Ted’s Bulletin

Persuaded by the sound of homemade poptarts and adult milkshakes, I ventured into Ted’s Bulletin. Located in the Capitol Hill/Southeast neighborhood in Washington, DC, Ted’s Bulletin was created by two brothers to honor their father, Ted. “You can call me anything, except late to dinner,” was something Ted often said; what a motto! On a recent trip to DC to visit my brother Nathaniel, we went to Ted’s for some breakfast, and of course, a mocha latte.


Taste: 4

If you can’t tell by looking at the photos, this mocha was very sweet! It was actually so sweet I could not finish the mocha, and exchanged sips of my mocha with sips of a regular coffee (with whole milk, no sugar). The 4 rating came primarily from:

1) Lots of steamed milk  2) Matching white cup and saucer  3) It came with a spoon! Much needed. 4) The aesthetic effort.

Appearance: 3

Nice try, Ted’s. I like the distinct separation between the mocha color on the perimeter and the crispness of the white steamed milk center. I can’t remember having seen this before, as most mochas have their milk, espresso, and cocoa evenly distributed on top. It would have looked much better sans chocolate syrup.


IMG_0440Ambiance: 6

Arrived around 830/9am and the place was already busy. Apparently if you get there much later than 9 you have to wait awhile. The only downside to coming in early, and subsequently leaving before 10am, is that you miss out on the adult milkshakes. They begin serving these mid-morning and sadly we didn’t stick around long enough to try one. On the menu during my time at Ted’s there were lots of American classics. We tried some of those homemade poptarts – we tried nutella, blueberry, and cherry I believe. The poptarts were great, but pastries aside, the food was slightly disappointing. The quality was average and the options were very easily recreated at home. The portions are quite large and decently priced; we split two breakfasts amongst four people and ended up taking the poptarts to go because we were so full. The diner atmosphere is a mix of modern and retro. It’s really quite playful with their creative menu and bathroom ideas. They play old movies on a big screen in the back dining room — Lawrence of Arabia was on!  It’s a great place for people of all ages, a place for a family breakfast or a lunch with friends. I would not recommend heading to Ted’s for some solo studying time, as it is much too busy and too loud. Next time I’m in DC I think we’ll venture to Eastern Market and then head back here and try an adult milkshake… but I think I’ll pass on another mocha.







Posted by on July 13, 2013 in DC



What is it about California? Is it the beachy, laid-back vibes of the people? Or the fact that the local Whole Foods has juice bars?  Or maybe there’s something to be said about waking up to the sound of Pacific waves crashing on the beach?  Venturing out to California is something I now do 1-3 times per year since my brother, Joshua, moved out west (whatareyouuuudoingherrre?). On a recent trip to CA for Joshua’s graduation, we got to try a mocha at Zinc Cafe and Market in Laguna Beach, CA.  Joining us for a mocha and breakfast were some other CT to CA transplants, Nicole and Alex! We arrived at Zinc pretty early, and while it was already busy with breakfast-goers, we scored a beautiful table outside on the patio.


Taste: 5

I ordered a small cafe mocha and I couldn’t finish this; my cup is to the left, Joshua’s is on the right. These are large portions. I had to stir the mocha in order to actually taste the cocoa flavor.  I could not even finish half of this mocha, in part because it was so large but also because it gave me a little stomach ache.  Maybe the coffee was too strong.

Appearance: 4

Obviously no latte art here, so minus a few points for not even trying. But this just looks simply enjoyable, no? The warm, dark color of the mocha latte looks great in contrast to the sleek, white lines of this cup. I would have preferred to see a cup and saucer combination; mochas just taste better in a cup and saucer.


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Ambiance: 6

Zinc is a small chain, and while I have never been to their alternate locations, I can’t imagine any can compare to the beauty of the Laguna Beach location. There is ample outdoor seating, but if you cannot find a seat you can easily stroll down to the beach and relax there with you coffee. There are two entry ways into Zinc, so it was a bit confusing to figure out which door leads to the the cafe and which leads to the market. Luckily, Joshua had been there before so he led the way.

When I walked into the market I was impressed by their large menu. For the both cafe and the market, the menu features breakfast, lunch, and snack choices. I was surprised to see that there are no carnivorous options to be found. Is this place technically a vegetarian restaurant? The market has a small retail section where you can purchase home necessities like candles and cups/saucers. Zinc was smart to place some delicious looking pastries right where you place your coffee order. I had to grab some pastries to go — they looked too good to pass up! This is a great place to meet friends, study by yourself, or listen to live performances by local musicians. Give it a try next time you’re in Laguna.

On a related note, I’ve been getting into Jerry Seinfield’s short series called Comedians in cars Getting Coffee. Jerry basically picks up his comedian friends in cool cars, they drive around, and they grab coffee. It’s pretty funny. The 15-20 minute episodes give me great ideas for places I can try a mocha, plus it’s also fun to see how some great comedians take their coffee! Check it out here and let me know what you think.






Posted by on June 27, 2013 in California


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.


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?


