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Category Archives: New York

Jacques Torres

I recently had one of the most amazing and delicious weekends. I rented a place in DUMBO, Brooklyn on airbnb and spent the weekend connecting with friends and with myself. After treating myself to lunch, I headed straight to Jacques Torres for some chocolate and a mocha.     http://www.mrchocolate.com/

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Taste: 4

So I think I drank hot chocolate. I ordered a mocha latte for sure, but I tasted no signs of espresso. Instead, I tasted rich, thick, decadence. Was this made with heavy cream? This ‘mocha’ tasted almost like a hot chocolate I had while in Paris; the Paris drink was so think I could rest my spoon on top of the hot chocolate. To give this mocha a higher rating, I would have loved to taste more equality between the cocoa, milk, and espresso (if there truly was any to be had).

Appearance: 1

Sorry Jacques, but this is not the most appealing ‘mocha’ I’ve tried. This actually just looks like melted chocolate, which should have been my first clue. I would have loved to see some effort here — some latte art, perhaps? Or at least fill my cup up to the top with ‘mocha’ deliciousness.

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Ambiance: 5

Jacques Torres gets one rating for offering free chocolate samples – at the register they usually have 3 choices, so of course, I tried all three. They appear to create their confections on site – you can peek into their bakery right next door. I was advised to try the Dark Bark, so I picked up one two to go. Reviews mention the Wicked Fun chocolate, ice cream sandwiches, and chocolate chip cookies as must tries. Thankfully, I’ll be heading back to Brooklyn in April (… and May) so I will grab some to try for myself. In retrospect, I would only purchase chocolate from Jacques Torres and forget the drinks, as my mocha was sub par. This is definitely not a place to sit and study — there are about 3 tables, so this is more of a grab-and-go type of shop. Speaking of studying, UC Davis is considering offering a degree in coffee — check out the UC Davis Coffee Center. I knew I loved California!

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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in New York

 

The Golden Pear

While these cold winter nights are getting me excited for ski season, a part of me also longs for summer weather. I am taken back to late summer in Southampton, NY, where I fondly remember my friend Amelia’s bachelorette weekend. As the weekend came to a close, some of us needed just one more walk down Main St. We stopped in at The Golden Pear Cafe for some much needed caffeine – we needed energy to shop after we spent the whole night prior drinking and dancing!    http://goldenpearcafe.com

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Taste: 4

The Golden Pear is a charming little cafe chain located all around the Haaaamptons. Founded in 1987, owner Keith Davis serves a variety of coffees, teas, pastries, and brunch/lunch options. While this cafe aspires to be more than just a coffee shop or average deli, their mocha latte was just average. It was very light on the cocoa; the flavor could barely be detected. The espresso was not at all strong. This was merely a casual treat to sip while shopping.

Appearance: 2

As you can see, this mocha is nothing special. The line was not terribly long, not sure why no effort was put forth to create any latte art. While the mocha was nothing special, the prices were much more decent (3.00-4.00 dollars) than Sant Ambrouse.

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Ambiance: 5

Apparently, this is a Haaaaaamptons must see eatery. This seems like the only place to get coffee around here – there is little to no competition in Southampton. We went late morning/early afternoon on a Sunday. There was a fair amount of people inside, either dining in or waiting for their to-go orders. The ordering process was rather confusing. There is no line, so you have to walk up to the counter all-the-while asking other meanderers ‘excuse me, are you in line?’ After you’ve ordered you try to stay out of the way by sticking to the perimeter of the store, but the cafe is so small you just end up bumping into people anyway. Personally, I cannot understand why so many people opted to sit inside on such a beautiful weekend morning. I prefer to eat outside as long as possible. This seems like a great place to sit outside, order brunch, devour a newspaper, and then do some people watching. The next time I return I plan to do just that.

Has anyone else dined at The Golden Pear? What are your favorite drinks and bites?

