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The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
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Posted Wed May 16, 2012, 11:27am
Subject: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

I have good and bad news for you.
The good news is that I like the coffee at Nguyen Ngo French Cafe (11210 Bellaire Blvd # 136  Houston, TX 77072 - closed Wednesdays).  It is not made in accordance with the obsessions preferred by the general Coffeegeek membership.  They apparently brew extremely concentrated drip coffee, which they store in an airpot.  Then, when I order a hot black coffee, no sugar, they pump once or twice into a cup and top it off with a hot water urn.  Sounds atrocious, but I really like the taste.  I do not know their coffee supplier.  The concentrated drip is because most of their customers order it as ice coffee and, in that way, it stands up well to dilution by ice and milk.  So, you have to be specific in eliminating all of the extras when you order.  If you order 'coffee', you will get ice coffee with milk.  If you order 'black coffee', you will get black ice coffee with sugar.  If you order 'hot, black coffee', you will get it with sugar, etc.  By the way, they are a mention in the Best of Houston for their Bahn Mi, and they deserve it.  Order their BBQ pork with fried egg (optional) and you will get the best Bahn Mi in Houston.  It is 2/3 the size of most BBQ sandwiches but 1/2 the price.  The meat is balanced nicely by a few pickled vegetables that announce their presence by their crispness; they are not sour and only very slightly sweet.  It is better than a market that is often mentioned in Houston that begins with 'R' which I find to be overpriced and not delicious for take-out.  This place, however, you can depend upon.  Many people like their shredded chicken Bahn Mi, but I prefer their pork BBQ.  You can get regular pork, sausage and pate, as well, and mix and match.

In the disappointment category, I walked into Dirk's for an Americano, and walked out empty handed.  I was in a short line for less than two minutes, but in that interval I had the time to assess the deer-in-headlights stare of a young fellow doing nothing behind the counter but warming his hands in his pockets while a slightly older young fellow behind the counter made a series of rushed dashes for this and that with a sour look on his face.  Bottom line, I think there has been a lot of personnel turnover (I had not seen these two before), starting with the departure of Oliver several months ago.  Is it fair for me to give a negative mention to a cafe when I didn't even give them a chance to pull me a shot?  In response, I am tired of paying good money for bad coffee, which it is still easy to do in Texas, and I think I have developed a sense of when the baristas are distracted or bored or unconcerned.  Every business will have staff turnover, especially coffee cafes.  I just prefer to wait this one out.
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rixcat
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rixcat
Joined: 17 May 2012
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Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
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Posted Sat May 19, 2012, 7:43am
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

Hi Buckley: I don't suppose you had any other good espresso experiences in Houston? I will be staying in the Theater District in June and was wondering if you could help me out a little with a process of elimination.  Thanks for anything.
Richard
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Mon May 21, 2012, 8:38am
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

well, I'm not Buckley, but I would suggest taking a short drive or cab ride West over to Catalina coffee.  It's the closest place to the theater district I know of with drinkable espresso, and it really isn't very far at all.  check out this google map...

Click Here (maps.google.com)

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
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Posted Fri Jun 8, 2012, 3:00pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

Dear emradguy,
Thanks for jumping into the breach.  As usual I'm late with any useful reply.  Yeah, Catalina has a decent location and hours and at least they serve coffee, unlike some 'cafes' in Houston.
B
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nwin
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Joined: 10 Oct 2012
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Location: Bedford, MA
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Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 6:20am
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

Any recommendations on best places to buy beans?  I live near Meyerland and so far the only place I have tried out is Jave Coffee & Tea Co. www.javacoffee.com on Fondren.  It doesn't seem bad at all, but I have nothing to compare it to except for stuff from the grocery store as I'm still new to this whole thing.
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 8:25am
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

I haven't tried Java Coffee & Tea.

B=However, Tuscany Coffee/Greenway Coffee in Greenway plaza roasts and their coffee is served at Revival Market (Heights Blvd, just north of I-10) and I'm pretty sure Catalina coffee (on Washington, east of Heights Blvd), as well as their own location.  I know for sure you can buy their coffee online, at the Greenway Plaza coffee bar and at Revival Market.  You can also buy coffee at Catalina.