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



My good friend Betsy has been on my mind recently. Betsy and I met in grad school, and she stayed in Boston after we graduated while I moved away. When I would visit Boston, I loved staying with Betsy for so many reasons, but one reason in particular was her coffee.  The gal knows the importance of being a gracious hostess, of making a strong cup of coffee for her guests.  Betsy recently relocated to Chicago, and I was lucky enough to see both Betsy and our lovely mutual friend Sarah during a trip to Chicago earlier this Spring. Betsy was kind enough to host us and play tour guide, so thanks to Bets, I was fortunate enough to try a mocha at Dollop. Dollop is a beautiful coffee shop located in downtown Chicago on E Ohio St.  I knew this place would be good when I walked in; we had Lauryn Hill playing in the background, and in the foreground stood bags of Q’s Nuts for sale (Q’s is made in my old home town of Somerville, MA!).


Taste: 5

As always, I opted for the regular mocha latte; however, the list below indicates only a few of the more lively mocha choices. My friend Sarah tried the Mexican Mocha, which was far better than mine. But let me tell you about my mocha. I tasted mostly the espresso and the milk flavors, while the cocoa flavors emerged during the last two sips only. From experience, I should have known to stir the mocha if the first ten few sips taste more like a latte than a mocha. While this mocha lacked a flavorful balance of the three ingredients, I could have very well asked for a spoon to evenly distribute the three.


Appearance: 7

The mocha glowed a rich espresso color, in perfect harmony with that of the steamed milk. The mocha to the right is mine, to the left is Sarah’s. I love how crisp and clean the cup/saucer look, especially as it relates to deep color of the mocha. This contrast in colors brings out the richness of my mocha as well as the mocha-art-heart in the middle. I wish this was served with a spoon, but we just established that I need to get better at remembering to both ask for a spoon and use it when my mocha tastes not of cocoa.




Ambiance: 7

Dollop is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I walked in and was WOWed by the natural light; we are talking floor to ceiling windows. Despite the minimalist decor, Dollop felt quite comfortable. Betsy, Sarah, and I located some couches and made ourselves at home. The variety of seating options was impressive, ranging from cozy leather chairs to community tables. The vibe was lively, with a mixed crowd of business men in a meeting, students studying, and women reading on the e-readers. Lauryn Hill seamed to be on repeat, which was fine by me. I particularly enjoyed the eye catching wall art, some of which is captured in the below picture (Hi Sarah!). I was most impressed with the educational materials floating around Dollop, including the photo that shows four distinct ways of brewing coffee. A bit more color throughout Dollop would have been nice; but perhaps, much like the stark white cup/saucer, Dollop strives to be free from ostentation, and lets the quality speak for itself.




IMG_0314 St Paddy’s Day in Chicago!

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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Illinois


Lookout Joe

Despite compelling assurances to the contrary, Ohio has some wonderful coffee roasters. Case in point, Lookout Joe in Cincinnati, OH. A quaint coffee shop and coffee roaster in one.  I stopped here early one morning with some old college friends during my midwestern vacation earlier this Spring. I couldn’t imagine a better way to end such an incredible time in Ohio — with a mocha!  AND check out this new coffee quiz:



Taste: 3

Lookout Joe did not get this one right. This tasted like hot chocolate, which is fine if you ordered one, but I ordered a mocha (to go, no whip). It was not even hot! For shame, Lookout… Perhaps I should have ordered one of their regular drip coffees (I recommend you do the same).

Appearance: 1

This looks like hot chocolate, no? Oy. Lookout Joe didn’t even try with the latte art, and they were not even busy! No excuses.



Ambiance: 4

Despite their sub-par mocha lattes, this is a place I could stay in for a while. Lots of comfy seating options, including outdoor seating in warmer months. We arrived here at about 8:00 am on a Saturday morning and there was a constant steady flow of folks. Lots of food and drink choices with reasonable prices all around. I particularly enjoyed the 8 flavors of drip coffee; not because I actually drink flavored coffee, but because this brought me back to the first time I ever tried coffee. It was my first year of college and I was about to take my first final exam – statistics. I was so nervous. While my mother encouraged me to have a drink to relax before my exam, I opted for a cup of coffee instead (thanks, mom). I went down to the nearby dining hall, and made a to go cup filled halfway with flavored coffee and halfway with milk. This was delicious! I immediately felt like a grown up, like a real college student. I marched off to my final with a bit more confidence that day. I haven’t turned back since — from coffee drinking, that is. I left the statistics far behind. While my coffee preferences have evolved, I will always remember my roots. O – H…





Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Ohio



Love and Honor… to Miami! I recently took a vacation to the midwest and had to stop by my alma mater, Miami University.  There were many important stops along the way — Slant Walk, Bagel and Deli, King Library, and my favorite coffee shop: Kofenya Coffee.  I remain convinced that Kofenya is the place for coffee in Oxford.  Kofenya was established in 2004 by two Miami seniors. They must be doing something right because now there are 2 Kofenya locations: one in Oxford, OH and one in Hamilton, OH. While the owners of Kofenya appear to have shared the same interior designer as that of my senior year landlord, I can assure you that their coffee is newer, brighter, and :::ahem::: cleaner.



