Hometown Cravings; First Tryday Friday!

 Midtown Coffeehouse has been a staple in my coffee habit since I discovered them about a year ago. I’ve written a bit about them previously, like the Razzle Dazzle and the Caramelnilla. Both of those are solid choices, but to bring in new interesting content for you guys, I need to branch out. What better time to branch out than a new Series that I’ve decided to dub Tryday?

              If you follow the twitter or facebook, you may have seen my curiosity about coffee soda. (< Link) The consensus when I made it at home, was not good. I didn’t like it initially and I continued to not like it after I tried to make it more “mine”. A real bummer, but I intend to revisit it and see if I can make one that I do like. Surely it exists, and I will find it.

              This evening after walking into Midtown Coffee, I noticed their chalkboard that usually has their specials had something different. It enticed me to ask about Barista’s Choice selections. Always in the spirit to test my taste buds, I obliged and was introduced to a menu outlining their personal favorites. All of them off-menu and all unique in their own way.

Coffee Soda!

              The one that especially stood out to me was the Dirty Vanilla Coke. Coffee and Soda? Where have I heard that before? Right….

It scared me and piqued my curiosity- so hesitant (and somehow excited), I ordered it. While in various stages of preparation, it foamed intensely and they had to cull some, if not, most of it. Once the drink was in my hand, I took the chance and tried it in front of the barista. And the panel says….


 

              Still not my thing. The carbonation from the coke mixed discordantly with the espresso making a very strange aftertaste. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone with the recipe and done the double shot. It’s a really unique and jarring contrast of saccharine sweetness and espresso. I don’t feel like it meshes too well. The flavors are a little too different to be able to go together in a pleasant way. I enjoy the coke flavor, but only for a split second before the espresso chimes in. It has a vaguely fruity flavor that I think is being amplified by the sugar content.

Ultimately not my thing in the least, I do want to make it clear that this is not a reflection on Midtown. You win some, you lose some when you take a gamble on a new treat and I’m going to call this one a loss. But, I will say that it tastes pretty similar to my attempt, which means that I did it right. So… win?

              BUT, I returned to the counter with my tail between my legs and admitted that I had to surrender to the Dirty Vanilla Coka. They suggested the Choddy, which is Cold Brew, Milk and Mocha. I was dubious, since I had been burned by my latest encounter with Coffee Soda.

Choddy
Midtown’s Choddy- yum!

              I’m happy to report, that while I have never been altogether too fond of cold brew, I’m happy I took the chance. They described it as “Chocolate milk with a nice coffee flavor”, which is quite accurate. It smells a bit bold and has a nice edge to the sweet smell of chocolate. The predominant flavor is much like dark chocolate. Which, is to say, it’s sweet with a little bitterness to temper it.

              Though they use the same beans in this beverage, I’m not picking up any hint of the fruitiness that I was getting from the other one and I’m almost 100% sure that it was coke over-exaggerating the undertones. I do suggest a hearty sloshing around of this one, as it does get a touch more bitter if you let it sit still for a few minutes. Definitely not one to chug, this one should sipped slow and savored.

 

Taste; /5

              For my ratings, unfortunately since I still don’t like the Coffee/Soda duo, this one gets a 1 out of 5. I’m still curious as to where that fruity undertone was coming from.

Taste; /5

              My second rating, for the strangely named Choddy is a 5/5 because I was completely in love with every drop in that cup. I was legitimately sad to look down and see that it was empty. Coffee and Chocolate milk? Amazing pairing!

Hometown Cravings: Valentines All Year Long

Iron Bank Latte and Sticker
Be Mine Latte and my sticker collection begins!

 

I finally had the opportunity to return to Iron Bank after my previous visit. I revisited my all-time favorite latte, their Be Mine specialty latte. It’s always been my favorite menu item and I’ve had it maybe 20 times, and that’s no exaggeration. That may actually be a low-ball estimate if I’m being honest.

Be Mine is nestled in with a variety of other specialty beverages, which you can see listed in the above image. I’m planning to feature another one of the delicious choices above for our Winter Surprise. 

A quick search will set this drink apart from other similarly named Lattes. A lot of the ones I found in my research include cherry in the mix, which honestly doesn’t sound too appetizing to me personally. I’m glad that Iron Bank decided to forgo the usual Valentines Mixture and go for something else.

As should be evident by now, I adore this drink. The trifecta of vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon have such a perfect harmony. It may be due to my preference to get this made a bit sweeter than usual, but in my opinion, it tastes quite a bit like chocolate milk with cinnamon thrown in. The cinnamon is the predominant flavor with the vanilla and chocolate coming in at a tie and balancing nicely. There’s a pleasant weight to the coffee that leaves a hint of espresso lingering, but nothing particularly biting. 

