Went to New Haven on Friday, and popped into JoJo’s. Had a fabulous macchiato. Batista was nice, and certainly knew what she was doing; although it seemed that the espresso blend they were using wasn’t the best I’ve had, she squeezed a great shot from it.

Fyi, I’m not going to write anything more about las vetas… Been there five times, not once did I get a great coffee. Some people seem to love it apparently, but I’m thinking they must either work there or have friends working there. For the record, if I ever have any ties whatsoever with a shop I mention, I will also state that relationship.

The best news is that a new shop opened up in Darien: Espresso Neat. This place is consistantly excellent. Use Counter Culture beans, and for drip coffees, they brew one cup at a time, as ordered, right in front of you.

Port continues to be pretty consistant, but there was one day when the beans didn’t seem quite as fresh. Based on other visits, I’ll chalk that up as an anomaly.

Over in the city, Stumptown has open up a cafe… As expected, it was phenominal. Not a lot of room in there when there’s a line, but it’s worth the the risk of claustrophobia.

Gimme and Grumpy are still staples of city visits for me, depending on which side of the city I’m on. Both continue to make the train ride worth it. I still haven’t made it to a 9th street location, and I kick myself every time I don’t go. I also heard Blue Spoon is worth the trip as well…. Soon.

NC

I have actually not been to any cafes in the past month or so.. have kept myself alive with my Silvia and Aeropress.  Every now and then I’ll do a scan to see if any new places opened up nearby, but I think I may be at the moment doomed to live in an area full of sub-par coffee.  Molten Java isn’t too far, but it’s in the other direction from home than where I normally kick around in.  There’s occasional rumor of plans for a place in Stamford… fingers crossed.

I will be going up to Montreal for a couple weeks in Sept… so excited about hopping around a ton of places up there.  Also will hop over to Cicinnati area at some point briefly, and try to hit something out there.

Will probably make the rounds again during the next couple months to see how places around here are doing, any changes, etc.  Seems a lot of folks somehow love that Vetas place, so I may give it yet another shot.  However, if those wands are still crusty, I’ll just turn around and walk out.  Just no excuse for that.

Needed to get away for a little bit today during work, so went over to Caffeine for a short coffee run.  Got a skim latte… and it may just be my imagination (although I seriously doubt it), but that place seems to get a little bit worse every time I go there. 

Today, the espresso pull lasted approx 50 seconds, and the bubbles in their milk frothing are getting larger with every drink they make.  I think they even changed the beans they use.  I was about to rank them as low as Zumbach’s and Las Vetas, but I did notice the barista wipe off the steaming wand, which definitely counts for something. 

If this place doesn’t catch an upswing, I think I’m just going to move.  Fairfield County is way too frustrating for anyone who likes good coffee.  Think I’ll swing by Port Coffeehouse this weekend just so I can renew my faith in the possibility that good coffee can survive in this region.

Didn’t have time to roast some more coffee the other day, so today I’m all out… so decided it would be a good opportunity to swing by Zumbach’s again on my way to work to see how the place is doing these days. 

The cafe seems a bit cleaner than it has been in the past… but the espresso machine still had old dry milk caked on the steam wands.  SO I wasn’t going to even try an espresso beverage.  They had some Tanzanian Peaberry among some other coffees in self-serve airpots, so I got a cup of that.

The coffee seemed possibly a bit too carbonny, or possibly a slightly related taste overtone that was unexpected for Tanzanian.  Guessing it was just roasted a bit too dark.  Some people just love to dark roast beans and can’t help themselves.  Overall, the coffee was alright, but nothing to do somersaults over.

The baristas were quite friendly this time around, and the place was a little cleaner… so maybe that is motion in the right direction?  But I’m assuming they are still quite ignorant in regards to espresso prep, as indicated by the disgustingly caked steaming wands.  New Canaan really deserves a better cafe.  Such a cute town.

I had some of my afternoon off today, so I went over to Coffee Labs in Tarrytown, NY to check it out… they do their own roasting and pull off a La Marzocco.  Fantastic place.  Ordered a macchiato, which was excellent/superb, and the baristi were quite friendly as well.  I believe they even allow dogs in the shop, which is actually pretty cool, (even though my beagle is way too old for a coffee road trip, and might howl at everyone anyway).  I would have gotten some of their beans to bring home and play with, but only had enough cash for my afternoon consumption.  Next time.  But my first impression of this place is that they really do know coffee.

I’ve definitely found my ‘home’ for when I’m up in that neck of the woods.  I’ll likely be popping in that place any time I’m nearby, or I may just have to find a reason to be in that area to begin with.  Seems like a pleasant neighborhood as well..  All-around happy day.

I went back to Las Vetas Lounge, despite my previous experience.  The steaming wands were still caked with milk.  Couldn’t bear trying a cappuccino with the apparent lack of attention given to the steaming wands (don’t want a sour drink), but I was still determined to give this place a chance while I was there.  So I ordered a double espresso.  Without asking, they gave it to me in a paper cup (although I probably should have mentioned I was going to drink it there).  The espresso itself was the classic under-extracted low-crema stuff you’ll find in places like these all over the country, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised, just disappointed.

This place would have so much potential if they only put more effort in learning how to make good espresso drinks… to train the baristas in the basics of steaming milk and pulling espresso shots.  They don’t seem to be having trouble getting folks to come in, but most people in Connecticut haven’t had a good cup of coffee to begin with.  But.. if they would take the time to improve their product, I’m sure it would pay off in the long run, and give that *$ down the street a new level of competition.  

Or at the very least, they could please, please wipe off those steaming wands.  A damp bar towel after every use, it’s very easy.  Much easier than having to chip that crud away at the end of the day (if they even do that).  That caked milk gets heated over and over again, and makes the milk being steamed a little misflavored.  And it’s also just gross.

But until I can work up the courage to go in this place again, when I’m in that neck of the woods, I think I’ll just drive a little further down the road into Black Rock to pop into Port Coffeehouse.  They always seem to do a good job.