Posts from the ‘Coffee Shop Reviews’ Category

Condesa Coffee, Cafe and Espresso Bar

Right off of Freedom Parkway, near the heart of downtown, in the Old Fourth Ward district is Condesa Coffee. This is a great coffee shop with some great baristas that serves some serious coffee.

Equipment – A+

Espresso Machine: La Marzocco GB/5

Grinders: Mazzer Luigi Super Jolly

The more and more I see the La Marzocco GB/5 the more and more I fall in love with it. Everything to the way it pulls shots, steams milk, and even the decorative details on the corners of the machine. This is a quality machine and more coffee shops could do themselves a favor in getting one of these bad boys.

Coffee – A

When Condesa first opened they served Intelligentsia coffee which is fantastic. Then they started serving both Intelligentsia and Counter Culture Coffee. Now they are strictly serving Counter Culture Coffee. Although I am a little disappointed that I can’t get my Intelligentsia fix here anymore, I can’t be too upset with Counter Culture either. Good coffee with good baristas that know how to make it.

Baristas – A+

All of the baristas here that I know of definitely have the chops to be a top notch barista. Most are vest wearing hipsters, but let’s be honest, when we see that it just confirms that our cup of coffee is going to be excellent. With various manual brew methods and espresso drinks available here, it is extremely important that you get a barista that knows what they are doing and with one taste of your drink of choice you will know that it was prepared correctly. They recently won the Krupps Best Brew Award as well.

Location/Feel – A-

Being right off of Freedom Parkway and Boulevard and about a block or two from Highland Avenue, Condesa is right in the heart of the Atlanta hipster scene. Also with Georgia State and downtown being just around the corner, you get a nice mix of college students, professionals, and well we will just call them trendy people. The shop itself has a very clean industrial feel to it, and there is a patio seating area on the street side sidewalk and beside it. The only knock here is that it is kinda secluded from other shops and things. You have to want to go here, you aren’t just going to stumble across it. There is usually a parking space to be found on the street. Their hours are:

Weekdays – 7AM to 7PM

Saturday – 8AM to 8PM

Sunday – 8AM to 7PM

Bar – N/A

Food/Other – A+

They use a lot of local, fresh ingredients here and they also make their own chocolate and vanilla. Once again, the food is a little on the pricey side in my opinion, but that seems to be the MO for coffee shops. The owner has done a good job with the menu and by supporting other local businesses with their offerings.

The tea is Intelligentsia tea, and I believe they serve Cabbagetown Chai. Pastries come from third party sources.

Another great thing is that they are very bike friendly. They are part of the Atlanta Bike Guild and if you ride your bike there you can get 10% off. Pretty sweet!

Overall – A to A+

Although Condesa is one of the new kids on the block in that they are still a relatively new shop, they have quickly established themselves as one of the best in town. With knowledgeable baristas, solid equipment, great coffee, and a good vibe, they are one of my favorite spots to hang out at or get some work done in that area. A must try if you are in the neighborhood!

Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, Decatur

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Right on the outskirts of downtown Decatur is Dancing Goats Coffee Bar. On any given day that you show up, this coffee shop is bound to be bustling with coffee laymen and enthusiast alike. Sleek and clean, this is an ideal place to come and get some work done, enjoy a fantastic cup of coffee, or just hang out with friends.

Equipment – A+

Espresso Machine – La Marzocco GB/5

Grinders – Mazzer Super Jolly and Mazzer Major

Top of the line equipment here. The Espresso machine is quite a beauty. It pulls fantastic shots, and steams milk perfectly. Of course, you can’t go wrong with Mazzer grinders either. Both are stepless to allow for fine tuning of the grind. When you take a look behind bar, you not only see fantastic state of the art equipment, but you also find it to be clean and well maintained. You know that the equipment is not going to waste here.

Coffee – A

Dancing Goats uses Batdorf and Bronson Coffee which is based out of Olympia Washington. Batdorf and Bronson have been in business since 1986 and have quickly made a name for themselves in the coffee world. They use certified fair trade, shade grown coffee and with one taste you will be hooked. They are also environmentally friendly and continuously try to lower their environmental footprint by using renewable sources of energy.

Baristas – A+

The baristas here definitely know what they are doing. All of the baristas working bar are able to pour fantastic latte art (even in macchiatos) and have tremendous coffee knowledge. The drinks I ordered were smooth and excellent and quite tasty. Not only that, the baristas are very friendly and they will even take the time to learn your name if you are a regular.

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Location/Feel – A

Downtown Decatur is one of the hippest places of Atlanta, and Dancing Goats is right there in the thick of it all. They have ample parking around the shop and a small outdoor sitting area in front on the street side of the shop. Inside the shop is very modern, sleek, and clean. They have lots of places to sit with comfortable couches and chairs. I am usually more of a fan of cozy shops, but this place really pulls off the sleek and clean vibe. They have local artwork hanging on the walls, and they have a lot of merchandise that you can purchase from mugs and tumblers, to coffee brewing equipment.

