Blog Post #8

Welcome!

In post #6 (https://coffeetalkshop.wordpress.com/), we visited a small, locally owned artisanal coffee shop off of the Las Vegas strip.  Like our city, the MadHouse Coffee Shop never sleeps and is open 24 hours, 7days a week.  It was a genuine pleasure to meet the entire staff that put so much heart into their craft, from making the finest grade coffee to baking the pastries on location.  Also, we saw its unique contribution to the community by its support of local artists, as it functions as a gallery showing casing new talent.

Since our last post focused on an art theme, today’s post will focus on a destination theme.  If you will recall, I promised you a virtual trip to Paris, sans the passport, luggage, and jet lag.  So, we are going to visit Ile St. Louis Café.  This will be my first time at this shop too so it should be interesting.  We will put this local French themed coffee shop to the test.  For our test, we will use only 4 of the 5 criteria as outlined in my previous post.

1.Location

pariscoffeeshop

Truth be told since it is on the strip, you will not be able to park at the entrance and just walk in without avoiding a crowd, or use the drive-thru.  Nevertheless, as you can see from the picture, it is highly unlikely that you will miss it once you are on Las Vegas Blvd.  Differing from other coffee shops, there is no drive-thru or store front parking.  However, on a sunny day with mild weather, it is a pleasant 10-12 minute walk if you use the self-parking lot.  Navigating from the parking lot to the entrance of the Paris Hotel is relatively easy as well because of the direct escalator to the entrance.

There are over 5 coffee shops once you arrive to the Las Vegas, man-made Paris level of the hotel.  You will walk over cobblestone streets that are lined with multiple French signs offering a sampling of traditional food and beverages.  Each shop front is constructed to resemble a small café filled street that you would expect to find almost anywhere in France.

The Ile de St. Louis Cafe’ is the only one with an indoor terrace with trompe-l’oeil blue skies and clouds above, in addition to indoor seating.  In total, the coffee shop can easily accommodate 200 people.

2.Cleanliness

Perhaps due to my phobia of food-poisoning, I always look for the rating for the café.  Fortunately, it has an A rating from the Clark County Health District.  This is always reassuring.  (I don’t like to take risks.)

3.Quality of Coffee

Here is the sad truth of the coffee I tried – it was terrible.  I requested a double-shot latte with soy.  It was not to be.  They do not offer more than two choices of milk: whole milk and non-fat.  As for the coffee, the indoor café only serves two types of coffee – regular or decaffeinated which is percolated in an industrial, cafeteria stainless steel machine.  It gets worse before it gets better.  They use tap water with their coffee brand, Jacobs Douwe Egberts.  What was the result?  It tasted like tap-water with milk (no hint of the coffee bean flavor at all).

Why is tap water criminal when making coffee?  Well, you won’t go to jail because taste buds can’t arrest you but coffee taste can vary tremendously when you use tap water from Las Vegas, if it is not filtered.  If you have the time, you can try this experiment at home using a pour over adapter ($3.00 at most supermarkets such as Smith’s) a regular coffee filter and your normal choice of coffee.  Make two cups and sample.  I feel that the chemicals used to make the tap water drinkable somehow destroys the purity of the coffee making the beverage taste like tap water with coloring (or in some cases, it tastes like an extremely bitter version of the coffee selected).

Still, I wanted to know more about the coffee bean origin and brand history, but it was difficult finding out anything from the staff.  Since they got the name from the packaging (Jacobs Douwe Egberts), I figured I could do the rest of the research online, so I Googled it and was directed to this site https://www.jacobsdouweegbertsprofessional.com/coffee-tea-more/espresso/

Here is what I found out about Jacobs Douwe Egberts.  It is a well-established coffee manufacturer located in the Netherlands with an admirable 260 years of experience in the coffee industry.  Sadly, the company does not appear to be transparent as their website is not forthcoming about the coffee bean acquisition in Brazil (linked to slave labor). 1 The website lists all the different brands that they sell but not much information about the Arabica bean other than it being Brazilian farmed.

4.Different Coffee Preparation Methods Offered

As mentioned under the paragraph heading “Quality of Coffee” this coffee shop only offers one method within the café (percolated process with tap water).  The server did add that espresso and lattes are available at the nearby coffee bar next to the terrace.  I found it bizarre that this café can’t provide even a basic espresso unless you order from the coffee bar.  This was another huge disappointment.

Coffee Review/Evaluation

I deducted points for poor coffee, insufficient selection, uninformed staff.  The café (although in beautiful surroundings) only earned 2 points.  One point for friendly staff and one point for cleanliness.  As for the price – it is expensive and not justifiable (about $10 for one cup of coffee with a tip).   In my opinion, this shop is to be avoided, if possible.  It is not worth visiting unless you want to visit the agreeable view from the Eiffel Tower (Las Vegas version).  You can do this without going to the coffee shop.

The tour of the Eiffel Tower is highly recommended.  It made up for the disappointment of the café.  For some wonderful photos taken from the top of the tower, please visit the resources below.

