Choco Coo Cafe (Richmond)

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I’ve been wanting to try Choco Coo Cafe for some time now, but because their first store was all the way in Coquitlam, it was quite out of the way for me. But now that they opened their second store in Richmond, I was super excited to check it out!

 

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The menu has a variety of coffee and teas available. And of course, a selection of cakes. When we opened during their soft opening, there was an extra 25% off but the number of cakes were quite limited. I think they do have more cakes now that they have settled in.

 

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They put one of each of their cakes on display and you order and pay up front. They will bring you your order to your seat once ready. You can also order to go. The interior is actually quite asthetically pleasing with brown and white wooden decor and white marble cups and saucers. There are a large number of seats so a great spot to chat or get some work done.

 

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London Fog Cake

The first cake I tried was the London Fog Cake which was my favourite. The cake was a light sponge cake with layers of london fog cream and toasted almonds on top. The cream was strong in tea flavour and not overly sweet.

 

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Matcha Mousse

The Matcha Mousse had a chocolate crust on the bottom and layers of mousse. It was more of a Japanese style mousse with a bit of tart flavour to it. I personally didn’t enjoy this as much as others had raved about. The portion was also quite small compared to the rest of the cakes, even though it was priced the same.

 

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Green Tea Latte

What really drew me to Choco Coo Cafe was the latte art! I mean, how cute is this bear? If the cafe is not too busy, you can request to have latte art done and I think they are able to do quite a lot of art. The Green Tea Latte itself was rich in tea flavour and smooth drink. I don’t drink coffee often, but I personally enjoyed this.

 

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Overall, I’m glad to have this new addition to Richmond as we don’t have too many hipster cake and coffee spots in town. The cakes range from $4- $6 so in line with some other Western cake shops like Diplomat. There is also plenty of free parking below the condo for guests which is always a plus.

On a second visit, we arrived at the cafe at 9pm when the cafe was supposed to close at 10pm. We were told that we could only order take out because last call was at 9:30pm. We found this extremely odd because we arrived at 9pm. Why could we not order and sit in then? We weren’t going to stay past 10pm anyways and their cakes were already pre-made… Quite odd and a bit annoying when their hours are supposed to be until 10pm.

Pros:
– Latte art is beautiful and cakes are decent
– Decor is aesthetically pleasing

Cons:
– Odd service/ hours during closing

Price Range: $5 – $15 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Plenty of free parking below Overall: 3.5

 

Choco Coo Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Caffè Artigiano – New Summer Menu

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Last month, Caffè Artigiano launched their new summer menu with a selection of chilled caffeinated (and decaffeinated) artisanal iced coffee, teas, and sodas along with some new food menu items. I was invited to check out the location on Main and 24th.

 

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The Main Street location is extremely spacious with long communal tables as well as seating for smaller parties. Love the cool vintage Italian vibe in here.

 

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There are a number of new menu items for food this summer as Chef Dawn Doucette has curated some new breakfast and lunch items. Chef Dawn has worked with Michael, the Director of Coffee, to introduce menu items that pair well together for the summer.

 

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This also includes some pastry items.

 

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Italian Sodas

For drinks, we tried the new Italian Sodas which guests can choose flavours like the frutti do bosco berry or peach syrup. The flavoured syrups are mixed with sparkling San Pellegrino and topped with fresh blueberries or mint. These make light and refreshing beverages and are great for those who enjoy a bit of a fizz.

 

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Affogato

Another exciting addition is the Affogato, which features a dark espresso poured warm over a scoop of cold vanilla gelato from Mario’s Gelato. This item is available at locations that have freezer space, so this includes Park Royal, YVR (McArthurGlen Designer Outlet) and Hornby Street.

Other summer beverages included the Ice Cofffee, Iced Caffè Latte , Iced Spanish Latte, Frappé, Shakerato, and Ice Tea. What’s great here is that they do not use powders and syrups in their coffee drinks and therefore much healthier. Further, kid’s drinks are made with organic milk, soy, or almond milk, and also available for an added price for adults.

 

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Pavarotti 

There are many new sandwich options which are drawn from Italy. The Pavarotti  features green olive tapenade, Italian mortadella, nitrate-free country ham, smoked salami and provolone served on focaccia. The focaccia is toasted beautifully and the ingredients inside are savoury with a hint of spice from the salami.

 

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Paolino Piadina

The Paolino Piadina features rustic Italian flatbread, parmesan breaded chicken, roast garlic aioli, mozzarella, marinara sauce and arugula.

 

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Breakfast Wrap

The Breakfast Wrap is filled with scrambled eggs, marinara sauce, potatoes, cilantro, green onion and served with a side of salsa and sour cream.

 

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There are also several new salad options, all of which are colourful and fresh. These are prepared at the commissary kitchen in Vancouver.

