Location: 2717 Coffee Road, Modesto
Reviewed: August 28, 2005
Espresso: Plantation’s supplier has just developed a new espresso blend in the last few months. The roast is just a little darker than a traditional Northern Italian blend. It’s balanced, mellow, and neither bitter nor sweet with very low acidity and medium to heavy body; the finish is slightly chocolate. The crema was a medium to dark brown, but displayed no reddish hint.
I had noticed some pictures of latte art (including a very impressive double) on the wall, and inquired about it, turns out that the barista who pulled my shot was the artist; his name is Chris, and he’s a very passionate guy when it comes to coffee. He was using a triple basket to pull “doubles” (i.e. triple ristretti). There was a naked portafilter on the machine, and I asked specifically if he could use it for my shot. Since the new espresso blend is nearly in the diametrically opposed direction from the lighter-bodied, sweeter blends that perform better in the naked portafilter, this may not have been the best idea (but I was just so excited to see it there). The beans were approximately six days out of the roaster. The shot was served in a fairly wide, but not very tall cup. I have noticed that this configuration can lead to early crema dissipation, but nothing of the sort occurred in this case.
Atmosphere: Plantation has a light and open feel thanks to two entire walls of the shop being glass (they are on the corner of their building); the high ceiling and the lightly colored walls along the other two sides aid this effect. Tables are at two different heights, but the higher variety are positioned in a narrow corridor along the longer windowed wall, and separated from the rest of the café by the centrally located peninsular bar which protrudes from the kitchen. There are also barstools along the other side of the bar, so you can sit there and watch the baristi work if you feel so inclined. Many of the tables have either chessboards or polar projection maps on their surface. There is also outdoor seating, which is located on either side of the shop, and, fortunately, ample shade is provided thanks to overhangs on the building.
They have a few beers on tap, a wine list, and a variety of food items. A brunch is served on Sundays, which seemed to be quite a draw this particular day. As a result, the café was fairly noisy, but I was able to seclude myself somewhat from this noise and sit with my book for an hour or so. I did have to tune out the widescreen television, which seems to be a recent addition, but as the volume was not loud at all, this provided no real difficulty.
Verdict: Good coffee and a great place to hang out. It is a little small, and the non-central location might be a drawback.