It has been my pleasure having you on this journey of coffee shop reviews, their unique purpose in our lives and hopefully a special place in your hearts. Happy holidays.

All the best,

Marcella

Resources:

https://www.jacobsdouweegbertsprofessional.com/coffee-tea-more/espresso/

https://www.theguardian.com › World › Development › Brazil

Mar 2, 2016 – Nestlé and Jacobs Douwe Egberts say beans from Brazilian plantations using slavelabour may have ended up in their coffee. …

https://www.vegas.com/attractions/on-the-strip/paris-las-vegas-eiffel-tower/

Photos with spectacular views from the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas inside the Paris Hotel :

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Blog Post #7

Welcome!

A few posts ago (post number 4 to be exact https://coffeetalkshop.wordpress.com) we reviewed a local coffee shop using  Bill Walsh’s guidelines (coffee expert).  His evaluation system graded the shops on 4 points (design, employee friendliness, price, quality). His ranking ranged from 1 to 6 (1 being the lowest score).

Today however we will use my set of guidelines for the review. To ensure clarity, I will define my guidelines and explain why they are important.  I have selected  Sambalatte Torrefazione for our visit which is located in south Las Vegas.  Please note that they have multiple locations, but I will be reviewing the one in Boca Park.  Also, I will avoid their peak hours (9:00-12:00) and drop in around 1:00 PM.

 

1.  Clean and Bright

If I walk into a place where I intend to have a beverage, snack or meal, it must be clean.  My definition of clean includes cleared off tables and trash free floors.  As for the air in the establishment – definitely smoke-free, with no unpleasant or hard to identify odors.  An A rating from the Clark County Health Department is also nice to see.  Also, one of my quirks – I like good visibility (of my food, my table and those surrounding me).  Fortunately, Sambalatte has those boxes checked off.

(Pictures of interior show 2 out of 3 areas for seating – downstairs and the second floor / mezzanine.)

2ndfloorsamalatte      sambalatteentrancetable

As you can see in the pictures above, there is sufficient lighting which showcases the ample seating available to patrons.  Something unique that I don’t see in many shops is that this one has two levels, which is convenient.  You never have to worry about not finding seat here.  You are sure to find something on the terrace, or on the first or second floor.  If you are seeking privacy – Sambalatte has a small bar seating area next to a wall, underneath the stairs.  The wall is exposed brick so you have something nice to look at if you prefer to keep your back to the general public.

2.  Quality of Coffee

The quality of coffee is important because that carries the most importance in the evaluation.  A “nice place” but “bad coffee” will not earn a passing grade with me.  Also, variety of coffee is essential.  Where does Sambalatte stand on this criterion?  Well, the name of the shop gives you a clue.  Torrefazione also means coffee roasters (or roasting).  So it is not surprising that you can find a wide variety of beans in this store.  You will not be disappointed.  Unlike some shops that stop brewing decaf once the morning crowd has left, Sambalatte always has decaf available anytime of the day or night.

3.  Not Just One Method

Having different methods available to prepare different types of coffee ranks high on the list.  The example that I like to use is pizza (preparation or re-heating).  Yes.  You could re-heat pizza in a microwave but at what cost?  Isn’t it better to re-heat pizza in an oven?  So I will pose one more question – why would anyone risk ruining the quality/taste of pizza by re-heating it in the microwave?  The same care and preparation needs to be considered when making coffee. One method is not like “one size fits all.”  Some coffee shops only provide two coffee making methods – espresso or dripped coffee. Sambalatte raises the bar by providing 6 different methods to prepare your coffee, as shown by the picture below.  This board not only gives the patron a price but the taste expectation provided by each method:

6methodssambalatte

 

4. Review of Beverage & Food (Coffee & Quiche)

My definition of good coffee?  I can honestly say that a good coffee is like a fine wine.  They should never make you wince (from either a bitter bean or “cork” taste).  Also, no matter what type of bean (light, medium or bold) – the palate should never be shocked.  With that being said, you will know if a bean has been charred when you taste it, just like you know when toast has been burnt (even if someone tries to scrape off the burnt part).  Your palate will tell you.

So onward with the big taste test…

As for the coffee, I sampled a dark roast Italian coffee bean which was ground to a fine powder for a latte.  I requested soy instead of milk.  Normally, I don’t like my beverage very hot so the barista made sure to steam the soy slightly (just enough to achieve the airy foam appearance).  After the coffee was prepared he quickly drew a leaf design in the coffee (as seen in the photo below).

sambalattecoffee

Next I ordered a Quiche Lorraine.   Having lived overseas for 10 years, I can confirm that Sambalatte’s Quiche is very close to the ones that I sampled in France.  Crust is extremely important as it can make or break the entire Quiche experience.  Here, Sambalatte revealed that they rely on an authentic local French bakery for most of their pastries.  Returning to the Quiche – it passed the flaky crust test and absolutely complimented the fluffy custard filling.

As another example of exemplary customer service – the waitress delivered the Quiche with a side of fruit.  When I told her that I had not ordered the fruit, she explained that it was standard because the owner did not feel a Quiche (on its own) was sufficient for the price.  I was pleasantly surprised by her frank response.   Personally, I found the side of seasonal fruit a little “extra” that I don’t find (for example) at Starbucks.