There's also Java Pura on Gulfton, between South Rice and 610, I think.  OK, you'd think I'd be sure of that given I live about 6 blocks from there...lol

Having said all that, I buy almost all (read, over 98%) of my coffee online, and most often I get it from RedBirdCoffee.com (in Bozeman, MT). Typically, I receive my order on the third day after I place it on their website.  It roasts the day after I place the order and ships the same day, so I receive it 2 days post-roast.  To do this, I order between Sun and Tues.  In fact, I have an order due to arrive today that I placed on Sunday - it roasted and shipped Tuesday.  

There are many other online roasters that produce very high quality s.o. and blend roasts, that will be delivered to your door within a couple of days after roasting.  Check out the "List of Favorite roasters" on home-barista.com

Dodd Coffee is online only, although Houston based.  I bought something from him once and liked it very much, but since it's online only, there's no real advantage to getting their coffee over any other online roaster's.

There's another place with a storefront on the east side of Chimney Rock immediately south of Westheimer, but I haven't been inside their store.  Sorry, I can't recall the name, but I'm pretty sure they actually do roast there.

 
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Thu Nov 1, 2012, 10:57am
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

I just got back to work after visiting Southside Espresso.  They opened this past weekend just off Westheimer, 1 short block East of Montrose (attched to the back street side of Uchi).  I ordered a cortado and a cappuccino.  Both were prepared by owner/manager Sean Marshall and both were excellent.  Shots were spot on and the milk was perfectly textured.  He's got brand spanking new equipment in there...a La Marzocco Strada and two commercial Mazzer E grinders (not sure of the models, since it's outside my realm of "expertise" (if there really is an area where I can claim such knowledge/experience).  Highly recommended!

While there, I met Matt Toomey, owner/operator of Boomtown Coffee (on 19th St. in the Heights).  We struck up a nice conversation about the coffee scene in Houston.  He's a super cool guy.  I look forward to trying out his shop as well.

 
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014, 7:07am
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

I was at Revival Market the other day (I get there once a month or so). I sadly have to say things may have gone downhill there.  

I saw a single barista working, one I hadn't met before (or seen there before).  Their Faema finally died and about two months or so ago, they got a LM machine and they've alse replaced their Robur with a new one.

Ok, now for the downhill part...I was simply flabbergasted when I saw the guy work the bar.  He ground and dosed for a drink, then leveled the basket right off with his finger, pushing the excess grounds straight into the doser (which didn't have a cover on to begin with). My jaw hoit the floor, because previously, they were all about qigh quality.  This guy then pulled the shot an, frothed some milk and poured artwork, looking more like he ourght to be serving barolo in Piedmont, than working in a cafe. It wasn't just his  looked like showboating, but his entire prep looked like he was going more for style points than focusing on the tak at hand.  Unfortunately for him, none of the women in the place were watching - not even the one who he was making the drink for. I was across the room and had the only set of eyes on him, in part because, though it was lunch hour, the place was rather empty.

Since my last post in this thread, Blacksmith has opened (probably a year ago), though I've not yet been there.  Catlaina also opened a second location, called Mercantile.  It's in Rice Village on Morningside, and is pretty good, but not as good as Catalina proper.  I heard they're opening a third cafe soon.  

Also, I've been to boomtown several times and think it's worth the trip. They roast their own, in house (and you can even watch) and they know what they're doing.  Each time I've been in (it's been a while now) they've had two different espressos available.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014, 12:02pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

Ah, yes, 'Revile' (no accent on the last 'e') market...  good raw materials, terrible products.  If they are still selling Greenway coffee, then they might still have a teaching program with Greenway - they did when I lived in Houston.  I went there to test the results of David's mentoring program.  At the time, I'm afraid that the barista's instruction might have been on Greenway's LM because it sure did not translate into any kind of performance on their HX: she served me the worst cup of stomach acid that I have had in a long time.  Now it sounds like they have hired a clown.  You should mention it to David.

You need to get thee to Blacksmith, if only for me, vicariously.  It opened after I moved away.

TJS (BT)
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,226
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
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Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014, 12:38pm
Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 5 - Houston, Texas (update)
 

yeah, they still sell Greenway...which is really nice for me, since I can go there for a very good lunch and even a little shopping, and also pick up some coffee when I need it.

 
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