Tag Archives: Coffee

Picture of the Week: Bean Traders in Durham

Bean Traders opened in the Homestead Market on Highway 54 in Durham back in 2000 and it continues to be mainstay of the local coffee scene. It is one of those coffee shops that I just don’t get to as often as I would like, but fall in love with it every time I visit. They roast their own coffee beans, have a creative drink menu, and offer an  impressive assortment of food items like waffles, homemade pies, and my personal favorite …. dark chocolate sea salt cookies.

A little over a year ago the shop expanded into the space next door and revamped its layout adding a lot of additional seating and a bigger coffee bar island to serve its droves of faithful customers. I usually go on the weekends when it can be quite busy, but the line always moves quickly and the space has a relaxing vibe making it a great spot to spend a Saturday morning nursing a warm mug of fresh coffee and people watching.

When you visit there is a pretty good chance you will run into the owners Christy and David both baking things for the shop and working the espresso machine. To learn more about their story and how they first met check out this great article in Durham Magazine. In the meantime add Bean Traders to your list of places to check out the next time you are in the Southpoint Mall area of Durham. Be sure to try their cold brew, it is some of the best around!

Bean Traders
105 W NC Highway 54
Durham, NC

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Jubala Village Coffee Now Open on Hillsborough Street


Jubala Village Coffee will always be a special place to me. I was so excited when their first location opened in Lafayette Village back in 2011. I had my very first pour over coffee experience there and loved spending time at the coffee bar talking to the baristas about the different types of coffees they were brewing. I’ve always been impressed with the quality of the coffee and service Jubala provided, so I was thrilled when I learned of their plans to open a second location on Hillsborough Street in the Aloft Hotel on Hillsborough Street.


The new location opened last Friday and I of course had to stop by that morning to check it out. It was great to see the community out in full force to welcome Jubala to the neighborhood. The crowd was buzzing and I even saw several regulars from the North Raleigh shop. The Hillsborough space has a different layout than the original location. The baristas operate out of a central island located with two espresso machines – one for “stay” orders and the other “to go”. Seating is located to one side and behind the bar area and in front of the kitchen.


One wall is adorned with a beautiful walnut wood that forms into bench providing seating for several tables along the wall. There is also a communal table and several additional tables and counter seating behind the bar. One of my favorite things about the new space is the view into the kitchen which. You will be able to find many of the original shops food menu items at the new location, but keep an eye out for additional items in the future as they use the bigger kitchen space to expand on their food offerings.

Jubala Coffee

Like the original location the new shop also uses Counter Culture Coffee roasted just down the road in Durham. In addition to great espresso drinks you can get individual pour overs and they have also added a carefully calibrated drip method brewing system for those needing to grab coffee on the go. The new location is located at 2100 Hillsborough Street at the base of the Aloft Hotel (across the street from the NCSU Bell Tower). Starting out the they will be open 7am to 5pm seven day a week. Starting February 22nd they will extend their evening hours closing at 9pm on weekdays and 5pm on weekends.

Jubala Village Coffee
2100 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC

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Local Coffee: Back Alley Coffee Roasters

Back Alley Coffee Roasters – Wake Forest, NC

Did you know there is a new coffee roaster in the Triangle?  Back Alley Coffee Roasters is a small batch roaster located just north of Wake Forest in Youngsville, NC. Back Alley was started by local resident Tracy McKenzie after 10 years of home roasting and sharing his coffee with friends. I recently had the pleasure of sampling three of Back Alley’s current offerings with coffee from (Kenya, Ethiopia, and Costa Rica). I enjoyed experimenting with all three using the traditional drip, pour over and the AeroPress method. All three coffees arrived extremely fresh (just roasted days prior) and I found each made for a unique and delicious cup of coffee. The Costa Rica made for a clean cup with a smooth finish, while the Ethiopian features I slightly earthier sweeter flavor. The Kenyan was the darkest of the three roasts and I found that in addition to a great pour-over it worked great for pulling shots of espresso to make a full bodied cappuccino.

