Great Coffee Susan

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

Tag: Intelligentsia

Gelato & Coffee

Yes, I did put “coffee” and “gelato” together in the title of this post.  If you cringed when you saw this, I completely understand.  Usually such places offering ice cream and coffee, frozen yogurt and coffee, cupcakes and coffee, XYZ and coffee don’t offer really good coffee and really good ice cream, really good frozen yogurt or really good XYZ.  Well, I am so excited to tell you I found a place that offers luxuriously delicious gelato AND amazing coffee.  It’s Dolcezza – a local treasure!

First the gelato.  The flavors are so creative and decadent.  My favorite is Valrhona Chocolate Amargo.  Other flavors are pretty good too:  Salted Caramel, Thai Coconut Curry.  You can check out all of Dolcezza’s flavors by selecting “stores” and then one of the three locations.

My husband and I knew about Dolcezza’s gelato shortly after we moved to D.C.  However, we didn’t realize this place serves great coffee until we actually looked for an alternative to Quartermaine’s.  (Dolcezza is just a block away from Quartermaine’s.)  I admit to being selfish and enjoying the fact that Quartermaine’s is always packed with folks but Dolcezza isn’t.  We rarely have to wait long for our coffees and lattes.  (Sometimes, though, we have to wait a little because the gelato is quite popular.)

Not everyone who works behind Dolcezza’s counters can make coffee and espresso drinks.  Before one can take on this duty, an employee has to go through extensive training.  Only after s/he passes a test which Dolcezza’s owners administer, themselves, can an employee take on the title, barista.

Dolcezza serves different roasters.  Right now its espresso beans are from PT’s Coffee Roasting.  For coffee it serves Madcap, Intelligentsia, Ritual & Counter Culture.  The Pour Over is the method of choice.

I’ve been to only two of the three Dolcezza locations so far.  I visit its Bethesda shop at least once a week.  It has more of an ice cream parlor feel. Lots of families stop by for a scoop of gelato or sweet pastry. And yes a handful of enlightened Bethesda residents visit for a cup of divine coffee or cappuccino.  The baristas are highly professional and pretty friendly.

Over the past week I checked out the Dupont Circle store which has more of a cafe atmosphere.  In fact the gelato is in the back; positioned almost as an afterthought.  A communal table is the centerpiece of the store.  The baristas here are also friendly but they seem to embody a hipster vibe which is appropriate for this location.  Based on two visits to this location I’ll go ahead and say it attracts a more diverse crowd (including tourists, diplomats, lobbyists, students and a couple of retirees) which shouldn’t be a surprise given its in the city.  (Bethesda is a suburban town.)  My absolute favorite thing about the Dupont Circle shop is it’s right next door to a Starbucks.  I asked one of the employees about this.  Without hesitation and in a very professional manner she said Starbucks really isn’t competition for them. Actually Starbucks helps Dolcezza.  The familiar big, green awning attracts people who are looking for coffee, but once they walk cross the street and approach Starbucks they see Dolcezza.  What a smart co-location strategy!

I realize telling you about Dolcezza is risky for me and my husband.  We may find ourselves having to wait a bit longer for our drinks as more people stop by for amazing coffee and espresso.  Sharing this little secret can be my good deed for the day.

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A Grown Up Place for Good Coffee

Last week I visited some dear friends in northern California. After landing at the San Francisco airport I drove up to the Sacramento area and then made my way down to Berkeley/El Cerrito, San Francisco and Palo Alto/Mountain View. Of course I enjoyed really good coffee along the way. I’m inspired by the notion that places such as Temple Coffee & Tea in Sacramento not only serve great coffee but also create a mature, grown up atmosphere.

As I walked into Temple Coffee & Tea, I immediately noticed the wood furniture and industrial design. The cafe is spacious and uncluttered. The floor is concrete and the tables are long giving a communal atmosphere. Green plants appear to be strategically placed throughout the store. I didn’t feel granola crunchy at all. If anything I felt like I was in a very forward thinking, cool yet extremely professional design studio – at the very least what this studio would have as a reception area. The only people around were professionals holding meetings or taking a break from the office.

The barista brought the coffee to me at the table I settled into. I had the Ethiopia – Amaro Dernaye as a pour over which was divine. Temple uses floral, lemon, soft with clean finish as its description. I also picked up some pistachio and definitely experienced the clean ending. It’s not an overwhelming bean but definitely not disappointing either.

I also indulged in a raspberry lemon scone. Temple uses Old Soul Company and one other baker for its baked goods. I love how coffee shops are starting to care about the baked goods they serve. The food is no longer seen as just an obligatory object full of flour and butter. The scone was delicious.

Thanks to roasters such as Temple, Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, I think we can say good-bye to major attitude, granola, crunchy college days. We’re grown ups now.

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