Author Archives: Kris

Cafe Hounding: Crema Cafe – Cambridge, MA

27 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA
www.cremacambridge.com

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According to a friend of Cafe Hounds who is currently a graduate student at Harvard, Crema Cafe is one of the best coffee houses in Harvard Square. In fact, Crema Cafe just won Best Coffeehouse in Boston by Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston 2009. I met with my friend on morning during a weekday. The cafe was packed with customers although they seemed to have plenty seating area– upstair, bars, outdoor, and long tables. The location is convenient, right in Harvard Square by the Red Line station.

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As usual, I ordered my latte. Crema Cafe always uses Colombian beans for their espresso drinks. According to their baristas, sometimes they use single origin from Colombia while other times they use blends with beans from Colombia. Their beans are from George Howell’s Terroir Coffee Company in Acton outside Boston. My latte had good aroma and it was not too dark– something you would expect from Colombian beans. They also have selection of pastries, some food, and soft drinks available.

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Overall, I see myself going to Crema again. The hard part for me is that when I am around Harvard Square, I tend to go to Burdick, which is one of the best chocolate cafes I have visited. But Crema Cafe is definitely a fine place that I will go if I want to get a coffee in Harvard Square area.

Cafe Hounding: Koffi – Palm Springs, CA

515 North Palm Canyon Drive at Alejo
Palm Spring, CA
www.kofficoffee.com

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Koffi is located in downtown area of Palm Springs. The place is very relaxing and clean with sleek and modern design. It also has an outdoor corridor in the back, which is definitely a perfect place to enjoy your drink when the weather is not too hot. Inside, there are two seating areas. The area near the espresso counter seems to be occupied by customers who focus on their food and drink. The area in the other side of the cafe attracts people with laptops and books who usually stay longer at the cafe.

Following great reviews on yelp, I decided to visit Koffi one day during the past Labor Day weekend. The temperature in Palm Springs was 104 degree in the afternoon that day so I ordered ice latte and found an indoor table to have my drink. For espresso drinks, Koffi offers two options for you: dark Seattle-style American espresso blend or light Milano-style European espresso blend. My ice latte was prepared from dark espresso and it tasted and smelt very good. (I asked for more information about the beans and the baristas were very secretive, saying that it was business confidential, although later on I found the information about their blends on their website.)

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Koffi also provides good selection of desserts. Their apple pie got a rating of A- from my friend who proclaimed himself as a dessert expert from Los Angeles. The staff was attentive to the dessert, heating the pie and whipped the cream freshly.

Overall, I had good experience with my coffee. It was great in fact. But I didn’t get the friendly and engaging conversation about coffee I usually get from other coffee houses from Koffi’s staff that day.

Cafe Hounding: The Bean Espresso Bar – Nottingham, UK

1 Stoney Street
Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2LA, UK
www.coffee-beans.co.uk

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Located in Beeston, The Bean is one of the independent coffee house in Nottingham area. It was also voted one of the best in UK. I visited this espresso bar after I read the review by Tom at CosyCoffeeShops and learned that he even made a detour trip just to visit this cafe in Beeston.

The place is nice. It has downstair indoor seating with tables and high bars. It has outdoor seating area in a plaza by Sainsbury’s. And it has upstair that makes you feel like being in a living room of your home.

The Bean uses coffee roasted by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee in London. My latte was quite good both times I visited the cafe. The real problem I have with this place is from one of the baristas who seems to be very arrogant and not so friendly. (When I asked him about coffee, his answer was that he didn’t drink coffee and ended the conversation there.) Other staff were friendly, however. I also learned from one of them that the owner of the cafe is being changed and the new owner would be in charge by Christmas.

Cafe Hounding: The Espresso Bar at the British Library – London, UK

96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB
London, UK
www.oliverpeyton.co.uk

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I came across the Espresso Bar @ the British Library by accident while I walked from the library to King’s Cross Station. It is located on Euston Road on the library complex and it was open just a week earlier. What intrigued me at first was what they put on the window: “We only serve our own unique coffee blends, roasted and freshly ground on premises.” So I gave it a try. Result: Great coffee. The staff was also friendly and offered me freshly made churros. It was definitely a good discovery for a coffee lover.

Cafe Hounding: Monmouth Coffee Company – Covent Garden, London, UK

27 Monmouth Street
London WC2H 9EU, UK
www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk

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I visited Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden during my business trip to London, UK, in September. The cafe has good reviews on the internet and is one of the places featured on CosyCoffeeShops.co.uk, a website run by Tom, a new friend of Cafe Hounds. It is located in Covent Garden area within a walking distance from the Tube stations.

When I arrived at the cafe, the first thing I noticed was a long line of customers waiting to purchase their coffee beans, which testified its reputation for good coffee. Although their roasting facility is in a separate location on Maltby Street and they also sell roasted beans over there, the huge amount of of beans behind the counter for their retail sales at the Covent Garden cafe was very impressive.

I ordered a white flat, which is a latte with less milk and therefore a bit stronger than the usual latte. The drink was made from their house espresso blend. The cafe itself is very small. It has very limited seating area. I was not lucky enough to get a seat. In fact, it was quite tough to even find a space to stand in the cafe with a big crowd of people waiting to purchase the beans. The cafe also offers some pastries.

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With its small size, Monmouth Coffee is not a cosy place that you can relax and enjoy your drink, but it is definitely a good place to get good espresso drinks if you do not want to go to the usual Starbucks or Costa.

For more information on Monmouth Coffee, please also visit Tom’s review here.