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onocoffee
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onocoffee
Joined: 5 Sep 2002
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Location: Towson, Maryland
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Posted Sat Aug 30, 2003, 9:13pm
Subject: Coffee In Baltimore
 

I thought that I would start this thread as a means for others to glimpse what is going on in Baltimore (where I live).  Baltimore is definitely not a mecca of coffee but there are some parties who are trying their best to make good coffee for those of us in Charm City.

This posting appeared under the Washington D.C. thread originally and I'm posting it here to start off!
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I'm not as advanced as my friends in the enjoyment and understanding of coffee but here's a couple places we enjoy going to from time to time here in Baltimore. Sorry I don't have exact addresses - but all are within Baltimore city limits.

Bonjour - Falls Road, Mount Washington Area
This is a small French style cafe that serves a very enjoyable 4 shot Americano (I ask them to use the 16z cup and fill with water about 3/4 with the shots).  Excellent pastries and a pretty tasty ham and cheese croissant (if they haven't run out - make sure you ask them to heat it up).

The Coffee Mill - Hampden Area
A small coffee shop where the owner is rather fanatical about his beans and the espresso is pretty good. I don't know if it is just me but sometimes it seems that his hours are sporadic.

The Daily Grind - Thames Street in Fells Point & Pratt Street by Convention Center
The Daily Grind is a rather well-known joint in Baltimore and they serve a pretty good espresso or mocha.  The owner also owns a growing roasting company called Key Coffee Roasters.
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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 Tue Sep 2, 2003, 10:22pm
Subject: Patterson Perk
 

Ventured down to Patterson Perk this past weekend to check it out.  I've been seeing it for a number of months now driving by and finally got around to visiting.  It's on Eastern Avenue along the southern edge of Patterson Park (hence the play on words).

Nice looking coffee shop.  Evidently the owners are graphic/interior designers who live in California and decided that they should buy property in Baltimore and, God Forbid, they should be subjected to the horrendous coffee in the city.  So, they started their own coffee shop.  Walk in and you find the decor to be friendly and welcoming.  Exposed brick walls, exposed aluminum duct work, baby blue and yellow paint and granite countertops give the shop a modern but throwback look.

This is currently their only location but these guys really knew where to put their money to make their shop look like a winner.  Custom, four color cup sleeves with matching logos for their business card, frequent cup card, mugs, t-shirts and more, give the impression that this is the big time.  Great looking logo and great looking design.

The only slightly disappointing aspect of the shop is the preponderance of IKEA furniture and home accessories everywhere.  From the tables to the stools to the benches to the doo-hickeys that hold sugar and stuff.  It's all IKEA and it's now kinda sad how you can always pick out IKEA stuff wherever you go.  Don't get me wrong, it's all tastefully blended in with the rest of the interior design but it's still IKEA.

Down to business.  I was a bit disappointed when I asked for a Cafe Crema and the girl asked me what that was all about.  Now, I'm certainly no expert in coffee and I've still very much a newbie so I don't know if I'm the one who should speak with any sort of authority to the girl on how to properly make the Cafe Crema.  She was very pleasant and wanted to know to expand her knowledge.

After explaining that the Cafe Crema is basically a 6oz continuous pull shot, she pulled a double and then hit the run button pushing water through the portafilter until it was about the right volume.  This resulted in more bitterness than I would have preferred.   My friends ordered a Mocha, which she didn't like so much and he ordered an Americano, which was okay.  

While the coffee wasn't the best, the manager and I guess it was her boyfriend were very friendly and very nice people.  I really like them.  I plan on investigating the situation further and visiting a few more times before making any final thoughts about Patterson Perk.
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Beto
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Beto
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Posted Wed Sep 3, 2003, 7:23am
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

The place sounds pretty nice, I'll have to check it out.

I've never heard of a cafe crema either.  From your description, it sounds like a verrry long espresso lungo.  If it were 6 oz., I would expect that it would be bitter.
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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 Sep 3, 2003, 3:17pm
Subject: Caffe Crema and Starbucks TowsonTown Centre
 

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.
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phaelon56
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phaelon56
Joined: 11 Feb 2002
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Location: Syracuse, NY
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Roaster: Sivetz , Diedrich
Posted Thu Sep 4, 2003, 5:11am
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

It's worth noting that the pull time should be about the same as a double espresso (if I understand it correctly).  This means the grind has to be coarser in order to allow the larger volume of water to get through. Simply allowing the water to run longer for the total volume yet still use the espresso grind would be a bad thing. You'd end up with a double shot of espresso topped off with 4 oz of overextracted dreck.  

Many cafe's don't know enough to adjust grinder setting by the shot or just grind and fill the doser and thus, cannot change it for one shot.  I just visited a cafe (Smelly Cat Coffeehouse) in Charlotte NC - when I asked for a ristretto and then explained the process to the barista (grinde finer than normal), he said "we can't do that - the grinder has only one setting".

 
Owen O'Neill
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Beto
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Beto
Joined: 18 Nov 2002
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Posted Thu Sep 4, 2003, 5:22am
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

FWIW, I wouldn't change the grinder setting for one customer either.  It's not that I don't know how to change it, but it would be a MAJOR pain in the butt.  Those Mazzers are so sensitive, if I move the grinder 1/16" one way or the other, the shot time can vary as much as 10 seconds.

