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onocoffee
Senior Member
onocoffee
Joined: 5 Sep 2002
Posts: 733
Location: Towson, Maryland
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, 3AV &...
Grinder: 4 Mazzer Major Autos, Compak...
Vac Pot: That crazy Bodum eSantos
Drip: Bunn CWT Twin, Bunn Water...
Roaster: Petroncini The Crumb
Posted Wed Oct 8, 2003, 2:02pm
Subject: Barista Espresso Cafe & Baltimore Coffee and Tea
 

In another installment in my ever-continuing search for excellent espresso in Baltimore, I visit two more coffee places.

++++++++++++++++++++

Barista Espresso Cafe - Harborview Drive, Baltimore
Nestled in a quiet and very expensive waterfront development, BEC started out by irritating me.  I had heard about this cafe from an acquaintance and searched the web for a website. Finally, after finding a listing in some restaurant guide, I gave them a ring to see about their hours.  Open until 9pm but no website.  Heavens, this is 2003 and you don't have a website???

Made my way down to BEC on Monday after lunch for a looksee.  It's a quaint little cafe with lots of plants, several tables, a couch and outdoor seating with umbrellas.  Nice.  I even spied a Mac iBook and Airport WiFi Base Station so Internet access seems to be available here.

Looks like they are using a Faema Due and a Mazzer Mini but I can't be too sure since I only was able to see the backs of the units.  Asked the staff for a double macchiato and was served a relatively pleasant drink.  Equal amounts of espresso and steamed milk.  The milk had some slightly large bubbles and not the microfoam I seek but it wasn't too bad.  Flavor was rather balanced and pleasant.  In fact, it was about the most pleasant drink I've had in Baltimore yet.  Not a robust or delicious flavor, just pleasant.  

After talking with the staff it turns out that they use Lavazza Grande Espresso beans.

++++++++++++++++++++

Baltimore Coffee & Tea - Timonium, MD
Located in a suburb just a bit north of Baltimore is BCT, one of the area's most well-known roasters.  They have a rather large retail space with all kinds of goodies from coffees to accessories to a wide assortment of teas.  As far as I know, it's the only place to source Fortnum & Mason and Ahmad teas in the area and that's why I go there.

In the back they have an assortment of drip coffee available and a Bazilia three group espresso machine with the E61 groupheads.  So naturally, I thought about ordering a macchiato to see how their bean tastes.  Then I decided to not even bother.  No one seemed to really be paying attention to the espresso machine and the steam wands were caked with brownish milk residue (a very bad sign). If the staff couldn't be bothered to wipe the wands (or have the knowledge to wipe them) then how much attention could I expect them to have for my espresso.

I decided to pass on the macchiato.
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onocoffee
Senior Member
onocoffee
Joined: 5 Sep 2002
Posts: 733
Location: Towson, Maryland
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, 3AV &...
Grinder: 4 Mazzer Major Autos, Compak...
Vac Pot: That crazy Bodum eSantos
Drip: Bunn CWT Twin, Bunn Water...
Roaster: Petroncini The Crumb
Posted Tue Oct 14, 2003, 1:59pm
Subject: Casey's Coffee - Cockeysville
 

Finally got around to the coffee shop that is closest to my house.  Yes, I know that's strange but while it is the closest to my house, it's not on my daily path of travel.

In my previous discussions with a local espresso distributor, I had heard that Casey's is a small Korean owned chain that has outlets in mainly Korean areas.  As far as I know, there isn't a large Korean population in this particular area and the customers I saw during my visit were all caucasian.  Not that any of this matters really it's just that I had always thought that Casey's was a one location thing.  I believe they even do their own roasting.

