Monthly Archives: March 2013

J. Rene Coffee Roasters

Madness seems to be prevailing over March at this point; this has been one of the longest Winters I can remember. Although it is technically Spring, nightly temperatures still average about 35 degrees. Oy. No matter, just more days geared towards trying new (extra hot, no whip cream) mocha lattes! I know that iced mocha season is just around the corner.

I was fortunate enough to find this hidden gem in West Hartford, CT called J. Rene Coffee Roasters. J. Rene is a small, family owned coffee shop and micro-roasting shop. With the high quality of coffee, variety of coffee brewing methods, and informative baristas, J. Rene’s is truly a must try for coffee lovers.


Taste: 7

A good mocha latte is just so good. I have yet to learn how to appreciate a cup of black coffee, and with the mochas at J. Rene, I may very well never get there. My Bubbie once said: “if you learn to drink your coffee black, you can never be disappointed”. She has a point. I have been extremely disappointed and surprised by how undrinkable some mochas can be (I stay away from Dunkin Donuts as much as possible). Alternately, I have been pleasantly surprised by the expertise of certain mocha makers (Stumptown is still the front runner in my book). I hold pretty lofty expectations for most people, places, and things in my life, mochas included. So let me tell you about this mocha: it had a deliciously difficult to capture equality between three flavors: the steamed milk, the espresso, and the cocoa. The temperature could have been much hotter and the cocoa could have been more bitter, but overall just divine.

Appearance: 6

I always appreciate a little latte art. I’ve seen this design before and it always reminds me of some Rorschach test – what do you see in this design? No explanation for serving my mocha in a to go cup (how wasteful!) when my friend received his coffee (french press, black 🙂 ) in a for here cup. I’m a sucker for a nice cup and matching saucer. Maybe next time I’ll let the barista know I’d like my mocha “for here”.


Ambiance: 8

This is my kind of coffee shop. I went to J. Rene’s after work on a Wednesday night. There was plenty of on street parking as well as a small complimentary parking lot. As I walked in, the aroma of freshly ground espresso hit me. Yes. There was only a handful of people in the shop that evening. Everyone seemed to be lost in good conversation or in a good book. Why didn’t I see any laptops? J. Rene does not have WIFI. I can get used to this place. The decor is beautiful, streamlined, bright colors, no nonsense. There are a variety of seating options, mostly tables, a few comfy green chairs. As you order your drink, there are so many coffee brewing options to choose from it can feel overwhelming. A kind barista walked us through our options, made some recommendations, took our order, and invited us to have a seat. Our coffees were delivered to us promptly as Earth, Wind, and Fire played in the background. I plan to return to J. Rene on one of their live music nights so I can try one of their delicious looking pastries as well as one of their many coffee brewing methods. Or, perhaps, I’ll grab another mocha. This time, in a “for here” mug.


*Additional reading. I’d like to share a new discovery with you: “Dear Coffee, I Love You”. Coffee, travel, photography. Yup.

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Posted by on March 31, 2013 in Connecticut


Latte Da

Hello from snowy CT. I thought I’d take this time to reflect and write about a little mocha I tried in a not-so-snowy part of the country – California! Earlier this year I was visiting family in California and we stopped by a sleepy little place called Latte Da in Laguna Hills, CA.  While I would not go back there for a mocha, I would go back for a different type of drink – their freshly squeezed OJ. Mmmm. 🙂

Taste: 3

This mocha tasted more like a latte. There was barely any cocoa flavor, so minus a few points for this one. I wish the steamed milk would have been foam-ier. Major bonus points for the waiter who asked if I wanted my mocha with whip cream, to which I obviously replied no thanks.

Appearance: 2

This is a tiny little breakfast stop so I was not expecting any mocha masterpiece. As you can see, there’s nothing super special about this mocha. It does look delicious though, no? I wish it had been served in a for here cup, though I didn’t think I needed to specify that because we ate breakfast here. Hmm, perhaps I’ll have to specify my mug preferences from now on.



Ambiance: 2

This is a sleepy little coffee shop chain. They serve breakfast all day long, and if you go, I highly recommend grabbing a glass of their freshly squeezed OJ and a whole wheat everything bagel breakfast sandwich.

As my former study abroad professor used to say – ‘I open a parenthesis’ here: It is nearly impossible to find a whole wheat everything bagel in CT, so when I find one while traveling, I make sure to grab one! If you haven’t tried this kind of bagel I highly recommend picking on up.*Close parenthesis.

Back to the ambiance… basically, there was none. The View was on TV in the background, and that was pretty much the only noise at Latte Da – we were the only ones there. I did enjoy the variety of seating options – indoor couches and tables, as well as outdoor dining (which I opt for as often as possible). In essence, if you are looking for an average place to grab an average cup of coffee, head here.

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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in California