I honestly don’t taste any bitterness in this particular latte (probably thanks to my sweet tooth). Iron Bank has created a perfect drink for the people who aren’t too big on coffee in general. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s perfect to sip during a relaxing day just people watching, as is my habit. 

Of course, I quite enjoyed my return to Iron bank and the lovely ladies behind the counter were friendly in a genuine way. Honestly, it’s been so long that I forgot how much I love their entire aesthetic. I didn’t go crazy on describing their aesthetic here, due to the previous post. Check it out if you’re curious!

 

Taste: /5

Seriously, I just love this drink way too much. It became somewhat of an obsession for me a while ago. Revisiting this drink reminded me why. Working so close to Iron Bank may present a problem for my wallet.

 

 

 

Panera Two-fer: Two reviews for the price of one!

Hi guys! So, I have to confess something to you, and you may laugh, but here goes… I forgot Panera bread existed. I definitely forgot that it was in my town. Since Panera is a fairly sizeable chain, I won’t be adding it to Hometown Cravings. I may make another post category for large chains.

 

Now, guys, I know Wheely’s is a chain. But it’s not a HUGE one like, say, Panera, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and the like. So that one can maintain it’s HC position.

 

This is a lazy Sunday if there ever was one, I woke up and checked our networks then decided I was going to head out and be lazy somewhere else. That laziness snuck into my speech at Panera, as I forgot to specify which Caffe Mocha I wanted, and got the wrong one. I did get it corrected, but I want it to be known that it was 110% my fault for not saying. But, since they can’t take a drink back after they do the handoff, I can review both the hot and iced versions of Panera’s Caffe Mocha. I also got myself a cheese danish for breakfast, but I don’t expect anything much out of myself as far reviewing that goes…. aside from me being happy it’s cream cheese.

My breakfast for this Sunday. Am I instagram famous yet?

 

 

For the first order of business, I’ll talk about my feelings on the Iced Mocha. Honestly, not the biggest fan. It’s not particularly strong in the tastes-like-coffee category, and it has a slight thickness in texture that strikes me as strange. It’s almost reminiscent of chocolate jello, in flavor. It’s not overbearingly sweet, and though the menu seems to say it has espresso, I’m not tasting it. After becoming acclimated to the flavor, it fades into blandness and after a few moments, I stop tasting anything at all.

 

Since I hit a wall with the iced one, I’ll go ahead and move on to the regular, hot Caffe Mocha. My first thought was that I wasn’t very big on this one either. It tastes more like coffee than its iced counterpart, but the mocha flavor is so invisible. I feel like the coffee taste (as light as it is) totally overpowers the mocha. It’s not bitter, and on a lazy Sunday when you don’t know what you feel like doing, it’ll just suffice. I mean it’s better than bottled coffees you can find at gas stations, even though it has a quality that reminds me of Keurig coffee

 

The best part of my Panera visit is the one I knew I would like. The Cheese Danish is just as good as I was thinking it would be. I can’t really recommend you get the coffee, but if you like cream cheese pastries, you’ll like this one. This experience makes me want to find something here that I want to rave about, but that’s for another time. 

 

Time for a disclaimer, I think, I know it might look like I go into chains, order coffee and then complain about it. But I really go into this trying to find something good that I can wholeheartedly recommend. I’m not going to lie to you guys or advertise something I don’t believe in- this isn’t a sales blog, and it’s not run by a business.

My rating for this coffee will be combined, in the spirit of charity.

INSTAGRAMETER; /5

If you’ve seen one Panera, you’ve seen them all. It maintains a rating of 2 because I liked the few pieces of art and the lighting. Definitely won’t bring you instafame, but it’ll show that you leave the house.

 

Panera Cat is the piece of art that cemented my rating, btw

All hail Panera cat, the bringer of adequate ratings!

 

TASTE; /5

TASTE; /5

 

Hometown Cravings: It’s a Caramelnilla kind of day

City:  Columbus, GA
Stop: Midtown Coffee
Drink: 
Caramelnilla

Hi everyone, guess what time it is? It’s time to revisit the downhome shops that Columbus has in store for us. Since I already revisited Fountain City for this series, I took a moment to return to Midtown Coffee once again, since they struck gold once.

After a moment of indecision, I settled on the Caramelnilla Latte (iced this time, so no art, sadly- no time to relax today). Since I showed you the interior last time, I won’t bore you with those details. And this post will consist of my thoughts and rating for this Latte.

Full disclosure, this isn’t the first time I’ve had this drink, but my second. But I couldn’t very well, write on it unless I have it in front of me. So onto the coffee.

Caramelnilla Coffee in the wild
Had to come up with a good way to illustrate how delicious this drink is!