The shop is a typical strip mall type setup but the interior is kinda nicely done.  Dark maroon, wood and stainless tones dominate and it's very "cafe" looking.  But I find it a little strange.  Strange in that there was a lot of thought into the wall color, floor tiles, ceiling treatment, display cabinetry, counters, rear counters and equipment but there's nothing else.   The walls are maroon in tone but there's nothing on them.  No art, no pictures, no nothing.  The display cabinets are national franchise quality and look it but all that's on display on this relatively huge cabinet is one 12z Bodum french press and one isi whip cream unit.  Just an odd lack of use of the space.

I'll admit, after journeying to Portland and Seattle and meeting the likes of Bronwen, the two Johns, Dismas and Duane from Stumptown and listening to their thoughts on espresso, I'm predisposed to the La Marzocco.  I mean these people are so passionate about why the La Marzocco is the machine of choice that I'm swept away by that passion.  And evidently, so are the people who run Casey's Coffee.  They have a 3 group Linea semi-auto in all it's glory.  Oh, and two Mazzers for grinding duty.

This morning I was in the mood for a mocha instead of my now usual macchiato.  Maybe it was just my mood or maybe I'm afraid to order macchiatos in Baltimore but a mocha was my order.  I watched the barista make a few drinks and they looked pretty good.  For my mocha, double shot espresso, double pump Hersheys and steamed milk.  I was a little concerned since the barista just kinda left the wand in the pitcher, set it on the grate and let it steam away but the results weren't too bad.  No Bronwen style microfoam but decent enough to drink.  

Just to note: I have not experienced Bronwen style microfoam in Baltimore as of this writing.

I ordered the 12z serving (they use SB names for sizes) and the balance of chocolate and espresso was quite agreeable.  Actually, I found the drink to be very pleasant and enjoyable.  So pleasant that I decided I wanted to see what the Americano tasted like.

The Americano was decent but for a double shot, I think 8-10z of water (in a 12z cup) is just too much water.  The flavor was nice but diluted.  I think that with no more than 6z water this Americano would be downright tasty.

I left Casey's thinking that more investigation will be necessary.  The drinks were decent and enjoyable and I'm interested in sampling more of their menu.
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onocoffee
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onocoffee
Joined: 5 Sep 2002
Posts: 733
Location: Towson, Maryland
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, 3AV &...
Grinder: 4 Mazzer Major Autos, Compak...
Vac Pot: That crazy Bodum eSantos
Drip: Bunn CWT Twin, Bunn Water...
Roaster: Petroncini The Crumb
Posted Fri Oct 17, 2003, 2:10pm
Subject: Common Ground - 36th Street, Hampden
 

Here in Baltimore, Hampden is known for being the tackiest neighborhood in a tacky town.  Polyester, Aqua Net and bouffant hairdos - all the good stuff in a John Waters movie - are alive and well in this quirky enclave.  Once strictly a blue collar area, Hampden has slowly attracted yuppies and gentrification is underway.  It's an interesting canvas of white hip hop thugs, factory laborers, yuppies, Novas and Mercedes ML320s, with the occasional prostitute here and there.  36th Street is Downtown Hampden where all the types converge and commingle.  Common Ground is on "The Avenue" by the Roland Avenue corner.

According to the guys at Key Coffee Roasters, Common Ground is doing pretty good business.  It's a small shop with walkup entryway and it looks like it used to be an old rowhome once upon a time.  Immediately to your left in the entryway is a bulletin board with various flyers announcing the happenings in the city.  Just after on the left are cubbyholes filled with books for your reading enjoyment.  Titles like: "The Art Of Treason" struck my interest and there's numerous copies of The Baltimore Sun for you to enjoy.

Common Ground is divided into three separate seating areas.  The first is just as you walk in, seats maybe 12 and looks quite comfortable with tile top tables.  It was pretty crowded so I bypassed that area.  Taking up the center is the work area and they've crammed everything into this tiny space.  If it is larger than 8'x8' I'd be surprised.  At Common Ground they do a variety of tasty looking sandwiches and are limited to pies and bread pudding for sweet stuff.  I was really hoping for a pastry but oh well!

