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The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
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Buckley
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Posted Wed Dec 14, 2011, 2:21pm
Subject: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

AUSTIN

The Java Sojourner has not been hibernating – he has been traveling and has information to share, but he has a life and little time to sit at the keyboard.  To resume, let's visit Austin, which we visited in November 2011:

Austin has a lot of well-regarded coffee houses, and the number is growing.  As my disclaimer states (see below), traveling is for other reasons and does not allow me an exhaustive critique of all locations in every town visited.  There was only time to visit three.  Let's start with the one that impressed me the most.

Trianon (3201 Bee Cave Road, Suite 163) –  Trianon roasts their own beans.  The espresso had good crema and good body.  The first taste was a flash of mineral taste that I characterize as “salty”, but not brackish.  It was not unpleasant but seemed to occur as just a flash to wake up the tongue.  This was quickly followed by the flavors best described as 'fragrant woody', followed by toasty, winding up with a refreshing, lingering bittersweetness.  I was told that the blend being used contained Ethiopean Harrar and Brazilian roasts.  They also had great hot chocolate.

Once Over Coffee House - 2009 S 1st St.  I walked in and saw nothing but bags of Cuvee Coffee for sale.  I immediately walked out.  I'm sorry, but I have given Cuvee Coffee too many chances.  They just do not roast well, in my opinion.  They enjoy a high profile in Austin, and they are welcomed to it.  I am sure that my disdain for their product will do them no harm, nor do I hold any malice for them; I will not try any more of their coffee.

Fair Bean Coffee 2210 S. 1st St.   Almost across the street from the above.  This place roasts its own. Their La Cimbali made a good espresso that started out with a short sharp-tangy taste (waking up the tongue again) that became nutty, then became a roasty-dark coffee-chocolate taste that finished off with a refreshing dry-gravelly aftertaste.  The barista could not identify the blend being used (!)
They also are popular for their organic breakfast empanadas, arepas, omlettes, and pastries.

JP's Java 2803 San Jacinto Boulevard  This was the least impressive of the three.  The day I visited them, they were pulling Zoka's Paladino.  The crema was thin and the first taste impression was watery and flat.  Then next flavor was minimally acidic, followed by a cereal taste, ending with a mild toasty flavor.  JP's gets a lot of great press and good reviews – perhaps I have higher expectations when I enter a well-reputed coffee house, but I experienced nothing outstanding about my visit.  Their reputation and their use of Zoka tell me that they at least deserve one more visit before being branded.

A note about flavor description. We share much commonality in sensory input.  When beholding the visual arts, we all see the same things, although we may interpret and 'deconstruct' what we see differently.  Similarly, we hear music similarly, even though we can be trained to listen for different harmonies, dissonances, etc.  However, when it comes to taste, it is common for persons to taste the same substance radically differently.  Each of you has experienced this in your life as your tastes have changed from your earliest childhood memories to your present preferences, and your taste will continue to change as you grow older.  Medication is famous for altering peoples' tastes as a side effect.  I am very sensitive to the primary taste sensation of 'saltiness' when I taste coffee and I am mildly surprised that no other tasters think to mention this, although they make frequent use of the primary tastes of sour (acid), sweet and bitter.  Bottom line: take my reviews with 'a grain of salt'.  There is much 'inter-taster variability' as the statisticians would say.  Besides the differences between ourselves, there is the adjustment of each espresso machine, sometimes several times during the day, as well as the different skills of the baristas, or 'the luck of the draw'.

These reviews are about new towns visited.  As always, natives of the town are welcome to reply with corrections or to offer cafes worthy of mention.  Time never permits an exhaustive review of all cafes in a particular location, nor an in-depth review of any café in particular.  The best that can be hoped for is to provide a starting point for other visitors to or denizens of Dayton to try the local cafes and to submit their own opinions.
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IMAWriter
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IMAWriter
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Posted Wed Dec 14, 2011, 8:58pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

Buckley, get thee to Sugar Brown's in Lubbock...YES, LUBBOCK.
Professionally trained baristi (several by a CG member, "Jasonian. Excellent.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
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Posted Fri Dec 23, 2011, 8:22pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

Thank you!  Will try to get there!

B
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TheBigDripper
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Posted Tue Jun 5, 2012, 5:33pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

Mozart's, on Lake Austin Blvd. Sweet place on the river. I used to get my green beans there (they have their roaster out front), but they started getting all flakey about it. Anyway, great goodies in the baked goods section, and lots of coffee (whole and ground). Huge outside area with plenty of seating. Parking sucks like a Hoovermatic, especially on Sundays.

