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Category Archives: Connecticut

Happy Birthday DMV !

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Del Mocha Vista is 2 years old today! It has been a most delicious two years indeed. This past year in particular led me to try some West Coast mochas, and I was happy to find that in general, Californians take their espresso seriously.

I have leaned on coffee and mochas a bit more than usual lately because… I got a puppy! Her name is Eleanor and she is a sweet golden retriever. I plan to raise her as a family dog, but also,  I plan to train her to be a certified therapy dog so she can come to work with me and help bring healing and joy to those patients struggling with eating disorders. That is her in the photo above!

I want to thank you all so much for joining me on this delectable journey to find some of the best mocha lattes around! Looking forward to all the excitement that this new year will bring! 🙂

 

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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in Connecticut

 

La Petite France

I have been on quite the yoga kick lately. While my favorite yoga classes include Bikram and any type of power vinyasa, some friends and I recently opted for an all together different type of yoga. This summer, we participated in Om Street; essentially, West Hartford, CT closed down a main street in the center, hired a band, and had a half dozen yoga teachers guiding us through an outdoor yoga class. After our invigorating morning workout, we headed to La Petite France for some post yoga treats – mocha included. 🙂

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Taste: 2

Did they use skim milk or something? This mocha tasted a bit watery/airy. While I have had my share of skinny vanilla lattes, I could never voluntarily return to low fat or fat free milk in my coffee. Many years back, during the ‘skinny’ latte days, I went with a friend to an Italian bakery for some coffee and pastry. When I ordered my coffee with skim milk, our lovely Italian grandma-esque waitress replied: “oh no, you’ll have whole milk.” 🙂 I now take coffee and espresso with whole milk, sometimes a little half and half. In any case, I was not impressed with this mocha. Not only was the initial taste unimpressive, but in between sips I was left with a bitter aftertaste. I could not even finish this mocha because the remaining chocolate had solidified on the bottom of the cup (did not even ask if I wanted a ‘for here’ cup!). What made this mocha palatable was that with it I paired a delicious almond chocolate croissant.

Appearance: 2

This mocha is nothing special. It has potential, but I think I tried La Petite France on an out of the ordinary day–right after Om Street, way too busy! My mocha maker at La Petite France was this absolutely overwhelmed college kid. He complained to me about how some staff members did not show up today and he was more or less left alone to feed all of the post-yoga foodies. Perhaps he was too busy to put forth some effort into my mocha. Eeeks.

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Ambiance: 4

Although my mocha creator did not exactly set the tone for a great ambiance, the interior of La Petite France was buzzing with good vibes and caffeinated yogis. This is a tiny place for people of all ages. It seems like quite a social place to gather, but I could see myself studying or reading here as well (I prefer reading amidst the distractions of a coffee shop! Helps me focus). The colors are bright, the place is sort of clean, and the crepes looked lovely! Overall, I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed my time here–I may, next time, grab some croissants to go. However, if you find yourself in need of a coffee in West Hartford Center, come to La Petite France if you’re simply looking for average taste.

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Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Connecticut

 

Lulu’s Coffee

My favorite place to study in CT has got to be on Yale’s campus. I immediately feel more studious and somehow can concentrate longer than ever! I have always been one to study best in a noisy coffee shop.  I find that the surrounding noises center me, whereas studying in a quiet library leaves me looking for distractions.

Walk by any great coffee shop in New Haven and you’re bound to find an eccentric mix of students and professors typing essays, grading papers, or engaging in a heated debate over the ethics, technology, and the environment ( 😉 ). Yet at Lulu’s Coffee on Cottage St it is only conversation you will see; the owner, Lulu deCarrone, has banned laptops and Wifi from her shop. With upwards of four tables, this tiny shop is always busy and great for people watching.  Just don’t drink the mocha.  http://luluscoffee.com/

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Taste: 3

There was some young college student preparing my drinks. I hear the coffee tastes better when prepared by Lulu. Lets hope that’s true because my mocha latte was nothing special. It tasted more like watery chocolate syrup. It would have been better if you could actually taste all three ingredients. I was pleased to see that Lulu’s uses local ingredients, including The Farmer’s Cow milk prepared right in Lebanon, CT! I happened to try a cup of the Lulu’s blend coffee on another trip and I have to say this was much better than the mocha.

Appearance: 1

The OED defines aesthetic as: “concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.” It’s like they don’t care about aesthetics at Lulu’s. My mocha maker did not even attempt any latte art. And I don’t need latte art necessarily, but at least prepare a decent tasting mocha. Plus, do they even have ‘for here’ cups and saucers? I for one do not recall being asked if I wanted a ‘for here’ cup. If Lulu’s is so adamant about no laptops in an effort to boost community and face-to-face communication, why is their default a to go cup?

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Ambiance: 5

Nestled among the quiet homes on Cottage St stands Lulu’s. I would have walked right by this place had I not been strolling with a trusty guide. I prefer buying most anything from an independently owned shop, trying to support local business. Lulu’s bans computers, so don’t come here to type a paper. There is outdoor seating during the warmer months but I’m not sure if you can get away with using your laptop outside. Either way, I’m on board with this policy. If you can find a seat inside, you’ll feel as though you’re at some B&B, or having coffee in a friend’s kitchen. The menu is small but it includes some small cafe staples, including coffee, tea, sandwiches, and pastries. There was a great mix of locals when we stopped in, some reading a newspaper and some grabbing a treat after a soccer game. I am eager to try some of the treats at Lulu’s and encourage you to do the same next time you’re walking around Yale.