Tucked in the back corner of the workspace is a two group semi-automatic Astoria, looks a bit old but since it wasn't the programmable automatic type I had my hopes up.  Meaning that since it wasn't one of those punch the button and leave it alone machines the barista probably would have to pay attention to what he was doing.  A black bumper sticker reading "Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Starbucks" was pasted on the rear left wall.

My turn came up and I based on another thread here, I asked for a Cortado. A quizzical look came back to me and I knew he didn't know what I was talking about.  He asked the girl working with him and she didn't know either.  Gosh, I really am starting to hate using these fancy terms at coffeeshops because I don't want to come off as some sort of coffee jerk.  I explained that the Cortado is double-shot espresso with equal amounts of steamed milk.  The girl commented it was like a wet macchiato - yes, I guess.  

Actually, if you have been following the other "Macchiato v. Cortado" thread you'll understand why I chose this term today.  I don't think I'll do that ever again.

The two guys (one which I presume was the owner) were really quite friendly and helpful.  The girl was quiet and I sensed a bit of an attitude - maybe it was the cortado incident.

I pretty much missed watching the guy make the drink but he was trying his best to pull a shot in the dark with this Cortado.  The drink was served in a 12z paper cup and there was about 6z of drink in it.  

Now before I continue let me say this, as a coffee community I think it would be nice if we could settle on terminology.  Some of the postings here have stated that frothed, steamed, foamed milk are all the same.  They are not.  During my conversation with the staff, I told them I would like the milk steamed - meaning foam throughout the milk like a Bronwen Macchiato.  What I got was indeed milk made hot through steam pressure and a little bit of fast-dissipating, medium bubble foam.

Two bucks and tip later, I made my way to the rear seating areas.  Behind the workspace is the second interior seating.  Red painted walls and complimentary tables made for quite a nice setting with seating for about 8.  I chose to go further and outside onto the small deck where seating for maybe 6 awaited.  Sitting down in an old curved metal Ikea chair repainted black I tested the waters with my Cortado.

By this point, I could see that the foam was just on top and fast dissipating but I took a sip and was pleasantly surprised.  An almost perfect balance of coffee and milk filled the senses.  The flavor was pleasant and enjoyable and you could easily tell that the shot pulled was on the money - no bitterness, no sourness.  Had the milk been prepared the way I had hoped, I might have been writing that it was outstanding. Kudos to the barista who made the drink.  

While it wasn't exactly what I wanted, it was a pleasant and enjoyable drink that I enjoyed on the deck and on the ride home.
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onocoffee
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onocoffee
Joined: 5 Sep 2002
Posts: 733
Location: Towson, Maryland
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, 3AV &...
Grinder: 4 Mazzer Major Autos, Compak...
Vac Pot: That crazy Bodum eSantos
Drip: Bunn CWT Twin, Bunn Water...
Roaster: Petroncini The Crumb
Posted Mon Oct 27, 2003, 4:36pm
Subject: Golden West Cafe - 36th Street, Hampden
 

With the "falling back" of the clock, I found myself once again in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore, standing on the street at 8am in front of the Golden West Cafe.  Why was this odd?  Because the newspaper's website (sunspot.net) said that GWC opens at 8am and it was still closed.

After standing around feeling rather foolish for a few minutes, we noticed that the door was unlocked and saw some chap messing around in the back. Popped open the door and were immediately greeted with a booming "CLOSED" by that same chap.  Not exactly the pinnacle of customer relations and this was a signal of what was to come.  After yelling back at him asking what time they opened, he yelled back: "9 o'clock."  Sheesh, you'd think that they might consider posting their hours on the door.

A few moments later, another guy comes out who I presume is the owner since he actually took the time to come outside and inform us that they did open at nine and that we must have not adjusted our clocks last night.  After telling him that the city's daily newspaper had 8am listed on their website, he dismissed their error as having something to do with the mainstream establishment.