The Hideout, 617 (I think) Congress. Your typical cool * funky coffeehouse. Try the brownie. Trust me. Even a little stage in the front window for poets, musicians, mimes, whatever. My favorite place!
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Buckley
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Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 7:42am
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

Thank you.  Was just sitting at Greenway Coffee in Houston 1 hr. ago, saying, "I don't get to Austin often enough."  But when I do, I will try your suggestions.
JS
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strfish7
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Posted Sun Jun 24, 2012, 6:47pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

You guys are missing out by not visiting Houndstooth.  They're all about the espresso. Just sayin'
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Master_Hobbit
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Posted Sun Jul 8, 2012, 4:08pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

Yeah, you missed (in my opinion) the best shops in Austin: Medici (Usually Cuvee only so I'll give it to you), Houndstooth (multi-roaster - They had Apollo 8.0 when I was there last), and Frank's (A great hotdog place with awesome coffee! They serve Handsome and Coava when I was there).

I would really suggest you try Once Over - their Dead Fingers espresso profile is significantly different than Cuvee's normal offerings so even if you really hate most of Cuvee's offerings (I don't get it, but to each his own) you might like Once Over.

Houndstooth is hands down one of the best coffee shops I've ever been to. And Frank's is delicious.

I have it on good authority that a place called Juan Pelota does a great job with some Stumptown beans they bring in, and Patika coffee is a cool coffee cart I passed a few times and seemed to be doing a good job with some Handsome coffee.

For something completely different check out Black Lodge Coffee in east Austin. Very limited hours, only a few coffees on a pourover, but absolutely killing those coffees.

Thunderbird is a little hit-or-miss, but it can be great.
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Stuart
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Posted Wed Sep 19, 2012, 7:48pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

I get the feeling the Sojourner may not make it all the way south to San Antonio. And really, the fine coffee options here are limited. (Call me provincial, but I think a couple of the few options are quite, quite good. But still; two, three shops do not a coffee town make.)

A new Whole Foods opened here yesterday, and they're trying to put on a good show in the coffee area. The other WF in town has superautos preparing their espresso drinks. The new place has a 3-group La Marzocco Strada MP and Swift grinders. I watched one PBC pull a shot. The pour looked OK, a bit asymmetric but steady through the 24 seconds of my slow count (I am not a calibrated counter). When it's not past my bedtime, I'll go back and actually try some. The PBC appeared to know what she was doing, but not to be smooth and polished. Hey, it's a new store, and a supermarket at that. I'm not expecting USBC moves.

(The Strada had clear sides and back. Very slick-looking. Click Here (www.facebook.com) )
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strfish7
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Posted Mon Sep 24, 2012, 4:59pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

Nice review of the new Whole Foods setup. I attended their opening week and noticed Brown Coffee had a sample table out. Featuring fresh roasted beans is new for the Whole Foods in our area (even the Austin flagship store has stale beans), so that was encouraging. If I indulge in a retail shot of espresso in San Antonio, it would be from Wildfire Roasters (sometimes calling themselves Mildfire for trademark reasons), Grassroots Coffee, or Local Coffee. Nothing like Austin, but surprising, given the usual level of ignorance in this town.
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Stuart
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Joined: 9 Feb 2012
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Posted Thu Oct 4, 2012, 11:06am
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 4 - Austin, Texas
 

I watched another drink built at the Whole Foods shop. To my eye, they're not following best practices -- the PBC loaded the portafilter, locked it into the group head, then poured the milk and started to steam it before flipping the paddle to start the extraction. And the milk-steaming/frothing process was straight out of Corporate Coffee: get the steamer going, then set the pitcher down to get good and hot while working on the espresso. Ah, well. As I said before, it is a supermarket. They also had porcelain cups stacked on the warming tray of the pretty shiny Strada, but I've yet to see one used. Everything I saw served was in a to-go cup. But that's probably what people expect and want.

I'll have to try Grassroots. Local Coffee was one of the good places I've tried in town, along with the mini-cafe at Brown Coffee Co's roast location (Kings Highway and Zarzamora: not exactly off the  beaten track, but certainly not on the beaten track.

Cafe Revolucion on Broadway makes the effort. They use beans from Intelligentsia, and appear to know what they're doing. But their espresso isn't as rich as what Local or Brown have to offer. I've been to W/Mildfire a couple of times; maybe it's my dislike of the silicone-sleeved Bodum espresso cups they use, but I've not been as pleased with espresso from Mildfire as that from Local or Brown.

Some other cafes have gotten good online reviews, but I found their product to be at best equivalent to that available from ubiquitous national chain stores. There's good coffee in this town, but you may have to look to find it.
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