 

5. Superior Customer Service

Even though I mention this last, it is definitely a deal breaker for me.  The coffee can be great but I will not go back for a second visit if the employees are rude or not knowledgeable about their craft / product.  Fortunately, Sambalatte’s employees are well trained and friendly.

A few examples of the stellar customer service come to mind.  On occasion, they might run out of a pastry and I rely on their knowledge to recommend something in its place.   Also, they can tell you down to the details – including ingredients for the soup of the day (which is prepared daily using fresh produce).

Finally, if your beverage is not satisfactory, they will make it right.  Never fear – if the line is long and the wait seems endless, the owner will make sure that you have a sample of a certain cake or cookie to make time fly.

My Rating

In my opinion, Sambalatte is worth the visit for exceeding my expectations on the 5 criteria mentioned above.  I give it a 5 out of 5 (my highest ranking).

One important bonus – they do have a nice selection of sandwiches, soups or salads.  While it is on the pricey side, they never skimp on quality or presentation.

Other miscellaneous amenities with this shop: WiFi, free music concerts and coffee products for sale.

Sambalatte Torrefazione

750 S. Rampart Blvd.

Las Vegas, NV 89145

Telephone: 702-272-2333

Next Blog Post

For my final post, I will review another coffee shop with a very special theme.

Until then, have a great week!

Blog Post #6

Welcome!

In post #5 (https://coffeetalkshop.wordpress.com/), we explored the diverse, social functions of a coffee shop.  Also, we have discovered numerous ways to rate coffee shops. We have used themes, sense of community and other experts’ opinions to guide us.  Today we will use a few of my personal preferences to guide us in rating a unique coffee shop in Las Vegas known as The Madhouse Coffee.

  1. Location

This coffee shop is centrally located and nestled in the south of Las Vegas.  I discovered it (by means of a “happy accident”) one day when I finished my daily walk at the nearby Desert Breeze Park.  The shop’s cross streets are Durango and Desert Inn.

What is nice about the location is that on any given day, if you happen to be seated outside on the tiny terrace you can watch the sunset against the backdrop of the Las Vegas strip skyline.  The parking is adequate because it shares space with a shopping center which houses an Albertson’s, Chase Bank, Vegan Bistro and Yoga studio (all within walking distance).

Now if you are thinking that your schedule might not allow you to visit this hidden gem – I have good news.  It is one of the few coffee shops open 24 hours, 7 days a week, year-round.  (Yes, that means that they are even open on Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

An even better bonus is the drive-thru.  (However, since I enjoy taking my time at this coffee shop – I have yet to use the drive-thru.)

Below is a picture of the coffee shop, just in case you drive by you won’t miss it.  As you see from the photo – only 5 tables are available outside so you might not always be so lucky with outside seating, if that is what you are looking for.

exteriorcoffee

  1.  Clean & Cozy

Following the afternoon rush, I only found one table not cleared off when I arrived.  Like the exterior space, the seating area on the inside is small but adequate (interior seating capacity of about 40).

What will strike you at first is the New York-like studio/warehouse style, from its concrete floors up to the custom-made, industrial lighting and high ceilings.  If you admire the long tables that frame the interior, designed with steel pipes, topped with varnished wooden slabs and stainless steel, the artwork on display will probably not go unnoticed.

mcoffeeinterior     mcoffeeinterior2

 

Here is the pièce de résistance which makes any visitor drinking coffee feel as if he/she is in a gallery worth visiting.  The shop is currently showing work by social artist Izaac Zevalking from the UK.  The name of his art studio/company is Recycled Propaganda.  (Below are a few eye-catching and thought provoking paintings that I saw when I visited the shop.)

picture2

If you happen to be at a loss for words, or need help finding a conversation piece, I can assure you that one of the paintings on display will strike an emotional nerve or two.  His artwork makes you think about societal or global issues.

 

(If you are interested in more information on the artwork or the message behind the paintings please visit recycledpropogranda.com.)

 

  1.  Quality of Coffee

Now we move on to the best and essential part of the visit – the coffee.  If you don’t have the chance to visit this place during the winter, put it on your list for a visit during the summer to sample one of the 14 cold brewed coffees available.

Unlike other coffee shops that rely on numerous coffee roasters, this shop only uses beans from Dillanos Coffee Roasters.  Dillanos was founded by native New Zealanders 19 years ago.  They are based in Washington and source their beans from coffee plantations all over the world.  They only purchase coffee beans from cooperatives that practice responsible growing methods.  If you are interested in purchasing directly from them or need more details, I invite you to visit their site https://www.dillanos.com.

