Local Coffee

4 10 2012

For all you coffee snobs out there: if you have not visited Local Coffee – shame on you! I strip thee of thy self-appointed “snob” appellation.

Our American culture has forced every industry to meet our “give-it-to-me-now” expectations, including our morning coffee. To be sure, Starbucks has stepped in to fill that need to the point of saturating every market available. Starbucks will always have its staunch apostles, and vociferous critics. Regardless of your position, its dominance around the U.S. has established that cup of nasty and bitter Pike’s Peak as the standard.

I’m here to tell you that Local Coffee stands above and beyond any coffee house I have ever been to because of their dedication to a quality product, brewed with precision, and presented in an artistic fashion.

It all starts out with Cuvee coffee from a roaster just outside of Austin (you can read more about the roaster by clicking the link to their website). First of all, the coffee is directly sourced from their farmer-partners with a focus on specialty coffee. But that is just the beginning. Cuvee is so committed to providing a quality experience that they even provide barista training to ensure that the high quality extends all the way down to the cup of coffee.

Just about everything here is made through a French Press (press pot). Although there is an espresso machine on hand, it is rarely in use to actually brew the coffee. According to Robby Grubbs, the owner, nothing goes through a drip machine or any paper filters to ensure that all the flavors from the essential oils are captured. The barista’s attention to detail allows them to develop a “microfoam” from their milk. The precise angle and depth at which the steam wand is inserted into the milk draws out its naturally sweet flavor. If you think I’m joking here, wait until you try it and you will be a believer.

Like yourself (surely), I’ve had a lot of coffee from many different places. But it is rare (like never) that I am really surprised. Local Coffee does that. The flavor of the coffee itself has a natural sweetness to it, and the mouth feel of the foam is smooth and creamy, adding another layer of sweetness from its lactose lusciousness (sorry, had to do that). The only problem I have with the coffee here is that I finish it too damn quickly and that I want more!

Now, don’t expect to wiz through one morning for your regular 20oz. cappuccino. They only serve traditional capps here – so 8oz. only (one part espresso, two parts milk). My favorite? The latte is served in a 16oz. portion with your very own latte foam art (typically a flower or heart). So delicious its almost a shame to adulterate it with sugar.

The decor at both locations (Stone Oak and Alamo Heights) is decidedly industrial constructed from “green” materials with unique detailing throughout. Expect to find either location fairly busy, even during the middle of the day, filled with a wide demographic of people. Baked goods are available as are micro-brews and wines, which makes this coffee house a unique and attractive place to visit.

Trust me on this one.

Advertisements




Will Starbucks get its soul back?

31 01 2008

starbucksA couple of days ago an article came through on the AP wire regarding a memo issued by Starbucks Chariman Howard Schultz. This memo, delivered to Starbucks top executives about a year ago bemoaned the “watering down of the Starbucks experience. He complained that the company’s unbridled growth had sapped the soul out of the company. In this memo he pointed to the fact that many people find the stores “sterile” and “cookie cutter.”

How often do you see or hear about someone in a position such as Schulz’s being so candid about the company they run? Admitting there is a problem is the first step towards recovery, and Schultz hit the problem right on the head. As Starbucks saturates the market, the funky and cozy coffee houses (remember when they were called that?) have gone by the wayside. People are driven by convenience and efficiency, and its so much easier to pull up to the Starbucks drive-thru to pick up the morning java than to stop at a favorite coffee house and drink inside out of a ceramic cup. The original intent and philosophy behind the coffee house has waned, and in some areas, disappeared. In fact, after Starbucks switched to the fully automated machines, the pungent coffee aroma that used to permeate the air almost completely disappeared as well. Likewise, the craft of “pulling” a great cup of coffee or espresso is non-existent.

Here in San Antonio, I can only think of one coffee house that has retained this eclectic charm and that also serves good coffee. I only know about it because I stumbled upon it. On the other hand, Starbucks has become so ubiquitous through their marketing that even cartoons mimic and parody their logo.

However, hope may be in sight. Schultz is taking steps to bring the soul back to the stores. Different ideas have been tossed around to accomplish this, (like firing the CEO) but their success remains to be seen. I will be waiting in anticipation as I sip an espresso made from my Jura Capresso at home.