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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in New York

 

Sant Ambroeus

Hello there! Sorry it’s been so long – I’ve had quite a busy fall thus far. Lots of celebrating – my puppy, my birthday, and many a wedding festivity! In anticipation of my friend Amelia’s wedding, we celebrated her bachelorette party in style in Southampton, NY! We rented a great house and spent the weekend drinking, eating, dancing, and doing yoga on the beach. Lucky for me I was surrounded by coffee lovers, so naturally we went exploring some of the local cafes. On the first day we went to Sant Ambroeus on Main St. This is a small chain, with locations scattered about Manhattan and the Hamptons. Though the Yelp.com acclaim for their mocha lattes made me eager to try one  for myself, and  I’m glad I did, I must say that this mocha was not worth the $6.50 price tag.  http://santambroeus.com/sa_southampton.html

In other worlds – check out my little Eleanor! She is the one lying down in the green collar, playing with her sisters during an obedience and agility training. As my brother noted upon seeing this photo – ‘it looks like she has more agility than obedience.’ 🙂

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Taste: 4

Ok, back to the coffee.  Sant Ambroeus claims to be authentic to origins in Milan. Milan was the first place I could remember  noticing that coffee in Europe was different than coffee culture in the States. Specifically, having a coffee or cappuccino in Milan was a time of relaxing and socializing. There were no to go cups when I was visiting (back in 2005). I opted for a to go mocha this time and I have to say I was a bit disappointed. It tasted more like a regular latte than a mocha. Would have loved to have tasted more cocoa. Also, this mocha was so hot I burnt my tongue! For the lackluster experience + the hefty price tag, I have to give this mocha a 4.

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Appearance: 2

I had my suspicions this was not going to be my best mocha. My first inclination came from the barista. I ordered a mocha latte to go… she had no idea what I was talking about.  Then, upon explanation of what encompasses a mocha latte, it took about 10 minutes to prepare.  While the wait time was a bit much, it did provide ample time for people watching, which I highly recommend doing when dining at Sant Ambroeus. The overall 2 score for appearance is mostly for the colorful to go cup.

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Ambiance: 5

When I stepped into Sant Ambroeus, I was reminded of that coffee shop in Milan from many years back. Awash with elaborate decor, deep greens and rich wood paneling. Adorned with gold trim everywhere, Sant Ambroeus appeared more as a restaurant than a coffee shop. It is nearly impossible to walk straight into the dining room without stopping to admire the array of desserts and gelatos (must try the gelato next time). The most important aesthetic in my opinion is the ability to watch the baristas create your coffee drink. Most people grabbing a dessert and coffee or waiting for a to-go order (like the mother/son duo waiting for their $30.00 salads!) were watching in awe as the espresso machines huffed and steamed their way into creating a delicious caffeinated treat. All the other patrons were drinking wine with their lunches and dressed to the nines. It will be worth returning to one of the establishments in the city, but I think I’ll pass on that mocha.

If you’re a coffee nerd like I am, check out this nation’s best coffee roasters list created by thrillist! Has anyone been to one of these shops before? http://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/best-coffee-roasters-in-america

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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in New York

 

Roast Coffee and Tea

Have you ever been to Fire Island? I first heard about Fire Island on Sex and the City. On one episode, the girly quartet took the ferry ride to the beach and then enjoyed a weekend of beach parties; it just seemed so summery and fabulous, I knew I wanted to see this place of or myself. Lucky for me, one of my best friends (hi Amelia!) was up for the trip as well. Before taking the ferry from Long Island to Fire Island we stopped in for a mocha at Roast Coffee and Tea in Patchaug, NY.

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Taste: 3

Not quite my cup of tea, errr, I mean coffee. This was an average tasting latte, not so much a mocha latte. Despite the chocolate shock you get upon the first few sips, the top chocolate coating disappears and then you are left with a regular tasting latte.

Appearance:  4

I always appreciate a little latte art. We were in a rush to catch the ferry so I had to ask for this mocha in a to go cup; most mochas seem to look prettier in a for here cup and matching saucer. Sigh.

