What do you mean you don’t have filter coffee? A Guide to London Coffee Shops

I wish I had been diligent enough to do a proper coffee shop review of every cafe I visited in London but at this stage in the game that would be simply impossible. I am going to attempt to backtrack through all the coffee shops I have visited giving them quick scores and pointing out the ideal features of each. Coffee is truly blossoming in London so don’t be intimidated by the perceived ‘only tea’ culture.

As the title of this posts hints at, the one thing yet to develop is strong cups of black, filter coffee. Artisanal shops that will be explored in this post do have pour-over, chemex and V60 options but they are simply lacking good ready made coffee–paper filters, large batches, hot mugs you can wrap your hands around simply do not happen in most London shops which is a huge shame. Looking past this, visiting cafe is an awesome way to see London, each neighborhood can be characterized by they handful of coffee shops that reside in it. So I’ll break it down by region, trying to record every coffee shopI can recall. It’s going to look like a daunting list but life is better when drinking good coffee. The Southbank and East London have unfortunately been painfully neglected in my coffee pursuits but I will try to outsource some recommendations for these areas. The greatest London coffee blog for filling in the blank map spaces is Cups of London Coffee. They have an interactive map that has displays the massive density of London’s coffee shops allowing you to zoom and click cafes to display recorded times and information. It’s brilliant!

As a reminder coffee shop reviews go a little something like this: cafes are marked out of 5 on location, barista cuteness, coffee knowledge/expertise, ambiance, and food/pastry selection.

Convent Garden/Aldwych

  1. Lundenwic-4(Lundenwic is a newer shop on Aldwych that is teeny tiny. the place has two tables and a three-seat counter so not ideal for working or hanging out but if you do snag a table you are right in the middle of the action, merging with the queue of people and baristas bustling about from the mysterious kitchen downstairs. From this basement emerges a selection of toasties and salads for lunch. I have had hits and misses with lunch but highly recommend the cranberry sauce, chicken, and squash toastie if they have it. The sandwich tastes like Thanksgiving dinner between two slices of sourdough bread. Be wary of the amount of kale and fennel in the salads, it’s a lot of kale and fennel. The location is ideal if you are a uni student at LSE, which this writer might be. Unfortunately if you our not headed to lecture there is really no reason to be walking along Aldwych as it has no tourist appeal and is crowded with students and professionals. However, Lundenwic is near some theatres so if you are headed to a play and worried you will not stay awake either because it looks to be extremely dull or you are very tired, grab a strong flat white, and chat with the extremely handsome baristas before the show).
  2. Fernandez and Wells-Somerset House-4.5(There are two things keeping F&W from receiving a 5 much to my dismay. First, the coffee is just simply not that good. The espresso is often burnt and flavorless so it is best to get tea because they will top up your pot with hot water, give you honey and even steamed milk if you like. The service is certainly not lacking at Somerset House that is for certain. Second, while the Spanish-style savory options at F&W are divine, their pastry selection is weak and very expensive. Now that we have those critiques out of the way let’s move to the highlights. Somerset House, is one of my favorite places in all of London and you can see my full post here. The setting of the cafe is minimal and airy, the light wood furniture and large tables makes it a fantastic place to spread out and do work. Their music selection is consistently on point, playing an eclectic mix of soul and indie songs. Most of the the baristas are incredibly friendly and the table service for food is quite enjoyable, I highly recommend their soup specials, particularly the chicken tangine. The soups come in a huge steaming bowl with some crucial pieces of sourdough bread for soaking up the last bits).      13102718_10208147040907100_3434636631585142432_n
  3. The Black Penny-4.5(The Black Penny will always hold a special place in my heart for the lunch deal they used to have which included three salads and a protein for under 10 quid, although the lunch deal is no longer the food selection is still expansive and delicious. The coffee is top notch quality as well. The place is nicely situated off the dense crowded Convent Garden area closer to Holborn station. It’s ideal for a longer uni lunch or a break from the tourist scene. The inside is very rustic and warm Edison bulbs hang from the ceiling and the back has a large communal table and several squished two-tops.There are shelves adorned with books and magazines  situated over built in cubbies for single seating. The exposed brick wall adds to the Brooklyn chic vibe. The baristas and servers match the warm interior and are very friendly, and always more than happy to point out their favorites of the day).
  4. New Row Coffee-4(This tiny kiwi-owned coffee shop sits on New Row Street in Convent Garden. New Row rivals Lundenwic in it’s size as it only has two tables and two counter seats. The pastries are all homemade daily by Tom, the owner of the shop. The coffee quality is stellar and the small space is not over designed or sparse. There is a coffee grinder serving as an expensive flower pot. The teal dishes add a little quirk and brightness. I’d recommend getting a cappuccino and specifying without cocoa powder because it tends to overpower things. The tall lanky baristas are the essence of the London aesthetic so no need to worry about that. I recommend the Anzac cookies and almond croissants).img_4253
  5. Fleet River Bakery-3(Fleet River is not in a very idealic location sandwiched between Kingsway and Lincoln Fields Inn, in a non-descript part of Holborn. Again, for an LSE student it is pretty convenient. Known for their pastries, correction expensive pastries It’s best to run through either to get a goof cup of coffee or quick lunch. I have never been too impressed with their offerings but people swear by their toasties and salads so I’ll leave a little hope. The space is very drafty and unadorned, Fleet River is packed at lunch so try to grab a spot quick or check out their downstairs area. If you are in a hurry, Fleet River is also not the most expedient so be aware).
  6. Fleet Street Press
  7. Notes-Convent Garden

