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Legit Coffee

The quest for enlightenment through coffee.

Author Archives: smmojen

mojenthe southern california contingent of legit have strong feelings about a lot of things, from politics to the proper way to merge on the 405. however, the most important thing to have feelings about is coffee. here’s some of the things we love right now.

nathan and i have been basking in  true pour over love, and our technique is steadily improving. today we picked up some of intelligentsia’s agua preta and with the help of the handy hario, made some truly delicious caffeinated goodness.

matt, however, has his aeropress and some beans ordered from thomas hammer, and swears by his super smooth substance.

my love of paper or plastik continues to grow. as i recall, they’re serving intelligentsia, which i could find other places (like, say, intelligentsia) but every cup i’ve had there has had truly excellent soy steaming– not an easy task, and one i have ranted on at length.

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mojenAccording to Caffe Vita and Rudy’s there will soon be an LA location of one of Seattle’s Three Vs. Opening up in Silverlake on 4459 Sunset Blvd, this is something all NW transplants can get excited about.

Vita and Rudy’s are planning on doing interesting things like hosting art and music events, but I’m just excited to get northwest coffee down to sunny Southern California.

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mojenbest news ever, all. Victrola has a new SO, and it’s delicious. Guatemalan grown, fair trade, roasted on Pike. Guatemala is an excellent place for coffee growing, and Seattle for roasting it, and all those who are even vaguely nearby should go, because wow, it’s amazing.

I’ll try to make this more sensical soon, but this is pretty exciting news, so. No promises.

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mojenback in seattle for the day, i did my best to visit as many of the coffee shops as i could in a short time. i did fairly well– hit victrola, vita, vivace, stopped by ladro. not a bad coffee day, all in all, (though the vita espresso was a bit more acidic than normal).

but i realized when i got back to olympia, wonderfully caffeinated, that as much as i adored the coffee i had consumed, that i hadn’t really had the seattle café experience i’ve been missing so. (i think i’ll blame nathan for making me think about this) despite the fact that i’d had the opportunity to savor the best in the northwest in coffee, there was something missing from my experience– the ability to spend a good few hours in a wonderfully cosy coffee shop and simply absorb the atmosphere.

because the atmosphere is almost as important as the quality of the espresso for cafe enjoyment. i doubt i’d adore the caffe vita  on pike nearly as much if the upstairs didn’t contain game nights. the reason the victrola on 15th is so much more enjoyable to visit than the one on pike is that 15th’s has cosy seating arrangements, and beautiful art, and about forty people reading, writing, gossiping, facebooking, interviewing.

while you’re thinking about coffee shops in the abstract, rather than which one is closest, breathe in the air– you can smell the coffee, yes, but what else? there’s the aromas of spilt simple syrup, steaming chai, the quiche from the next table over. someone reading across the room laughs, short and explosive, unable to contain her merriment. there’s someone skyping next to you connecting with another who’s across the country or world, but who is also sharing your cafe. while you’re in line for a drip refill, the music changes, and you notice that the two people in front of you have unconsciously started tapping their toes, shifting their hips in time; you think about it, and realize that you have too, nodding your head to the beat. in a corner, a young man is reading one of your favorite books. you think about going to talk to him about it, but it looks like he’s reading the best part, and you can’t bring yourself to tear him away from the climax, so you smile to yourself, and think about rereading. you make eye contact with another regular patron, and smile, acknowledging your mutual love of the espresso, the location, that super cute barista (you know the one). oh, look– your barista, the one who totally doesn’t know of your epic crush, has made a heart in your latte art; calm down, calm down, it (probably) doesn’t mean anything.

so, while i’ve got your attention, think about this too– when you get your coffee to go, and run out the door to your busy life, you’re not only missing out on the amazing atmosphere of the cafe you’re leaving behind, but also making the coffeeshop experience for whomever queued behind you a little bit less amazing.

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i figure i should start off by mentioning that i don’t really do dairy. i understand that many  people like it, and that for many people it doesn’t do digestionally icky things, but i am not a member of either of these groups. that being said, there are many people out in the world who are also not ordering things with actual lactose in their lattes, as odd as it may seem. thus, i shall discuss the alternatives.

first, you have to figure out what you want with your espresso/french press/perc/whatever if not milk/half&half/cream. do you want any creamy product at all? have you been craving an americano and not known it? did you just want and espresso and some soda water after all? because these are all very valid options, and perhaps even more delicious.

but if you’re the sort of person who really wants a latte in the morning, you’re basically going to go for soy. sure, there’s rice, almond, and hemp milk, but in my experience they’re both uncommon, and hard to find well done. iced, it can be okay, but unless you’re at a hemp or vegan cafe, stick with soy if you want it hot.

so now that we’ve agreed on soy, here’s what you should know.

first, the bad news: soy is hard to steam. it’s hard to get properly foamy, and it’s sometimes is overly watery, or not feels like it’s congealed. many soy milk brands aren’t made to get up to latte temperatures. and even when there is good foam, it’s not all that dry. kiss your dry cappuccinos goodbye.

but baristas know all this. and they’ve set up ways to compensate. really, the most important thing is the brand of soy your coffee shop uses. i personally like pacific foods ‘barista series’ the most as it is delicious, and steams rather well. soy dream is also pretty good, as is the silk ‘coffee house blend’ (although the latter is rather pricy to get a latte made of, so keep an eye on your wallet). soy also generally doesn’t get steamed quite as hot as actual milk, so drink if fast if you like your coffee scalding.

the truth of the matter is that the main event in your coffee beverage of choice is actually the coffee. it’s important to find a drink that helps the coffee flavor without bringing out any overly bitter or acidic flavors.

seattle area coffee shops that do soy excellently: vivace (either location), all city (in georgetown). basically, go where there are vegans, and there will be good good soy.

thoughts?

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