Pour Over w/ Back Alley’s Kenya Coffee

So where does the name “Back Alley Roasters” come from? As Tracy explains it, after learning of his love for coffee and several requests from coworkers one day he did a little roasting demonstration for his colleagues at work. He set up in the alleyway between two office buildings at work and while the smoke billowed from the roasting beans, they talked about the finer points of roasting over pour over coffees. Someone came out of the building and warned them that the bass was going to hear all the commotion to which somebody replied “We’re just roasting in the Back Alley!” and hence the name of Back Alley Coffee Roasters was born!


Ethiopia – Costa Rica – Kenya
Back Alley Coffee Roasters

For now Back Alley Coffee can be ordered through their online shop at backalleyroasters.com or by emailing Tracy directly at  tracy (at) backalleyroasters (dot) com. As an added bonus deliveries in the Wake Forest area are free and shipping is available to other areas. I suspect you will also soon be able to find their coffee in select retail locations in the Wake Forest area in 2015. In the meantime, to learn more about Back Alley Coffee Roasters and order some of their coffee beans visit their website here. Happy brewing!

Back Alley Coffee Roasters – Wake Forest, NC
website: http://www.backalleyroasters.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/backalleyroasters
twitter: @backalleycoffee
instagram: @Back_Alley_Roasters


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Yellow Dog Bread Hosts Latte Art Throwdown June 26th


Yellow Dog Bread Company in downtown Raleigh is set to host this month’s Triangle “Thursday Night Throwdown” (TNT) latte art competition this Thursday at 7:30pm. During the event local baristas will compete head to head creating beautiful latte art that will be evaluated by a panel of three judges. The public is invited to attend an enjoy the show. Jenny Bonchak of Slingshot Coffee Co. and Chef Scott Crawford from the soon to be Standard Foods have been announced as judges. A third “mystery judge” will be revealed on Thursday night.


AJ Viola Creating Latte Art

The purpose of these friendly competitions is to cultivate a coffee culture that respects presentation and quality coffee drinks and provides an opportunity for the local coffee community to come together and have some fun! They are also entertaining to attend. In addition to free/pretty lattes (attendees can drink the lattes created during the competition), there will be House made baguette pizzas and local beer from Raleigh Brewing.

Latte Art

Latte art is typically judged based on four criteria: balance and symmetry, use of space, color contrast and definition, and overall impression.  The judges compare the appearance of drinks based on these factors and decide which barista will move on to the next round. After several rounds of competition, the field is narrowed down to two baristas to face off one last time to crown the ultimate champion of the evening.

Yellow Dog Bread Co. ~ Raleigh, NC

If you haven’t been to one of these events I highly recommend you stop by Thursday night to check out Yellow Dog Bread and watch some of the throwdown. If you share any pictures on twitter of instagram be sure to tag them with the hashtag #TriangleTNT. Thursday’s throwdown is open to the public, free to attend and just $5 to compete.

Yellow Dog Bread Co.
219 East Franklin Street – Raleigh, NC (map)
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yellowdogbread
twitter: @yellowdogbread
instagram: @yellowdogbread

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A Visit to La Farm Bakery in Cary


La Farm Bakery & Cafe ~ Cary, NC

I’ve had La Farm Bakery in Cary on my radar for some time now but for one reason or another I just simply have never had the opportunity to visit. As a lover of bread I just couldn’t let this go on. I finally visited this wonderful local bakery a few weeks ago and now that I have experienced first hand the fantastic breads, coffee and lunch in their cafe La Farm will now be a regular stop for me each time I am in Cary.

Master Baker Lionel Vatinet

La Farm Bakery introduced Cary and the greater Triangle area to their quality breads back in 1999. The bakery is the realization of a lifelong dream for Lionel Vatinet, a distinguished Master Baker and one of the most sought-after bread consultants in America. Located at Preston Corners Shopping Center on Cary Parkway, La Farm is a modern bakery that continues to respect and honor the centuries-old baking traditions and techniques Vatinet learned in his native France.