  1.  Not Just One Method

I am happy to say that The Madhouse Coffee shop has several methods to brew coffee which include pour over, espresso, drip and kyoto.  The kyoto method is the most interesting to me, as I had never heard of it before.  I noticed the machine with round glass compartments with valves on my last visit.  When I inquired about the large glass contraption, the barista explained that it came from Japan.  Kyoto is known as a slow drip, cold coffee brewer which takes around 24 hours to prepare.  The different compartments allow for different flavors to be infused into the coffee.  Unfortunately, the Kyoto brewer at the shop is behind the counter and not completely visible so I am providing a photo by Liz Clayton to show you a similar model.

dripcoffee

Liz Clayton’s Photo of several Kyoto brewers

  1.  Not Only for Coffee

In addition to hosting over 14 types of coffee, the shop also has a generous menu, whether you are looking for a light snack or meal (breakfast or lunch).

For a glimpse of the menu please visit https://www.madhouse.coffee. I consider the pricing (compared to other shops) as moderate.  However as stated in my previous post, if the quality justifies the price – you will have no regrets.  In the case of The Madhouse Coffee, I confirm that I have yet to be disappointed.

  1. Review of Coffee

On this visit, I only sampled the coffee.  I had a medium roast, double shot latte with soy.  My drink was very good.  The medium roast tasted more like a lighter blend, still not bad at all.

Although it is no secret that I do break for coffee, I also take pause for chocolate croissants or muffins.  I didn’t sample any pastries on my last visit.  However, The Madhouse Coffee doesn’t disappoint demanding taste buds.  Did I mention that they make all of their bread, cakes, and pastries in house?

If you take your coffee strong with little cream, I do recommend the chocolate muffin to compliment it.  The muffin is made with dark chocolate.  The sugar in the mix offsets the rich, unsweetened dark chocolate (so the taste is smooth, satisfying any sweet-tooth).  I have tried this on several occasions and it is delicious.

  1. Superior Customer Service

I don’t know if it due to my Type A personality, or being born in the south that makes me rank hospitality and great customer service high on my list of “must have.”

On my last visit, I spoke with three workers.  First, I posed a series of coffee questions to the barista which he kindly answered.  The second person I spoke with gave me information on the in-house bakery and products served.  The third person was the owner.  He took the time and explained the artwork that the shop is currently showing.  The team proved knowledgeable and friendly.

My Rating

In my opinion, The Madhouse Coffee is worth the visit earning a 6 out of 7 (a high ranking).

Are you wondering what happened to one point?  Ok.  I admit that I become sad whenever I see beautiful, artisanal pastries served on paper plates.  Yes.  I am even a bit heartbroken to see plastic forks on the paper plates.  So, I deducted a point for presentation because I value “pretty.”  I find that the paper and plastic takes away from the majesty of the pastry.  Cake deserves respect.  (That is just my opinion.)

Other miscellaneous amenities with this shop:

Take-out offered by Uber

Free Wi-Fi

Good for kids

Special parking for bikes

Artisan bread, pastries, and cakes all made in house

The Madhouse Coffee

8470 W. Desert Inn

Las Vegas, NV 89117

Telephone: 702-360-4232

Next Blog Post

For my final (8th) post, I will review another coffee shop.  On this upcoming review, you will think that you are in Paris.  The best part is that you won’t even have to buy an expensive ticket or bring a passport.

Until then, have a safe and very happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Resources:

https://www.dillanos.com

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2014/03/japanese-style-slow-drip-coffee-cold-brewers-kyoto-yama-hario.html

https://recycledpropogranda.com

 

 

Blog Post # 5

 

Welcome!

In post #4 (https://coffeetalkshop.wordpress.com/) we discovered some guidelines for reviewing coffee shop environments and beverage quality.  With that in mind, we had the opportunity to use those guidelines to review a local café, The Bad Owl.  Also, we observed how criteria encourages an attachment to a certain coffee shop resulting in a positive benefit.

Today, I want extend the aspect of community a bit further and examine why I feel a coffee shop is the perfect setting to make friends, or organize meet ups.  At the end of this post I will be able to answer the following questions:

Why do so many people meet up at coffee shops?

Why do we find it easier to talk in coffee shops?

My Personal Reasons /Pros of the Coffee Shop Meet Up

1. Convenience of Multiple Locations

The last time that I counted, I found 5 coffee shops within one mile from where I live.  Not surprisingly, the Las Vegas area holds hundreds of choices (without including Starbucks).

Some of my friends live in Henderson (which is far for me) and others are in the surrounding area.  Since we are scattered throughout North, South and West Las Vegas, it is easier for us to pick a coffee shop and schedule a meet up night or morning.  We prefer take turns and pick a coffee shop that is in our area.  This rotating process is fair and keeps everyone happy.  No one is obligated to drive 45 minutes every week because we switch it up.  Also, another advantage of the rotating schedule is that we can visit more coffee shops, mixing it up.

2.  No Need To Cook Or Clean

The best part about visiting in a coffee shop as opposed to having friends over is that I don’t have to stress about cleaning the house or preparing snacks.  With a full course load at school (6 classes), an internship and a teenager, I can’t guarantee that my house is in perfect order all of the time.  Having a coffee shop as my back-up meeting place is definitely a life-saver for me.

3.  Free Entertainment

A few of my favorite coffee shops also have free entertainment on a weekly or monthly basis.  Some cafés have poetry readings or guests/artists.  Also, some local coffee shops host musical events and this only adds to my list of bonuses for scheduling a meet-up with friends.