It takes me a good five minutes to dial it in sometimes and unless it needs adjusting, it ain't getting it!
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phaelon56
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phaelon56
Joined: 11 Feb 2002
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Location: Syracuse, NY
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: LM 4 group , Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Major, Super Jolly,...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Fetco, Melitta
Roaster: Sivetz , Diedrich
Posted Thu Sep 4, 2003, 9:04am
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

FWIW, I wouldn't change the grinder setting for one customer either.

I agree.  Most grinders are tough to dial in and not easy to rest to exactly where they were at, not to mention that in many busy shops theres a tendency to grind up enough to fill the doser partway and then just click to does for multiple drinks until the doser is emtpy and the grinder gets run once again.

My point was simply that it appeared the barista had never been trained on how to adjust the grinder or even on fundamentals such as that a double shot of espresso is approximately 2 oz (not the 6 oz "double" that I received).

LM Swift grinders, OTOH, appear to be REALLY easy to dial in bu they're not for everyone due to the price  (but they sure as hack improve shot quality and save coffee in an average cafe).

 
Owen O'Neill
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Beto
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Beto
Joined: 18 Nov 2002
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Espresso: Linea 2AV
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Roaster: Ambex YM15
Posted Thu Sep 4, 2003, 1:07pm
Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
 

My point was simply that it appeared the barista had never been trained on how to adjust the grinder or even on fundamentals such as that a double shot of espresso is approximately 2 oz (not the 6 oz "double" that I received).

I hear ya brother.  It's so depressing to go to shop after shop where the staff doesn't have an inkling of a clue.  Most owners obviously think that having "funky" decor and tatooed/pierced employees are what a good coffee shop make.
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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 Sep 7, 2003, 5:26pm
Subject: The Daily Grind - Fells Point
 

Went down to the Daily Grind this afternoon. The weather was beautiful and I was enjoying a trip into the city.

The Daily Grind is an interesting place.  Filled with artistic bohemian rocker tattoo types, along with an assortment of "regular" looking people and wandering tourists, it's become a Baltimore icon (or at least a Fells Point icon).  I guess you could say that TDG is supposed to be on the leading edge of coffee in Baltimore.

That said, the staff certainly looks like they're the rocker/bohemian type. Tats, piercings, blue black hair and the girl had a bit of an attitude - guess I didn't "look" like her friends so why not give a little attitude?

Perhaps it was because I was asking for a Caffe Crema?

Here I am again, in yet another Baltimore coffee shop and still the baristas have not heard of this Caffe Crema thing.  I'm getting more concerned that maybe this CoffeeGeek thing is rubbing off on a me a bit too much.

After explaining what the Caffe Crema is, I told the barista that the best results would be if he could make the grind a bit coarser due to the extended pull.  His response was that the machine ground the beans automatically and there was not way to adjust the grind.  A quick glance over to the machine revealed a Semi-Auto La Marzocco and two grinders.  I was both slightly disappointed and a bit more irritated.  Tell me that you don't want to change the grind because it might cause problems returning the grinder to espresso settings and I am very cool with that.  But tell me that you can't because the machine does it automatically makes me irritated that you would: a) lie to me about it and b) makes me wonder if you know enough about the equipment for me to be confident in your ability.

After that brief interlude and a cost of $2.50 for the "double shot espresso" the drink was in hand and I was sitting there sipping away reading the Washington Post.  The drink was pretty good I have to admit.  Smooth, nice flavor (I do add a little sugar and cream) and quite enjoyable.  So far, it's one of the better Caffe Cremas I have tried since I started this topic.

The girl with the attitude recommended a large oatmeal and raisin cookie.  I really wasn't in the mood for a cookie but I did ask her what she thought was best so I gave it a try.  Large, moist but still a bit crumbly and very tasty.  A nice compliment to the Crema.

As a side note I should add that TDG is owned by Key Coffee Roasters and the espresso bean seems pretty tasty so far (not to mention that Key has a very good rep in Baltimore for coffee).
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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 Sun Sep 7, 2003, 5:34pm
Subject: Dangerously Delicious Pies - Fleet Street
 

I thought that I would mention this place even though it's not really a cafe or coffee shop per se.

My friends and I were out last weekend and after visiting Patterson Perk we took a drive over to Dangerously Delicious Pies where I was pleasantly surprised.

Nestled in an old bakery location, the owners took over the space within the past year, painted it black and red with grey trim, filled the walls with interesting art, plopped a big ole Gretsch electric guitar in the corner and baked a bunch of pies.

These guys are rockers. Side burns, leisure vans, electric guitars and rock and roll.  Not to mention that the pies are fantastic as well.  Had a slice of their Apple Crumb (with raisins) pie a la mode and it was deeeelicious!  Soft apples, carmelized edges, raisins and the vanilla ice cream was just right.  Evidently they don't have an established menu of pies they make all year - they just make whatever they get that's the freshest and start from there and the results are fantastic.  I stopped by there this afternoon to pickup a Key Lime Pie and an Apple Pie.

DDP brews Key Coffee as well (blend unknown).  It's rich and a nice accompaniment to the pies.

Seating is limited to about six people but they have occasional live music performances where you can hear rock and roll and eat pies.
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