Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This is What I Drink: 64
Well, I presented ya'll with some of the artificial offerings a few days ago, and they're fine for what they are, but let's get down to the real stuff. To me, there's nothing better than walking into the local coffee joint in a city and getting a great cup of coffee. Since this was a summer tour, you'll be seeing mostly iced varieties. There are some exceptions with those chilly Pacific Northwest cities (brrrrrr!), but otherwise it's icy cool. This should be a long one, so let's get to the goods!
Olympia Roaster's Iced Americano + Latte
You couldn't help but love this little shack by the road. From my few experiences out West, this style of coffee shack is pretty common, and why not? They're small and most likely cost effective. Just an espresso machine, some freindly baristas, and some good benches outside and you're set. The Seattle area is reknowned for their coffee, and the attitude of this place lived up to it. They were readily prepared to make a 4-shot Americano for a bunch of caffeine needy dudes and they did it without hesistating. The first day I went for the iced Americano which was very good. It definitely had a nice bitter flavor and served properly in a corn cup. It was the perfect flavor and strength to fuel a trip around the lovely city of Olympia, Washington. I should note that the price was a little above $3, which is a bit pricey, but I understand since it's a quad shot. The next day I went in for a latte. A latte is something I only order on occasion usually because of the price. With three shots, this sucker will run you something north of $3.50, but that's around what you expect. You'll certainly notice the beautiful "latte art" that I presume is an evergreen, very common in the region. I can't say I've ever had a bad latte, but this one was especially good. It takes a certain amount of skill to make it, and it was a very good start to a cool 50 degree morning.
Batdorf and Bronson Latte - Olympia
So I had this latte just a couple of hours after the previous latte. We had just walked around the suprisingly big downtown of Olympia for a while and were looking for a place just to relax (and possibly use the restroom, believe me, it's rough on tour) for a few minutes. We were definitely surprised to see that the local Starbuck's was hopping. You'd think that with all of the other quality coffee options that nobody would go into the Starbuck's, but I'm not sure of the dynamic here. Anyway, I ordered up a smaller 10 oz. latte because I felt adquately caffein'd. You'll see that this time I got a really nice <3>
Floyd's - Portland, Oregon
This was a must stop. I was feeling the early afternoon tiredness when a friend we were staying with recommended Floyd's which was close by. Everything was great except for the price. A medium standard brewed iced coffee cost a hefty $3 while the largest at 20 oz was $3.50. Personally, this is just enough for me to be bummed out enough about a coffee place. There's not enough specially done to ice a coffee that makes this kind of price acceptable. It was fine for the coffee, but when your push your price a little too far, you're going to push the people away, and that's how I felt here. Nice shop, but not for the everyman.
Vinacafe - Los Angeles (kinda)
Here is another bonus given to us by a fan. When I see instant coffee, my first instinct is definitely "bad news." Instant coffee normally equals the least common denominator to me. Surprisingly, this was not the output of this particular brand. Vinacafe uses a typically "Viatnamese" blend which is very sweet. They get this right because it is very drinkable. On the package they say it's a "three in one" because they include creamer, sugar, and coffee. Of course it's true because they pump some sugar and "artificial creamer" into it, and I'll say that it tastes great, but really, what are you drinking? If we were in a good spot to snag a drinkable coffee I would go there, but I'll give this stuff credit. It may have been the first time I've ever gone for seconds for an instant coffee and that's saying something. But in reality, a good instant coffee is like a fantastic McCafe (you'll see later).
McCafe - Utah (just outside Salt Lake City)
There aren't many positive reviews here. Actually, they had a good restroom. They had a big screen TV with ESPN to watch while taking a whiz. Otherwise, they didn't take my request. I had heard from my brother that it was pretty easy to order a BLACK iced coffee with no sweetener. I specifically asked for this from my clerk. She even responded "no sugar?" I said, "yes." What did I get? A super vanilla-ey ultra-sweetened disaster. I drank it because I felt there was some positive caffeine hidden somewhere there, but otherwise I felt defeated. I was even more defeated when my friend in the band discovered a hometown coffee shop within the city. Oh well. I've given McD enough shots. No more. This is the end of the line. Peace out, Ronald.