We decided to come down to GWC because we had heard good things about the food - New Mexico style breakfasts - and the coffee.  Just a couple minutes into the mix and already I was a bit irritated with the experience.  In the meanwhile, we took some time to stroll down 36th Street.

By 9am, there must have been 20 people waiting outside GWC with us.  The clientele is the typical eclectic mixture of the hip Baltimore scene.  Artist types, students, preps, yuppies and others who probably don't bathe very often.  We sat down and waited.  Finally, the girl who was our waitress came to take our order.  The food looked pretty interesting and since Bryan and Maria are from the American Southwest, they were looking forward to trying the food and seeing how it compared to "back home."  Both of them ordered a Breakfast Burrito, Angie ordered a Breakfast Quesadilla and I ordered some Huevos concoction of corn cakes, beans, fried bananas, green chiles and eggs.

In our seemingly eternal quest for halfway mediocre espresso in Baltimore (do I sound more cynical as this thread continues?) we decided to order a Mocha.  Our waitress asked if we wanted a single or double and if we wanted a tall or venti.  Double mocha in a tall cup.  Make me wonder if they were going to serve it in paper cups.

GWC is a funky kind of place that fully utilizes the resources of the Salvation Army's Furniture Department.  It's hip, it's eclectic and it's got a mix of people that gives it some credibility in this vein.  The menus are encased in old vinyl album covers for a nice touch.  There's no sound deadening and the space is loud - filled with the conversations of all the patrons and whatever music the staff feels like playing at that moment. For a restaurant, it's considerably noisy.  

Which makes me wonder what it matters if your patrons are talking amongst themselves or on their cell phone?  

On the first page of the menu is a long diatribe detailing the owner's (I guess) philosphy on customer service, cell phones and serving time.  It's less an explanation of why there might be problems rather than a dictum telling you that you just better get over it.  Certainly, it set the tone in my mind about breakfast and it wasn't positive.  When Angie's phone rang, there was the waitress telling her to go outside - as though the phone conversation could actually be heard by the table next to us when the noise level was so loud.

Our waitress was a 20 something hipster type with a constant scowl and poor abilities as a server.  Drinks would take about ten years to emerge and the food took nearly an eternity.

Finally, our Mochas arrived.  And let me tell you, Bryan's wife Maria is starting to make fun of us on our quest for espresso in Baltimore and GWC illustrates the point.  

This mocha was the ABSOLUTE WORST MOCHA I HAVE EVER RECEIVED.

It was served in a standard sized ceramic mug - which makes me wonder what the question about the size was all about.  The coffee was bitter, burnt and totally unpleasant.  The chocolate was just blah and the ratio was blah and the milk must have been microwaved by the looks of it.

All of that for $3.50.

It took at least another half an hour for our food to arrive and Angie's order was wrong.  After pointing this out, the waitress stated that she thought Angie asked for a breakfast burrito, informed her that it would be at least ten minutes to prepare her food, she decided to pass.  So, no meal for Angie and the waitress should have written the order down.  Of course, she charged her for the bacon and the soda.  Grrrr.

Otherwise the food was actually decent.  Bryan and Maria were disappointed that the green chiles were canned and not fresh but my dish turned out to be pretty tasty.  I too orderd a side of bacon which was good but I would have preferred a side of their housemade Chorizo (they don't do sides of that).

I wanted to be able to write a recommend for Golden West Cafe but really, I can't.  Other than the food being rather tasty, there is no reason to go there.  The service sucks, the espresso sucks - even the drip coffee sucked.