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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Connecticut

 

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.  http://www.jrenecoffee.com/

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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”.

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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. http://www.dearcoffeeiloveyou.com/

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2013 in Connecticut

 

Woodland Coffee & Tea

Hello to YOU, my fabulous readers! And a Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate. I woke up to some beautiful snow this morning, so I can imagine that all of you who were dreaming of a white Christmas last night must be pretty darn excited. Growing up, my family would often spend Christmas day skiing, and we basically had the slopes to ourselves. Or we would do the typical Jewish Christmas – Chinese food and a movie. But this year things are different; my family is all flying to California to visit one of my brothers for a long, well deserved, vacation together. But before I leave, I have a new mocha post just for you!

I love exploring coffee shops in New Haven, CT. I recently paid a visit to Woodland Coffee & Tea. It was overall just ‘eh’, so I’m not going to write much about it. Basically, go if you want, just don’t order a mocha.

Taste: 3

I don’t think a mocha latte is supposed to taste like bitter vanilla, but this one did. Ick. AND it was served to me warm. Oy. Do I have to order drinks extra hot everywhere I go?

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Appearance: 4

They tried, yes. There is some semblance of a heart shape with my steamed milk. But no saucer?! – 6 points. 🙂

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Ambiance: 3

This is a fine place to come here and do some reading because it is SO QUIET! If you like sleepy coffee shops that are a big too big and empty, then come on down. The service here is nice – they actually take your order at the table (sometimes) and bring your coffee to your table. There is a huge menu, so even if coffee and pastries are not your thing, I am sure you can find something. Check it out! http://www.woodlandcoffee.com/

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Posted by on December 25, 2012 in Connecticut

 

Happy Birthday DMV!

Hello fabulous readers!  Do you know what today is?  It’s Del Mocha Vista’s birthday!  Can you believe it was exactly one year ago today that I first blogged on DMV?  I went to Starbucks and reviewed their mocha latte.  At the time, the Starbucks mocha was my all time favorite mocha, my barometer, my benchmark.  The bitter cocoa, the rich espresso, the mountains of steamed milk.  All mochas should be like this!  But over the course of this past year, I’ve discovered some amazing mochas, some even better than those made at Starbucks.  Most notably, Stumptown in NYC sets the bar super high when it comes to mochas.  I highly recommend it!

Do you have a mocha or a coffee benchmark?

So as we wish DMV a happy 1st birthday today, I have to say a BIG THANKS to YOU!  Thanks for reading and commenting and guest posting throughout the year.  It means a lot.  It has also been a pleasant surprise to get to know some of you on a deeper, coffee-obsessed level. It’s kind of awesome. Keep it up. 🙂

Wishing you all a fabulous night!

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Connecticut

 

The Book Trader Cafe

Ahhh Yale.  Home of the Bulldogs, inventors and actors, and more coffee shop + book store combinations than I’ve ever seen.  This makes my mocha research that much easier!   Before a day of meetings for me and a day of classes for Altair (you ‘met’ her at Blue State Coffee), we stopped in at The Book Trader Cafe in New Haven, CT.  “Feed your body & your mind!”

 

Taste: 5

“I think they messed up my order,” I said to Altair after taking the first sip of my mocha.  I couldn’t detect any cocoa so I asked Altair to try.  She too thought it tasted more like a latte so I went back to the barista.  I told her that I ordered a mocha but was not sure what I got.  She explained that it was a mocha but that she did not mix up all the ingredients.  As she asked ‘did you want more chocolate?’ she poured chocolate syrup into my mocha. Ughhh.  I retreated back too my seat and got only half way through my mocha before it became too disgustingly sweet to drink.  Had you initially mixed up the flavors, barista, you would receive a higher Taste rating 🙂

Appearance: 6

Photos are taken pre-chocolate syrup addition. The mocha does look nice next to my mocha chip scone, wouldn’t you agree?  You also might be asking yourself: ‘Why is she drinking that in a paper cup?’  The answer, dear readers, is that The Book Trader Cafe did not have any clean mugs! Ughhh.  On the bright side, the barista who created my latte mocha seemed very into the looks of my mocha!  I like it when people take pride in their work.  Look closely and you can see a tiny little flower/heart ❤  Cute, right?  I also like how the design is located center stage with a frame of rich chocolately espresso.  I would have loved to have seen a more unique design – a book, perhaps?

 

Store Ambiance: 6

8:30am.  Surrounded by books, good company, good coffee + scones, and… debates over architecture?!  Altair was telling me about her favorite local architects when we hear a voice from across the room exclaim: ‘Deborah Berke ruined New Haven!’ We turned around to discover that we had some conversation snoops.  A resounding debate over Deborah Berke v. Zaha Hadid ensued.  Store ambiance points: +3.  This store is really large, and I almost got the feeling like I was having breakfast in my own kitchen.  There is ample table space, both inside and outside, at a table or tucked away down an aisle of books.  Perhaps it was early morning, or perhaps The Book Trader Cafe is always this way, but there was a bit of a sleepy vibe.  I like how this place offers a variety of food and drinks as well as gently used books (you can sell them your books, DVDs, and CDs for cash or store credit!)  The employees seem to really care about your experience at the store, which is a refreshing dose of niceness for Connecticut. This place seems to care a bit more about their books than the quality of their food or the appearance of their store (hello dirty tables and ugly green decor). I may be back, but I’ll stick to your coffee next time.

Wouldn’t you like to study here?!

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Connecticut