Mon – Fri 6:30am – 7pm

Sat – Sun 7am – 7pm

On Fridays at 1pm they also have a free cupping which is a great experience if you have never been to a cupping before.

Bar – N/A

Food/Other – B+

They get their pastries from third party sources. They have a wide selection of Mighty Leaf Teas and use Sattwa chai which is quite tasty. Try the locally made donuts!

Overall – A to A+

No surprise here, but this shop is one of the best in Atlanta! With experienced friendly baristas, a great location and vibe, and quality coffee, you can’t go wrong here. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite coffee shops in the city, and if you are to visit I have no doubt you will fall in love with this place as well. I highly recommend Dancing Goats Coffee Bar!

Boulder Creek Coffee, Buford

Just minutes from the Mall of Georgia tucked in next to a used book store is a little gem of a shop called Boulder Creek Coffee. One of the few decent shops this far north of Atlanta. Recently under new management, this shop has really made a name for itself with it’s coffee excellence and unique brewing methods which could be hard to find anywhere else in the Atlanta area. This shop, although small is very unique and definitely worth your time to drive up I-85 and check out!

Equipment – B

Espresso Machine –> Faema E92 Elite

Grinder –> Mazzer Super Jolly

The espresso machine here is old, but not so old that I couldn’t find one online like my previous post. The baristas weren’t sure on what the model was, but as far as I could tell it is a E92 Elite. Maybe not that model exactly, but very very similar to it if it is not.  The machine pulled a great shot, and although it is a little older, it still works, and hey who needs neon lights on their espresso machine anyway. I was told that the steam wands were replaced to allow for better steaming of the milk. The grinder is a Mazzer Super Jolly which is a great grinder, what prevented this shop from getting an A here is as far as I could tell they only had one grinder. Not quite sure what they grind the decaf in.

Coffee – A

This shop uses all Counter Culture for their coffee. Counter Culture is a coffee company based out of North Carolina and is probably the best roaster on the East Coast. They have made a name for themselves nationally and globally, and make a quality bean. Can’t go wrong with Counter Culture Coffee.

But once again, the quality of beans mean nothing if the baristas don’t properly know how to brew them.

Baristas – B+

This was a hard grade to give. I did want to give them a little higher grade, but I feel like this is a very respectable grade for a shop of this size. With only having three baristas currently, this shop is doing pretty good. The two baristas that I met were both friendly, kind, and seemed to have a good understanding of coffee knowledge. I do give this shop props for offering a wide selection of brewing techniques.

I saw that they brew Chemmex, Bonmac, a Siphon, and a 12 hour cold brew tower (think a toddy on steroids), as well as offering your typical espresso drinks. The traditional cappuccino that I got was smooth and did have somewhat of a rosetta in it. The milk was slightly over frothed, but other than that it was very good.

What really hurt the baristas here is that I got the impression that they alter their serving practices to appease the masses instead of educating them on coffee excellence and persuading them that Starbucks options aren’t necessarily the best options (i.e. a 16 ounce Cappuccino). If they only serve traditional caps then their customer base would get addicted and not want to go back.

However, so far this is the only shop that I know of that offers either a Siphon or a 12 Hour Cold Brew Tower and they offer both. Major cool kid points for that.

Location/Feel – B

To be honest, unless you are shopping at the Mall of Georgia, I’m not quite sure why you would be here other than to try out the shop. This shop is unique in that it is right next to a used book store called Books for Less. In fact, the two are connected which is pretty cool. The shop itself is pretty small, one medium large room split by the counter to order which separate the seating area from the bar. I could see how it could get pretty crowded if it is too cold to sit outside on their patio, but then again what shop doesn’t. The feel of the shop is nice, but there really isn’t a lot of natural light coming in so it kinda has a very commercial feel to it. There are couches, but to me it isn’t a place that I would feel comfortable spending multiple hours getting work done or hanging out with friends. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the generic artwork hanging up on the walls or the color scheme, not quite sure.

There is plenty of free parking and their hours are:

Monday – Saturday–> 9AM to 11PM

2 Saturdays a month they offer Salsa dancing for a $7 cover charge and that includes a drink. Also every other Friday night they have a showcase night where local bands come, set up and perform.

Bar – N/A

Food/Other – B+

Okay, confession. I haven’t actually tried their food. But from what I hear it is delicious. They get all of their pastries and sandwiches from 3rd party sources. Their tea is from Intelligentsia and they use Cabbagetown Chai which as I have said before is amazing.

