Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bellano Coffee

Location: 3985 Steven's Creek Blvd., Santa Clara

Reviewed: January 23, 2007

Espresso: Bellano serves Zoka's famed Paladino and pour it short. My double (doubles only) was ~1.75oz. The barista went through the paces slowly and methodically: ground, tamped, flushed grouphead, poured directly into preheated ceramic cup. I noticed that she was using a naked portafilter, which may have been behind the somewhat bubbly crema. Otherwise, the crema was good: dark and thick, it persisted throughout the cup. The shot was heavy-bodied and tasted of nut and caramel, tending toward dark chocolate in the aftertaste.

Atmosphere: Bellano is a smallish yet open-feeling shop in a small stripmall. Fairly typical, it contains the standard cafe tables and chairs and a couple of armchairs. They really need a couch. Free wi-fi.

Verdict: Good: a very serious contender.

Monday, January 22, 2007

eMocha Cafe

Location: 231 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose

Reviewed: January 22, 2007

Espresso: eMocha is a wholesale customer of Blue Bottle. All espressos are served as double ristretto, according to a sign on the counter. My shot was ~1.75oz., and so the claim is essentially true. The shot had lots of crema, which persisted throughout the cup. The crema was on the medium-pale side, although it was flecked with darker spots. The shot primarily had a smoky, bittersweet butterscotch flavour. It was however, very slightly on the sour side; it also seemed to lack a certain intensity that I've come to expect (although my experience with Blue Bottle coffees is admittedly somewhat limited). They've only been open for three months and freely admit to still being in the teething stage.

Atmosphere: eMocha is a very small shop, which effectively means it's pretty much a take-out only location. There are two tables inside and a couple more on the sidewalk.

Verdict: Not bad at all.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Mixology Monday XI

Most of my readers are probably unaware of Mixology Monday; it's a monthly drink recipe event (generally based around alcohol), but as the theme this month is "Winter Warmers", I thought a coffee-based beverage entry would be appropriate.

What I have here would also be appropriate as a barista-competition style signature drink.

Caffe Afal:

(per serving)
2 cloves
2 allspice pods
1oz. spiced cider (you could substitute Calvados for an alcoholic variant)
and, of course, espresso
cinnamon stick for garnish

In the bottom of a preheated steaming pitcher, muddle the cloves and allspice with a small bit of honey. Add cider or Calvados. Heat with steam wand (you could also use a microwave if you must, but then you'd have to do the muddling directly in the cup). Pour into preheated cordial glass or espresso cup and stir briskly. Pour espresso shot directly into glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

I prefer a darker, heavier espresso for this drink. Think Black Cat or Element 114.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Some trips & repeat visits

In the last few weeks, I've vistited a few of my previous-but-distant favourite places: Modesto's Coffee Creek, Sacramento's Temple, and Walnut Creek's Pacific Bay. I'm happy to report that, after a number of drinks at each place, they all are still pouring great stuff; this makes me happy.