Progress Coffee - Austin, Texas
It was super hot down in Texas, something like 105 degrees. There's nothing better than an iced coffee to counteract that heat. This place was incredibly friendly and there were a lot of cool looking people on their laptops. I can't totally recall the price for a large iced coffee here, but I think it was pretty standard for the size. Something like $2.50. I forget because I also bought a bagel with it, so it's all jumbled in my brain. I should take better notes. Oh well. Anyway, they serve this iced coffee in a biodegradable corn cup which always makes me feel better. There's nothing particular memorable about this coffee, but it was pretty good and I would return to this establishment again.
Java Joe's - Des Moines, Iowa
This was at least my third stop in at Java Joe's in my life. We've played the venue right next to it twice. This time we happened to stay at a hotel nearby so we decided to pop into town to see JJ again. This is a gigantic coffee shop. I'm also pretty sure that more people were in the coffee shop than at our shows both times we've played there. Anyway, there's a reason for that because it's a very nice shop. They had rare sizes for their iced coffees (16/24/32). I wasn't quite feeling bold enough to go for the large with a long car ride coming up, so I stuck with the 24 ounce (also got an egg sandwich, yo.) The coffee was pretty good, but I think the environment of the place really makes it. It's probably the one spot I would definitely recommend in Des Moines because it's kind of a weird town otherwise.
Javaroo - Baltimore, Maryland
Chronologically, this was the final iced coffee for me on the tour. We had some time to wander around in B-more and we were searching for some coffee and we came accross this place. How can you turn down animal-related coffee? They had something like a "lion latte" as well, but I stuck with an iced coffee. This place also sold fudge, and the very nice young lady behind the counter gave us free fudge! This has nothing to do with how the coffee tasted, but free fudge usually makes you feel better! The coffee was okay, but again, it was a friendly place and I had a good experience. I think a large iced coffee was $2.25 or so, fairly reasonable. The fudge was $0.00, extremely reasonable.
Opening Bell Coffee - Dallas, TX
For some reason videos show up after pictures, so this one is out of order, but whatevs. I remember this place had a very sarcastic clerk. I kind of thought he was funny, but some other patrons seemed a bit weirded out by him. Anyway, I remember really needing a coffee, and despite it being after my 4 PM caffeine cutout, I went for it anyway. I remember this coffee being pretty tasty. The price was in the familiar range as well. I wish I had more to say about it, but it was a pretty nice place. It seemed like the only nice place in a strange neighborhood.
Coffees NOT PICTURED
Well, due to some technology fails on my part, a couple of the iced coffees I had didn't get transferred over to the computer somehow and now are lost in the air somewhere. I'd like to mention them though.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
I can't remember the name of this place, but it was nice. We had a bit of a scare here when we asked for iced coffee and we saw the clerk pour hot coffee into a cup of ice. Luckily for us, this place uses coffee cubes, so basically it just melted coffee into more coffee. Otherwise it would have been a lukewarm mess. I think this is the first time I've ever been served coffee cubes and I loved it! It just tasted really great as the coffee cubes melted. This may have been one of the better iced coffees of the tour and I think it was actually my first! Coffee cubes all the way.
Stir Crazy - Los Angeles
I'm really pissed that the video I took of this coffee didn't make it through. The whole video was of me walking down the street and chucking this shitty iced coffee into the trash can. That's how bad it was. I rarely throw away coffee, even if it's terrible, so it really had to be bad. It just tasted old and completely stale, like they had made it four days ago or something. It was also not even that cold even with ice. I think it may not have even been in the fridge. What made it worse was the douche talking about "e-mailing his script" on the patio. Bad time all around.
Alright, well, that took a while! The Pacific Northwest is still my favorite coffee hotspot, but there's good stuff all around out there. Mediocre and bad stuff too. I guess that's that.