Soho

  1. TAP No. 193-5                                                                    12809736_10207890381890785_2470534023979204042_n
  2. Flat White-4
  3. Nordic Bakery-3.5
  4. Foxcroft and Ginger-3

Fitzroviia

  1. Kin-5
  2. Attendant-5                                                                                                                                                   13184660_10208941295280255_1076025989_oimg_4319 img_4321
  3. Kaffeine-4

7 Dials

  1. Monmouth Coffee
  2. Timberyard
  3. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

Shoreditch

  1. Fix 126(Fraser’s Pic)
  2. Attendant
  3. Shoreditch Grind

Clerkenwell

  1. Workshop

Islington 

  1.   Vagabond No. 7 4.5(This coffee shop tucked away in Islington is a hidden gem in the London coffee scene. The narrow space is bigger than it appears with repurposed wooden spools as tables in the front area and  a cozy back room. Studying in the back room, you can work amongst the roaster, espresso machines and sacks filled with coffee–ideal for any person who literally runs on coffee. You are also working on a suspended wood table that has ample room to spread out your books, coffee, and food. On to the food, the almond croissant I had was the best almond croissant I have ever had in London, let me repeat—the best. That is saying something. The prepared sandwiches are also simple and hearty. There is also a kitchen tucked away that manages to pump out full English breakfast among other brunch fare served all day long. On my last trip to Vagabond, I discovered the secret side courtyard that is quaint and peaceful. Filled with mismatched iron furniture, the outdoor space is somehow sandwiched in a small, awkward corner between two buildings, Vagabond is an architecture marvel that seems to expand after you enter. The coffee shop also has a derelict appearance with crumbling walls and vacant fireplace stuffed with a combination of junk and books, it almost resembles the ruin bars of Budapest. A friendly staff serves high-quality coffee to match their impressive food fare and interesting space. I am only docking it for its location, north Liverpool Road is not quite a cultural hub but the hipsters are sure to come).

 

Coffee Shop Review #19 La Colombe

La Colombe is a Philadelphia based coffee roaster that has expanded to New York City, Chicago, and D.C.

Location-4(La Colombe’s DC location is located in the Shaw neighborhood that we are constantly being told is up and coming, which it is. Don’t be fooled by the N Street address however, the cafe is located in Blagden Alley. I biked right past it the first time so some signage would have been nice. Upon finding the tucked away building, the secluded location was very enjoyable).

Barista Cuteness-4(The baristas at La Colombe are all smiles, although not the most helpful when it comes to coffee selection. I appreciated when a barista came by to take my finished dishes instead of watching them stack up. I was even startled out of my Pharrell work mode by an employee coming up to complement my ring).

