Tag Archives: coffee

Endiro Coffee (Aurora, IL)

After a nice evening in Aurora, IL, followed by a slightly restless night interrupted by tornado sirens and having to figure out where to shelter in the hotel as we watched extreme winds and rain, we ended up really needing some coffee and sustenance before heading north to Minneapolis. We decided to check out Endiro Coffee in nearby downtown Aurora, IL. It’s worth noting that Endiro has several locations. In addition to the cafe in Aurora, and the nearby roastery, Endiro has ten locations spread across Uganda. Yes, it’s a true partnership between Cody Lorance in Illinois, and Gloria Katusiime in Ugunda, bringing coffee shops to Uganda and bringing Ugandan coffee to Illinois. So it’s not often you run into joint Ugandan-American operations, so I had to check this out.

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Concerning Coffee

Those that know me well know that this Covid epidemic has made my food blogging a bit more difficult than usual, since we’re only rarely eating out at restaurants (and, when we do, it’s almost always takeout, especially now that winter’s going strong). But one thing that’s definitely changed in a more positive way during the epidemic is one of my favorite vices: my daily cup (or often, cups) of coffee. So I thought it would be nice to discuss the coffee we’re drinking, where we get it, and how we make it.

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Lucky’s Coffee Garage (Lebanon, NH)

Back in the summer of 2017, my friend Deb Shinnlinger signed a lease for a recently-closed service station on the green in Lebanon, NH, Roy’s Service Station, with the intent of quickly turning it into a “West-Coast Style Coffee Shop” serving up quality coffee, espresso, and bakery items within a month or two. Well, like a lot of endeavors in food service, the “month or two” turned into several months of drama of permitting and the sort of refurbishment challenges one can expect when turning a tired, old service station into a fresh and welcoming coffee shop, but in December of 2017, Lucky’s Coffee Garage became a reality and opened to the public.

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First Branch Coffee (South Royalton, VT)

This fall, a new coffee shop opened up on Chelsea Street (the west side of the South Royalton Square): First Branch Coffee. Focusing on small 30-pound batch roasted coffee, they’ve been focusing on quality coffee drinks and pastries, and have been a nice addition to the Royalton-area restaurant scene. Interestingly, I’m not going to be writing about their coffee or pastries, although I’ve actually had, and enjoyed, both. The real culinary attraction at First Branch is what’s going on in the back half of the house, since First Branch is also the home of the tasting room of Upper Pass Beer Company. From 4 to 9 pm on Tuesday and Friday, and noon to 4 on weekends, Upper Pass (owned by the same folks that run First Branch Coffee) runs a tasting room for their rather nice selection of beers brewed by Chris Perry and Andrew Puchalik, who I’ve known for several years through the local homebrewing community (and for years, Chris was one of the bartenders at nearby Worthy Burger, another of my Royalton favorites, and I particularly like their Cloud Drop and Modern Pants IPAs. But on most weeks, their weeknight openings are themed and have light food service; Tuesdays are Taco Tuesdays, and Fridays are Flatbread Fridays

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Café Majestic (Porto, Portugal)

Porto as a city has certainly had a lot of ups and downs in its history, but much of the actual downtown area is a product of the 1920s, when the inter-war period was actually quite good for Portugal. The city had some major redevelopment, including the city hall and the Avenida dos Aliados grand boulevard lined with all sorts of great Art Deco and Streamline Modern interiors, nicely blended with some traditional architecture. And that’s also the era when the café became one of the great parts of city life, with all sorts of politicians, writers, artists, communists, students, and the like all gathers over cups of coffee topped with tall piles of whipped cream; at one point there were literally dozens of these throughout Porto, and a handful survive more-or-less intact; one of these is The Majestic Café.

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Pressed Cafe (Nashua, NH)

During my recent stay in Nashua, one morning I found myself with a breakfast craving: I was specifically craving a breakfast burrito. While in many areas of the country this isn’t much of a problem, up here in Northern New England, what few burrito places we have mostly don’t serve breakfast, or serve up some sort of bland imitation of a breakfast burrito with some tired scrambled eggs and maple breakfast sausage. But luckily, a few online searches later, and I discovered that I was right down the street from a small, local chain that among its many breakfast offerings were several decent-sounding burritos: Pressed Cafe.

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Kaffihúsið (Tórshavn, Faroe Islands)

After finally settling into our hostel late at night and having a pleasant nights’ rest despite the still significant light level for 62 degrees of latitude in July, the next morning we awoke and start out exploring the greater Tórshavn area in earnest. We soon found ourselves downtown, exploring the particularly nice harbor area, and, once businesses started opening for the morning, checking out one place located right on the waterfront: Kaffihúsið. (As an aside, I’ll mention that, once you start to learn the translations for various names, you learn that the Faroese seem to like rather simple names for places and businesses. Kaffihúsið means… “Coffee House”).

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Maison du Laurina (Grande Coude, Reunion, France)

One of the pieces of advice we got from the few people I was able to talk to that had been to the island was to tour a coffee plantation. And I discovered that this was a bit harder to set up… most of the plantations are very small family farms, and you have to set up the reservation via phone, often with a member of the farmer’s family who speaks no English and doesn’t understand my French. But it’s worth doing: the plantations all focus on a single variety of coffee: the Bourbon Pointu coffee bean. Bourbon Pointu was grown long ago on the island (back when it was Ile Bourbon), and was a highly-prized variety, and thought lost when the island shifted to a sugarcane economy. But starting at the turn of the last century, an enterprising agricultural engineer discovered small plantings of the plant that had been maintained in a Japanese horticultural greenhouse, and was able to successfully reintroduce the plant to the island. The result is a small but growing industry of coffee producers on Reunion producing one of the world’s best-regarded, and most expensive, coffees. So we set out one rainy day in search of La Maison du Laurina, a small coffee grower on Le Grand Coude on the Southeastern corner of the island

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The Bridge Coffee House (Hoxton, London, UK)

Every once in a while I encounter a place that’s not really a restaurant, but still deserves at least a mention here. In this case, we were walking through London, on our way to meet up with some folks for Vietnamese food in Shoreditch, but were running early, and decided to stop and have a coffee. Doing a quick search of the area, several people recommended The Bridge Coffee House, so we decided to check it out.

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Northside Social Coffee and Wine (Arlington, VA)

While I may have mentioned this before, one of the things I generally don’t like when I’m traveling is free breakfast in hotels. I have several reasons for this, but the big reasons are that (a) hotel breakfasts generally suck, especially for the price, and (b) one of the perks of the otherwise dismal life of the business traveler is the ability to try new places to eat. So, like most every time my schedule allows me to try a local place for breakfast instead of having bland waffles at the hotel, I try to do so, even if it requires getting up early. This time, I decided to walk several blocks from the hotel to Northside Social Coffee and Wine in Arlington.

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