Carmel, located about 100 miles south of San Francisco, has lots of art galeries where you can buy truly beautiful paintings for $50k+, and where you can drink truly awful cappuccinos in beautiful coffee houses.
This coffee house is connected to the Il Fornaio Italian restaurant. This beautiful coffee house is completely round inside. The ceiling opens up to outside air. Cappuccinos taste slight harsh so I stick with mocas.
Cardinali. This small and cozy coffee house is located in a courtyard on Ocean avenue. Enter through the red doors to enter the coffee house. The cappuccinos are so bitter and harsh that not even adding lots of sugar can compensate for it. This awful taste might be due to a dirty espresso machine. I don't think severe overextraction can make cappuccinos taste this bad. I've visited the place a couple of times and it's always the same bad taste. So in this case a bad cappucino does not compensate for beautiful surroundings.
This coffee house is located in Pacific Grove which is next to Carmel. I love that red bench. Sit in the sun (if there's no fog), read a paper, and try to enjoy a cappuccino that has some harsh taste to it. The nice location barely compensates for the poor cappa taste. Better stick with mocas.
About 20 years ago(OMG! can it be 20 years?) I was stationed at Fort Ord which was just to the North of Monterey. We used to spend most weekends in the Carmel area. I fell in love and if I could aford to live there I would be there now.
5 years ago my ex and I went to Carmel for a vacation and stayed at the hotel the Il Fornaio is in. I don't remember much about the coffee but I do remember the cafe you're talking about. This was back before I took an interest in coffee so again, I don't remember much. She never liked coffee, so I don't remember her having any. My first ever espresso was after dinner one night at the Il Fornaio. That I remember. I suspect you're supposed to be happy about where you are and not worry so much about the coffee. Did I mention that I love Carmel? :)
I remember the second place with the red doors but I don't remember if it was a cafe then. It's been a while.
Now, that I'm motivated to use up some of my vacation time this year and go back to that area, I ask you, where IS a good place to get coffee?
It's rainy here in Denver today, so this was a welcome treat. Thanks!
(Hey! Look at that, my first post! I guess I should stop lurking.)
I lived in Monterey '96-'03. Never went to Il Fornaio (Carmel was only valuable for a small swatch of beach and for harassing tourists); but the second shop --oh, man, I should remember the name-- was ok. Not the best, but ok.
TechVP, if you do ever make it out there, try Plumes. It's in the central part Monterey (I can't justify calling it 'downtown'), on the corner of Alvarado and Franklin. That place was my first barista job. I love it. It's under new ownership, so I'm not sure how that's influenced quality, but while I was there we comfortably held our own against a Starbucks 200 yards away. Try the brew-by-the-cup at least once. The Indian Malibar is a great light roast there. As far as espresso, let's start with the barista. A tall Asian-looking guy named Jason should still work there. If he's on the machine, you should end up happy. Tell him Russell [that's me] sent you; he'll probably make your drink as top-notch as possible. A few basic pics of the shop are on my website.
Hemingway had the ideal cofee shop figured out: "A clean, well-lighted place."
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