Overall – B to B+

I really like this shop and definitely feel like this is a place that is worth the drive to check out, even if you don’t need to go to the Mall of Georgia. They offer fun activities on the weekend (Salsa and Showcase Night) and they serve delicious Counter Culture coffee. The baristas seem to know what they are doing and talking about and I have gotten a Chemex from here that was delicious. In fact all of the coffee drinks that I have gotten have been good. Check out the Siphon if you go, it is worth the money to get to watch the baristas make it for you (it kinda looks like a science experiment). I feel like this shop is an up and coming shop that will definitely get better over time. A lesser known shop that I have no doubt will grow in notoriety as they continue to serve excellent coffee. If this shop was downtown you would already know about it, and it would already be a common stop in your weekly routine.

What are your thoughts on this shop?

Land of A 1000 Hills Coffee Shop, Roswell

Drink Coffee, Do Good.  That is the motto of Land of A 1000 Hills Coffee Company, and as far as I can tell they are living up to their motto. They provide community trade to the coffee farmers which is better than fair trade wages, and they help out in the communities that they get their coffee from. In fact, they just recently started a non-profit called the Do Good Initiative which allows them to do even more good in the communities that they are involved in. I know, I know, that is great and all, but how is the coffee and the shop. Below is the skinny on the Roswell shop (they have 3 locations).

Equipment – B

Espresso Machine –> Brasilia Grandisca

Grinders –> Mazzer Mini and Mazzer Super Jolly

The espresso machine is old. So old that I looked for a similar one on the Brasilia website and I could not find it. But it does seem to pull decent (not great) shots. The grinders are both stepless so the baristas can fine tune them to pull the best shot possible. The Mini is used on their decaf coffee and the Super Jolly is used for their espresso blend.

 Coffee – B

If Starbucks coffee is a F and Intelligentsia is an A+ then Land of A 1000 Hills falls in at a very respectable B. They roast their own coffee so kudos to them. Their Rwandan coffee is by far the best (I prefer the Medium). They also serve Thai Coffee and a Haitian blend. They serve their Vooba blend as their espresso and it is really good. A little lighter than your typical espresso, but it works for them. I can taste very nice notes of caramel and chocolate.

I do give them props for not going with the default in the Atlanta area and serving Counter Culture, but they are not quite at CC’s quality yet in their roasting techniques. The dark can be slightly over-roasted and have pitting to the beans, but not too bad and it still tastes good. It is also easier to forgive the lesser quality of beans because of the good that they are doing with the farmers that they are working with.

But the quality of the beans mean nothing if the baristas don’t know how to brew them. A crappy barista can take the best bean in the world and make it taste like, well crap. Where a good barista can take an average bean and make it taste pretty good.

Baristas – A- 

The good news for Land of A 1000 Hills in Roswell is that a lot of their baristas are snobs just like me. That means that they really take good care in learning the correct way to brew the coffee, steam milk, pull shots, etc. All the baristas there should be able to correctly brew French Press, V60 pour over, and pull shots. The majority of the baristas can pour pretty consistent latte art in their milk drinks which tells me they are steaming their milk correctly. I have gotten a few iffy Chemexes but I think it’s because the majority of their coffee drinks are french press or V60 so I’m not sure they get much practice.

Despite their snobbiness, the baristas are actually all very friendly as well. If you are a regular, they will take the time to learn your order and your name. Always a nice feeling to walk into a place and get greeted with your name and have your drink order already going.

Location/Feel – A

Located on South Atlanta street just a few miles from Historic Roswell they are in one of the hippest areas north of the perimeter. They have ample parking free parking because they share a lot with a local Baptist church, and they also have a very nice outdoor patio area and plenty of seating indoors. They offer free wifi which does occasionally go out, but they also get Roswell City’s wireless so if their wifi goes out you can usually pick up the other. Indoors they have a very cozy feel and they don’t care if you come and spend hours working, playing sequence with friends, or just hanging out. Their hours are

Monday – Thursday –> 7 AM to 10PM

Friday –> 7 AM to 11 PM

Saturday –> 8 AM to 11 PM

Sunday –> 12 PM to 7PM

On Thursday nights they have trivia and on Friday and Saturday they have live music

Bar – N/A

Food/Other – B+

They actually get all of their food from 3rd party sources. They are a little on the pricey side for everything, but what you do get is for the most part fresh and tasty. Extra points to them for offering a fairly wide selection of gluten free options.

They do get their chai from a local company called Cabbagetown Chai and it is fantastic. Best Chai I’ve gotten at a coffee shop. period

They also have a vast selection of teas if coffee isn’t your thing.

Overall – B+

I really wanted to give this shop an A because of the welcoming feel, friendly atmosphere, and all of the good that they are doing but instead had to settle on a B+. I think that if they invested a little more in a better espresso machine their shots would take that step from good to great. I also feel that over time the baristas that they have, if they stay, will really improve among their brewing techniques. The coffee I feel will also get better over time as they continue working with their farmers and the roasters learn the beans and how to roast them. They are not quite an A yet, but will probably get there in the not so distant future.

For those that have been here, what are your thoughts?