EspressoBar I LOVE COFFEE

By: Gavin Gould Jul 9

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EspressoBar I LOVE COFFEE – Sint-Jakobstraat 10, Brugge, Belgium

Should you happen to find yourself in Brugge, Belgium, I’d suggest taking a short walk off the Grote Market on the cobbled lane to this shop. Luck would have it that my lodging in Brugge was less than 100 meters from the door of EBILC, and after waking in the morning for whatever lay ahead, a stop here was always crucial. Like their sign says, “Life is too short for bad coffee” and I couldn’t agree more.

The door handle is a portafilter assembly. The over-counter lamp shades are fashioned from spoons. It’s industrial, but not cold and sparse. Exposed brick, unfinished light wood, and stainless steel. Shelving is lit unobtrusively from behind and is unblocked by browsing the tea selections. The vibe I got is that people who live in Brugge go here even though it’s very close to the tourist area.


As for the coffee itself, I don’t know where it came from – there were varieties from El Salvador, Kenya, Ethiopia and more. Rather than ponder the most suitable origin to kick off my day, I was dedicated more to consumption. What I can tell you is that it was prepared with care and properly tasty. As the weather was favorable we took our espressos, lattes, and little cookies out on the back patio. Sun, shade, and seating in abundance.

We’d wished to stop in again on the morning of De Ronde on our way down to the sign-in, but sadly EBILC is closed on Sundays; following them on Facebook doesn’t have the same sensations.

photos and words by Gavin Gould

 

Broadway Cafe and Roasting Company

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For a few years now Kansas City has been slowly turning itself into a city that offers more than just famous barbeque and Oregon Trail history. A thriving art scene and the seemingly endless list of impressive dining establishments has caused long-time residents and accidental tourists to look at the city in a different light. However one thing that Kansas City has been able to count on for two decades now is seriously good coffee.

Broadway Café has been the only game in town for quite a while. Before pre-teen girls began ordering frozen coffee-flavored drinks, even before most of us had our first espresso, Broadway brought proper coffee to Kansas City before Kansas City knew it loved proper coffee.

Pair on-site roasting with one of the most intense barista training programs you’ll ever hear of and then top it off with their obsession over bean sourcing and you get brewed coffee and espresso that takes a different direction. Sweet, sweet crema is what every barista produces after they cut their teeth busing tables for 6 months. And once you taste what is coming out of their massive custom made roaster you’ll understand that quality control is their trademark.

Their espresso is admittedly on the sweet side. Less concern is paid to how fast or slow a shot is pulled. Color, texture, and aroma are the key points. And each barista has a keen understanding of the Broadway Café ideals. While I usually prefer a pleasantly bitter Americano as my drink of choice, I recommend a straight shot from a demitasse.

It’s one thing to have great coffee. It’s another thing to build your own roasting company to supply your customers as well as other coffee shops and cafes in town with fantastic beans. But you’re on a whole different level when you’re the first place to stand up to Starbucks and come out the victor. Somewhere around the late 90’s a few suits from S-Bux came in with a check and offered to buy everything in the space. Right down to the flatware. Broadway refused the offer and a few months later saw a bright and shiny Starbucks open right next door. After years of poaching customers and profits, the coffee giant finally gave up the ghost and shut the location. That’s victory by attrition.

As a city that’s no stranger to cycling events (Tour of Missouri stage host and 2000, 2007, and 2008 CX Nationals host) Kansas City has your café stop covered. Both locations, the café and the roasting company, share a close proximity and I recommend visiting both. The café is quiet while the roasting company is industrious. But more important than the décor of the location is the fact that you’ll consume some of the most enjoyable caffeine around.

 

The Wormhole

By: Brandon Dec 4

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Seems as though very few groups of people understand, appreciate, or covet coffee the way cyclists do. Part ritual, part necessity, the cafe stop pre- and post-ride to some is the most important part. My love of a great espresso has grown quickly over the years having to make up for lost time, I didn't start to drink coffee until after college.

Starting from scratch, Starbucks seemed great. It was convenient, and well, that's about it. When you don't know any better, you think it's fine. Fortunately a good friend introduced me to small roasters, and at that point my world changed.....

All of that has led me here, The Wormhole. If you're a child of the 80's, there probably isn't another storefront in the world you could walk in to and feel more immediately comfortable. Walls covered with Ghostbusters, Nintendo, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future paraphernalia brought me back to some of the best times of my life. Fortunately, the fun doesn't stop at some posters and a neon light or two: a DeLorean perched 12' above the floor at the back of the cafe shows the true commitment to this culture.

Being located in the heart of Wicker Park means no less than a third of the customer base is sporting an ironic mustache and there are more fedoras than smart phones. But, in The Wormhole they've managed to eschew the attitude that is so prevalent in the hood and create an atmosphere that I actually enjoyed.

Now for the coffee: over the last few weeks I've had an iced coffee, brewed coffee, and a latte. Of course, I forgot to ask which beans were used for the iced coffee, but my brewed coffee was made from Guatemala La Bolsa by Halfwit. A little sweet and fruity, but not at all overly so, I was impressed. With that, I'll say I'm not much for a standard cup of coffee. I never brew or press coffee at home, so to be happy with it should be taken as a compliment.

The latte is what I am most excited about. Perfectly frothy, I found it to have a slight hint of some dark chocolate and also a light hint of citrus as well. Almost as importantly, my barista clearly took great pride in her work as she poured for a number of customers and when one came out that didn't meet her standard she had no problem asking if the customer could wait for her to make another. At a busy shop, some could see this as a turn-off, it did slow down the line a touch, but pride in craftsmanship goes a long way in my book and I truly appreciated the pride.

As it relates to cycling, The Wormhole finds itself located in a prime position to be the start and/or finish of a Chicago-based ride. One could easily leave from The Wormhole and be on the De Luca ride, named after a defunct local cafe. Head straight east and hit the Lakefront Path for 20-ish miles of basically-car-free riding, or head straight north up Damen to Evanston and all the Northshore has to offer.

 

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