Actually, the service was so poor that it affected the level of tip we left behind. I think we left 5 percent - and I think that was too generous for the level of service.
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flydhest
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flydhest
Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 274
Location: Washington, DC
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Giotto
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Roaster: Hottop
Posted Tue Oct 28, 2003, 5:13pm
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

Onocoffee,

Thanks for the running reviews of places.  I don't get up to Bal(t)imore that often, but when I do, it will be good to have a list of places to get a good cup of coffee.
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onocoffee
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onocoffee
Joined: 5 Sep 2002
Posts: 733
Location: Towson, Maryland
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, 3AV &...
Grinder: 4 Mazzer Major Autos, Compak...
Vac Pot: That crazy Bodum eSantos
Drip: Bunn CWT Twin, Bunn Water...
Roaster: Petroncini The Crumb
Posted Wed Oct 29, 2003, 3:38pm
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

Flydhest-

Thanks for the support.  I appreciate it greatly and I hope that these writings will be of some service to you.  Sadly, I am unable to report of a place in Baltimore that I have tried that has notable espresso drinks.  Some of the places are reviewed have really nicely done interiors and many of them have friendly staff but the level of technical ability just isn't there.

I don't know if it's a case of owner/operator ignorance or that they don't care or that the level of training in the area (provided by the suppliers) isn't up to par with the PNW - I just don't know the true reasons behind the lackluster coffee.  It could be the choice of beans but I find it hard to accurately assess the bean when the technique for pulling a shot is questionable.

There's nothing more that I want to do than write up a report where I am enthusiastically recommending a spot, but I haven't had that experience yet.  I will continue to comb this city for new spots to check out and sample and report here.

If you do find yourself in the Baltimore area with some time to spare, drop me an e-mail and I'll direct you to a new cafe that I know of where the owner is very interested in developing their technique and trying to figure out all the intracacies of specialty coffee.  He's someone that I know will listen and appreciate critical feedback on the product and presentation so that they can improve.  I haven't done a write up and I probably never will because of my relationship with the guy and I do not want to see biased or have the integrity of my writings come into question by doing a write up on the place.
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markm3
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Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 110
Location: Kpt,TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: UNIC Phoenix R...
Grinder: Bunn GBaratza,  Rossi...
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: Bunn HG, Fetco...
Roaster: Counter Culture and Gimme
Posted Fri Nov 7, 2003, 3:42am
Subject: Re: Caffe Crema and Starbucks TowsonTown Centre
 

onocoffee Said:

Beto-
Evidently, not too many people have heard about this Caffe Crema thing either!

Was at The Mall today to visit the Apple Store and check out the new G5 computer and decided that I would have an espresso drink at the Starbucks there.  I walked in and asked for the Caffe Crema and neither of the two working had ever heard of this drink.  I'm starting to think that I must be Brother From Another Planet!  I told her what to, she pulled it and it was pretty darn good - no bitterness, slightly sweet and rich in flavor.

From what I know about this Caffe Crema thing, it's a double shot espresso that is extracted to 6oz instead of two.  Just put the 8z cup under the portafilter and let it pull away!  Kind of like a Caffe Americano but instead of adding the hot water, you let the water pass through the grinds.

Evidently, this is supposedly popular in Europe. I've always enjoyed Americanos so I've been trying this variation lately.

Posted September 3, 2003 link

If you. the person ordering the drink, does not really know what it is. Then why could you expect the PBTC to know?  It takes a much coarser grind for  a Cafe Crema, and most if not all shops are not going to change the grind, hell most wont change it for ANY reason.  

And did you actually ask for a Bronwen Macchiato? Or just a Macciato, most places I have been to, give a dumb look over just a  Macchiato, so adding someones name, whom they have never heard of can't help. But, then I'm assuming you were just explaining your goal of getting the milk the way she prepares it.  The "put the pitcher on the drip tray 'till it screams" is a very popular method for lazy ass Baristas, as you observed.

If your really looking for a Cafe Crema, you might search out a place with a Super Auto. From what I hear, most have a "Tall" Coffee  button that should get you what your looking for. The Starbucks Supers do not have it though. Maybe its only the consumer level machines?