Coffee Knowledge/Expertise-4.5(This was my first taste of La Colombe coffee so per usual I started with the cappuccino test. I was happy to be offered my choice of espresso and a recommendation of which would stack of best against milk. La Colombe’s coffee is robust and doesn’t try to be anything to fancy, which I can appreciate as a change of pace).

Ambiance-3.5(There are hits and misses for La Colombe when it comes to their cafe design and environment. The long narrow space is very interesting but the seating is a little stagnant. Simple wooden chairs are not too comfortable and they don’t match the exposed brick aesthetic. La Colombe also does not believe in posting menu boards which is an extreme form of pretension that is difficult and inconvenient. While you probably enter knowing what you are going to order you have no idea how much it is going to cost and for those who are not as coffee savvy it poses an even bigger problem. The best part of La Colombe’s DC location is the outdoor buildout. Wide wooden benches are covered by the entrance and provide a very nice shady place to enjoy your coffee year round).

Food and Pastry Selection-4.5(The best part about La Colombe is the beautiful pottery that food and drinks are served on. You’re immediately going to fall in love with anything you get because of it. The pastry selection mainly consists of classic french baked goods including olive oil cakes, canelles, and macaroons. The one issue is that they don’t get enough pastries so you have to make sure you get there in time to sample a good treat. I chose a Nutella morning bun with a fancier name. The crunchy glazed top was delicious and the delicately intertwined layers of buttery dough and Nutella were fantastic).

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Overall Rating; 4.1IMG_3750

Moving North to South on the West Coast Update x1

Note: this post will be under construction on and off. There is quite a comprehensive list to capture in this California escapade. Check back for future updates.

Leucadia is a small surf town 45 minutes North of San Diego. Leucadia rests along the Pacific Coast Highway and is perfect for a five day surf trip or peaceful getaway. The town is almost an untouched relic of the past. The stores are locally owned and everyone walks or roams around on beach cruisers. The vibe is far removed from San Diego and LA, as it is slightly isolated from the two large cities. My five days there were devoted to exploring, relaxing and, of course, eating. Here are some of the places of notes. If you are in the larger Encinitas area, this strip of the PCH is definitely worth a stop whether you are driving through or pausing to relax. All the spots in this post are concentrated around a 10 mile North/South line along the Pacific Coast Highway. Having a car is necessary if you want to explore other areas and beaches.

Bakeries/Cafes:

 French Corner: The French Corner is a great cafe that serves parisian breakfast and lunch. We begun our stay at Leucadia here and it was a great start. They have baskets of traditional pastries made in house along with crepes and quiches. We started the day with an Almond Bearclaw that was flakey and light. The savory Caprese Quiche and Spinach Frittata were also very good. They both had a perfect darker brown crust on top that added so much flavor.

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Taste and Sea Cakery: This custom cake store and catering has a small storefront as well serving up very unique cakes, cookies and pastries. the shop also has a beautiful espresso machine that just needs the love and attention from a good barista. The owners were so friendly and had a sample of almost every offering, this made it both harder and easier to decide on what to order. The decor was very sea inspired and was extremely comfortable. A great spot to start the day or grab an afternoon snack.

Leucadia Donut Shoppe: The classic donut shop fits the surf vibe of the town perfectly. The old school donut counter has all the classic offerings. We sampled a Long John donut and a blueberry buttermilk. The buttermilk was a nice departure from a typical sugary donut and had a interesting biscuit like quality.

Boutiques: 

You don’t have to be scouting for a new surfboard to find success at the local shops in Leucadia. If you’re a surfer girlfriend like me there are two killer shops to browse for unique goods and wares.

Seaweed and Gravel: This store is rooted in vintage clothes and motorcycles so it’s a little rock and roll mixed with hippy sunshine. On the rock and roll side, check out all Seaweed and Gravel’s fine denim wear from Crawford Denim. The jeans and tops are 100% American made and are of superb quality. When you’re ready to get back to your natural roots check out the Juniper Ridge soaps and perfumes. Each batch of product’s plant oils are pure and  harvested by hand in Mojave Desert or Sierras. No batch is alike and this scents are potent. The aesthetic of the shop is just as unique as the products in it. Smiling pictures of the Partridge Family line the walls along with  brightly upholstered vintage furniture. The garden in the back is a little oasis and a good place to enjoy the free espresso that is offered upon entrance.