4.  Win-Win If Someone Cancels

In my circle of friends, no one has retired yet and we all live busy lives.  Life happens and every so often one person from the group ends up cancelling or not showing up.  When this occurs, it isn’t a big disappointment because you can still enjoy your coffee and your outing.

A Scientific Perspective

Now we will explore another expert’s reasons for selecting a coffee shop as a social setting.  For this we will refer to Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, who is also a licensed social and personality psychologist who has done extensive research on influence, persuasion, and interpersonal relationships.  His article “5 Ways Coffee Can Help You Fall In Love” breaks down his 5 reasons why a coffee shop is ideal (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-attraction-doctor/201108/5-ways-coffee-can-help-you-fall-in-love ).

1.  Safe and Convenient

Since coffee shops are numerous, they can be a safe, convenient and eas y choice for meeting.  In addition, it is a public, non-threatening environment.  As a bonus, wonderful beverages (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) also help to make the coffee shop a winner for a first date or meet up.

2.  Easy On the Wallet

The café voids the pressure of going way over budget for a date.

Dr. Nicholson’s article noted:

“Also, from a persuasion standpoint, expensive activities early on actually make you LESS attractive to a partner. This is due to something called the ‘overjustification effect’ (Lepper, Green, & Nisbett, 1973). Usually, when someone has a good time with you, they will be likely to attribute their feelings to you (and become attracted). However, when expensive and fancy things are involved, the person often pays attention to them and attributes his/her good feelings to the food, gifts, or activity – and not to you. Even if you’re awesome, the lobster might get the credit. Coffee, in contrast, is subtle and doesn’t take the focus off of you.”

3.  Can We Talk?

Studies have shown us that Caffeine makes people more alert and attentive. When people are focused, they are prone to persuasion if you have a well-supported argument. Also, undivided attention helps build rapport and intimacy as noted in “5 Ways Coffee Can Help You Fall in Love.”

4.  Feeling Good

Interestingly, Dr. Nicholson also noted that coffee (and food in general) “often has positive feelings and experiences associated with it.” This effect is often referred to as the “luncheon effect” (first observed by Razran study in 1938).  So if you share a sweet moment along with a pastry and coffee, chances are that person will remember you the next time he/she returns to the same café.

5.   L-O-V-E

We know that caffeine is a stimulant.  As such, it is only normal that our heart pumps faster and we feel a boost of energy.  Similarly, this is the same way our body reacts when we are in love.  Caffeine gets the heart pumping, the blood racing, and the body energized. These are the same feelings that one experiences when flushed and excited with love. People can sometimes confuse the two (in the favor of the suitor).  Dr. Nicholson referred to is as “misattribution of arousal.”  Think of it like this “when coffee makes your date’s heart beat even faster – he/she might just think it’s because of you instead!”

My Take Away

After reading Dr. Nicholson’s article, I agree with 4 out of 5 reasons why a coffee shop is an ideal meet up location.  As outlined at the start of my post, I do find that a coffee shop is:

  • Convenient
  • Economical
  • Relaxing (which encourages easy conversation)
  • Creates positive memories (which we will later associate with the location)

Thus, clearing up my two initial questions:

Why do so many people meet up at coffee shops?

Why do we find it easier to talk in coffee shops?

In closing, I find it comforting that a local coffee shop can contribute to strengthening relationships as well as creating new ones.  Another interesting aspect of frequenting coffee shops in groups is that it also contributes to supporting local businesses and artists.  So you can feel good about yourself as a supporting member of the arts (when you attend an event hosted at a café).

Overall, Dr. Nicholson’s research made me smile. I found it nice to know that meeting a special person is not always so random and love could strike over a cup of coffee.  Still, for his 5th point of finding love in a coffee shop – I can’t attest to that (yet).

Next Week

Next week we will explore a health benefit from drinking coffee and how it is linked to weight loss.

 

In parting, please watch the film clip from “You’ve Got Mail” below (a café scene with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks).  Enjoy!

 

 

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-attraction-doctor/201108/5-ways-coffee-can-help-you-fall-in-love

Blog Post # 4

Welcome!  In the last post (https://coffeetalkshop.wordpress.com), we ventured into the social benefits of cafés and how they nurture a sense of community. We found out that our coffee shops have a unique social climate that allows us to form a sense of community/attachment, encouraging ongoing patronage and loyalty.  This sense of belonging to our favorite café explains why we keep coming back.

Why is this important?  Well, there is a positive correlation between attachment and community.  The result is that we tend to feel better about ourselves and that is a direct, positive benefit for our self-esteem.

For this post, we will go one step further and examine what criteria in general is used to determine that perfect coffee shop community.  For guidance, I referred to one of my one of my favorite feeds by Bill Walsh’s blog (http://www.purecoffeeblog.com/).

