Monday, September 19, 2011

Am I a Coffee Snob?

If you follow my Twitter or Facebook posts when I’m out of town, you’re well aware that I often stop once or twice a day at a local Starbucks to get my standard Café Americano. It’s a freshly made, espresso-based cup of coffee that can give me that caffeine jolt in the morning (sometimes with an extra shot of espresso), or a satisfying cup of decaf after a light dinner. Having to depend on the coffee served at the places I teach can frequently lead to less than satisfying results. Does that make me a coffee snob? I hope not! I just enjoy a good fresh cup, rather than something that has been sitting around in a pump pot or a heated carafe for who knows how long.

There’s another reason I like to go to the coffee shop, particularly when I’m at home. Because of the free WiFi internet available at most places, it often provides a way for me to get some work done away from the four walls of my home office. A good coffee shop should have good ambience, comfortable seating, plenty of work tables, and an abundance of electric outlets. Oh…and they should serve a decent cup of coffee, too!

One of my favorite coffee shops is our local Caribou Coffee. It more than meets the requirements for working away from my office. I’ve also been taking my grandsons there on Saturday mornings, and it has been a great place for us to read a book, and then do some fun activity together. I’m hoping they’ll always remember all the fun we’ve been having doing our Saturday morning outings at Caribou.

Of course, the two places I’ve mentioned are both chains that have stores nationwide. It’s nice for me to be able to go into a place that looks and feels familiar, no matter where my business happens to take me. However, I do have to say that I’ve never been a huge fan of the actual coffee at either place. It’s one reason I go for the Americano. It’s fresh, and I like the espresso roast better than any other roast at either of these chains. But you know, sometimes I just have an itch for a really really good cup of coffee. And I think I may have found it here in Raleigh.

My son-in-law recently suggested that I try a shop called Jubala Village Coffee. It’s on the other side of town, but I have discovered that it is well worth the drive. In addition to having the atmosphere, technology, and furnishings conducive to getting some work done, they happen to serve a top quality cup of coffee! They work with a local roaster, and they make each cup individually. You can request a cup made using the pour-over method, or they’ll make you an excellent pot of French Press. You select the beans/roast you want, and then decide which method you prefer. If you’ve never had a truly handcrafted cup of coffee, let me say that there is a huge difference in taste.

The baristas at Jubala take their craft seriously. They pay attention to brew times, proper grind, and optimum water temperature. The result is really out of this world. They also serve hand-crafted tea drinks. And while they have a couple of home made flavorings that they’ll use in a latte if asked, they will not add any flavorings to a cup of coffee. But believe me, the coffee is that good. No need for flavorings…just enjoy the full rich flavor of the actual coffee. And I guess the reason the taste is so important to me is that I have always taken my coffee black. I never add anything else, so the coffee itself has to taste good.

Unlike many other coffee shops, Jubala Village Coffee does not serve an array of various baked goods or other packaged foods or drinks. They do, however, serve these wonderful homemade waffles. They’re made with a special dough (not a waffle batter), and they are absolutely incredible. I typically watch my carb intake, but for the occasional splurge, the waffles at Jubala are absolutely worth it.

So while I do like and appreciate the familiarity and availability of Starbucks and Caribou when I’m on the road, I think I’ve found my favorite local coffee shop. During the weeks I’m not traveling, you’ll likely find me working at Jubala Village Coffee one morning a week, taking advantage of their free WiFi, enjoying a great cup of coffee…and maybe even a hot waffle now and then!

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