In Praise of Local Coffee

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What’s your favorite locally-roasted bean? I’ve tried three recently myself: old favorite La Colombe as well as new jacks Green Street and ReAnimator. Is it blasphemy to say I prefer La Colombe?

It may be my personal preference, but no matter how much coffee I brew, I just find that La Colombe has a better, rounder flavor than the others.

Am I missing something? Are their local beans that blow your socks off? Drop me a line in the comments.

In Praise of Dock Street Brewing Co.

Ah, spring. It’s so nice to be outside again. Nothing quite like running Charlie ragged in some nice parks. Thing about nice parks in Philadelphia is that most of them are in West Philly. Helen and I may be riverward  chauvinists, but, man, I wish Penn Treaty Park were as nice as Clark Park.

You know what else the riverwards don’t have? A brewery and pizza spot like Dock Street Brewing Co. Went with Mark and Erin before a Party Photographers’ show at Younglove’s last winter, but had no idea how great it was for lunch. Bought two pies — Flammenkuchen and Florentine — and got a growler of their Summer Session to go. Can’t beat it!

Helen, who tends to hate brewpubs because the food is often oh so bad, really loved it. Win-win! Beats having to convince her to haul out to Iron Hill or Victory for lunch and we can stroll down to Clark Park afterward.

Maybe we’ll be West Philly people yet…

How Much Can You French Press?

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French press coffee is as much a part of my morning ritual as “Thomas the Tank Engine.” I’ve watched several videos to help me hone my skills and Jasper here has really done the trick, especially with the temperature of the water and the timing. I feel pretty confident about my coffee to water ratio these days.

I’m drinking a delicious, oily cup of coffee right now. Love it!

The Fishtown Coffee Problem

When Helen and I moved to Port Fishington, or Flat Iron as it’s properly known, from the hustle and bustle of Two Street, we were in for a rude awakening. There was practically nothing here! Want a bite to eat? Our neighbors recommended Applebees! Good pizza? Key Foods!

Yuck. Stranger, there was just one coffee option for the bulk of Fishtown: the dreaded Rocket Cat. Now, Rocket Cat brought coffee right into the heart of Fishtown, located at the corners of Frankford and Norris, which is about as great a location as you can have in this neck of the woods. It’s a shame they serve bad coffee at premium prices with service that will ruin your day. Top it off with the shop’s west Philly vibe and you’ve got the trifecta of awful.

Last year we welcomed Milkcrate Cafe to Fishtown. It’s been out go-to spot when convenient. They serve La Colombe coffee, which is the gold standard of Philly coffee. Major upgrade over Rocket Cat, although they claim to have followed suit as customers rejected their watery organic blend. Bonus, right? It is, but Milkcrate is quite a hike, unless I’m headed to Penn Treaty Park with Charlie on a Sunday morning. The coffee’s good, the price is right and the service is wonderful, but I just don’t get over their often enough for it to be my regular spot. Wouldn’t hurt if they did something about the seating, too.

Enter the Lola Bean, which opened Saturday, right on Frankford just a block from Johnny Brenda’s. I’ve already been twice! The coffee’s great and the service is lovely. It’s a great addition in the heart of what will soon be a burgeoning strip of new businesses. I’m really excited to see what happens next!

Best part about the Fishtown coffee “problem?” We have options! It’s a luxury we didn’t have just three years ago. Love local folks investing in the neighborhood!

Have You Been to Kraftwork?

I’ve been to Kraftwork a number of times now and I think I like it. I mean, it’s okay. There’s that one sandwich that’s really delicious, but not much else that really stands out on the (recently reconsidered) menu. The draught list is amazing, although it’s like doing surgery with a shotgun; put enough beers on tap and you’re sure to get something right, no?

But you can fix menus and curate beer lists to make it seem like you know what you’re doing, rather than not wanting to get it wrong. What you can’t really change is physical plant. If you want to be clubbed over the head with concept, Kraftwork is the place. Without even mentioning the clunker of a name, you know it’s stylized to a fault, which really distracts from the things that probably brought you there in the first place. Did I mention how NOISY it is? Now, I know I’m getting older, but when you have a DJ spinning dance music during dinner, at a place that doesn’t have a dance floor, you’re going out of your way to seem silly. I mean, at least the Abbaye had sensible brunch DJs.

Thing I hear from fans of craft beer and gastropubs in general though is that the prices are simply too high. I can get a pint of Russian River Blind Pig for less than I can a tulip of the same at Kraftwork. And while the taps are more plentiful than other neighborhood bars, I don’t get the sense that more thought went into selecting what’s on them. Instead of feeling like you’re getting a deal on something that’s been carefully considered, you know you’re overpaying for something you can probably get somewhere else in town.

Will I keep going back? Absolutely. I have faith that Adam Ritter will get it right and, hell, who I am to say anything: the place is usually full to overflowing, which is a good problem to have in this economy. If they can build a tasty, inexpensive menu around their beer can chicken sandwich, then they’re already on the right track. Where else can you get a Mikkeller Breakfast Beer Geek Imperial Stout at 10:30 on a Sunday morning?