Pick me up a G5 next time your in the Apple Store, I'll trade you a couple pounds of Black Cat for it.
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onocoffee
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onocoffee
Joined: 5 Sep 2002
Posts: 733
Location: Towson, Maryland
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, 3AV &...
Grinder: 4 Mazzer Major Autos, Compak...
Vac Pot: That crazy Bodum eSantos
Drip: Bunn CWT Twin, Bunn Water...
Roaster: Petroncini The Crumb
Posted Fri Nov 7, 2003, 4:50pm
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

Markm-
Upon first reading your posting, I wasn't sure what the tone of your intent was.  To be sure, I was a bit taken aback. But I will proceed presuming that was not your intention.

"If you. the person ordering the drink, does not really know what it is. Then why could you expect the PBTC to know? "

Well, personally speaking, I was hoping that the PBTC would be more knowledgeable than I.  Since I had read about the Cafe Crema here I hadn't experienced one before and was trying to find a place where I could try one.

"It takes a much coarser grind for  a Cafe Crema, and most if not all shops are not going to change the grind, hell most wont change it for ANY reason."  

Unfortunately, after my continuing experiences in Baltimore, I wonder if the PBTC-ers here even know HOW to adjust the grind!

"And did you actually ask for a Bronwen Macchiato? Or just a Macciato, most places I have been to, give a dumb look over just a  Macchiato, so adding someones name, whom they have never heard of can't help. "

Considering the blank stares I received when asking for a Cafe Crema, I fear the same situation if I were to ask for a "Bronwen Macchiato."

But when I walked into Hines, it went a little something like this:

Bronwen:  "Hey"
Onocoffee: "Hey"
Bronwen: "What can I get for you today?"
Onocoffee:  "Oh, I don't know.  What do you suggest?"
Bronwen:  "How about a macchiato?"
Onocoffee:  "That sounds great!"

And I enjoyed an immensely pleasurable drink made of espresso and an equal amount of frothed milk that I have not been able to get anyone to replicate (or come close to) outside of the Hines/Zoka/Seattle circle.  It's quite frustrating, actually.

"But, then I'm assuming you were just explaining your goal of getting the milk the way she prepares it.  The "put the pitcher on the drip tray 'till it screams" is a very popular method for lazy ass Baristas, as you observed."

I don't know if you've read through my continued adventures in Baltimore, but I've tried everything it seems - from explaining what I want to trying using other terms (cortado) that I learned from other CG-ers, to lengthy discussions about what I am seeking - all to no avail.  I'm at the point that I've run out of descriptives and am starting to become afraid of ordering anymore.

"If your really looking for a Cafe Crema, you might search out a place with a Super Auto. From what I hear, most have a "Tall" Coffee  button that should get you what your looking for. The Starbucks Supers do not have it though. Maybe its only the consumer level machines?"

I'm no longer obsessed with the Cafe Crema.  An Americano is fine with me really.  My psychosis is trying to find that Serna/Zoka/Seattle style macchiato without having to make it myself.

"Pick me up a G5 next time your in the Apple Store, I'll trade you a couple pounds of Black Cat for it. "

Sounds like a deal!  As long as you toss in a LM Linea with the Black Cat!
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markm3
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Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 110
Location: Kpt,TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: UNIC Phoenix R...
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Roaster: Counter Culture and Gimme
Posted Fri Nov 7, 2003, 9:33pm
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

onocoffee Said:

Markm-
Upon first reading your posting, I wasn't sure what the tone of your intent was.  To be sure, I was a bit taken aback. But I will proceed presuming that was not your intention.

Sorry, I guess it did come across the wrong way.

"If you. the person ordering the drink, does not really know what it is. Then why could you expect the PBTC to know? "

Well, personally speaking, I was hoping that the PBTC would be more knowledgeable than I.  Since I had read about the Cafe Crema here I hadn't experienced one before and was trying to find a place where I could try one.

"It takes a much coarser grind for  a Cafe Crema, and most if not all shops are not going to change the grind, hell most wont change it for ANY reason."  

Unfortunately, after my continuing experiences in Baltimore, I wonder if the PBTC-ers here even know HOW to adjust the grind!