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Bing Surfboards: I know this says surfboards and yes Bing is a surfboard shaper by trade but their store is a little bit more. The Bing branded apparel is simple and well made but this goes without saying from a surfboard manufacturer. The real details are in the other store stock. Of which my particular favorite was a brand called Krochet Kids.  The non-profit knitwear is handmade in Uganda and Peru and the company works very hard to give back to those communities. The products sort of celebrate their homeland with rich, deep colors like saffron scarves and oxblood beanies. The chunky knits are warm and cozy so you will literally feel good buying them.

Fish Taco Central, Proper Restaurants, and more, coming up soon!

Coffee Shop Review #18 ThreeFifty Bakery and Coffee Bar

Adams Morgan and U Street have received some special exploring attention now that my boyfriend has moved there. He showed me this sweet spot with ratings out of four.

Location-4.75 (ThreeFifty Bakery and Coffee Bar is located on U Street and 16th. It is a prime location, right below the heart of Adam’s Morgan and to the West of trendy 14th Street. The bakery is tucked under an apartment building amongst other houses giving it an intimate charm. At ThreeFifty you are in a residential haven in the city. Coming from Chicago, I sometimes miss the neighborhood feel of local shops and cafes so ThreeFifty sits perfectly outside the busy main streets of Adam’s Morgan and Logan Circle. The only thing that would make ThreeFifty the ultimate spot is if it were a tad closer to a metro stop, then again, it could loose its charm).

Barista Cuteness-4.0(Forget barista cuteness and let’s talk about patron cuteness. No, I am not biased because I went there with my boyfriend, he is not counting in this scenario. There were so many peacoat adorned dapper gentlemen in and out of the coffee shop on my few visits.  In addition, I sat next to an exceptionally attractive and friendly Kate Hudson look-a-like on my first visit. Pivoting back to the Baristas, they are sweet and come off as very humble, a quality I don’t often see).

Coffee Knowledge/Expertise-3.5(The baristas at ThreeFifty are seem knowledgable and know their coffee stuff. The bad is the coffee stuff itself. ThreeFifty serves Illy coffee and espresso which is received better by some more than others. For me, Illy is far too bitter. Illy coffee is imported from Italy and is straight up coffee. No-nonsense, not too many flavor notes, very dark. After having a cappuccino and an ice coffee I needed to switch it up so I ordered a London Fog. A London Fog is Early Grey tea with steamed milk and a drizzle of honey. The two London Fogs I have had at the coffee bar are the best I have ever had. They serve a very high quality French Early Grey tea with the perfect ratio of hot water to milk. The Jasmine tea is also smooth and lovely, so I would recommend the tea side of things).

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Ambiance-5.0(The ambiance of ThreeFifty is in line with it’t neighborhood feel . The decor is rustic and simple. The wood floors make the small space all the more cozy and warm. The prime seating is at the huge bay window in the front where light pours in on you as you do work. The first time I was there, I was sitting in the window as flakes of snow danced about, it was utterly fantastic. The amount of seats is very small, but people move in and out fairly quickly. The patrons of the cafe are very local, as one has to be to find such a tiny spot).

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Food/Pastry Selection-4.75(ThreeFifty’s claim to fame, or at least to my high rating and four visits in two weeks, is definitely their bakery. I first had the ricotta muffin from the bakery and it was amazing. I typically despise muffins, agreeing with those who call them bald cupcakes but not this muffin. The creamy ricotta on the inside was a fresh bite that added flavor, moisture and texture to the wonderful muffin. Other pastries that I have consumed include a ginger scone and blueberry lemon pound cake. Both had very subtle flavors from their main ingredients but were perfectly balanced. My boyfriend has also ordered two of ThreeFifty’s quiches. The savory side of the bakery has also had great results. The crusts of the quiches have constantly been buttery and flakey. The mini quiches also pack in quite a lot of ingredients into each little bite, more filling then their size would indicate. The only reason why I marked the bakery down a quarter of a point was due to the fact that they were out of my precious ricotta muffin not once, but twice! Oh the horror! I suppose it did force me to review other treats, however it was still upsetting).

