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. 🙂



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.



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


Haymarket Cafe

One of the most perfect Sundays I can imagine would involve great friends, sweaty yoga, and a nourishing post-workout breakfast. I am pleased to say I was fortunate enough to enjoy one of these perfect Sundays recently at Haymarket Cafe in Northampton, MA. After an amazing moving meditation at Shiva Shakti, we headed to Haymarket for some juices, but naturally, I took a detour towards their iced mocha.


Taste: 5

This is one of the best iced mochas I have enjoyed in quite some time. The trick, apparently, lies in their homemade cocoa powder! Really smooth flavor. Haymarket has been roasting their very own Fair Trade coffee beans since 1999.

Appearance: 2

Nothing super special about this mocha, but doesn’t it look deliciously refreshing?



Ambiance: 3

This is a sleppy, bohemian style spot. Some students studying, some folks reading newspapers, and some diners dining downstairs. Trust me on this–you really do not want to spend time in this dingy cafe; order your coffee and juices to go. One last tip: do not order the food. It boasts a wide vegetarian selection, but you don’t want to waste your time or taste buds on their breakfast sandwich with soy sausage (gag). My friend Nicole enjoyed her vegan scramble, and while this does appear to be the most popular breakfast choice, you will not find me back at Haymarket to give it a try. I will, however, be back for a post-yoga mocha, and you should try one too!




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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Massachusetts


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.


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.



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


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.


IMG_0385  IMG_0386 IMG_0387

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