Caffeinated in Seattle

September 10, 2011

A girl cannot be living in Seattle and not write about coffee in her culinary and travel blog. Seattle, home of Starbucks and a variety of other big name coffee brands, is better known by locals for the independent coffee shops whose baristas strive to serve up the best espresso and cappuccinos outside of Italy. In what I like to call my “transition period” since returning back to the US from India, I’ve spent a lot of time at my favorite coffee spot, Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company, which incidentally pays me to be there. These baristas taste their coffee like a sommelier would taste wine. For instance, their single origin coffee from the Finca El Limonar (“The Lemontree”) farm in Guatemala has notes of chocolate, lychee and a citrusy aftertaste while the Ethiopian single origin tastes like blueberries. Now I thought I knew a lot about coffee before, but until recently had never heard of a “pour over” with a special filter to brew coffee to create a smoother, more delicious cup than your regular drip coffee machine. Also, that 16 oz. cappuccino you’re drinking at Starbucks – it’s not real, it’s just a foamy latte. Traditional cappuccinos are served in 6 oz. cups to perfectly serve the 1:1:1 ratio of espresso, milk, and foam. Now am I starting to sound like an expert?

A pour over, iced toddy with soy milk, and latte.

Coffee cupping... the best way to taste coffee at various brew times and temperatures to get the full range of possible flavors.


For those of you lucky enough to visit Chennai during your lifetime, (god forbid during the month of May) there are a few places you must go to while in the city. One of those is Fruit Shop on Greams Road – a fresh juice and milkshake institution in Chennai. The original shop is located on Greams Road, hence the name, but branches can now be found in other parts of the city as well.

Given that this is my last week in India before heading back home to the US, I decided I’d have to pay Fruit Shop one last visit. For the last few months, since I picked up a menu and discovered a custard apple milkshake available, I’ve been dreaming of tasting one and how fitting it would be considering the name of our blog. Well tonight was the night I made my way there to order just that.

Fruit Shop now delivers so it would make sense that I just call them up and have one brought directly to my doorstep instead of walking the few kilometers there in the sweltering heat. BUT I haven’t topped up my phone and can’t make outgoing calls and there’s a 150 rupee minimum order so I couldn’t really justify buying three 50-rupee milkshakes just for myself. Well I finally got to Fruit Shop, wiped the sweat from my brow, placed my order, and then was promptly told it wasn’t possible. Custard apples are out of season!!! Apparently these milkshakes are only available in December (indicating this on the menu and preventing a poor girl from experiencing extreme disappointment would be too much to ask).

I forlornly walked home and imagined what a custard apple milkshake might taste like. Next time, I’m sticking with the standard, yet delicious chocolate…as should you.

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