Jihye Chang

“Cafes”

Great cafes in America #5, Quill’s Coffee, Louisville

Louisville is one of my favorite cities in the U.S.A. – It has a bit of the southern charm, a bit of the college-town coolness, and a bit of the urban-ness without being too crowded or too big to browse around. I first visited the city in 2005, and have been going back there for concerts. But whenever I am there, I am as much interested in the new restaurants and cafes as in my performances. I used to frequent the Heine Brothers Coffee for espresso drinks and desserts, as well as Blue Dog Bakery for breads, North End Cafe for brunch, and Dakshin for Indian food.

The most recent visit was in October 2012, and a friend of mine who is a coffee afficionado told me about the new cafe in L-ville: Quill’s. Quill’s has 2 locations in Louisville and 1 location in New Albany, Indiana. I visited the Cardinal Blvd. location near U of L and the one in New Albany.

They only focus on the coffee – meaning, not a lot of other drink options or baked items. I like the industrial look and the spaciousness of both locations. Coffee tasted better at the Cardinal location, though. They have something that has a bit more milk than the traditional macchiato, and it was velvety+sweet with just right amount of acidity and deep flavor.. but I forget the name!

I liked the drink above better than the traditional macchiato.

They roast their coffee beans in-house. They also have nice selection of beans and coffee related merchandise items on their website at https://quillscoffeeco.squarespace.com.

There were other cafes I visited – Sunergo was nice, but I prefer the flavor and the texture of Quill’s more. (Also the atmosphere is different: Sunergo is a bit more hippy and free/ Quill’s is more urban and cool.)

I didn’t care too much for Vint, though. The store felt not too clean or friendly and the espresso macchiato tasted a bit burned and too dark for my taste.

Next time I visit Louisville, I will check out the Java Brewing Company and La Grange coffee. I hope the good stuff keeps coming in Louisville!

MSP favorites #1 – Rustica, Minneapolis

I lived in Fargo-Moorhead area for 4 years and visited Minneapolis as much as I could. One of my husband’s cousins lives in MSP, and he gave me a few recommendations including Rustica, Quang’s Vietnamese restaurant, Little Szechuan, Tampopo, and La Belle Vie. I have visited most of them, and finally decided to write about some of them as well as other favorite spots that I discovered on my own. I am starting with the Rustica Bakery.

This bakery is now quite well known to MSP residents. Sometimes the line is too long and the service gets slow, but it’s a pleasant place to visit and enjoy great breads, very good desserts, and simple and good sandwiches. It also serves good coffee- not my favorite, but good enough. The Dogwood coffee used to run a bar here as a part of “Bull Run Coffee”. They used to serve Hario drip and Syphon. Now Dogwood Coffee has their own coffee bar, and Rustica serves only espresso drinks or brewed coffee with a Clover machine. I used to be curious about Clover when it was getting a lot of hype, but I think any coffee brewed with Clover has a bit of muddy texture and unclean flavor.  I think single-serve coffee using Hario or Bonmac has far superior flavor, aroma and texture. Their baristas are well trained and skilled, but the Dogwood espresso blend is not my favorite. (too sour and, strangely enough, soy-bean like flavor..! I think it’s a personal thing.)

If I had to choose, I would pick croissants from the Patisserie 46 (will write about this soon), but Rustica’s croissants are still very flaky and subtly sweet. Any of their breads would make anybody’s day happier. I like their baguette and multi-grain loaves. Try their bread with butter option – you get to choose what you want to eat, except the baguette.

I also like some of their sandwich selections and dessert selections. (Eclairs are good, but a bit too big/ pies good, cookies good.) All in all, this is a great place and I would make sure to visit if I am driving into or leaving MSP. Oh, and don’t forget the fresh squeezed orange juice!

Rustica Bakery: 3224 West Lake Street, Minneapolis/ Tel: 612-822-1119

Monday – Friday: 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Website: www.rusticabakery.com

Chan’s Espresso Bar-One of the best espressos in Seoul!

If you want to see a lot of good lo0king young people hanging out, or taste the “it” food for those young people, or hear Korean indie rock bands performing, you need to visit the Hongik University area (aka Hongdae). I have a soft spot in my heart for this area, but it is so far away from where my parents live or anywhere that I visit regularly that I rarely have a chance to go there whenever I am in Seoul.  But this summer I had a mission – visiting the rising star cafe of this area, Chan’s Espresso.

Their machines are very fancy and justly famous among Korean bloggers – Synesso and La Marzzoco espresso machines, the Clover coffee machine, Mazzer grinders, Everpure water filtration system, and even the orange Smeg refrigerator. Instead of roasting their own beans, Chan’s imports beans from the famed Tim Wendleboe of Oslo and Intelligenstia of Chicago. Unfortunately, that means that the beans will never be completely fresh due to the shipping time from Norway and USA to Korea. However, I think it works better than roasting poor quality beans, which happens often in a lot of new roastery-cafes in Korea. Also they don’t do the latest Korean cafe fad of cakes, sandwiches, or waffles – only coffee. I like that.

Let’s get straight to the point: I was highly impressed with the Tim Wendleboe double shot cappuccino! It was a totally new experience for me to enjoy espresso so deep and layered with so much complexity. It also looked much thicker than the regular espresso shot, and had an almost terra cotta-like color. I usually prefer espresso on the sweet side and not too acidic, but this Tim Wendleboe cappuccino had a really pleasant acidity that I enjoyed very much. Also it had a deep sweetness as well as really great body-feel to it. I wish I had been able to compare the Tim Wendelboe espresso to a shot of Intelligentsia, but by then I had already consumed too much coffee and could not handle any more! Oh well – such was my luck.

My husband ordered Tim Wendelbo’s Kenya brewed by Clover. That was not as good as the cappuccino. It was too muddy, had too much sour flavor, and just not good.  It might also have been the Clover machine, which I find myself liking less and less…

Anyways. Chan’s cafe is cultivating a very serious fan base already, which doesn’t surprise me at all given the quality of their coffee. It’s a place that I will definitely go back next time I am in Seoul.

Location: Seogyo-Dong, Mapo-gu, 409-10 (“Parking lot street”, aka “Joochajang georit”)

To find your way: Take subway #6. Get off at the Sangsoo station. Exit #1. Turn back and go toward “Geukdong Electronics” and look for a restaurant called “Yogi” and 7-11 convenience store. Take the small road between those two and walk toward “Donkatsu cham jalhanun-jib” and you will see Chan’s on your right. (It’s a labyrinth kind of area with many little cafes and restaurants, and Chan’s has a big, black steel door and a big glass window at the front.)

Price: Espresso for 5500 won (about $4.8)/ Macchiato, Cortado, Americano for 6000 won/ Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha for 6500 won