The coffee, unlike the imitation coffee drinks I’ve sampled, tastes sweet and strong like a good coffee should. It’s got a nice full body and low acidity, and in stark contrast to the aforementioned imposters, the flavor that lingers is the sweetness of the mingling vanilla and caramel.

Overall the drink feels balanced and pleasing. It’s strong without being bitter and sweet without being overly saccharine. Which is quite the achievement. The underlying flavor is a little nutty, which isn’t a bad thing and adds a lovely bit of contrast in its softness.

Taste; 5 out of 5/5

With all of the good qualities in this coffee, I can’t think of any reason not to give it a solid 5/5 rating. Good job, Midtown Coffee!

 

Hometown Cravings; Best Seller, The Snickers Freezer

City: Columbus, GA
Stop: 
Fountain City Coffee
Drink: Snickers Freeze

Hi everyone! Welcome back to Hometown Cravings! I visited Fountain City Coffee once again to try one of their best selling items: The Snickers Freezer. In contrast to the Heath Freezer, I got last time, they don’t have crunched up candy bars but instead use syrup. Since none of my qualifications for this blog state that a coffee must have finely ground candy, I said: “why not?” and decided to give it a go!

The Snickers Freezer has much the same consistency of the Heath, sans candy dust. Like a milkshake- but better! The predominant flavor is nutty with mocha undertones. I feel like the sweetness is trying to emulate the nougat, even if it’s not, the nougat taste certainly comes to mind. It also has a slight bitterness that sticks around as an afterthought to the mocha.

When it comes to using the syrup to create flavors, you can tell. That being said, it’s not bad at all. In fact, they do get admirably close to the flavor of a Snickers candy bar. And for that, I applaud them.

Taste; 3.5 out of 5/5

Would I recommend this drink? Certainly! If you’re a big Snickers fan, this will satisfy any craving you have for the treat. I got the freezer, but they can make it in a hot variant or regular Iced.

 

Convenience Coffee; Gimme S’more

Let’s face it, it’s expensive to go to cafes` for coffee every time. This new series is to combat that, much like the other series I have on the burner. Convenience Coffee is going to cover those delightful beverages that call themselves coffee you find at convenience stores- much like the one I have with me today that’s going to be my pilot, featuring the Starbucks S’mores coffee beverage.

You probably know what it looks like, but I’m going to post a photo anyway because I think my posts look naked without at least one photo. On the first impression, I really got my hopes up on this one. I was bamboozled!

 

The Mugshot: 

Starbucks S'more's Bottled Coffee
The fun begins

On opening it, I was hit by an almost sickeningly sweet smell, that was a little like overbearing graham crackers. The overall consistency is downright watery, which is to be expected as I imagine with this sort of thing. I sucked it up and took a sip, and it actually tastes better than it smells. I was pleasantly surprised with how soft the flavor was, but still somehow remarkably S’mores like. It does have a little bit of a strange flavor on its tail, though. I’m not sure what it is, or what it’s supposed to be, but that only thing I can relate it to is soap.

I don’t make a habit of chugging Dawn dish soap, so this lingering flavor is uncalled for. As with Starbucks in general (per my experience as of this moment), it’s a little underwhelming in the quality department. But to be fair to the product, it is a coffee drink. Much like Capris Suns aren’t really juice, I’m willing to bet you this isn’t really coffee. But it pretends.

Really not too terribly pleased with this particular one, I’ve had a few of their coffee drinks and they all rather fall flat with me. I’ll hopefully bring you guys some quality Convenience Coffees in the near future. There’s one in particular that I can’t wait to tell you about (my absolute favorite canned coffee beverage)!

I don’t think I’ll bother really doing a legit rating system for this series, since it’s premade and everything- so I don’t think it really qualifies for my other rating system.

For the soapy taste, watery consistency, and eventually unimpressive taste, all I can say about this particular drink is…

 

Starbucks S'mores rating
Kinda

 

 

HomeBrews; Absolute Simplicity (K-CUP)

As promised, this is the second series that is debuting this month; Home Brews! The series where I give opinions on coffee that is accessible in homes everywhere (presumably). As much as I would love to travel everywhere and try all the coffee- all the time, that’s not feasible. So this should make for some decent content.

The first coffee I’m going to talk about (to be honest, I’m not sure if it qualifies as coffee) is French Vanilla (Brand) “Cappuccino”. To be frank, this is lazy day coffee and is so close to water or hot cocoa, that I’m loathe to even call it coffee.

The caffeine content is negligible, (maybe I’m just too tolerant to caffeine?) and will barely rouse me from a state of consciousness.  While it doesn’t taste bad, per se, it doesn’t taste like coffee either. The smell is there, and it has a please vanilla scent that is rather calming.

