Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Caffe' Apropos

We had a horrible mocha experience the other day. It was almost enough to make us swear off mochas forever.
We visited Caffe' Apropos, 443 W. 3rd Ave., in Victorian Village on our way home from campus. We were encouraged by the awning that called the cafe a European Espresso Bar.
The inside was charming.Tile floors. High tables and booths where people sat working on their computers. A wine shop at the back encouraged more grown up beverages too. A cozy area centered a love seat and upholstered chairs around a fireplace. It seemed like a perfect place to gather with friends or to work alone. We took our drinks to go though rather than staying but were impressed with the atmosphere here.
The coffee, however, was a huge disappointment. Grace got a Raspberry Truffle mocha, a white chocolate mocha with a shot of raspberry. Paulita got the regular cafe mocha. We were offered whipped cream and as per our guidelines, turned it down. Both drinks cost $3.40 each. The barista was unassuming and polite; we had to repeat our orders and questions though. When we got our hands on our mochas, we were very excited, everything up until then had led us to believe that these would be rich, dark, beautiful cups of coffee full of flavor and a European flair.
We stepped out onto the sidewalk and were strolling toward the car before we tasted our drinks.
Paulita was surprised at the first sip. The mocha wasn't hot and had no hint of foam. Usually, without whipped cream the first sip would be thick foam with a hint of chocolate. 
 Grace's drink was a watery brew with only a hint of raspberry flavor.  Grace took a sip of Paulita's mocha and said, "Do you get a hint of something, well, earthy?"
Paulita took another sip and tasted dirt and mushroom-y mold.
"Gack." Paulita felt herself gagging and wondered if the mocha was coming back up.
In the car, we discussed what could have made that hideous taste, and wondered if the espresso beans might have been moldy.
After the gross taste, we didn't drink anymore. This was the amount of coffee left in the cup -- so nearly full and a waste of the $6.40 we spent.
 Here's our review, with 4 beans as the highest rating we give:
Taste of the mocha:
Zero beans -- we would not take another sip nor recommend anyone else try it.

Overall Rating:

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Upper Cup

We stopped at Upper Cup Coffee Co., 79 Parsons Ave.,one morning after a work out. We parked in the lot alongside the building, even though some signs on the building designate which business gets which parking spots. We ignored the signs and went in.
The coffee shop is long and narrow and there were a few people chatting at tables.
The barista immediately took our order and got to work on our mochas.

Grace thought this looked like a painting
of Napoleon: It says, "Real gangsters
are short and speak in 3rd person.
Upper Cup Coffee offers small or large sizes, no mediums. The small size is 16 ounces and the large is 20 ounces, so they're the same size as the medium and large in most places. The large was $4.25, which is closer to the price most places charge for a medium.
Paulita got a decaf mocha, which they didn't have in the regular espresso machine, so the barista weighed out the beans and ground them right then. He looked at the date the beans were roasted and assured us the beans were fresh and would make a great espresso.
Upper Cup Coffee Co. doesn't offer a lot of other fancy drinks, so Grace stuck with a mocha as well.
The baristas were friendly and industrious. One was working on brewing tea for other customers, an elaborate ritual of dripping the hot water through cones of loose tea bags.
The music was jazzy and mellow as we waited for our drinks, looking at the art work and the comfortable couch where people could sit.
 We were in a hurry so didn't taste the mochas until we were in the car. That first sip was full of frothy, chocolatey deliciousness. And it was good throughout. The espresso was strong but not bitter. We could immediately taste the chocolate and sweetness, but one taste didn't overwhelm the other.

The coffee bean roasting equipment adds to the ambience.
Here's our review with 4 beans as the highest rating:
Taste of the mocha

Overal Rating -- 4 beans but we loved it, so here's an espresso bean heart to show how much we loved it.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Luck Bros

We visited Luck Bros Coffee House, 1101 West First Ave., Grandview Heights,  as a quick way to warm up after a workout. The outside of the shop is charming, with an old timey sort of feel to the facade and located in a block of little restaurants and shops with a similar feel. There are a few tables outside to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea on the walkway in the summertime.

Once inside the shop falls under the ambience category of hipster. It feels very organic inside with the brown concrete floor, exposed ductwork, and bean roasting equipment. The tables are lined up along the walls, leaving the floor through the center open, perhaps for long lines after elementary school mothers drop off their children across the street.
Decoration consisted of items for sale, bulletins and posters advertising various events and services offered in the area. One of the more amusing flyers was an advertisement for an end of the world party on December 20th.

