Monday, December 26, 2005

Temple Fine Coffee & Tea

Location: 1014 10th St., Sacramento

Reviewed: December 26, 2005

Espresso: Temple is a wholesale customer of the highly acclaimed Barefoot Coffee Roasters, and on this particular day were serving their Element 114 blend. My double shot was poured as a ristretto and displayed the elements that this blend is known for: heavy body, long aftertaste, lots of chocolate flavor in the cup. The barista appeared to be in training, but did everything right under the watchful eye of his trainor. My one quibble is that they provide table service, which means that the crema will dissipate somewhat by the time it gets to you. That was not much of an issue here, as the crema was thick and dark anyway.

Atmosphere: Temple is a long narrow spot with a high ceiling, which is vaulted over half the store. The bar is all the way in the back, and walking all the way back to place your order almost feels like an event of some major significance. There is a statue of the Buddha in an alcove on one of the side walls near the back. Brick walls are a nice touch. Of particular note is that the only standard cafe tables that Temple utilizes are one or two placed outside. There are other tables inside, but they are slightly larger and square in shape; they are aranged in a row along one side of the store with built-in cushioned benches on the wall. The rest of the seating consits of lounge-style couches.

Verdict: Excellent espresso and a very cool location. The Buddha must surely be smiling at these people. Worth a visit!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Willow Glen Coffee Roasting Co.

Location: 1383 Lincoln Ave., San Jose

Reviewed: December 19, 2005

Espresso: My single was pulled very long, being ~2.5 oz. It had a fairly thick, albeit hazlenut-colored, pale crema which dissipated fairly rapidly. It was medium-bodied and fairly bright. Bitterness was the primary taste sensation in the cup, although there was some dark spice lurking in there as well. It is of note that the shot was on the hot side (indicating a possibly idle machine) and that the barista ground about half the shot while dosing. There is, then, a possibility of a better shot at a time when the shop and machine are busy.

Atmosphere: WG Coffee is located in two storefronts linked by a doorway near the front of the shop. There is an eclectic variation of local art on the walls and a black & white checkered floor (which reminded me of an ice cream parlor). Live jazz and blues are common on weekends.

Verdict: With the possibility of a slightly better shot when busy, I'd probably stop in on a weekend evening for the live music and a cappuccino.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Cafe Aragon

Location: 856 N. 13th St., San Jose

Reviewed: December 11, 2005

Espresso: Aragon is a wholesale customer of Barefoot Coffee Roasters and uses their Element 114 blend. At Aragon, my shot was pulled longer than I'm used to (a single reached nearly 2oz.). As a result of this, the crema was paler than it should have been, and the heavy body for which this blend is known was somewhat reduced. Nonetheless, the shot was not bitter. The barista did things right, preheating the cup, pouring directly into it, and grinding the shot individually. The single shot shouldn't have been served in a cappuccino-sized cup, however.

Atmosphere: Aragon is a very large shop, but other than a nice tile floor, it made little impression on me. Parking is difficult on the street, and it took me a little while to realize that there is a lot behind the shop.

Verdict: Worth a stop if you're in the North SJ area; alternately, if you like lungos, this could be your place.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

St. James Coffee Co.

Location: 1683 Branham Ln., San Jose

Reviewed: December 4, 2005

Espresso: My "single" was served in a nearly full cup of ~2-2.5oz. The crema was pale and thin. The cup was thin-bodied and slightly bitter. Beyond that, the taste was somewhat intriguing: there was a distinct anise flavor sitting on top of a caramelly base. It is interesting to note here that the barista actually did most things correctly, preheating the cup (and the shot pitchers, which were unfortunately used) and tamping firmly (with an Espro click tamp, the first I've ever seen). I didn't notice if the shot was actually ground to order, but I did take note that the pull took about the right length of time.

Atmosphere: St. James is a small shop located at the corner of a strip mall. There are but a few tables and two armchairs. Free wifi is offered, and the yellow/orange coloring scheme makes the place feel warm and inviting, particularly on a cold December day.

Verdict: An interesting flavor profile, and perhaps a better barista could eliminate some of the issues with the shot. If that were to occur, it would be a great place to sit and study or read for pleasure.