What sets him apart as an expert?  Well, he has created a database of over the course of 10 years which includes unique coffee shops in the US, Canada and the UK.  We will look at his criteria as noted on his blog, before we put it to the test:

Rating System

 

Each establishment or coffee is rated by quality and appeal:

Pretty Bad Marks
1+ = poor (avoid)
2+ = ok (not really worth your time)

Fair to Decent Rating
3+ = average (worth a go)
4+ = good (a pleasant experience)

HIGH Accolades
5+ = really good (a fine specimen)
6+ = amazing (huzzah!)

 

His format is basically the same:

 

  • Photo of establishment
  • Subject:name of establishment
    Location:
    WiFi?: yes or no
    Rating:  (based on key above)

He covers the following:

  • interior design of the shop
  • the level of friendliness of the employees
  • price
  • quality

Now that we have some guidelines, we can visit and review a local coffee shop, as promised in my last post.

The Bad Owl

badowllogowhite-e1456032761970-1

This coffee shop was highly recommended by other coffee blogs.  Before I even looked at the pictures, I was already intrigued by the name.  My curiosity got the best of me so I took a drive to Henderson where they are located.

  • Location: 10575 S Eastern Ave #160, Henderson, NV 89052
  • Hours: 7AM–9:30PM
  • Telephone & Website: (702) 483-3331, badowlcom/
  • Environment/Theme

When you enter, you get the feeling that you are in a Harry Potter story-line with books, newspapers, scarves randomly scattered and suspended from the ceiling (with transparent wire).

The theme is present not only in the design of the shop but in the menu, as well. Where else can you buy Harry Potter’s famous butter brew latte?  If you still feel the need to take the special effects up one notch, you can order nitrogen-infused coffee (which produces something like a white cloud or puffy fog floating over the beverage).  The dark wooden floor and walls make the shop feel cozy.  (I should add that it is rather small with no more than 10 wooden bistro tables and chairs.)

 

badowlcoffeeshop

The crowd had a good age mix.  (I went there on a Sunday so I am not sure if this is could explain it.)  The barista was friendly and made small talk with each customer.  The customer service was top notch.

    • Interior Design – exceptional and unique theme which transports the patron to another place.
    • Friendliness – high marks because the employees managed to greet everyone and make small talk while they waited for their orders.
    • Price – the price point is very affordable.
    • Quality – the coffee and the pastry that I sampled garnered a 5.5 out of 6. (The presentation was not perfect and I deducted points for the paper coffee cup which was a little flimsy.)
    • Wi/fi – yes

     

    My overall rating using Walsh’s criteria – HIGH Accolades
    5+ = really good (a fine specimen)
    pasteries

My Take Away

Overall, I recommend this coffee shop.  Henderson is a bit out of my way, so I can’t say that I will be there weekly.  Nonetheless, my experience was enjoyable and I left the shop with the intention of coming back again.  During my short stop, the coffee shop managed to create a sense of community/attachment and fun vibe.

Upcoming Blog

In my next post, continuing the theme of community and social benefits of coffee shops, we will discover that it can also be the setting to making friends, meeting your true love, or simply someone special.

Until then, take care and enjoy your week!

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ienvironment/201406/environmental-psychology-and-the-coffee-shop)

http://www.purecoffeeblog.com/

www.badowlcoffee.com

Blog Post # 3

Hi everyone! In my last post I talked about the benefits that coffee has on the brain and how it helps improve our memory.   We examined the medical results from trials and learned that memory retention/improvement can last up to 24 hours after drinking coffee. (For more information please go to http://hub.jhu.edu/2014/01/12/caffeine-enhances-memory/ .)

However, in this post we are going to look at coffee shops as tools to build a sense of community. Why is this important?  It is important when you consider the positive impact people can make when they feel a sense of belonging.  When people care for their surroundings and feel a sense of ownership, a foundation for kinship is established when others enter that circle/culture.  Also, connecting to a community helps diminish the chance of loneliness.

At the end of this post we will have some answers and shed some light on the following questions:

  • Why do we feel more at home in one coffee shop than another?
  • What makes us keep coming back on a regular basis?

Not Born Yesterday

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So as I sipped my caffeinated beverage in my favorite place, I thought – just how long have coffee shops been around?

Coffee houses were not born yesterday.   (For more information please go to https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ienvironment/201406/environmental-psychology-and-the-coffee-shop .)  In Environmental Psychology and the Coffee Shop, Lindsay J. McCunn Ph.D revealed that cafes became popular during the enlightenment period around the 17th century in Europe. Great thinkers found it to be well suited for gathering, debating or exchanging ideas.

However, a noticeable change started to take place and it was examined more closely in the article The Social Transformation of Coffee Houses: The Emergence of Chain Establishments and the Private Nature of Usage by L. Waxman.

This study would explore the following in coffee shops:

  • Characteristics that encourage gathering behavior
  • Characteristics that contribute to place attachment (in selected cafes)
  • How these places contribute to social capital by improving their communities (making them known as “third place”)

How the Study Unfolded

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This qualitative study included:

  • Observation
  • Research techniques
  • Visual documentation
  • Behavioral mapping
  • Interviews
  • Surveys

Each coffee shop was observed for twenty-five hours for a total of seventy-five hours.

