Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Hallway

I've been systematically trying the coffee places in my neighborhood but none compare to the first one I tried. It's called Hines Public Market but the only signage in front is the word "Coffee" on a row of windows above the door. Not sure of what the proper name was I dubbed it "the hallway" and, with my roommate at least, the name is sticking.

It's a tiny place and they aren't open late (the hours of operation are still unclear to me) but the coffee is tremendous and it is the only one I have seen with trophies. The spirit of a small neighborhood business is alive and well there. During my last visit an older gentleman was ready to leave when he realized he had left his wallet at home. But the guy behind the counter offered to make his order and said they could settle things on his next visit. The same guy (whose name I will surely know soon) placed a free cup of espresso on my table so I could taste it, boldly claiming that "this is what espresso is supposed to taste like." Now I know why I prefer to cut my coffee with lots of milk...chocolate...whipped cream...sugar. I'll leave the bitterness to the professionals.

The people there are clearly passionate about their product. They have their own roaster and offer up a dizzying variety of beans. While preparing an order for a gentleman they tossed the espresso and started over, one guy claiming that he had never seen a shot "turn" so quickly...mere seconds apparently. What that means is not clear to me but they were astonished and talked about what could have caused it for more than a few minutes after it happened.

Just before I left a couple of business men stopped in. One tried to fake his way around his lack of coffee knowledge and obscure his amateur status by ordering a cup of "that black tar stuff." When the barista (baristo?) asked for a little more clarification, the businessman confessed his ignorance and said that he just wanted something that would keep him awake. Our fair host promised to take care of him.

For them coffee is more craft than high margin product which is as refreshing as my cappucino was. I love that place.


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