 

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Overall, a great selection of new summer menu items. I especially love the new iced drinks and affogato, which are perfect for the hot weather.

 

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This summer Caffè Artigiano is giving away all things Vespa! Prizes include some of their bright red gift cards, loaded with $20 worth of great coffee drinks in their caffès; a Vespa LX50 day rental for two; and five bright red Vespa bags full of coffee, a travel mug and gift card, and in one of those bags, a key to a brand-new Vespa Primavera 50 Rosso Dragon. Follow them, comment and share pictures of the scooter at their various locations around BC this summer for your chance to win!

 

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Check out their social media for more details!

Caffe Artigiano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Starbucks Reserve (Vancouver)

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Note: All beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are  based on my own experience.

On May 9, 2017, Starbucks celebrated 30 years in Vancouver by opening the doors to its renovated Mount Pleasant location (Main & 14th) – the first Western Canada store to feature an experiential Reserve coffee bar.

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If you have been to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle,  then this new store is a take on the same concept, but without the roasting facility. Did you know that the first Starbucks store in Canada opened at the Seabus Skytrain Station in 1987? To celebrate the 30th anniversary, the fully renovated Mt. Pleasant location is the first store in Vancouver to feature an experiential Starbucks Reserve® coffee bar.

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The reserve bar has an expansive six-foot oak bar top, where customers sit face to face with their barista, immersed in the brewing and conversation around coffee.  Unfortunately, I went on a weekend and the reserve bar was extremely busy, so I didn’t get to experience this feature. The bar is first come first serve, and you still have to order your drinks at the cash registers. It seats only around 10 customers, so try to come during more quiet times.

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If you aren’t able to get a seat at the reserve bar, fear not, as there are plenty of comfy seating at this location. Brick walls and concrete floors contrasted with golden blonde oak and walnut, warm the space creating a comfortable and conversational atmosphere. The woodwork was all hand crafted by a local millworker and the loose furniture was primarily produced by a local furniture shop, celebrating local Vancouver talent and connecting with the community.

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At this location, the following brewing techniques are available: siphon, The Black Eagle, Clover® brewer and ceramic pour-over. The equipment are also available for purchase.

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The siphon equipment reminds me of science class and is lots of fun to watch when in action.

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The vacuum-filtration method produces a delicate and aromatic cup of coffee.

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The Chemex is a brewer with a triple layer paper filter that makes a smooth and clean cup of coffee.

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The reserve also features Nitro Draft taps. The cold brew is infused with nitrogen to give a more creamy, smooth texture. The drink does not come with ice as the brew comes out cold from the tap already.

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The reserve features both the usual menu but also a reserve exclusive menu. Cold brew and espresso with your choice of brewing method along with coffee and ice cream make up this exclusive menu.

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We decided to try a variety of the reserve exclusive drinks. Starting from the left is the Iced Hazelnut Bianco Latte which is a house-made hazelnut-praline-infused milk combined with their small-lot espresso coffee. I really enjoyed this as it had a strong hazelnut flavour. In the middle is the House Affogato which features two shots of espresso with a touch of demerara syrup poured over vanilla ice cream and dusted with cinnamon. So delicious! A must order if you visit as it is a refreshing treat when you are craving ice cream and coffee.  On the very right is the Nitro Cold-Brew Float which features the cold brew with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I personally enjoyed the House Affogato more.

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The shop also sells coffee beans including the Rwanda Abakundakawa, Malawi Sable Farms, and Peru San Ignacio, among the usual beans they sell at other stores.

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Exclusive Reserve merchandise are also available for sale including these gorgeous tumblers.

Overall, I love that Starbucks now offers this unique experience in Vancouver. Adding to the elevated experience, all partners are Coffee Masters or currently working on their designation. This designation is the highest level of coffee education for Starbucks where baristas have perfected their craft through coursework and exploration of all Starbucks coffees and are awarded the honour of wearing the black apron. Not only are you able to enjoy a high quality beverage at this location, but you may learn something new!

Starbucks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fondway Cafe – Media Launch

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of the media launch, but all opinions are based on my personal experience.

I was invited to Fondway Cafe‘s media launch last Sunday organized by Chobee PR. Apparently Fondway used to be inside Crystal Mall, but it has relaunched near the Metrotown skytrain station, so is very accessible.

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Their menu offers coffees, teas, and cafe style snacks. It is a Taiwanese cafe but mixed with a hipster European feel.

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They offer over 60 teas and you can purchase the teas to bring home. They also sell a variety of tea and coffee appliances.

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For the media launch, we got to sample an array of their garden fruit teas. The teas are brewed with a special machine called Teapresso that uses a 9-bar water pressurizer to extract the flavour of tea.

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Signature Iced Tea

I tried the Fruit Garden, which had hibiscus, rose-hip peels, apple bits, citrus peels, and sunflower petals. The teas were served cold and I enjoyed the fruitiness and floral flavours.