Taste: 5

GOOD MORNING! I was immediately jolted awake by the overpowering espresso taste. I quite liked it, but wish I could have tasted more of that milk-cocoa-espresso equality I so love in a mocha. Kofenya sources their espresso beans from 7 Hills Coffee, locally roasted in Cincinnati, OH.


Appearance: 6

Ahh, the steamed milk leaf. To the untrained eye, this mocha art is something worthy of praise. “How did she do it?” one might ask, awestruck. “I don’t know,” one might reply, “those firm white lines in juxtaposition so exquisitely against the dark espresso appear almost stenciled by hand.” But alas, to the (mal)adroit mocha latte consumer, this aesthetic is mere kid stuff. It is time to move on from leaves depicted in foam, Kofenya. Perhaps, a MU monogram? And a cup with a matching saucer while you’re at it – don’t you know any hot beverage tastes better with that pairing?



Ambiance: 9

I am so biased, I had to give this place a 9; old memories served as my compass for this Ambiance assessment. The decor is old and mismatched, much like the interiors of my senior year house.  The wall paint appears to have been completed by fraternity boys and the wall art is like Freshman art history major amateur hour. A small stage for live music, couches, tables, and wobbly chairs crowd this small cafe. Kofenya is mostly for students, but also definitely for professors and passerby’s. You could spend all day and night here at Kofenya, what with their expanded menu now including drinks, soups, sandwiches, and pastries.  I remember this place being open 24 hours per day during finals’ week.  My favorite study spot was to sit by the window so I could people watch as I revisited all of my abnormal psychology class notes. I miss this place and so look forward to my next trip back to campus. O-H…




IMG_0284 Waited 5+ years for one of these bagels.

IMG_0283 Messy Katie bagel.

IMG_0301 Miami now recycles & composts in the library cafe.

** For the coffee consumer: note a recent list of the best coffee spots around the States! Have you been to any of these?

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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Ohio


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.

IMG_0247 IMG_0248 IMG_0251


Posted by on March 9, 2013 in California


Portola Coffee Lab

If only high school chemistry included labs like brewing coffee, who knows how many more students might major in Chemistry? Me, perhaps! At places like Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa, CA, it could transform any lay latte drinker into an inquisitive coffee consumer. This place is fun, vivacious, and delicious!



Taste: 8

This mocha was, as my brother proclaimed, ‘bitter but not devoid of sweetness’. I love tasting equal parts dark cocoa, strong espresso, and steamed milk – Portola does just this! It was smooth and just delicious. The only thing is that I would have liked this mocha to be hotter in temperature. Maybe next time I need to ask for it extra hot.

Appearance: 7

How pretty is this? I like the abstract heart design in the steamed milk. I also LOVE the cup and saucer – they are designed by Offero ( I want some of these cups and saucers and glasses for myself!It all just looks delicious and contemporary, just my style!



Ambiance: 9

GOOD MORNING! Holy cow this place is bright. Lime green tiles, mustached baristas, and a halogen heated siphon bar; this place is truly like no other. This is the one and only store, it’s not a chain, and you can tell how good this place is by the consistently steady flow of customers. It’s just so cool here, I would love to come here and study if I lived in California. Between the Michael Jackson music playing in the background, watching the employees roast coffee beans on the premises, and the variety of seating options, Portola will be the mocha place to beat in 2013! When in Orange County, you have to try this place.






Posted by on January 27, 2013 in California



On a recent trip to Boston to visit some lovely friends, we stopped by Cafeteria on Newbury St. for a (boozy) brunch. I have walked by this place dozens of times but never stopped inside – maybe I was just deterred by the name? But after spending some time dining here, I left feeling both confused yet refreshed – confused because this place in NO way resembles a cafeteria, refreshed from great conversation and a mocha that WOKE me up!

Taste: 5

This little mocha tasted like a latte at first. It was not served with a spoon so I grabbed one from a nearby table, mixed it up, and voila! A mocha. It got super chocolatey, but in a good way. Would have liked it to be a bit warmer in temperature though.

Appearance: 2

This does look tempting, yes, but this is nothing super special. I do like the size of this mocha – just perfect! And obviously, a point for the cup AND saucer. So those are the only two points I can allot to this little mocha. Some designs in the foam would have been nice to see, and perhaps serving this with a small spoon would have been helpful. I love the foamed milk at the top and find it more appropriate to use a spoon to get the last bit of foam. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if maybe I’d like a mocha cappuccino over a mocha latte – more foamed milk! I’ll give it a try some time…



Ambiance: 6

I really liked this place! I was so surprised, actually, to see how big Cafeteria is inside. It was way too cold to sit outside, even though there is an outdoor patio during warmer months. The downstairs and upstairs seem to have totally different vibes – the downstairs was so busy, but the upstairs was much more modern, quieter, and had great service. There was a big mix of people – some college students out to brunch, some guys watching football, and some older folks reading the newspaper. I personally would not come here again to grab a mocha and study, but it is a great place to socialize over great drinks (bloody mary!) and food (grilled cheese). I recommend visiting Cafeteria during the warmer months so you can sit outside, people watch, and have a drink after a long day of shopping and sightseeing.




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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Massachusetts