Cuisine Critiques with Kelsey: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

“One more cup of coffee for the road, one more cup of coffee ’fore I go to the valley below” -Bob Dylan

We’re about at that point in the semester where I am wearing the same sweatpants two days in a row, and whether or not I’ve brushed my hair has become a questionable and sensitive topic. Needless to say, I basically live off of coffee. I have been drinking coffee since freshman year of college (thanks to my grand-big Shannon Giddens for the addiction) so you would probably assume I am a newbie to the brew.

However, I can assure you I have made up for lost time.

I have definitely come to adore any coffee shop in the proximity of our beautiful campus, and for this reason I decided to feature three local haunts this week–Roasted, Jittery Joe’s and Taste & See. I am going to highlight my favorites of each unique java joint and I challenge you to go find your own favorite!

 Jittery Joe’s

 The thing I appreciate most about Jittery Joe’s is that when I walk in, someone is already asking me how I am doing. I cannot think of a time I have gone in to study or to grab coffee and not seen someone I know. I love that sense of community–it is reassuring and comforting–especially when I feel most stressed out. I always say that if I write a book about my experience at Mercer it will probably have recurring scenes here, because I feel like it is such a hub of life and activity at Mercer. That is a super cool thing to say about any place, and for that reason I love Jittery Joe’s.

 So this week I decided to deviate from my usual, affectionately-dubbed JitJoe’s order (a white chocolate mocha) and order a black coffee. It was just one of those black coffee kinds of days, plus I wanted to give a pure taste-test analysis. For full disclosure, I have had a regular coffee at Jittery Joe’s probably one third of the time I order, so it was not a particularly new adventure, but still a fun one at that.

 I would consider Jittery Joe’s black coffee to be strong, the kind of cup you need after or right before an all-nighter. If you dilute it with sugar and creamer it would probably be the kind you want around 3 p.m. when you’re about to fall asleep standing up. (Or maybe it’s just me?)

 As I was sipping my coffee out of my bright orange cup I caught a glimpse of the sunlight streaming in through the double front windows and it’s almost like I was shook out of reality. That is what a strong cup can do to you. It can remind you to wake up and get to work; to go out into the world a brave, confident girl; to be kind because you have had your caffeine today…

 Taste & See

 Taste & See opened back in August on Poplar Street, and will absolutely take your breath away the minute you walk in. The place opens into a sprawling, open floor plan chocked full of natural wood, a stone fireplace, and bright, landscape art. The coffees have rustic names like Gold Rush, and baked goods line the front counter.

 I ventured to Taste & See on a Saturday evening to study, looking for a quiet and relaxing environment. The soothing music and the dim lighting provided the perfect ambiance for reading, so I ordered a Maple Leaf to compliment. The latte, adorned with maple syrup, was very sweet and warm, the kind of drink that makes you want to throw on a wool sweater. My cup came complete with “latte art” appropriately depicting a perfect maple leaf. Ah what a wonderful thing it is to have a pretty espresso!

 Taste & See has added a religious taste to its shop, as its baristas hope to minister through kindness while contemporary Christian plays over its loudspeakers. That kind of intentional business practices show in the product delivered, and I could not be more pleased.

Taste & See also has a separate meeting room towards the back of the coffee shop that can be reserved for free for meetings and study sessions–the perfect, quiet getaway for cram-sessions and paper-writing. If you plan to get addicted like me, you can also ask for a punch card, and on your 10th punch your drink will be free!

Roasted

Roasted is kind of like an old high school friend you catch up with in a bookstore– obviously not in the literal sense, but in the metaphorical one. I would say I am quite obsessed with the feel of Roasted. It has a unique menu, vibrant music and a chill space for studying or talking with friends. This time I left my order completely up to chance and asked my barista what she would recommend. I was so excited when she suggested Turkish coffee. I was excited to try something so exotic, and I learned that Roasted is the only coffee shop to offer this kind of coffee. It is brewed in a cezve over a stove and garnished with spices. I also split a “muffin man” with my coffee house sidekick, Ellen Schneider. A personal favorite, the “muffin man” consists of a muffin of your choice (we chose blueberry) and a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream. As Ellen and I say, you haven’t really lived until you have met the muffin man. We are big fans.

My tiny (but plenty!) cup was delivered steaming within a glass. How aromatic to sip from the traditional brew with grounds straight from Egypt. This is the kind of experience that can take you away, seriously. When I finished my strong sampling, “mud” of the grounds lined the bottom, which traditionally has been said to predict your future. With my empty cup of coffee and my belly full of muffin and ice cream, I must say it looks like my future is off to a good start.

The environment at Roasted is perfect for catching up with a friend or pleasure reading. Books for borrowing, a comfy couch, and dark tables all surround a stage in the back of the shop ready for live performances. The windows have barstools perfect for gazing into the street and getting lost in a daydream.

Thank you to Taste & See, Jittery Joe’s and Roasted for fueling my caffeine addiction this week. May your coffees be strong and your studies be light in the coming weeks, bears!