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May 16, 2010

Oh Greene’s Corner in Ferndale. It really isn’t much to look at and walking in doesn’t inspire much confidence. Somehow it became the home to Nico’s Pizza, Fool’s Onion Catering, sandwiches, coffee shop, and a small grocery in one very small building. However I have come to learn to not let appearances fool me and it is a very good motto to live by since Greene’s Corner is also the home of Hammerhead Coffee. How good is this coffee? Well I believe that I heard a chorus of angels sing upon taking the first sip.

OK. Now back to the cafe part. The cafe part is in transition. The owner is working on repairs and has plans to make it more inviting. He has already started to get the community involved by hanging photos done by local artists. A few tables fill

the cafe area and several comfy chairs are scattered around. One whole wall of the building is made up of garage doors which are opened during the summer. Sounds inviting, but the real clincher is the view. Mount Baker looms in the horizon. Coffee and a view. These are the things that make life wonderful.

Hidden behind shelves of the grocery is a small area containing a computer and coffee being roasted. Aww part of the reason why the coffee here is so good. The coffee is roasted on location and than goes straight to the cafe to be brewed for customers or directly in bags to be sold. Behind the counter is Scott, the owner. He has been roasting for

a decade and in the coffee business for 20. Fair enough to say he knows his stuff.  Don’t believe me than just try one of his roasts.

Now for the important stuff: the coffee. R got a cup of what they were brewing and I went with a Mexican Mocha. Both delicious. The mocha was perfect. The service was wonderful and we left with a bag of the House Blend. Than again how couldn’t we? After all we did see Scott not only roast it, but bag it as well. So what did we do? We immediately opened the bag the second we got to R’s grandma’s house and made a pot. The flavor of the coffee was amazing and so full of flavor. True to the description on the bag it was smooth.

Can’t make it to Ferndale (just outside of Bellingham)? No worries. Visit the Hammerhead site to order some of their amazing coffee.

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Local Color

May 10, 2010

One night R called me excited about an art showing that was going on at a cafe downtown. A year later and a Flat Stanley project brought us to Pike Place Market and Local Color. Walking in I knew they were weren’t joking when they advertised that they were into the local art scene. Every inch of the wall was covered in paintings and photos. Tables were set up with prints and tiles. Masks covered a post and in a case was jewelry.  Near the tables in the front was a giant beach umbrella and other interesting displays are set up to catch your eye where art isn’t. Local Color is vibrant, colorful, whimsical, and full of life.

There is an area set up in the back where bands can play as well as a working studio. Art on exhibit is rotated monthly. A art opening held each time the art is rotated.

Honestly Pike Place Market with a baby is the very last place I want to be on a Saturday, but as I said before I was working on a Flat Stanley project for a kindergartner who I would not disappoint and just went. Although the area was busy and packed with tourists Local Color was not. Instead there was plenty of seating an a few locals sitting around. Maybe it is that Starbucks is right around the corner. Who knows why this place wasn’t packed, but it sure wasn’t due to coffee. First, the coffee they serve is Cafe Vita. Second, the service was pretty good and the drinks came with a smile. Finally, the pastry selection was very nice.

The drink I settled on was an Aztec Mocha. Wow, I have never had a drink knock me on my ass before until now. This mocha was no joke. The first sip was a bit bitter, but once my taste buds adjusted I was in heaven. Unlike many spicy things I’ve had before where the spice just over powers and muddles the taste this mocha was different. Each sip there was a hint of mocha and than punch of spice. The last sip was the killer with some of the mocha and spice settling on the bottom I almost went into cardiac arrest. Yes, this was a good thing. A very good thing. It really took me a little while to appreciate this drink, but once I did I was hooked. Amazing. A++ Just thinking about it makes the coffee I’m drinking now a bit lackluster.

Local Color on Urbanspoon

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Starbucks Extra Carmel Coffee Frappucino

May 5, 2010

Carmel frappucinos at Starbucks are a guilty pleasure of mine. With the release of their new, create your own frappuccino I was sold. With sales slumping for the fraps they realized something needed to be done. What are they doing differently? Now fresh milk is being used, they eliminated high-fructose corn syrup, and higher-quality coffee now is going into the drink.
I went with the extra carmel coffee frappucino and was impressed. There was more flavor and it was much smoother than its predecessor. The best part was the lack of chunks of ice that usually clog up the straw and are just plain annoying. My only complaint is the strange after taste. It’s not very strong, but there is a distinct after taste of something that I can’t put my finger on.

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The Black Drop-Bellingham

May 1, 2010

The first thing that I noticed upon walking into The Black Drop was the large jars of coffee sitting on a table near the door. The aroma overpowered me and much like a kid at Christmas I was gitty with excitement. The choices where a bit daunting, but once I saw the 8oz offerings off the different blends I was on cloud nine. There was no way to choose just one. After asking one of the baristas if they had an 8oz bag of the Bellinghamster Blend (who wouldn’t want it?) she measured it out of the full pound bag for us and waited for us to order. Talk about customer service.