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Overall Rating: 4.4

Coffee Shop Review #17 Elixr Coffee Roasters

What came out of the briefest stint in Philadelphia was this wonderful coffee shop and roaster. Five points for five categories holds true in Philly.

Location-3.5 (I am forced to discuss location based off of feel and recommendations because I did not get a chance to traverse the whole city myself for the coolest areas. I would put Elixr Coffee Roasters in the SoHo of Philly, with high end boutiques and a random Chipotle flanking the Sydenham Street location. So if your Uniqulo bags are weighing you down or you are staying at one of the many hotels on Broad Street stroll on over for a relaxing visit).

Barista Cuteness-5.0 (The men behind the counter at Elixr were charming and very friendly. After explaining my own affinity for coffee and sharing that I also worked at a coffee shop wonderful discounts and conversation streamed in. The baristas were very in tune with the DC coffee scene and loved swapping restaurant and gelato recommendations. Stellar personality and attractiveness should garner the three bonus points but a five will suffice).

Coffee Knowledge/Expertise-4.5 (As the name suggest Elixr Coffee Roasters is not only a cafe but also a roastery and they serve up their own single origin beans ad espresso blend. I started with a Cafetin pour over from Costa Rica. The cup was slightly bitter and not my favorite cup of coffee. For those who like fuller bodied coffees with darker roasts this is a fitting selection. I did enjoy the earthy taste of the coffee but it was a little one note. I grabbed a cappuccino on my way out which was made very well but the espresso could have been a bit more robust. On my trip back to Elixr the next morning I scooped up a bog of Konga, a single-origin Ethiopian. This coffee has proven to be extremely delicious with a bright, natural acidity and interesting floral notes).

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Ambiance-5.0 (I spied Elixr before even going in by the large plated glass windows that looked in to the cozy wood interior. The coffee shop was bustling, warm, and cozy. My three favorite things. In addition, the charcoal and blue tones were demure yet still very interesting. The large mural over the cushy seating pit was striking and is apparently changed out every so often. Wooden tables and chairs provide sturdy tools for work while the couches have a thoughtfully placed backs that provide outlets and spaces for cups of coffee. There seemed to be a mix of families, students, and professionals all seamlessly blending in a rich and vibrant sea of sweaters, saucers and coffees).

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Food/Pastry Selection- 3.5 (I am hoping the quaint pastry selection quality aligns with the rest of Elixr but I am purely judging on the options I saw. The fresh croissants were certainly calling to me in the morning but a prized doughnut shop awaited (review to come). I will have to sample on my next trip or maybe some write-ins can attest to the treats’ greatness).

Overall Rating: 4.3

Coffee Shop Review #16: Malmaison

Blowing dust off the DC map and bringing you a new Washington coffeehouse. Categories out of 5.

Location-3.5 (The location of Malmison can be seen as both very good but also inconvenient. Malmaison is located off the Georgetown Waterfront on K Street and is the last warehouse before the Potomac Parkway begins. Once you manage to get all the way down to Mailmaison’s cafe you are rewarded with coffee and treats that you can take to the waterfront and enjoy).

Barista Cuteness-3.5 (The baristas at Malmaison are cute and charming. They are not out of this world gorgeous but so genuine instead. Some are more experienced than others and are eager to talk coffee with you. Other baristas just carry friendly general conversation).

Coffee Knowledge/Expertise-3.5 (Due to Malmaison’s location I only travel there to spend have a beautiful waterfront day. This makes for my main purchase to be iced coffee. However, the ice coffee they prepare is very unique. Last time I tasted my iced coffee it was so striking I had to compliment the barista and inquire on the preparation method. I learned that he pulled a single origin Guatemala drip through an espresso machine to make the drink, so weird but so good! The result was very bright brew that was super zesty and fruity. The cafe serves up Mad Cap a great roaster out of Grand Rapids, Michigan that has a Lab and Training Facility in D.C.).