Fresh breads prepped for baking

During my visit I toured the bakery to learn more about how they create their fresh baked breads. I was pleased to learn that La Farm uses local products whenever possible. This includes using local flour from Carolina Ground in Asheville, connecting the farmer, miller and baker. I also learned that in April they installed a new MiWi “Ideal” deck oven that came all the way from Germany. With its precise temperature settings and six baking decks La Farm is able to step up their already impressive production to meet the ever increasing demand for their breads.

Bread display

As soon as you walk in the door there is a wonderful of array of breads and baked goods on display. La Farm typically offers around 15 different standard breads daily with 20 seasonal breads and baked treats added to the mix throughout the year. They feature a special bread each month. I visited on the last day they were offering the popular Jalapeno Cheddar Bread. June’s featured bread is a Pepperoni Cheddar Bread. I must go back and try this soon!

Sampling breads w/ Master Baker Lionel Vatinet

I had the opportunity to sit down with Lionel to sample some breads and learn more about the process of baking the different styles of breads they offer. Lionel has dedicated his life’s work to teaching the art & science of bread baking and I was very impressed by his warm and friendly interactions with customers and how he takes the time to explain his craft. I could tell that while the focus of the bakery is on the bread he also strives to educate the consumer. He regularly holds baking classes at both at La Farm and at his home and just recently published his first book “A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker.”


The “La Farm”

One of my favorite breads was a large crusty loaf called the “La Farm”. This 5-lb boule is Lionel Vatinet’s signature bread, developed following his tour in France, working with masters across the country. This bread combines several different types of flour, including local, organic ‘Carolina Ground’ flour. Lionel explained that in years past, families in small villages throughout France would visit community ovens to bake breads for the week. The “La Farm” bread pays homage to that time.


It is also no secret that I love a good espresso and I never miss a chance to enjoy a drink while visiting a cafe for the first time. It makes me very happy that La Farm offers excellent coffee and espresso drinks using locally roasted Counter Culture Coffee. The coffee isn’t just an afterthought either. It is well prepared by trained baristas. I had a great cappuccino when I first arrived and just sat back to take in the in the bustling scene at the bakery.

Croque Monsieur

Learning about bread makes me hungry so I made sure I had lunch before the end of my first visit to La Farm. The cafe side of the bakery offers a wide variety of French and American-inspired sandwiches, salads, soups and entrees featuring artisan breads; for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. Some of the most popular items are the Croque Madame or the Quiche du Jour. My sandwich was excellent and I am now looking forward to going back for brunch to try the French toast!

White Chocolate Baguette

One other important note. Before my visit everyone I spoke to mentioned I should try La Farm’s White Chocolate Baguette. Since bread and chocolate are two of my most favorite things in the world I had a hunch I would like it. Let’s just say the baguette lives up to the hype and is definite “must try” for any visitor to the bakery.


Lionel signing his book for a customer

Don’t be like me, don’t wait nine years to visit La Farm. It is a real gem of the Triangle and a fun place to take out of town guests. If my visit has left you inspired to learn more about the bread making process visit make sure you attend their open house on June 21st. See details below:

Bread Bakers Guild of America Open House – June 21st.
Master Baker Lionel Vatinet of La Farm Bakery will host his second annual Bread Bakers Guild of America Open House at La Farm Bakery on June 21st from 3pm to 4pm. He’ll offer behind-the-scene tours of the bakery, followed by a bread shaping demo, and the opportunity to practice shaping dough by hand. Following the demo, guests will have 20 minutes to learn from Lionel’s European bread shaping techniques and practice with their own dough, which they’ll take home to bake. Many of Lionel’s breads will be sampled throughout the afternoon.

This event is free, and all are welcome. RSVP to Rachel Siegel at Rachel.Siegel@lafarmbakery.com or call 919-459-8336.

La Farm Bakery
4248 NW Cary Parkway – Cary, NC
website: http://www.lafarmbakery.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaFarm
twitter: @lafarmcary


Filed under Bakery, Restaurant Reviews