Thursday, February 22, 2007

Groundwork Coffee in Downtown LA

I started drinking coffee as a kid mixed with milk, then graduated to coffee with half and half as a teen, and then only black coffee in college. While attending grad school at UC Berkeley in the mid-1970's I discovered Peet's Coffee which was instrumental in later showing the way for Starbucks. But it wasn't until I travelled in Japan in the late 1970's that I really began to understand what quality coffee was all about. Japan was buying the best coffee in the world, and they would make it a single cup at a time to be enjoyed in their coffee bars. I would savor a single cup, while listening to jazz and writing in my journal.

Thus, while checking out the newly opened Groundwork Coffee at 2nd and Main next to PitFire Pizza in Downtown Los Angeles, I realized that that this store was raising the bar with regard to the sale of whole bean coffee and the brewing of single cups. Last October 23rd, Amy Scattergood from the LA Times, wrote about the best roasters in Los Angeles, and Groundworks Coffee was one of nine artisal roasters featured in the article. What caught my attention in the store, and also in the article, was one coffee listed at $150 a pound. In her article, Amy mentioned that if available one should try the Esmeralda Especial Geisha from Panama.

Earlier that week I had already bought a pound of $17 coffee from Costa Rica at Groundworks, and prepared it in my French Press. This was great coffee, and thus, I had to sample the Panama Esmeralda Especial Geisha. Not only can one buy a single cup of the Esmeralda for $5.50, but it is prepared in a innovative coffee machine from Washington called the Clover. Ty McNulty, the manager of Groundworks described the Clover as a machine that combines the mechanics of the French Press with a Vacumm Brewer coffee maker.

The Groundworks website describes the Panama Esmeralda as: "We roast this coffee very lightly to preserve the stunning fruit and ripe berry aromas that are the hallmark of the Geisha. The brilliant acidity highlights the sweet berry flavors and crisp green apple notes of this cup." Just as I finished savoring the delights of this coffee, who should walk in this newest Groundworks Coffee, but Amy Scattergood herself, strolling over from the LA Times which is one block away.

I can definitely say that this cup of coffee was the best I have ever had, anywhere in the world. It was unlike anything I have ever tasted, as it reflected the uniqueness of the bean, how it was handled, and roasted. So if you are in the area, spend a few extra bucks for this, and if they are all out, try some of the other specialty coffee roasts stocked in this store and their other outlets. It had a long lingering finish that has been imbedded in my taste memory . You will definitely find yourself coming back to sample the other coffees brewed in the Clover Machine by the cup, and to take home a pound to brew at home.

With regard to the other 8 artisal roasters that Amy featured in her article, I would suggest those also be sampled by coffee lovers. Several months ago, I had a great brunch at Ammo in Hollywood and the coffee was served in a French Press. The coffee was wonderful, and I asked who was the supplier, and they said Supreme Bean from North Hollywood. And Supreme Bean is on Amy's list. She knows her coffee.

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