While I don’t recommend this if you’re pulling an all-nighter- I’d go with Folgers or something, which I’ll talk about in another post- these cups work in a pinch when you need the look/illusion of drinking coffee. And, it’s only 70 calories, so it’s decent if you’re on a lo-cal thing.

 

 

Rating; Starbucks Taste/5

Not really something I would consider coffee, or even a cappuccino (which is what’s on the label)- watery in consistency like when you use water to make hot cocoa. 1 cup for taste and added 1 for the convenience factor. Good for if you NEED something that calls itself coffee.

 

Coffee Abroad; Just how Mama used to make it!

City: Auburn, Alabama
Shop: Mama Mocha’s
Drink: White Russian

I’ve been wanting to come back here since we found it a few weeks ago, before our trip to Homewood. It has a really mellow lighting that is calming and tranquil when paired with the comfortable seating options it really makes you feel right home. Mama Mocha’s has a wide open floor plan with a somewhat disheveled charm that feels altogether welcoming. And though they have a menu with so many things, it’s not intimidating in the least because the baristas are so knowledgeable and patient. 

This evening when we went, it was busy. Like really busy. It’s near Finals time and there were college students lounged out everywhere (some with blankets!). In order to respect them, I didn’t take pictures of my own but took some from google reviews that have been posted.

Mama Mocha's has quite the extensive menu

The view when you walk up to the counter! Look at all of those choices!
My favorite corner of the seating area- that couch is insanely plush!

When I went to place my order, I was tossed up between the White Russian (toffee and white mocha) or the Drunken Waffle (Maple and Heavy Caramel), I asked the barista what she liked better and ended up opting with her advice; the White Russian. It came out the moment I was done paying, and the service was phenomenal.

The drink itself smells a little like candy, which is to say it’s very sweet smelling. Luckily though, it’s not quite as sweet as it smells with a pleasant bite from the espresso acting as a precursor to the somewhat forceful toffee flavor. It reaches a lovely contrast as the flavor disburses. The espresso is certainly potent because I’m not going to lie, I feel raring to go!

If you don’t like toffee, this drink is definitely not for you because the toffee is definitely noticeable. If you enjoy toffee or toffee flavors, then I urge you to give this drink a try. Full disclosure, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried this, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Mama Mocha's date night

Yum!

Instagrameter; 3.5 out of 5/5

for the artsy layout and the cloth covering that could be seen as an interesting backdrop to photos, I give Mama Mocha’s a 3.5 out of 5.

Taste; 4.5 out of 5/5

Hometown Cravings: Time to go to the Bank… Iron Bank

City: Columbus, GA
Stop: Iron Bank
Drink: Caramel Latte

 

Iron bank is situated at the corner of Tenth and Broad in the gorgeous downtown that Columbus is home to. The Exterior is that of an old… well, Bank. And every time I see it, I stop and stare. I adore the architecture. It’s classic and classy, and makes me feel like I’m stepping back in time to a day when you’d see gorgeous buildings like this. And not going to lie, I do a feel a little like a mobster or like someone from a Noir film, which is definitely a plus.

 

When you walk in, it’s clear that this shop has history and for the curious, you can read up on that here. The interior is fairly simple with long and short tables interspersed around the large room- they have what appear to be glass chandeliers hanging from the insanely high ceiling. The most interesting feature (to me, at least) is that you can go sit in the old vaults each one is furnished with a table and chairs and one of them has lovely natural light from the fairly large windows. The music is usually a decent volume for a coffee shop, but for some reason this morning, I found it to be louder than the norm. They play a range of music from the Plain White Ts to En Vogue. The latter was noticeably louder than the former.

 

Of course, aside from coffee, they do sell food and in particular, I’d recommend the turkey, bacon, swiss on a croissant. I’ve treated myself to that multiple times and it’s phenomenal. They do have muffins, bagels and parfait as well, if that’s more your speed.

For my coffee this morning, I decided to go simple, which I’ve actually never done here, and get just a Caramel Latte which is surprisingly better than the specialty ones I used to get from this place. It’s not overly sweet, or overly bitter. All around it’s nicely balanced, the caramel flavor is soft and subtle and I felt more alert with each sip. I did notice a slightly nutty taste underneath the taste of coffee. All in all, it doesn’t stand out as remarkable in either direction.

Instagrameter; ohenrys insta/5

The Exterior is unique and the interior is simplistic- I feel like any photos taken here would benefit greatly from being outside. The interior doesn’t lend itself to instagram fame.

Taste;3 out of 5/5

As noted, the coffee wasn’t anything out of this world but, by no means, bad. The espresso was very mild and effective and the entirety of the drink was balanced.

 

-JJ