5by5 Senior Member Joined: 2 Dec 2005 Posts: 32 Location: MD Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Miss Silvia Grinder: Cunill Tranquilo Drip: Presto
Posted Sun Aug 23, 2009, 12:06pm Subject: Re: Pfefferkorn's
Earlier in this thread someone mentioned Pfefferkorn's Coffee but didn't say what they thought of their coffee. I was going to head down there this week and check it out. Anyone else been there? Your thoughts?
Posted Wed Aug 26, 2009, 4:36pm Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
While I was up in Baltimore with my daughter in the hospital there I saw a small shop called Nina's it was close to the harbor but didn't get a chance to try it out though. Here in Burgaw, NC. we have a small shop called Courthouse Coffee and they have good selection of beans which they get locally from a roaster over in Hampstead, NC
amysalonchie Senior Member Joined: 17 Dec 2011 Posts: 10 Location: San Francisco Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Mon Jan 23, 2012, 4:52pm Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
At work so I can't do a thorough check but I don't think I see this place listed here--
Has anyone in the Baltimore area been to Bean Hollow in old Ellicott City? It's not too far of a drive and it has the most perfect atmosphere. It's been a while since I moved away but I recall their coffee and espresso being quite good. I lived in the Baltimore area for eight years and Bean Hollow is the #1 place I miss. I have been searching for a place in Northern California that comes anywhere close, but sadly although there is a lot of great coffee here no one gets the atmosphere right.
pilot25 Senior Member Joined: 7 Jan 2012 Posts: 116 Location: MD
Espresso: Rancilio Silvia Grinder: Preciso
Posted Mon Jan 23, 2012, 8:40pm Subject: Re: Coffee In Baltimore
Not really in Baltimore but Dublin Roasters in Frederick makes a couple espresso types and they are fantastic. Had one of their coffee specials at a local restaurant and was hooked. They roast great beans but I can say they don't know how to extract an espresso in their shop. They have a crappy Krupps automatic home espresso machine I've seen in Costco. I timed their extraction and it was like 10 seconds.
Posted Fri May 31, 2013, 8:37am Subject: TJS: The Java Sojourner visits Baltimore
The Java Sojourner had a chance to visit Baltimore and here are some of his findings. He first visited the long-running Baltimore cafes thread in order to become oriented to the coffee scene in Baltimore. This post is added to the Baltimore thread, rather than starting a whole new one. Spro has the most consistent good reputation in Charm City and was therefore the first stop. For the decaf Americano, the barista ground their own roast of Brazilian Royal Select. For the life of me, I could not detect any taste whatsoever in my cup. Poor performance for a wannabe reviewer or poor cup? I don’t know. There was some consolation that the regular espresso (Heins espresso blend) came with good crema and had a nutty initial taste, followed by a nondistinct bright note that I could not characterize. The second taste found the last flavor changing to an acid taste as the cup cooled. By the third sip, the cup tasted lemon-sour and bitter. Later on, I emailed a coffeegeek member who seems to be the owner or a principle in Spro to ask him how I might get a better serving at Spro, but I received no reply. The croissant served at Spro was cold, bread-y and tough, not crisp. It had good butter taste, though. It was made by Patisserie Poupon, so be advised. The next day I visited Artifacts. It is a little hard to find them the first time around. The key is to pull into the open parking lot with the ‘Residents Parking’ sign. There are parking spots for Artifacts. The ambiance is one of those rustic, all wood decors. For the decaf Americano, they were grinding Counter Culture decaf Rustico. The only taste was a very slightly sour taste that some might experience as ‘bright’. The regular espresso had a nutty aroma and an initial umami, salty taste that held a suggestion of cheese or soy sauce. It sounds terrible but it was quite enjoyable. The next flavors to hit the palate were a bright fruity note, followed by another umami taste, this time hinting of Parmesian, followed by a toasty note, then a dusty finish. When I mentioned this to the manager, he agreed that it ‘finishes savory’. Well, mine had savory popping up all the way through the taste. The cup was enjoyable and the flavors were well brought out. Their butter croissant was a respectable grade B. It was made by a person named Sarah who supplied them. The crust was nicely dark and crispy. The inside was mildly flaky and nicely soft and there was a moderate butter flavor. Other breakfast and lunch items may be enjoyed there. While I was drinking my espresso, a waiter tried to serve me someone else’s oatmeal. It looked good. Artifacts holds cuppings every Monday at 10am. Sometimes they are held at Woodberry Kitchen restaurant, several blocks away (parking is a hassle, so walk from Artifacts). The manager told me that they were going to hold a ‘problem-oriented’ cupping where each coffee had a mistake or unwanted factor added to it to recognize shortcomings that may appear in the course of brewing coffee. I had never had the opportunity to learn in this fashion, so I showed up for their cupping but the agenda had changed and it became just a selection