Saturday, March 25, 2006


Location: 1723 Mission St., Santa Cruz

There is another location (not reviewed) at 3701 Portola Dr.

Reviewed: March 25, 2006

Espresso: My double shot was pulled as a lungo around 3oz. in volume. It was light-bodied and had a thick layer of medium-brown crema that dissipated quite rapidly. The predominant taste was a spicy bittersweet note. The shot was not ground to order, although I was fortunate enough to have the grinder in operation immediately before I ordered my shot.

Atmosphere: Coffeetopia is a small shop with very limited seating. There are a few tables, and an integrated couch into one corner of the room. Free wifi and wooden floors make this a fairly typical location.

Verdict: Coffee is only ok, and location is nothing special. Still, possibly the best on Santa Cruz's westside.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Red Rock Coffee Co.

Location: 201 Castro St., Mountain View

Reviewed: March 21, 2006

Espresso: My single was served at the proper ~1oz. volume. The shot was tamped fairly hard by the barista and brewed directly into the cup, although it was not ground to order. The crema was on the thick side, but it was a medium to pale brown color. There wasn't a lot of flavour to the shot (probably because the grounds were sitting in the doser getting stale), but what I could discern was an intriguing cup: a base of butterscotch with some hints of cinnamon and a little licorice sitting on top. However, it left a bitter aftertaste.

Atmosphere: Red Rock is a small narrow layout, despite being in the corner of a building. There are a suprising number of tables in the area, which means that they are close together. It's bright and open, thanks to a high ceiling and glassed-in walls.

Verdict: Nice place and what would probably have been a good shot if it had been ground to order.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cool Beans Coffee

Location: 171 Branham Ln., San Jose

Reviewed: March 11, 2006

Espresso: Cool Beans is a wholesale customer of Barefoot Coffee Roasters. Although it was not specifically stated, I highly suspect that they were pouring the Sweetness blend this particular day. The shot (I asked for a single, though I suspect I was given a double) was a lungo of ~2.75oz. The crema was thin and dissipated rapidly; it was medium to pale in color. The shot was suprisingly not bitter, being almost sweet and having a somewhat berry-like flavour.

Atmosphere: Cool Beans is located in a busy strip mall; it is a small, narrow location. The walls are painted a shade of burnt yellow with some reddish highlights in places. Notably, there are no standard cafe tables and chairs; instead, the shop features large (and comfortable) armchairs with various styles of endtables. There is also a built-in cushioned bench-seat along one wall.

Verdict: Espresso was suprisingly ok, although it could certainly have been better, and a very cool location.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Flying Goat Coffee

Location: 10 4th St., Santa Rosa

There are multiple other locations in Healdsburg (not reviewed).

Reviewed: March 5, 2006

Espresso: My double shot was pulled somewhat as a lungo, stretching probably to ~2.75oz. The crema was moderately thick, although pale and it dissipated rapidly. The length of the shot may have been due to the barista not paying attention during the pull. The shot had some dark-fruit tones, but they were overwhelmed by a very bitter aftertaste.

Atmosphere: FG is a strange location, consisting of multiple rooms (and a staircase to somewhere); the interior made me think that it perhaps used to be a residence, but the exterior of the building gave no such indications. The walls were painted a pale green color, and the chairs were orange, which caused a bad clash of colors and was not at all pleasant.

Verdict: Perhaps a better barista could have produced a pleasant shot, but the place is just weird. Try the Healdsburg locations.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Caffe Del Doge

Location: 419 University Ave., Palo Alto

There are multiple other locations in Venice, Tokyo, Budapest, and Buenos Aires (not reviewed)

Reviewed: March 2, 2006

Espresso: Del Doge has multiple different espresso blends/origins available. I was specifically asked which I wanted. The barista provided simple descriptions that weren't particularly helpful or detailed. I decided to go with the Doge Nero blend. Nero has a full-bodied, creamy mouthfeel; there is a bittersweet, smoky flavour with hints of chocolate. The crema was medium in tone, although flecked with red, but there was a dot of white, indicating overextraction at the very end of the pour. The shot was ground to order, but I neglected to note whether the barista tamped. It was served in a very tall, narrow cup and was extremely hot.

Atmosphere: Del Doge is a rather small shop and seating is quite limited. Be prepared not to sit down. The layout is long and narrow, and the seating is all up front, adding to the crowded feel. The walls and ceiling are painted with warm colors (oranges and yellows), such that it feels homey and inviting, assuming one can get a seat.

Verdict: The espresso was not bad at all, but it could/should have been better. It's a nice enough place and worth a stop if you're in Palo Alto.