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Java Sojourner: Ashland Coffee & Tea north of Richmond, VA on 95
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 8:46am
Subject: Java Sojourner: Ashland Coffee & Tea north of Richmond, VA on 95
 

If you travel the 95 corridor between NY-Balt-Washington and Richmond-Savannh-Miami you might want to know about this cafe in Ashland, VA.  It is one minute west of exit #92.  The address is 100 North Railroad Avenue, Ashland, VA.  Go straight west (right)  from the exit ramp and you will not to have to make any turns, you will see it on your right.
I have been there 3 times and each time got an excellent cup of espresso.  They use Williamsburg Coffee Espresso Blend on an Iberital machine and they do a very good job there.  This is unusual for a full fare (B,L,D) cafe.  My breakfast omelet was OK, nothing to rave about.
I lost my tasting notes from my first visit.  I will edit them in if they turn up.
Second visit: The body and crema were thin, but, despite this, the mouthfeel was good and the taste was full chocolate, then pleasantly bitter.  The second taste was nutty, lemony, then savory (umami).  The third taste was chocolate, neutral, not bitter.  As it cooled, the taste became savory.  A good cup.
Third visit: Thick crema. Nutty first taste, then bitter chocolate.  Second taste savory, then chocolate.  Third taste savory.  Also a good cup.
The baristas seem to be very well trained, but they are not coffee geeks in that they do not have any inclination to talk coffee.  When asked about the roast they look it up but seemed puzzled that anyone would care, and once they had no idea what it was ("Fair Trade?" they said, asked).  I was in Williamsburg, VA, where the coffee roasting company is located, but I could find not retail outlet for their roast, and the phone was not answered on weekends.  It seems to be strictly a wholesale venture; bags are available for purchase at Ashland with an Ashland label on them, but they never have the espresso blend sitting out and there are not roast dates on the bag.
Ashland has plenty of variety of teas available for enjoying or purchasing, as well.
Finally, this unique place has a large performance room for local artists and seems to have an active, constant venue of local talent perform regularly, if you are in the area.  See their web site.
TJS
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ilcaffedio
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Joined: 31 Jan 2006
Posts: 463
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Astra G.A.
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Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 9:43am
Subject: Re: Java Sojourner: Ashland Coffee & Tea north of Richmond, VA on 95
 

Buckley Said:

The baristas seem to be very well trained, but they are not coffee geeks in that they do not have any inclination to talk coffee.  When asked about the roast they look it up but seemed puzzled that anyone would care, and once they had no idea what it was ("Fair Trade?" they said, asked).

Posted January 30, 2014 link

Thanks for the recommendation, but I would skip this shop based on this.  There is so much better out there, that this is inexcusable these days.
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Jan 31, 2014, 9:18am
Subject: Re: Java Sojourner: Ashland Coffee & Tea north of Richmond, VA on 95
 

Dear ilcafedio,

Your caution is understandable.  The thing is, they seem too busy to stop and chat.  I do want to talk to them next time I stop.  It is an easy assumption for me to make that someone sets the grind and temp one or more times daily on the machine and then the crew is well versed in the mechanics of pulling good shots.

I do not know what makes for a successful cafe.  I have had plenty of experiences walking into well reputed places, or places with baristas who talk knowledgeably about their coffee, and have been served sour shots.

The result is that the cafe works and works quite well times three.  My situation is that Richmond has been the southern terminus of my forays down 95; I never make it into Georgia or the Carolinas.  I would like to.  If you have knowledge of better cafes in your area or along 95, I hope you have listed them on this forum for peripatetic drinkers like me.  If not, I would appreciate hearing about them.

If you travel north on 95, consider trying them despite your misgivings.  Other CGs have not always agreed with my recommendations, but I always like to know someone else's experience, compared to mine.

TJS
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