Once Upon a Coffee Crawl

coffee1There’s no better time to think about warming one’s hands around a nice mug of coffee than when staring out the window at record-breaking snowfall. I am hopeful Snowmageddon will pass soon, and as a reward, I suggest we treat ourselves to a series of caffeinated beverages that will warm us from the inside out.

Winter is a time when coffee shops call to me like the gold called to the Pirates of the Caribbean. Instead of my typical Pub …”Amble”… I wanted to write a Coffee Crawl, without fully thinking through the logistics. As it turns out, it’s easier to rally a group of people to consume several alcoholic beverages in one evening than it is to spend a few hours on a weekday drinking shot after shot of espresso. Therefore, this “crawl” happened piecemeal, with  coffee dates scheduled during my week at four hidden gems in Providence, beginning with The Shop.

The Shop is a new establishment on Wickenden, having only opened last August. The owners — a remarkably sweet, young couple — are often the ones ringing up orders and creating beautiful latte art worthy of photographs. They care about quality service and are happy to answer any questions, particularly those about their coffee and their locally sourced selection of Humble Pies. One of their most popular drinks is their cold brew, which pours from a tap similar to that of a nice, cold Guinness. Don’t be alarmed by the light color—it’s actually black coffee, but the compressed nitrogen used to keep it cold creates little bubbles that make it appear to already have cream in it.

The Shop is perfect for setting up a laptop and getting cozy with your neighbors on the bench-style seating. They even offer unlimited mug-o-coffee refills for the hard workers. My favorite seat is “the nook,” because it reminds me of Harry Potter’s cupboard underneath the stairs. It’s a human-sized cubby inside the side wall, hidden from view when one enters the shop. It’s a great place to read and disappear with a latte and a muffin.

coffee2I journeyed to The Shop not for coffee, however, but for hot chocolate. For the month of January, the owners are experimenting with different flavors of hot chocolates, and the first week was Peanut Butter, topped with a homemade marshmallow. It was so popular that by the time I arrived on a Saturday afternoon, they’d already sold out of all of the marshmallows they’d procured for the entire weekend. Nevertheless, my friend and I had to try it, and I must say: this hot chocolate was the mic drop of warm drinks. So sinfully delicious, it was like drinking a melted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I’m starting a rumor that the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate will become a permanent menu item in hopes that it will come true.

Down the corner and through the woods to South Main Street I went, arriving at Dave’s Coffee. The inside is an open design, very minimalist and modern, but simultaneously welcoming and warm. Dave’s is a member of Farm Fresh RI, a family owned business, and they roast their coffee by hand. They’re also known for their coffee syrup, which can be purchased in store and used to create Coffee Milk, ice cream toppings, and Twisted Old Fashioned’s.

I love Dave’s because they make the best latte in Providence: the Vanilla Bourbon Latte. I tend to shy away from espresso drinks because they are too strong for me, and I like my coffee to taste like cream and sugar, but this drink strikes an amazing balance of coffee, milk, and sweetness. Even though they offer other flavored lattes, I’m so smitten with Vanilla Bourbon I order it every time.

Unlike me, Miss Americana, my friend is Italian and takes her coffee that way. She opted for a Cortado — two shots espresso with a little bit of milk — and the micro-sip I sampled was enough to give me heart palpitations all day. We split a savory quiche — bacon, spinach, artichoke, and roasted red pepper — and my half was gone before my friend could even pick up her fork and knife. Next time, one of those hockey-puck sized chocolate chip cookies will share a similar fate.

coffee3The next stop: The Blind Tailor. I’d wondered about this coffee shop on my forays into downtown. It’s tucked away on a small street, across from Circe Restaurant and Bar and GoLocal Prov, and this is the most secret of the secret gems I found. I had no idea I would find “Irish” and “Mexican” options here (alcoholic coffee for only $5.00!). Plus, there’s a great selection of made-to-order paninis, so come for an afternoon-cap or for lunch.  I was surprised by how accommodating they were with their shots of liquor. Instead of simply spiking a regular coffee, I could order a decaf cappuccino with a shot of Frangelico. It was like Christmas came twice this year.

My final visit was to White Electric on the West Side. I met a friend after work, and I was surprised to find a packed house. The vibe is perfectly West Side, artsy and hipster, with posters and flyers covering the back wall and young professionals everywhere.  The menu items were surprisingly cheap, and they served my drink with a smile. Thankfully my friend arrived just in time to secure a table as two people left, and we caught up on work and life and the latest season of “The Bachelor.” Before I knew it, we were the last people in the café, and it was time to head home (most coffee shops in the area close at 6pm, but White Electric is open until 6:30pm).  To my grateful surprise, the barista called us over and offered us bakery items that hadn’t sold for the day: fresh breads, bagels, croissants. I could have hugged this woman. With a paper bag full of goodies, I left into the night without feeling even a trace of the winter cold.

The Shop: 460 Wickenden St, Fox Point

Dave’s Coffee: 341 South Main St, Providence

The Blind Tailor: 45 Weybosset St, Providence

White Electric Coffee Shop: 711 Westminster, West Side

One response to “Once Upon a Coffee Crawl”

  1. Makes me want to go to Providence!

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