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Old 10-07-2008, 09:19 AM
Ed Zotti Ed Zotti is offline
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What's the closest thing in Chicago to Zoka's of Seattle? [ANSWERED BY CECIL - continue discussion]

Comment on
http://www.chicagoreader.com/bestofc...shop/index.php by Ivan G:

I just moved in from Seattle and am already missing Zoka's, if anyone has ever been there. What is the closest match to them in Chi?

[Just moving this from a Reader blog. -EZ]

Last edited by Ed Zotti; 12-08-2008 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 01-06-2009, 01:24 AM
bdgr bdgr is offline
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Intelligencia.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:35 PM
UncleBeer UncleBeer is offline
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http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/
Here's the website. My favorite restaurant in the entire world - Frontera Grill offers Intelligentsia coffee in a french press. Damn fine stuff.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:49 PM
bdgr bdgr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleBeer View Post
http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/
Here's the website. My favorite restaurant in the entire world - Frontera Grill offers Intelligentsia coffee in a french press. Damn fine stuff.
Zoka's is a damn fine coffee as well. I had the pleasure of talking to them at a coffee convention in Dallas for a while, and they had an espresso machine set up with their world champion rockstar barista pulling shots and signing autographs (we had one of her trading cards....yes, Baristas have their own trading cards).

Itelligensia and zoka are all in the kind of world class coffee meca catagory...that status I was aspiring to when the city pretty much ran me out of business (but thats another story).
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:28 AM
Stormcrow Stormcrow is offline
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Metropolis is also damn fine coffee.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:53 AM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Cecil has now taken this up: chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20090611.php

Discussion can (and we hope will) continue.
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Old 06-16-2009, 03:34 AM
bdgr bdgr is offline
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Very cool. Makes me miss my coffee coffee roasting company. I still have several hundred pounds of green coffee I need to roast for home use...
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Old 06-29-2009, 02:56 PM
Ed Zotti Ed Zotti is offline
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The following may also appear as a letter to the editor in the Reader:

OK, so what's the "Straight Dope" on this Straight Dope Chicago article? I'm kind of let down by the partiality and non-scientific approach to the comparisons given in this article. I respect Cecil Adams' work and read the Reader just for his column sometimes. I am quite partial to Star Lounge; however, I don't think it was given a fair shot in the article. It seems that the jury is a little biased, and by biased, I mean the guy Cecil took with him works for one of the coffee shops that they reviewed...huh!?!?

Here's the excerpt that explains:

"Mike Phillips, recently named the third best barista in the world, and best in the U.S. Mike works for Intelligentsia Coffee, one of Chicago's leading artisan roasters."

The other issue I have with this article is that it compares apples to oranges to banannas. Dunkin' Donuts to Starbucks to Seattle's Best to Caribou is ok, but really? D-hole and StarFucks to Metropolis, Star Lounge, and Intelligentsia? Are you kidding me? That's like comparing Goose Island to Miller and Three Floyds; they are totally different categories of beer. Not only do they compare different types of coffee houses as if they on a similar level, but they also compare regular-grade coffee to high-grade blends.

Here are the blends compared:

"Dunkin' Donuts Original Blend, $7.95/pound
...
Metropolis La Cordillera Blend, $12.95/pound
...
Starbucks Organic Shade Grown Mexico, $13.45/pound
...
Star Lounge Organic Mexican Chiapas, $13/pound
...
Intelligentsia Los Inmortales El Salvador, $16/pound
...
Metropolis Brazil Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza, $14.25/pound
...
Star Lounge Organic Sumatra Lintong, $13/pound"

I frequent Star Lounge and am a repeat customer, and I've always gone with the Flying J or the Star Blend. I also recommend the Breakfast blend for a smooth, carmel flavor. I see mid- and regular-grade blends being compared to Intelligentsia's high-grade. What kind of comparison is that? I frequent Beans & Bagels and enjoy Metropolis, which they serve. It is generally more bitter than Star Lounge coffee, which has a smooth character due to not being over-roasted. There are several places that I get coffee from that serve Intelligentsia, and I do not find it overwhelmingly over-the-top. Granted, some of those blends are custom. Perfect Cup serves some very strong coffee but that does not have as much flavor (i.e. it'll knock your teeth in, but not your tongue); I am not sure where they get their beans.

I just wanted to put my two cents in and point out that the taste test seemed more like a lengthy promo for Intelligentsia than a comparison of coffee houses in the Chi. And anyone who knows Jesse Diaz knows that he's like that all the time!

-Phil Vuollet

Cecil Adams replies:

A few observations:

1. The point of the exercise wasn't to compare "good" coffees but rather coffees from a representative selection of shops, without regard to price or reputation. You evidently think coffee from Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks is swill, but we didn't want to make that assumption going in. We asked baristas at the different shops to recommend a good middle-of-the-road coffee, and that's what we tested. In retrospect that request was too vague and we should have asked for samples of an inexpensive coffee, since in theory we were looking for the best coffee for hard times. That's why I acknowledged Starbucks House Blend; we didn't test it and should have. While not the best coffee I've ever had, it's not bad for the price.

2. My buddy and fellow coffee tester, Mike R., doesn't work for Intelligentsia. No doubt you're getting Mike R. mixed up with Mike Phillips, who's on Intelligentsia's staff. As for the taste test seeming like a promo for Intelligentsia, I point out that the two coffees we recommended were from Metropolis.

3. No, the taste test wasn't especially scientific. I conceded as much - I had enough trouble organizing the basic level of testing I did. We tried to be fair, and I didn't overplay the results. The major divide was between Dunkin' Donuts coffee, which neither Mike R. nor I cared for, and everything else. I think that's evident from what I wrote.

4. Mike R.and I were both charmed by Jesse Diaz. My teasing references to him were meant affectionately. He runs a fine shop and we wish him all the best.

Last edited by Ed Zotti; 06-29-2009 at 02:57 PM.
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