A big red coffee roaster stands toward the back of the shop, and one of the Luck Bros was busy roasting beans while we were there.

The barista was very polite. She expertly answered all of our questions and asked whether we wanted whipped cream. The coffeehouse also included a "cash register" that looked like an iPad screen in a wooden frame that swiveled around for me to sign with my finger. It also allowed me to add a tip to my credit card, something that most coffee houses don't include.

We ordered our mochas and were a bit surprised at the sizes. The prices were $4.25 for a medium white mocha, and $4.15 for a medium regular mocha, but the size of the cup was only 12 oz instead of the standard 16 oz medium. The barista explained that for fancy drinks, like mochas, the sizes are smaller than for regular coffee. Here's a photo of the three sizes for fancy drinks.

I don't think the small size would feel very satisfying. It's barely bigger than a Dixie cup, the kind you put in a cannister next to the bathroom sink.

Our total bill for the two tiny-sized medium drinks,  plus tip was $9.24.

The first taste of the white mocha was that it was foamy and strong, good espresso, but only mildly sweet. The regular mocha was a bit better and was foamy, thick, and chocolatey, though again only semi-sweet.

We went home having enjoyed the ambience but feeling a little let down by the coffee. While the espresso was good, the other flavors were not really present and there was little sweetness.

Here's our review:
Taste of the mocha




3.5 but we don't have an image for that yet!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Zanzibar Brews

Our first mocha quest excursion took place after a morning workout at the Eldon Ward YMCA on the East Side. We saw an advertisement for Zanzibar Brews up on the wall while we were working out and since it was on our way home, we made a stop at the cool shop.
Located in the King Lincoln Gateway building, when we walked in, we were struck by the decor. It is a very modern mix of bold colors with exposed ductwork in the ceilings, along with dangling lights and chandeliers that give off a warm glow in contrast to the cool metal decor. The ambience overall was excellent, and the graffiti artwork on the walls was interesting with it's words of hope, peace, love, and other inspirational slogans done up colorfully.
Paulita ordered the regular mocha, and declared the first sip was bitter and steaming with a hint of chocolate. It was almost too hot to drink, but the barista was very polite and attentive. She offered to add more chocolate if needed. She also offered whipped cream on top of both drinks, which, according to the rules we set up, meant we had to decline.

Grace got the Secret Garden mocha, a mocha with a shot of raspbery DaVinci syrup. It was good, mildly sweet but not very flavorful. The drinks overall were both a bit watery and we decided it was because the espresso wasn't quite strong enough. The cups were nice with Dixie lids that slid open for drinking and safe transport without spilling.  Each mocha was $3.30 for a 16oz drink, according to the menu, but strangely, the bill totaled $7.10.

One thing that was very cool about the menu was that each drink and food item had a name on the menu along with the descriptor of what it actually was, like the Secret Garden mocha and The Big E turkey club. The establishment also caters and is available to rent out for an event.

There is a big parking lot located right next to the King-Lincoln Gateway building with easy access to the shop either from the front door, or the inside door that leads to the rest of the building.

You can read other reviews of Zanzibar Brews, 740 E. Long St.
Columbus, OH, at Yelp.
Here's our review with 4 beans being excellent:
Taste of the mocha 

Overall Review:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mocha Quest Guidelines

We love a nice mocha.
That's why we decided to taste test mochas in independent coffee houses throughout Columbus, Ohio, to see which are mediocre and which are miraculous. Hopefully, we won't gain several pounds and spend hundreds of dollars.
So here are the rules that we're following.
The coffeehouse needs to be independent, not part of a chain, so forget about Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Cup o' Joe.
Paulita will order a medium decaf mocha at every coffee house. If the barista asks, she'll turn down whipped cream. Otherwise, she'll take the mocha as it is made.
When Grace comes along, she'll order a specialty drink and we'll judge that as well.
The criteria by which we'll grade the coffeehouse and the mocha are the taste of the mocha (both chocolate and espresso), the ambience of the coffeehouse and the service of the barista. Plus an overall rating. The rating system will be 1 to 4 beans with 4 being miraculous. We'll rate each qualification by bean before giving it an overall bean rating.
We hope you'll send along suggestions of coffeehouses we should try and let us know if you agree or disagree with our reviews.
Maybe we can visit every independent coffeehouse in the Columbus area in 2013.
Challenge accepted.