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Ambiance: 4

This small local coffee shop is modeled exactly like Starbucks. From the seating options to the cafe food options, this place is screaming ‘I’m not unique.’ I have to say that, unlike Starbucks, the coffee here claims to be roasted in sight. There is a large random coffee roaster on display in the middle of the cafe; I assume this is for aesthetics and not for daily use. One last distinct feature of Roast is that, unlike Starbucks, they offer a coffee shop book exchange to promote some reading and a good ole sense of community.

Amelia and I stopped in to Roast mid morning on a Saturday. Roast appeared fairly busy, like the place to be on a summery morning. There was a good mix of people of all ages. Roast seems like the type of place to meet up with friends or to study by yourself. I can’t say I’d go out of my way to come here again en route to the beach, but I obviously prefer to try a local shop than head straight to a worldwide chain, so I’m happy we tried Roast!

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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in New York

 

Aroma Espresso Bar

Well HELLO and Happy Halloween! My favorite Halloween candy has always been something chocolate-y, so no surprise here that I now prefer cocoa in my kahve ( 🙂 ). Last Halloween I was feeling the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, and feel incredibly lucky that this Halloween, Hurricane Sandy has left central CT relatively untouched. I am thinking of those loved ones (and loved ones of loved ones) in the NY and NJ areas who have been really affected by the storm. Just last weekend I was right in Manhattan and East Rutherford, sampling mochas and watching the Giants. So I dedicate this post to NYC – hope you get better soon!

Last weekend I went to NYC to visit some good friends and of course, to try a mocha. I went with my friend Ashley to a place near her apartment, called Aroma Espresso Bar, located right in Midtown.  Aroma is apparently one of the largest espresso bars in Israel, and recently opened a few chains in the US. Ashley told me they serve their mochas with a SIDE of chocolate. Sold.   http://www.aroma.us/

Taste: 5

I am a fan of coffee, and chocolate, and of course, the two combined. Aroma Espresso Bar does this combination quite well. I knew I was in the right place when I ordered my mocha latte and the barista asked me if the mocha was ‘for here’ or ‘to go’; when I answered ‘for here’, she immediately grabbed a ceramic cup and saucer. AND THEN when I told her I prefer no whip cream on my mocha and inquired as to whether or not they typically serve whip cream atop their mochas, she looked at me like I was cuhhhrazy for asking. 🙂 No whip cream on mochas, ever. Ok, so the taste. I was told to mix the mocha when I got to the table because all of the cocoa was sitting at the bottom; they melted milk chocolate into the bottom of my cup. Done. Pretty decent taste balance between sweet – bitter – smooth <cocoa, espresso, milk>. To counterbalance the sweetness of their mocha, my drink came with a mini wrapped chocolate! Mmmm. Although the quality of the ingredients were wonderful, this drink was a good basic mocha. I would have loved a WOW factor – more steamed milk, perhaps?

Appearance: 5

How beautiful and simple is this?! Yes I love a fancy design, but the rich colors of the cocoa contrasted with the crisp white cup and saucer (extra points for a cup AND saucer) makes this look so delicious, no? I would have loved to have seen a bit of a sleeker looking cup to match the modern decor in the store.

Ambiance: 5

The decor is minimalst, tasteful, and modern. Nice service, even for NYC – friendly baristas and speedy service. Good looking pastries; I have my eye on you next time, chocolate croissant. Lots of places to sit, though no comfy spots you would want to cozy up in on a cold winter’s day. It is so quiet in this store – I would have loved to have seen a few more mocha-goers, or at least heard some fun tunes. This may seem like a nice option for a business meeting/coffee meeting, as it is quiet with ample seating space. No bathrooms though, boo. I personally would not like to hang out in this place, it is almost too ‘cold’ looking for my taste, like a museum without anything super interesting to look at (sorry for the grammar, English majors). I recommend heading to Aroma for a bite to eat (deals on sandwiches in the afternoons), grab a mocha to go, and walk over to Bryant Park for some people watching.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in New York

 

Lounging at the Walllllldorf

I think the musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ said it best when describing the fabulous Waldorf=Astoria:

We’re so proud, here we are at the Waldorf (delicious, delicious)

Where folks sit around all day (Caviar? Certainly, certainly)

Join the crowd, who relax at the Waldorf

To drown all their cares away (Anchovies? I’ve never heard of such a thing!)