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We then moved over to the coffee bar where the girls were pumping out the drinks. They offer coffee beans from Elysian coffee roasters and the beans are from Guatemala and Costa Rica.

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Nitrogen Coffee

Fondway differs from other coffee shops as they feature a Nitrogen Coffee, which is cold brewed and infused with nitrogen gas to create a silky texture and bubbly taste. The coffee was very smooth and clean but I found it very odd that that the coffee taste disappears after you consume it. Your first initial contact with the coffee will give you that strong coffee flavour, but it disappears right after. It’s great for people like me who do not enjoy the after coffee taste that lingers in my mouth.

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Honey Lemon Coffee

The Honey Lemon Coffee was a bit of an odd one for us. We found it to have that odd sour taste that we didn’t really enjoy.

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Grass Jelly Milk Tea

One of my favourites was the Grass Jelly Milk Tea. The milk tea was strong in fresh tea flavour.

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Caramel Macchiato

We also tried the Caramel Macchiato with one shot of espresso. The coffee was smooth and the caramel wasn’t too sweet. I also noticed they have really neat menus where you can check the items you want to order with an erasable marker. Pretty neat!

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And then we hurried over to the food! This was a foodie’s dream with all the food presented beautifully!

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Belgium Waffles, House Salad

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Taiwanese Sandwich, Chicken Croissant

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Tuna Waffles, Cheese Salmon, Pumpkin Cracker, Daily Sandwiches

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Daily Soups

Daily Soups included a Minestrone and Clam Chowder Soup. M and I both agreed the chowder was the best. It was flavourful and didn’t taste like your typical canned soup.

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These were the items we sampled. Our favourite was the Cheese Salmon which featured smoked salmon on top of a cracker along with cheese, lettuce and dill. The Tuna Waffle was also a favourite as the waffles were light and fluffy and tuna was flavoured nicely with a light mayo. The Taiwanese Sandwich was a nice twist as it featured waffles as the bread.

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Coffee Pana Cotta

And onto the desserts! We started off with the Coffee Pana Cotta which is more like a creme brulee with coffee caramel liquid at the bottom. Quite sweet, but the custard was smooth.

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New York Cheesecake

The homemade cakes then started rolling in. The New York Cheesecake had sugar on top and it was torched to give that creme brulee hard sugar feeling. The cheesecake was denser than what I would’ve liked as I prefer the light and fluffy Japanese ones, but good nevertheless.

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Ujikintoki Cake, Seasonal Fruit Cake, Earl Grey Cake, Concentrated Chocolate Cake

We also got to try a variety of their daily cakes. Since we were too full, we only tried the Earl Grey Cake. The cake itself was very fluffy, but I found that the hazelnuts on top stole the show so it tasted more like a hazelnut cake. More earl grey flavouring and less hazelnuts would’ve made the cake perfect.

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Overall, we had a good time and enjoyed the beverages and snacks that Fondway offers. Service was also extremely friendly and waitresses are able to speak both Mandarin and English. I can see this as a cute place to catch up with your girl friends.

Fondway is offering a grand opening day special and you can experience a 4 signature course for only $20. You can choose from either option A or B. Please see picture above for details and contact details to reserve your ticket in advance.

Fondway Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bump N Grind Cafe (Media Event)

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Last night, I was invited to the Bump N Grind Cafe grand opening media launch party. This South Granville location is their second location, with their first in the Commercial neighbourhood. This location had actually opened on December 18th, 2014, but last night was their official grand opening.

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The interior has high ceilings with a concentration on wood and minimalist designs.

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Bump N Grind offers alternative brewing methods, including Pour-over coffee, Aeropress, and French press coffee. The friendly baristas have an in-depth knowledge to answer all your questions.

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Owners Cheryl and Kyle Wright were present that night as well. They pride their multi-roaster cafe as one of Vancouver’s top 10 best cafes according to the Vancouver Sun in 2013. At Bump n Grind, the coffees are rotated on a weekly basis, so there is always something new when you visit.

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At the media event, they offered their signature drinks, including some that were spiked!

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Their everyday menu includes coffees, teas, and snacks.

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Around the store are coffee-related items you can purchase. Here, there are a variety of coffee beans for sale.

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They even sell the Aeropress coffee maker.

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And the famous Mast Brothers artisan chocolate. They are famous in New York for their bean-to-bar chocolates.

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We also got to sample some of their goodies, including baked goods and sandwiches.

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There were white chocolate as well as ginger molasses cookies.

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I sampled the Smoked Salmon Croissant, which was super flaky! Cucumbers and smoked salmon can never go wrong. Their Cookies are also some of the best I’ve had. They are soft, yet still chewy. My favourite of the night had to be the Matcha Green Tea Brownie though. The super soft matcha brownie is mixed with white chocolate and melts in your mouth. Delicious!

