Great Coffee Susan

Appreciating Great Coffee or Helping Fellow Coffee Lovers Keep Their Standards High

Month: January, 2012

National Geographic: “How Coffee Changed America”

Here’s a wonderful illustration of the history of coffee in America.

Here’s the article related to the illustration.

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An NPR story: “Drink Coffee? Off with Your Head!”

A delightful read!  You can read the story here.

“LA”MILL Mornings!

A couple of dear friends of mine gave me a pound of Panama Birdsong Honey from LAMILL Coffee for my birthday.  (Yes, I recently had a birthday.  No, I won’t disclose the date or my age.)  I love this gift for several reasons:

  1. LAMILL is based in Los Angeles.  These friends, who still reside in LA, know how much I miss LA.  (My husband and I lived in Santa Monica until about 18 months ago.)  In the mornings when I have a cup of this coffee I feel as though I’m enjoying a little bit of LA again.
  2. LAMILL will always be special to me because in 2008 I was allowed to tour its roasting facility.  (This was my very first facility tour.)  John, who gave me the tour and was the Director of Coffee at the time, was generous with his time and knowledge.
  3. The last time (which was before I moved away) I visited LAMILL’s Boutique, I found it doing an amazing job pairing coffee with food.  If you find yourself in LA, make your way to Silverlake to experience this for yourself.
  4. LAMILL strives to incorporate beautiful design into everything it does.  Again, visit its Silverlake boutique.  If you can’t make your way to LA soon, check out some of the photos here.
  5. The Panama Birdsong Honey (which is a Limited Lot) is a welcoming bean.  It has a light body roast so I’m not jerked awake but more like I’m being gently nudged to open my eyes.  I taste a hint of citrus, a light combination of brown sugar and honey with a woody undertone. The coffee leaves a smooth yet satisfying aftertaste.  What a delightful way to begin my workday!

To my friends who are responsible for my numerous wonderful LAMILL mornings, thank you!

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Coffee Talk

This past Monday on KQED, The Forum’s Scott Shafer spent 52 minutes discussing coffee with the owners of Blue Bottle Coffee, Ritual Coffee Roasters & Four Barrel Coffee. It’s worth checking out!

Quartermaine Coffee Roasters – So Hard to Like

I have a like-dislike relationship with Quartermaine Coffee Roasters.  Quartermaine and I go way back to my American University undergraduate days when I worked at Davenport Coffee Lounge, the on-campus coffee shop.  (Side note: Davenport  is where I began to learn about great coffee.  Another side note: Davenport has changed a lot since my college days.  Final side note: At some point I’ll write more about Davenport.)  Quartermaine roasts great beans.  I remember looking forward to receiving a new batch at Davenport every week.  And I love how it roasts locally in Rockville, MD.

When I moved back to the Washington, D.C. area a year and a half ago, I was so excited to learn that a Quartermaine coffee shop is near my new home.  Unfortunately this fact damaged my relationship with the roaster.  (I visited the coffee shop a few times before deciding to find another place for good coffee.)  The service there is horrendous.  The folks behind the counter don’t know how to communicate with its customers when it comes to paying for an order or even serving a drink.   And learning about their beans is like pulling teeth.  I guess obtaining assistance for a bean purchase is a lot to ask of a coffee roaster.  Ok, ok, I know working at a coffee shop may not be living the dream for lots of people.  I’m sure several of these folks would rather be elsewhere.  I get that.  I get that many of these baristas work there to pay rent, buy food, support their writing — basically help fund their real dream.  That’s fine.  My issue is this poor customer service damages the Quartermaine brand.  I still like Quartermaine coffee but I don’t consume it a lot because I don’t want to deal with poor service nor encourage it by giving this place anymore of my business.

Well I was delighted to learn that Addie’s in Rockville serves Quartemaine coffee.  (Interestingly it serves Illy espresso though.)  Last week my husband and I went there for first time.  First of all, Addie’s is a great find.  We both really enjoyed our lunches.  (It’s part of the Black Restaurant Group.  I’m a fan of one of the Group’s other venues, Black’s Bar & Kitchen.)

While we both agreed ahead of time to not order dessert, we ended up buckling.   We shared the Chocolate Toffee Pecan Cake, and I ordered a cup of Quartermaine decaf coffee.  The dessert did not disappoint – completely worth the extra calories!  However the coffee did.  It tasted stale, bitter and like it’s been sitting on the burner for a long time.  Sigh.

What a shame.  Quartermaine roasts great coffee.  I wish I didn’t experience such disappointment when trying to enjoy it.

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