Local Java Archives

February 27, 2007

Red Bank, NJ Coffee Culture

Have you ever heard of Red Bank, NJ? It is a cute town located near the Jersey Shore (about 15 minutes from the ocean). A few years back it was voted the "hippest" town in NJ. I know, I know.. some of you are saying - wow, that can't be hard. Jersey girls are used to Jersey jokes, and I really don't mind since I lived in NYC for 8 years - I am immune.

Red Bank has 2 main java hang-outs. Of course, Starbucks is well-positioned. But across the street is the local guy, "No Joe's Cafe," which has an excellent offering of food as well as a full coffee bar. I do frequent both. Kind of depends what mood I'm in. If I'm feeling more rebellious (or hungry), it's off to No Joe's. Havenít spotted any famous people at either Ė well at least not yet. (Keep your eyes peeled if you visit - locals Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi do hang out in town occasionally).

Spring is on the way, so why not make a day trip down to Red Bank if you live in the Tri State area? There is great shopping, restaurants, and coffee Ė all right along the Navesink River! If antiques are your thing Ė Iíve been told itís a hot spot. You can also fit in a cultural gig at either the Count Basie Theater or the Two River Theater. Consider yourself invited.

May 24, 2007

Velo Rouge Cafe, SF

Impossible as it seems, I, the ever-loyal Peet's fan, have identified an emerging new favorite. A great place to enjoy my "for here" cup.

This is the type of place that prompted the saying, "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks."

Look, for the record, I am not anti-Starbucks. I have my issues with a coffee company that calls itself a lifestyle brand, I'll admit. Mostly, though, I operate with the belief that you will usually get a decent espresso at a Starbucks. You might even get decent service. Rarely, though, will you get heart. Or soul. And, never-ever do you get that neighborhood-y sense of belonging. I prefer heart. I prefer soul. I prefer a neighborhood-y sense of belonging.

But more importantly, I prefer good coffee.

Unfortunately, as any genuine coffee snob will tell you, locally owned and operated rarely means great. I still try local coffee houses. I just don't have high expectations about the coffee itself. And, if the coffee meets my low expectations I don't usually return.

With Velo Rouge Cafe... I've been back. Often. And I don't live in San Francisco. So that tells you something right there. I recommend you visit. I bet you return, too.

You'll find Velo Rouge Cafe at 798 Arguello Blvd, at McAllister. On the approach, you'll see funky bike racks (red), an impressive black, white and red awning, and a life-size bicycle with red tires hanging above the door. At the entrace there is a fun magnet board with the letters you usually see on people-with-kids' refridgerators listing the hours. They were a little bit jumbled up but, essentially, Velo Rouge opens up early during the week and at 8 a.m. on the weekends. They close a little early on Monday & Tuesdays, have an amazing nomadic restaurant on Wednesday & Thursday evenings (look up Radio Africa & Kitchen on the website), and Live Music EVERY Friday night.

Inside you'll see a great black board menu announcing breakfast and lunch. You'll notice they've got beer on tap. Fat Tire, no less. You'll notice they've got cool finger puppets and the game Battleship on a shelf for entertaining the kids. You will also see bike tire repair kits available for purchase. In fact, you'll realize this cafe embraces the bicycle enthusiast. If you're like me, these things will prompt skepticsm regarding the coffee itself. But you'll search for syrups to flavor the coffee and see none. This will make you smile.

The drip coffee is (hold on to your seat) made to order. Each time I've had it, I have to say, I'm really impressed. It is excellent. The owner, Meg Lynch, has taken her cafe to the next level with beans from SF-based roaster: Blue Bottle Coffee. Coffee purists will consider it top notch. Those not quite so 'in-the-know' about coffee will still take notice.

The team that prepares the coffee (and the food) are welcoming and (again, hold on to your seat) seem to enjoy working there.

So, you get heart, soul, a truly wonderful neighborhood-y feel AND amazingly good coffee. For that I can only say, Thank You, VRC!

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Tall, Grande, Venti in the Local Java category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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