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Ambiance-2.5 (Another reason I only visit Malmaison during the Spring and Summer season is because there is indoor season. Malmaison is also a full fledged restaurant serving brunch and dinner so you are going to have to battle the diners for the limited seating. The interior is very posh and lux, which supports the modern French mood but it is not the most warm and inviting atmosphere for a coffee shop. If you do sit inside you will probably be subjected to the upstairs lounge, which becomes a club at night so it is far too swanky for casual coffee sipping).

Food/Pastry Selection-4.5( the pastries at Malmaison are absolutely phenomenal. I am completely addicted to their almond croissant, which is filled with creamy marzipan and topped with toasted almonds. The treats are crafted by the French pastry chef, Serge Torres, a cousin to the famous Jacques Torres chocolatier. Baking certainly runs in the family because his desserts shine at Malmaison. I have also sampled an apricot pastry and was not disappointed. Next on my list to try is the macaroons. I wish there were some savory options to pair with the cakes, cookies, and other sweet baked goods locked under glass domes at the coffee bar).

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Overall Rating: 3.5

 

Coffee Shop Review #15 St. Mark’s Coffeehouse Denver

The long-awaited next coffee shop review installment has come at last. If you can still recall, from way back when, categories are out of 5.

Location-4.5 (Taking a break from the coffee wasteland that Boulder has become, I headed down to Denver to meet my awesome friend Serena for an after work cafe catch up. We drove to St. Mark’s Coffeehouse which is near City Park in Northeast Denver. This parkside neighborhood is super cute and has lush trees covering up small, ornate houses. The neighborhood is not the most easily accessible from say downtown Denver and parking can be hit or miss but it has carved out it’s own little niche of the student/worker vibe).

Barista Cuteness-5 (For the first time, I think in my coffee outing lifetime I saw a single barista behind the bar handling everything from ringing up customers, doling out baked goods, and, of course, finessing the espresso machine. This single barista was also quite handsome and very personable. He executed all of his jobs with great ease and he served up perhaps the most efficient service I have ever seen. Sometimes less is indeed more).

Coffee Knowledge/Expertise-4 (The simple menu yielded the standard cappuccino test but I did see a line of jars of coffee beans that I will be eager to scan more thoroughly on my next visit. The barista made some cute and comical attempts at naming his coffee art blobs and the espresso had a bit of a singed, bitter taste. This saddened me, as I had high hopes for the amazing creamsicle colored espresso machine and the man behind it).

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Ambiance- 4 (Both inside and out were eclectic and humming with a nice relaxed tone. One table was paired with two chairs with insanely large sculpted backs that almost connected to make a canopy over the table. A bar very reminiscent of an Italian stand-up espresso shop sat empty and a touch out of place in the middle of the room. The outside was very pleasant with lots of umbrella coverage and sturdy iron tables. However, the creaky, metal folding chairs were in dire need of some love and oiling. The huge open sliding window gave a great view into the front of the cafe which had perfectly reasonable tables for working and chatting with Edison bulbs strung over them).

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Food/Pastry Selection-4.5 (From the case of glistening cookies, cakes, scones, croissants and more we elected to share a peach tart. The pastry was extremely buttery and light while the peach filling was nice and tangy, not too sweet. It was quite a hard choice to make so another trip back will surely be needed to satisfy further pastry indulgences. The panini menu looked simple and was actually quite affordable as far as coffee shop standards go, with sandwiches ranging in price from $5-$6. A group across the way got a savory treat that smelled very good so I have a feeling that the taste probably lined up).

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Overall Rating: 4.4

 

 

Coffee Shop Review #11 The Cup Espresso Cafe

What are Boulder’s Baristas serving up? Find out (categories out of five).

Location-5(Located in Boulder, Colorado The Cup Espresso Cafe is competing with a fleet of independent coffee shops on Boulder’s downtown pedestrian walk, the Pearl Street Mall. The main drag of Boulder covers about 5 blocks and includes, restaurants, retail, and lots and lots of coffee options as aforementioned. Ambling on the mall is a Boulder must and the east end of the mall, where the Cup is located, is steadily growing in popularity).

Barista Cuteness-4.5(The barista’s are rocking it at The Cup, as you would expect from a exceptionally fit and healthy town. They are also  very charming and happy to chat. My only note would be that, while yes, good drinks take time to prepare, there always seems to be an exceptionally long wait time for beverages).