This week I was leaning more towards a chi latte and R went with his usual black cup. I looked at the pastries. Although the selection was small their was a large cinnamon bun that was calling, but R wasn’t in the mood and it was much to large for me alone. While R was ordering I overheard

a conversation between one of the baristas and a customer about the different blends, which are roasted by the owners. She was extremely knowledgeable about the roasts and seemed to have a genuine enthusiasm for coffee. Always a huge plus in my book.

We sat down and waited for our drinks. The Black Spot is very laid back. While there a few people came and went but there wasn’t the usual loud hustle and bustle of many other coffee shops. It was very calm; something I could use more of in my life. R wondered around and found the periodic table of coffee. These are the quirky touches that I love to find.

Finally our drinks were done. R seemed to enjoy his coffee. My chi latte packed the punch that I love. It was flavorful, but a bit too sweet for my taste. Even so I would go back for more.

Black Drop on Urbanspoon

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Grateful Bread

April 25, 2010

How do I wish that this place was closer to where I live. Grateful Bread is fun, energetic, and delicious. Walking in after attending the Seattle Public library book sale was maybe not the best idea since the place was packed, but from what I heard it wasn’t unusual. Although there was tons of places to sit in both the dining room and outside on the enclosed patio there wasn’t a spot open.

The best part is that this cafe lives up to its name; bread is everywhere. There was a case just of bagels and three more for pastries that were full of delicious looking scones, brownies, and cake. Behind the registers were even more selections of bread for sale at really great

prices. R and I ended up taking a loaf of garlic bread home. It was so fresh and great with some olive oil. My

new goal is to try all of the bread they have available; it was that good.

The menu offering was just as large offering bagel sandwiches, soup, salads, and deli sandwiches. And this is one place that doesn’t skimp on the portions. At many of the tables I saw people splitting salads that were heaped high on the plate.

R ordered an everything bagel with ham, cheese, and generous portions of tomato.  There was enough on it to each the bagel slices to eat it as an open face. With his sandwich he ordered his usual black coffee. The Grateful Bread serves cafe Cafe Vita coffee.

This week I diverted from my usual carmel latte and went for a chi tea latte and raspberry scone. Usually when I get a chi latte I want it strong enough to knock me on the floor. It was good, but I remained in my chair. The chi had a wonderfully strong taste to it, but was watered down so that it wasn’t nearly as powerful as it could be. My scone was just as delicious. A little hard on the outside, but moist on the inside.

There were a lot of positives to Grateful Bread. The staff was easy to talk to and friendly. It was very child friendly. There were lots of kids around and a couple of highchairs available. In my opinion not

enough coffee shops offer highchairs. The other great thing was the decor. The counter in front of the register was covered in foreign coins, the garbage can was inside of a old stove, and there was some crazy looking seating outside on the patio. This place is A+ in my book.

Grateful Bread on Urbanspoon

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Brew Of The Week-Mexican Chiapas

April 23, 2010

Mexican Chiapas roast from Fremont Coffee Company is mild. Being someone who enjoys a much bolder roast this wasn’t my ideal roast, but it was decent. Opening the bag of beans a sweet aroma with a bit of spice and cocoa. It was a delicate, but pleasant smell.
First try was in a coffee maker. The coffee came out very mild and the flavors were muddle dare I say almost tasteless. Second time I used a French press and I must say that this is how I would recommend making it. This time around it was smooth with a spicy after taste. There was bit of an earthy, spicy aroma that completed the cup.
Overall it was a nice blend. Not a cup of get-me-up-and-go but something nice to sit down with at the end of the day to sip, enjoy, and read a good book with.

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Molly Moon and Vivace Coffee Ice Cream

April 21, 2010

When there is a line at any restaurant, cafe, or any place serving food you know that they are serving something not to be missed. The line coming out the door of Molly Moon was epic, but from what the people in line were telling us about the ice cream there was no way we were leaving.
Inside there were two small tables (so don’t expect to find a seat here) and a bench outside with a very large dog bowl nearby. While standing in line we could watch one of the employees make fresh waffle cones, but no matter how tempting it was to watch I was drawn to the menu. They offered vanilla bean, Theo chocolate, strawberry, and maple walnut. Pretty standard but than there was starburst, “scout” mint, salted carmel, balsamic strawberry, honey lavender, Theo coconut kiss, cardamom, ginger, Mandarin chocolate sorbet, and raspberry mint sorbet. What caught my eye was the Vivace coffee. How could I pass this by, but there were so many others to choose from. My salvation came in the form of a prepackaged pint of Vivace coffee that R and I could savor later while I got the seasonal offering of rosemary Meyer lemon. What a wonderful choice. One of the great things about this place is their commitment to purchasing ingredients locally.
Both of the flavors I had were amazing. Really I don’t think there are words to express how perfect their ice cream is, but I will try. It was light, creamy, and so perfectly balanced that it achieved Nirvana. The flavors were light so they were not overwhelming. Usually I like strong, bold flavors, but the lightness of the flavor was something I could appreciate. The Vivace coffee was the best I have had. In the past I find most coffee ice creams to come off a bit harsher but again the lightness here was perfect. It was almost like a cup of coffee with cream. The other thing was that there was finely ground up pieces of coffee in the ice cream. This was a nice contrast that gave a nice punch to the flavor.
Move over Ben and Jerry.

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream on Urbanspoon