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Almond Chocolate Gibraltar

First up, we tried the Almond Chocolate Gibraltar, which came in a highball sized glass. This was essentially a double shot of espresso topped with milk. I opted for almond milk, so I found it much lighter. The glass was rimmed with chocolate sauce and roasted almonds. I loved the aroma of this drink and the nutty flavour worked very well with the coffee.

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Spiced Chai Latte with Bourbon

I also tried their Spiced Chai Latte with Bourbon, which was aromatic and slightly spicy with a kick of the Bourbon.

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Duetto – Macchiato & Maple Whiskey

K went for their Duetto, which she had no idea what it really was. It ended up coming in two parts. Her macchiato in an espresso cup and a straight shot of Maple Whiskey. She enjoyed the coffee, but found the whiskey to be too strong. Perhaps something a little lighter would have worked better.

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We also got to take goodie bag homes! What a treat! Inside, we got some of their freshly made in-house baked goods. On the left is the Earl Grey Shortbread. I would’ve liked a stronger Earl Grey essence, but I thought it was interesting how it was topped with salt. Salty and sweet at the same time. We also got my favourite Matcha Green Tea Brownie. Last but not least was the Mookie, which is dairy free. It’s sort of like a muffin and cookie at the same time. It was filled with oats, coconut flakes, dark chocolate, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. You get a nice chew, but it’s also light enough at the same time.

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Included were also some of their signature teas, including the Almond Rooibos, Citrus Sencha and Organic Earl Grey. I have yet to try these but the Citrus sencha already sounds really good!

Overall, Bump N Grind Cafe offers some really tasty baked goods. They have your typical coffees and teas, but also some really interesting signature drinks like the ones we tried last night. A great place to hang out with friends!

* All food and beverages were complimentary.

Pros:
– Great coffees and baked goods
– Prices are quite reasonable

Cons:
– Not too many seats, especially for larger groups

Price Range: $5-10

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4
Service: 4
Ambiance: 3
Parking: 3
Overall: 3.5

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Milano Coffee Roasters

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We were waiting for over an hour to get a seat at the Sardine Can, and since it was a bit chilly, we decided to head into Milano Coffee Roasters. I’ve actually walked past here many times but never noticed this coffee shop. They have several other locations, and this is their Espresso Lounge in Gastown.

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The inside is pretty basic. Simple decor but still gives you a cool hip vibe. They are well known for their espresso as their roots are from Italian roasting and blending.

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Hot Chocolate

We’re not coffee people, so we decided to try some of their other items. C got the Hot Chocolate, which came with chocolate flakes and wasn’t overly sweet. Usually hot chocolate can be really sweet, but this was perfect.

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Raspberry Mocha with Whipped Cream

K and I shared the Raspberry Mocha with Whipped Cream. I usually find mocha to be really strong and bitter, but this was the contrary! It was the perfect balance. You could taste the coffee, but it was smooth and light. However, I couldn’t really taste the raspberry. Really good though!

K says this is one of her favourite spots now. Well priced and the drinks are really good! I would guess that their coffee drinks are very good too.

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Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Portland

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Stumptown Coffee Roasters is a popular coffee chain that originated in Portland. It seems to be what all the locals are talking about. They have several different locations, including one in Los Angeles.

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The interior is fairly simple but rustic looking. The menu isn’t huge, but I think it’s because they focus on their good old coffee.

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Cappuccino

Since I’m not a coffee drinker, I went for the Cappuccino which I find easier to take than just straight coffee. I like how they do a bit of latte art on it. I’m not an expert on cappuccinos though, so I can’t comment much. However, I did enjoy it and my friends who drink coffee a lot said their coffees were above average as well. Definitely a good stop if you’re a coffee drinker.

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Heart Coffee Roasters – Portland

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The next morning, we wanted to go grab breakfast at Screen Door, since we heard it’s really popular. And of course, there was a huge wait again. We waited a while, but we realized it would be another 2 hour wait. Annoyed by all this waiting time we’ve been having in Portland, we decided to skip it. We were pretty fed up especially since we drove all the way to the East side. Nearby, Heart Coffee Roaster looked hip and cool, so we decided to grab a quick snack before we headed off to look for more food.

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Coffee and Cheese Croissant

J got a Coffee with a Cheese Croissant. The Cheese Croissant was pretty good since it was flaky. J said the coffee was pretty good too. Their coffees are mainly from Central America, South America, and Africa.

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Chocolate Cookie

For myself, I went for the Chocolate, which was a huge disappointment. It was chewy, but hard at the same time. Way too chewy perhaps. It also had an odd flavour to it and didn’t taste like regular chocolate cookies.

Overall, Hearts seems to be a great place for coffee, but their other items might be a miss. They also don’t offer wi-fi on the weekends which is odd. The place is great to study and hang out though.

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