Coffee Knowledge/Expertise-4(The Cup is all about their fair trade coffee, so for the environmentally conscious it is definitely a great option.  Conscious Coffees provide all the beans for the cafe, which is kind of a no brainer. The selection of beans is almost overwhelming and you can really get the exact flavor your heart desires. Espresso drinks are good at The Cup, but my main staple is their Florentine-divine! Whatever the swirling chocolately goodness is that they are pairing with the drip coffee is wonderful. The espresso drinks are prepared with the correct quantities of milk, foam, and espresso but the espresso seems to be very mellow in flavor, making the drinks a little flat). 

Ambiance-4(What The Cup lacks in inspiring design they make up for partly in their garage door opening and outdoor seating. Since it is sunny almost every day of the year in Colorado, I would highly recommend basking in the sun and watching the troves of bikers pass by. The interior is pretty basic with very standard wooden tables and chairs. There is a nice area of additional seating in the back of the cafe that is a pleasant, quieter space to do work).

Food/Pastry Selection-4.5(I have only every had one treat miss at The Cup and this can be partially blamed on pure faulty ordering, really you should never order a gluten-free carrot or apple anything-it’s just bound to be dry, chunky, and overall distasteful. However, the rest of the sweets at The Cup are great, and the cookies are massive and exceptional. If the peanut butter cookie is present, which is off and on,you are a outright fool if you don’t snatch one or five up. The Cup also serves up lots of sandwiches and bagels if you are in the mood to make it a meal. Everything is made fresh, in house, which is the benefit of having a full kitchen in a coffee shop, a luxury that many more urban cafes can’t get away with. I recently branched out from my cookie obsession and got a a rosemary scone that was perfectly baked and full of flavor, so make sure to try something new too).

Overall Rating: 4.4

Coffee Shop Review #10 Wormhole Coffee

This windy city coffee shop will blow you away, delightful gusts of praise out of 5.

Location-5(Browse through any recent post on my blog and you will see I am buzzing about Wicker Park and Wormhole Coffee lies at the heart of all the goodness on N. Milwaukee amidst records shops, thrift stores, and all sorts of other delightful wonders. The coffee shop is open from 7am to 11pm so it accrues all sorts of interesting  people to eye as you sip your espresso).

Barista Cuteness-4.5(The baristas are certainly handsome at the Wormhole and will even periodically clear off your empty dishes after you have finished munching and sipping).

Coffee Knowledge/Selection-4.5(I’m going to dock Wormhole Coffee a half a point for only having one roaster on the menu while I was there but beyond this small critique, the selection was superb. The cafe housed 5 rotating single origins prepared with 4 different brewing methods, really quite impressive.The different pours served as a strong indicator that the staff knew coffee, and knew how each coffee would be best served. I first got an Ethiopian Guji from Halfwit Roasters, which was extremely good, a little lighter than the Yirgacheffe but still holding on to lots of rich flavors that were more on the fruity side.  After an initial eye-roll when asked what size I wanted my cappuccino to be, I promptly got over it when after answering “for here, small” the barista affirmed my choice with an “excellent, traditional”. The cappuccino was rich and robust which was very nice and adorned with some classic and beautiful latte art).

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Ambiance-5(At the Wormhole there is a very cozy and quaint atmosphere that feels very intimate and inviting. Old movie posters are pasted on the wall along with a row of collectable lunch boxes and other kitschy items. The coffee shop has mismatched thrifted couches, chairs and tables, which are basically essential to creating a hip and authentic feel. There is ample seating to recline and relax but also a cool line of stools at a wooden bar peering in at the espresso machine front lines and chemex crafting artisans).

Pastry/Food selection-5(The baked good case is small but mighty in Wicker Park at the Wormhole and has an exceptional array of donuts, croissants, tarts, and other tempting items. Treats are made by Fritz Pastry and they know what they are doing when it comes to an almond croissant. Fritz also has it going on when it comes to the exotic doughnuts. While the French Toast Doughnut was probably too sweet for one, when appropriately shared by two it gives you just the right sugar buzz).

Overall Rating: 4.8

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