Eighteen interviews were conducted and surveys were collected from 94 patrons to reveal patron attitudes toward the physical and social aspects of the coffee shop as well as their feelings regarding the community in which they live.

The Results / Why We Return

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The study found the following:

  • That coffee shops have a positive correlation with peoples’ sense of attachment to their community.
  • Each coffee shop was found to have a unique social climate and culture related to sense of belonging, territoriality and ownership, productivity and personal growth, opportunity for socialization, support and networking, and sense of community.
  • Regarding feelings of community, survey findings from coffee shops patrons showed a positive correlation between length of patronage and their sense of attachment to their community.

Also, we seem to base our choice of coffee shop on these 5 things: cleanliness, appealing aroma, adequate lighting, comfortable furniture, and a view to the outside.

Community and Attachment – My Take Away

In short, our favorite coffee shop makes us feel like we belong.  In turn, that makes us feel good and boosts our self-esteem.  It is our secure place to socialize away from home.  Also, we feel a little territorial attachment to our cafe’ (which is why we get anxious if someone is seated at our usual table by the window, or in our favorite chair).  All of these things however strengthens our ties with our community.

coffeeshop 

Next Blog Preview

Hopefully, I will have the time to stop by and review an interesting coffee shop that comes highly recommended – Bad Owl Coffee in Henderson.  Of course, I will also continue to explore other coffee (community) benefits and the function of designs/themes.  We will find out how these retail design strategies influence us.

Until next time, here is a video on the espresso technique:

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ienvironment/201406/environmental-psychology-and-the-coffee-shop

Waxman, L. (2006). The Coffee Shop: Social and Physical factors Influencing Place Attachment. Journal of Interior Design, 31, 35-53.

Blog Post #2

Coffee and Your Brain

Thank you for coming back!

In my first blog post, I briefly touched on how coffee benefits the body.  However, as promised I would like to focus on the benefits of coffee consumption in relation to the human brain and memory improvement.  Also, we will review scientific studies/trials and end results concerning this topic.

Why is this important?  Well, if we want to maintain a healthy mind and body, it is good to be aware of the chemical effects that comes from consuming coffee. Also, we should know what quantity of caffeine is needed for optimum results. Finally, we will learn what is required on our part to maintain those positive benefits (long-term).

In this post, we will merely skim the surface of the research and scientific trials.  For more information on the results and in depth analysis, please go to http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n2/full/nn.3623.html.  After reviewing the results, we will see that scientific research confirms that certain components of coffee stimulate the brain, resulting in cognitive-enhancing effects.

The possibility of improving memory is great news for coffee drinkers but another question comes to mind – how long do those effects last on the brain?  This is a question that stumped Michael A. Yassa, assistant professor (psychological and brain sciences) at John Hopkins University. (For more information please go to http://hub.jhu.edu/2014/01/12/caffeine-enhances-memory/ .)

askmorequestions

So he decided to examine this closer by delving into the hippocampus, which is the memory center of the human brain (located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain).  This important part of the brain (hippocampus) is considered the “switchbox” for all memories (short and long term).

How the Study Unfolded

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Yassa set out and conducted a double-blind trial. First, he recruited people who did not usually drink caffeinated beverages (like coffee).  Then he took salivary samples from the group prior to the experimental dosage in order to measure their caffeine levels.

Next, one half of the group got a placebo and the other half got 200-milligram caffeine dosage (in tablet form).  The entire group received the doses after studying a set of pictures.

After 24 hours, salivary samples were taken again.

The Big Test

Finally, both groups were tested on their capacity to recognize pictures from the previous day’s study session.  For the test, some of the pictures were the same (as those from 1st day), some were new pictures, and some were similar but not the same.

What Happened?

Yassa’s team noted that more people from the caffeine group were able to “correctly identify the new images as similar to previously viewed images rather than erroneously citing them as the same.”

He commented “If we used a standard recognition memory task without these tricky similar items, we would have found no effect of caffeine…. However, using these items requires the brain to make a more difficult discrimination—what we call pattern separation, which seems to be the process that is enhanced by caffeine in our case.”

The brain’s ability to recognize the difference between two similar but not identical items, called pattern separation, reflects a deeper level of memory retention, the researchers said.

But How Long Do Those Results Last?

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Yassa commented the following at the end of the experiment:

“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans….We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.”

My Take Away

The best part of this scientific study is that you don’t have to do 3 hours of exercise or take multiple supplements to improve your memory.  Something as simple as drinking your morning coffee is all you really need to keep “brain fog” at bay.  Keeping moderation in mind – next time you want to put your brain to the test and want memory (retention) at its best, it is OK to reach for the coffee.  Your brain won’t forget to thank you.

coffeeAndBook.jpeg

My next blog post will take a look at the social benefits of drinking coffee. We will see how a simple coffee shop can be the cornerstone for building a culture/community. Also, we will discover how a sense of belonging to a coffee community can positively impact people. It will be exciting to explore the groups and networks that have etched out a place in the Las Vegas.