of some commercial roasts, so I left. Just down the street from Spro is Common Grounds. For the decaf Americano, they ground Zeke’s. The cup started out bitter with a slight roast taste that became very slightly fruity as it cooled. For the regular espresso they were pulling Ceremony Destroyer. The taste started out winey, then toasty, then had a bitter cocoa taste, complete with a dusty finish. The second taste revealed the initial note as grape, then came the toast flavor. It was a good cup. For the next cup, I drove south to Annapolis to visit the Ceremony roastery. It is always pleasant for a coffee drinker to enjoy the sights and smells of a roasting floor and this place was just so – clean, bright and friendly. They had a counter and tables up front to serve visitors. They were pulling Ceremony decaf espresso blend on their La Marzocco for the Americano. It had a slight toasty aroma. The tastes were bitter, fruity, developing into lemony, finishing as chalky. The second taste started lemony and then bitter. The third taste was similar, but with a raspberry finish. This Americano had very well developed flavors for a decaf roast. Up until this point, I was worried that I was losing my ability to taste. For the regular espresso, they were pulling their Destroyer. I ordered a cup, then went to inspect their retail racks. They sell a variety of roasts, including roasts from their barrel-conditioned project. See their website for more details. I noticed a rack of bagged beans in the roasting area and I went to take a look. Anything I bought that day would have to travel with me for six days before I would be home and able to use or freeze it. Yesterday’s roasts were on the rack in the roasting room. There I introduced myself to Vince, who was very pleasant and taught me some principles about their barrel-conditioning project. We talked for awhile and then I asked him if I could buy some bags off of the roasting floor shelves, since I was traveling? He agreed and I reached for a bag of Destroyer and a bag of Daterra Gold, both roasted the day before. He stopped me and reached into the back of the shelf to hand me bags that had been roasted earlier that morning. By the time I returned to the retail counter, my espresso was waiting for me, cold. With apologies, I asked if I might have a fresh one and a new one was prepared for me without a second’s hesitation. The taste was sweet nutty toasty and then that Snickers caramel-chocolaty taste that so many coffee lovers want in their cups. The second sip was cinnamon. The third sip was cinnamon and fruity. As the cup cooled, the final sip was wine. This turned out to be the best espresso in the Baltimore area. I have had Destroyer before, but never this good. Obviously the freshness and the barista made all of the difference. My next stop was Café Pronto, also in Annapolis. Café Pronto is owned by Ceremony, so this, to me, was like going out on a second date with the sister of your first date, but I was curious to see how Ceremony would come across in another location. They were also pulling from a La Marzocco. The decaf Americano was toasty, sweet and very slightly caramel. The second taste was wine and slightly chocolate. The regular espresso had no nose. The first taste was toast, then dusty. The second sip started out winey, turning to grape. As it cooled, the third sip was sour like stomach regurgitation. Not as enjoyable as the pull from the roastery. Café Pronto was bright and clean with good Wi-Fi and by then I had to visit the men’s room, which was also bright and clean. The café had clean, empty burlap coffee bags available for the price of a donation to their favorite charity. The visit to Pitango Gelato in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was on a Saturday morning. It was the first warm weekend of spring and the pedestrian walkways were packed. So was the parking – always a problem in downtown Baltimore. I finally found a place to park a mile away and took the opportunity to sightsee. Pitango Gelato has multiple locations. This was the only one in Baltimore, the rest seem to be in and around D.C. In this respect it is very much like Dolcezza, also a gelato-and-espresso café in D.C. When I walked in, the line was full of fellow sightseers who only wanted gelato. The place was full of Pitango Gelato branded signs and cups. The location reeked of Marketing Design. Given the peripatetic clientele, when I asked for an espresso, I asked for a porcelain cup. “Do you have two minutes?” was the reply. Of course. The minutes went by. Finally, my cup was ready. “It’s on the house”, said the barista. It seems he had thrown the first pull out and had trouble with the second. “She (the older red Faema machine) has trouble keeping 9 bars of pressure” he explained, “She was overhauled not too long ago but the problem is back. We have ordered a new machine. She is on the way out.” At least he had dealt with the problem in a knowledgeable, professional and considerate way. We talked machines for a few minutes while I pretended that I knew something about them. I put my money in the tip jar and sat down. The first flavor was toast, which became fruity. The second sip was bitter. There wasn’t much to it, but at least I knew the reason. After that, I went back to the counter to sample their gelatos. Their wall menu bears a good variety of classical and unusual flavors, both gelatos and sorbets. I had