I recently had the luxurious opportunity to stay at the Waldorf=Astoria at 301 Park Avenue in NYC. I assumed their mocha lattes would be top notch.  Turns out, their mochas are almost as expensive as their rooms (Slight exaggeration).

Taste: 4

This mocha tasted more like a latte than anything – hardly even the slightest hint of cocoa could be detected.  There was nothing too outstanding about the taste of the espresso or the foamyness of the steamed milk.  This was one of the most average, make-it-at-home mochas I have tried in a long time.  And here’s the kicker – this cost $9.00 (+$1.00 tip for table service = $10.00 mocha). MAJOR loss of points in this category.

Appearance: 3

Come on Waldorf, this is all you got?  This is not amateur hour.  I would have expected that the Waldorf would excel at everything, including the appearance of their espresso beverages.  No design? No fancy cup and saucer? I have to say that I do like their choice of a white cup and saucer as opposed to an ugly brown or black color.  I was slightly expecting to be served my mocha in something with a gold trim. Le sigh…

Store Ambiance: 8

Well now THIS is a fun place to people watch!  My friend and I stopped for a mocha on Saturday late afternoon/evening so there were lots of people dressed up and enjoying a cocktail.  There was a piano player by the bar and lots of leather bound chairs in which to relax.  All around us was old fashioned beauty – rich colored rugs, ornate clocks and paintings, and silly people enjoying a $25.00 glass of wine.  It was fun to do once, but from now on I’ll stick to lounging at the Waldorf instead of splurging on a mocha.

See the black baby grand piano in the way back?

Caviar?! Certainly, certainly.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in New York

 

Cupcakes and Coffee

What are your New York City ‘must do’s’?  A Broadway show?  Central Park?  Favorite restaurant?  All of the above? One of my new must do’s is to stop at Crumbs Bake Shop for a delicious cupcake. Last weekend in the city with my lovely friend (and best 4th grade teacher!) Andrea, we stopped at Crumbs near Grand Central (420 Lexington Ave) for cupcakes and coffee; a mocha for me and a skinny 3 pump iced latte something or other for Ange.  After trying their mocha latte’s, I have decided I will only stick to their cupcakes from now on. Here’s the skinny:

Taste: 5

Another mocha that tastes like hot chocolate. Blaachh!  I want to taste the espresso, people!  I’m starting to reconsider my mocha order – perhaps go with reduced fat milk instead of my usual order of whole milk.  I have found that I taste more milk than anything in my mochas, so perhaps opting for a lower fat milk might make the taste more equal – equal parts milk, chocolate, and espresso. Or maybe try a mocha cappuccino instead of a latte?? I just wish Crumbs used a better quality, more bitter chocolate for their coffee drinks.

Appearance: 3

I can make a mocha latte look like this!  Obviously coffee drinks are not a priority at Crumbs.  I give it a 3 because it looks warm and inviting, the white cup brings out rich mocha color, and the was no spilling around the sides of the cup <— yes a clean cup is worthy of one appearance point! Again, ugh, forgot to bring my travel mug with me.  Sorry Earth!

Ambiance:  4

Besides me and Andrea there was only a handful of people, all of whom looked at me like a crazy person as I did my mocha photoshoot.  I got a quiet and serious vibe from this Crumbs.  Yes there are tables and chairs but no there really were not many people sitting and enjoying their coffees.  I would have loved to hear some uplifting music, see some comfy chairs, and even taste some samples of their delicious cupcakes.  I suppose Crumbs is more of a grab and go cupcake shop.

Have you been to Crumbs?  What is your favorite cupcake?

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in New York