CocoaJava readers review their favorite haunts. Why not check out some of these fine places and let them know you heard about them at CocoaJava.com?
Your Local Coffeehouse
Everyone has a favorite nearby coffeeplace. Sort of the Cheers equivalent where everybody knows your name. My good buddy Renard made a second home at New World Coffee in my old hometown of Raleigh. Whenever I came into town, I could be sure to run into him there.
Mine is the newly arrived Koka in Mt. Adams, which is a 2 minute walk from my apartment. It is in a location where several previous coffee shops have failed, but the market really is ripe and these folks have a real heart for the business. Not only good coffee, but good sandwiches and tasty goodies. The kind of thing that a coffeehouse needs to remain viable. The extra nice touch is the outside dog water bowl labeled "Koka Loves Dogs" and the jar of free doggie treats.
It's safe to say that I get to know everybody who works there. It's almost like family, in a way. Most of the workers are going to college, either at the University of Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky University. A good percentage of them are majoring in music. Even one of the owners is a professional clarinetist and plays in a small ensemble in picturesque locations throughout the city.
As you can tell, I'm proud of my local coffee place and try to show it off to others every time I can. So you can guess that I was enthusiastic when they got reviewed in the Enquirer's CIN Weekly tabloid. "2 for $20: Koka Coffee Lounge". However, the staff immediately cautioned me, "Did you read it yet?" I should have known that things would get off to a bad start with the line "This place would scream urban chic if it weren't so un-chic to scream." The review then proceeded to point out every little nitpick possible. It comes across as snide when you sneer at the employees for being friendly as if they are simpletons worthy of contempt: "our friendly counter-service person said Koka doesn't make the soups or desserts in-house."
The employees were crushed by the snarky review. The comment that stuck in my head was, "You try so hard, and here it seems like it doesn't matter." This filled me with indignation, and I planned my response to the article as a letter-to-the-editor. Later I found that the website allows users to write their own review, and I used this as my primary springboard. The approach I followed is to point out all of the good things I like about Koka that other readers might want to know about, rather than spend my time flaming the author to death. I've already learned from Livejournal that the latter may feel good for an hour or so but doesn't actually accomplish any useful goal.
The employees eventually found my counter-review and spread it around on Facebook, which they are all members of (none on Livejournal, sadly). They thanked me for my words of encouragement. It felt good. I think I helped lift the dour mood which had permeated the folks there. To be honest, it was a pretty small deal, but these are the small things that we all can do for the things that we care about. I know I was taught to avoid using the word "things" in school, but I couldn't think of an alternative for either case.
So... whenever someone unfairly knocks down something you feel passionately about, talk back and tell them how great it is!
Victoria Station Cafe
Reviewed by Caitlin
the Brim Coffeehouse-Café
Reviewed by Rachael
Sinclair, proud “Brimmer” since 2002
Reviewed by "China
One of the drinks I've tried there is called "Chocolate Web." It is layered with Crema di Latte, Caramel, Espresso and topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup! Yum!! What's nice about it is that the drink is served in a large martini-style glass and the rim is lined with sweet melted caramel. Because it is served in a glass, you could see the layers and you can either drink them separately or mix them together. Best of all, you could see your drink being created in on the front counter for you (just like a cocktail.) Next time, I'll try out another one when I came to visit.
So, if you ever drop by to visit Vancouver, Canada, I recommend Sciué and try out the original espresso creations there.
The Solstice Cafe
Reviewed by by Cheryl DeWolfe
The Solstice Cafe in Victoria, BC is a wonderful alternative to the big-name coffee chains so prevalent in the city. Walking through the doors of Solstice, you find yourself in an open yet cozy renovated heritage building. High ceilings and raw brick walls surround comfortable furniture and sturdy handcrafted wood tables. In addition to great coffee drinks, made with organic, fair trade Kicking Horse coffee and Denman Island organic dark chocolate, the menu features organic snacks and light meals, with vegan choices. As if that weren't enough, the staff are friendly and the local art on display changes regularly.
Hubbard & Cravens
Reviewed by Rachael Sinclair
The same way people appreciate fine art and award-winning literature, true coffee connoisseurs are sure to be passionate about Hubbard&Cravens Coffee Co. This artisan company based in Indianapolis, Indiana roasts and brews some of the most flavorful coffee around. Their individually crafted roasts, which number near 30 different varieties, are to coffee what each brushstroke is to Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Each batch is carefully selected and combined to create works of aromatic art. A visit to one of their contemporary cafés is truly a walk through a gallery of flavor. Step inside and find a new favorite masterpiece.
Reviewed by Rachael Sinclair
Would you like a coffee shop in your living room? Master’s International Coffee is like a cozy den complete with the most unique coffee in the Louisville, Kentucky area. The small cafe boasts a large leather sofa, flat-screen TV, and free Wi-Fi. Their coffee, all from independent roasters, is always fresh and never burned. If you like channel surfing while enjoying a sweet treat, Master’s is for you. The chocolate muffins are exceptionally moist and go great with a latte. This convenient shop even has a drive-through so you can enjoy Master’s in your own living room.
Heine Bros. Coffee
Reviewed by Rachael Sinclair
As coffee drinkers, it is our responsibility to take care of the earth and the hard-working people who produce our passion. Heine Bros. Coffee in Louisville, Kentucky has taken their responsibility to a new level. This hometown shop roasts and serves only Fair Trade and organic coffee to feed body and soul. Each eclectic location proudly supports many causes dear to their consumer and is a caffeinated hub for community activism. Established in 1992 Heine Bros. is now a daily guilt-free indulgence for hundreds of customers. Each visit to one of their five locations is a feel-good treat.
Bar Ancient History