I hope that you will join me on this upcoming coffee house journey of discovery.  Until then, please enjoy this video on how to prepare coffee with a French Press!

French Press

Sources:

Merriam-webster.com

http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n2/full/nn.3623.html

http://hub.jhu.edu/2014/01/12/caffeine-enhances-memory/

This research was supported by grants number P50 AG05146 and R01 AG034613 from the National Institute on Aging as well as CHE-1213438 from the National Science Foundation.

Additional authors, all from Johns Hopkins, are: Elizabeth Murray, a research program coordinator in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; John Toscano, professor in the Department of Chemistry; Gizem Kecili, a graduate student also in the Chemistry Department; and Allen Chang, Maria Ly, and Joseph Watabe, all undergraduates in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Bonus Coffee Film Clips, Pics and Videos

How To Avoid a Long Line @ Starbucks

 

First Blog Post

Welcome!

Greetings everyone.  This blog is dedicated to coffee lovers, as well as those health conscious consumers in the community.  While the media seems divided between the pros versus the cons of coffee, this blog will focus  on the multiple benefits of drinking coffee.  I will look at the different aspects impacted by coffee consumption such as:

  1. mental
  2. physical
  3. social 

In between those postings, I will also provide some easy tips on how you can brew your own coffee at home (like a professional).

Don’t Have Time for the Blog?

Check out the “Bonus” section of the blog where I will post neat pics and film clips of famous coffee scenes in cinema.

How Did It Start?

My first memory of drinking coffee was when I was 11 years old.   I remember feeling like such a grown up.  Of course, my coffee was more like a cup of milk with two large tablespoons of a dark liquid, roasted coffee and two (equally) heaping teaspoons of sugar.  It was delicious and sweet.  Little did I know that this would turn into a life long ritual which would continue to mark one of the most sublime highlights of my mornings.

And so that is how my adventure would begin…

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Who Am I?

My family immigrated to the US from Costa Rica and I have been drinking coffee for many decades.  Needless to say, Costa Rican coffee was not easy to come by in Louisiana, when I was growing up. (Still, I have to add that New Orleans’ world famous chicory roasted coffee was readily available throughout the French Quarter.)  So whenever we had a family member fly in, you could be sure that at least half of his suitcase would be packed with this prized Central American coffee bean.

Anyone who loves coffee knows that Costa Rica produces some of the world’s finest coffee beans.  They have a privileged history of planting and harvesting coffee beans which dates as far back as 1779.

coffeebeansplantation

Not sure if you have ever tried a Costa Rican coffee before?  Well, next time you stop by Starbucks, ask for Tarrazu’ Geisha coffee.  That will give you a chance to sample it.  It is a bit on the pricey side, but well worth the experience.  Here is what starbucksmelody.com has to say about this blend:

Geisha coffee is…an heirloom varietal.  This means the stock is very pure, and has not been hybridized or altered…farmers in Costa Rica imported the seeds in the 1950’s…This varietal produces far fewer coffee cherries than a typical coffee tree.  Each cherry has a lot more flavor than the usual coffee cherry.  The trees’ low yield allows for more of the soil’s nutrients to reach each cherry, intensifying the coffee’s vibrant flavors.”

starbuckscoffeecup

Just the Facts and Nothing but the Facts

From UNLV campus to the Las Vegas strip, coffee shops are everywhere.  So this made me wonder just how many people are really drinking this elixir?

Well, the figures that I uncovered through the National Coffee Drinking Trends 2010, National Coffee Association Report revealed an astounding figure.  It indicated that at least  54% of Americans (over the age of 18) consume coffee.

So my next question was – how much do we consume on a day to day basis?  I found out that the average person (myself included) drinks about 3.1 cups per day!

healthyMorningPerson.jpeg

A Few Physical Benefits

You know the saying – if it is too good to be true it probably isn’t?  Well, I want to show you that in the case of coffee, it isn’t so.  Coffee not only tastes great but it is also good for your body and soul.  How so?

For starters, Mayo Clinic research discovered that a moderate amount of caffeine can have positive effects on a person’s body and mind.  Studies also highlight that caffeine (found in coffee) may even help improve memory and increase levels of concentration.  This clears up the mystery of why students so often gravitate towards caffeine during final exams.

studentStudyingDrinkingCoffee.jpg

How Much of a Good Thing?

Understandably, everything requires moderation.  As such, The Food and Drug Administration considers that around 400 milligrams of caffeine is a safe quantity for healthy adults to consume on a daily basis. That being said however, a pregnant women should take care not to exceed 200 mg a day, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Keep in mind that one cup of coffee usually has around 100 to 200 mg, according to the Mayo Clinic.)

So remember, if coffee benefits sparks your interest, please stay tuned for my next blog post.  Until then, here is a video on how you can make a great cup of coffee using one of the easiest methods – the pour over technique.

Enjoy!

Pour Over Technique Video

Sources:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/multimedia-article/facts/

http://www.livescience.com/52383-interesting-facts-about-caffeine.html

http://starbucksmelody.com/2012/11/26/geisha-coffee-at-starbucks-costa-rica-finca-palmilera-reserve-coffee/