I think they know, but have been warned by the boss/owner not to mess around with the equipment. Keep in mind that alot of shop owners have no real interest in the beverage itself.  

I usually walk in a place and ask "Why are your Portafilters lying on the counter"? PBTC will say "Huh? Portaaaaaaaaaah" ?
"Just give me an ice water"

But when I walked into Hines, it went a little something like this:

Bronwen:  "Hey"
Onocoffee: "Hey"
Bronwen: "What can I get for you today?"
Onocoffee:  "Oh, I don't know.  What do you suggest?"
Bronwen:  "How about a macchiato?"
Onocoffee:  "That sounds great!"

What amazes me, is seeing the pictures of all the Barista hanging out at Hines. Even though they are competing as far as being in business. I can't imagine anyone around this area, working at one shop, and then going to hang out at another, or even pull shots at the "other" guys's shop..



"Pick me up a G5 next time your in the Apple Store, I'll trade you a couple pounds of Black Cat for it. "

Sounds like a deal!  As long as you toss in a LM Linea with the Black Cat!

Well, I was gonna offer you some Lavazaa for it, but then I realized you said Apple and not Dell   : )

Posted November 7, 2003 link

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onocoffee
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onocoffee
Joined: 5 Sep 2002
Posts: 733
Location: Towson, Maryland
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, 3AV &...
Grinder: 4 Mazzer Major Autos, Compak...
Vac Pot: That crazy Bodum eSantos
Drip: Bunn CWT Twin, Bunn Water...
Roaster: Petroncini The Crumb
Posted Sun Nov 9, 2003, 1:10pm
Subject: Patterson Perk, Second Time Around
 

I spent a few hours this morning searching the Internet looking for some new coffee places to try and since I was feeling lazy, I really didn't want to venture down into the city.  Then I realized that I had to go downtown to pickup some pies and just decided to give into the lure of the city.

I'll be honest, through my continued adventures searching for tasty espresso in Charm City, I've started to become a bit scared.  Scared to go out and beat my head against the wall tasting espresso and trying to describe the Bronwen Macchiato that I have enjoyed.  About a year ago when I first joined CG and read how many CG-ers felt that they couldn't get a decent espresso anywhere but in their homes were, at best, exagerrating a bit.  After my trip to Portland and Seattle for NASCORE, I've learned just enough about espresso making to become a danger to myself and to make my coffeeshop excursions more and more disheartening.

I so desperately want to find a great coffeeshop here in Baltimore.  A place where I can go, sit down, enjoy a drink and have conversation with friends.  A casual flophouse like Hines would be borderline miraculous.

On the way to buy pies (www.dangerouspies.com), I stopped off at Patterson Perk (www.pattersonperk.com) and orderd a macchiato, double shot with 1:1 ratio of frothed milk.  The girl working the La Pavoni three-group had "Bitch" screened on the back of her shirt - nice touch.  Don't get me wrong, the two girls behind the counter were quite friendly.  But the sight of the pitcher sitting on the drip tray while the steam wand blazed away was disappointing.  Not to mention the use of the on-board tamper on the La Pavoni Zip grinder and the dispensing of the shot into two stainless steel jugs.

Served in an 8oz cup about .5 to .75 full, the milk featured big bubbles.  I grabbed one of those pre-sweetened, shrink wrapped blueberry Belgian waffles (I really do like them!) and sat down at the table to enjoy my breakfast.  Unfortunately, the espresso was bitter.  Bitter enough to bite right through the milk (at what looked to be the 1:1 ratio about) and make me shudder.  I thought about returning it but I just didn't want to bother.  I went to the condiment bar, tossed two packs of sugar and a shot or two of half and half and continued eating and reading the paper.

I had been hoping that the girl working there the last time I visited would be there again.  She seemed interested in the Cafe Crema I ordered last time and seemed interested in trying to improve her technique.

The day continues in the next spot!
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