coffee businessmen from overseas came and placed a giant order!
Their staff is very friendly and helpful. Overall it was a great experience!

Oh I did finally take my laptop out into the plaza - where they have free wi-fi :)

Blue Bottle Cafe

66 Mint St.
San Francisco, CA‎
(415) 495-3394‎

Blue Bottle Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Brunch and Mochas at LA Mill

After hearing so much about LA Mill, I finally made an excuse to have brunch there. I was going to the German Beer Tasting at Loft218 that afternoon and LA Mill was only 6 miles away, so I convinced rumdood (pretty easily, I think) that this was the best bet for lunch.

I'm not a coffee connoisseur and do not even normally drink coffee, so my main attraction to LA Mill is the Cimarusti-designed menu. However, I thought I would order some sort of coffee based drink anyway and when I saw "Valrhona Mocha" on the menu, my choice was easily made. Put Valrhona in front of anything and I'll probably order it ...
Not a coffee connoisseur but I can say I did enjoy this cup of mocha. Not sweet, but smooth and very enjoyable. Not bitter and doesn't leave a bad lingering aftertaste either.

Eggs being my staple brunch food, I had to skip the paninis for today and went for the Soft Scramble with Dungeness Crab:
The eggs scramble preparation was absolutely perfect for me. Very soft and moist. The sprinklings of green onions gave great pizzazz to the flavor of the dish as a whole. The dungeness crab was nice and fresh although I would've liked a little more :)
The dish itself is relatively small. A nice, light breakfast. Which is probably good for me for a change, but at $14 was not entirely a bargain.

There was nothing particularly interesting on the dessert menu that day. Having had an enjoyable lunch, I definitely want to go back for dinner AND dessert on another day.

LA Mill Coffee Boutique
1636 Silver Lake Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Ph. 323.663.4441

La Mill on Urbanspoon

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