two small cups of mixed flavors and courtesy-sampled several others at the counter. They were all insipid and okay for a background snack while taking in the sights of the Inner Harbor but not worth driving for. For my money, while in D.C., their competitor Dolcezza offers some of the few truly Italian-tasting gelatos to be savored this side of the Atlantic. While walking back to the car, dodging and weaving about my fellow pedestrians on the harbor sidewalks, I chanced to pass Daily Grind, 1720 Thames St. and stopped in. The ambiance is great. This two-level brick-walled café has all of the spaciousness and charm of the converted harbor warehouse that it is. It is rustic and unpretentious down to the ugly upright cooler standing by the front door. Despite the crowded sidewalk out front, few tables were occupied and the atmosphere was restful. I cut to the chase and ordered just a regular espresso but when I asked what they were grinding, the barista had to ask the manager, whose tone implied that it was the most ridiculous question that he had ever heard (heard from me or from her, I am not sure). Turns out it was Zeke’s. Since I was not paying proper attention, the shot was handed to me in a paper cup. I took it to a table and enjoyed the ambiance. The first taste was chocolaty, changing to bitter. The second taste was chocolaty. The flavor flattened out to nondescript by the third taste. I had not yet reached the car when I passed another café in a quieter, quasi-residential neighborhood. I stopped into Café Latte Da(1704 Aliceanna) despite its name. Since this was my third café visit in the same day, I just ordered a regular espresso. There was absolutely no crema and the body was thin. My tasting notes start out with the word “mochi”. Since I have no recollection of the cup, I have to go with my notes and state that the espresso flavor started out tasting like green-tea mochi. Then it seemed to become bitter, then dusty, then finished with a mineral taste. My overall impression from my visit to Café Latte Da is that tattoos and a La Cimballi machine do not a barista make. (This post is purely for informative purpose and any resemblance to a Coffeegeek barista reading this is purely coincidental.) Finally, I got to visit Tribeca Coffee Roasters, 1210 N. Charles St. in the Belvidere section of midtown Baltimore. For the decaf Americano they were pulling their Brazilian decaf espresso. It was nice; it had a toasty nose and taste. The regular espresso was PT’s, out of Topeka, Kansas. It had a wine nose and a taste that started out reminiscent of licorice, the second flavor was toast. Later on, on comparing notes with the barista, she said that it tasted earthy to her, like a root vegetable. She called it ‘rooty’. In going back to my cup, I had to agree that her perception of the first taste as ‘rooty’ was more accurate than my description of it as ‘licorice’. The second tasting as the cup cooled became more fruity; this is my usual experience in tasting coffees; in this case it tasted of grape. As it further cooled the taste became sour. The baristas at Tribeca hand you a sparkling water chaser with your espresso. The only other time that I enjoyed sparkling water as a chaser was at Chinatown Coffee Company, in DC. At the suggestion of another customer, I ordered one of their pourovers using their Bolivia Senda Salvage roast. I thoroughly washed my palate using the sparkling water chaser while it brewed. The first flavor was wet peat, becoming winey, then chocolate, then variously grapey and lemony, finally ending with a licorice note. I liked the pourover better than the espresso, although the flavor was not as intense. I bought one of their butter croissants, baked by Bonapart bakery. The crust was crispy and flakey and the inside was tender and flaky with good buttery taste. Definitely grade A. So far, the best croissant in Baltimore and I plan to visit Bonapart bakery when I move there. Before I left, I planned to visit Bonjour café on Falls road. It is open seven days per week. I did not know that it closed at noon on Mondays and I missed it by about an hour. Strange time for a café to close. The Java Sojourner will be moving to Baltimore so he will have more coffees to share with you in the future.
Update: July 2013: A second visit to Tribeca on N. Charles St., downtown, was equally as impressive. I will spare you the tasting details, but different day, different roast and different barista, and still an excellent cup of espresso. Next place, with a name like Coffee-Land (N. Charles and Saratoga, downtown), they had to be visited by the Java Sojourner for an Americano; do not bother, it was a cup of burnt-roast tasting coffee. The best croissant in town is sold by the harbor outlet of Bonaparte Bread (S. Anne St.) but their espresso or Americano also tastes mostly of roast. I finally made it to Bonjour French Bakery (6070 Falls Rd) because it is a little out of town for me, since it is in the Mt. Vernon district. When I walked in, I asked the barista what she was grinding for espresso and she got that deer-in-the headlights look and stammered something about "an espresso blend". At this point, I realized that I was going to have to ask gentle, simple questions, so I asked, "Where do you buy your coffee from?", to which she replied, "Honestly, I don't know." At that point, I thanked her and left.
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