Tag Archives: Coffee

Picture of the Week – Big Eastern!

Big Eastern Regional Barista & Brewers Cup

Tim Jones of Raleigh’s Jubala Village Coffee Competes at Big Eastern

This week’s picture captures some of the action that went down at the Big Eastern Barista & Brewers Cup regional coffee competition this past weekend at The Cotton Room in Durham. This event featured talented baristas from the entire east coast including a strong field of local competitors from the Triangle. I took the above picture while Tim Jones of Jubala Village Coffee in Raleigh was competing in the Barista competition. The huge crowd looked on while Tim presented his espresso drinks to the panel of judges. Tim did an incredible job and secured 4th place among the highly competitive field earning him a spot at the national barista competition to be held in Seattle this April. You can view the rest of my photos from The 2014 Big Eastern Barista & Brewers Cup Competition here.

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Sola Coffee & Cafe’ Introduces New Dinner Menu!


Sola for Dinner ~ Assorted Meats & Cheeses

If you follow me on instagram and twitter then you know I am no stranger to Sola Coffee & Café. They are one of my “go to” places for great coffee and espresso drinks in Raleigh. Yet my pictures of coffee and cool latte art only tell half of the story at Sola. Over the past year Sola has blossomed into a great café with a creative and ever growing food menu that now offers great options for the dinner crowd in addition to their already well known breakfast and lunch offerings.



Earlier this fall Sola introduced a new dinner menu featuring additional menu items diners can enjoy at their café after 5pm Mon-Sat. The new dinner menu features small plate items like meat and cheese boards with fresh fruit, nuts, olives and local honey, bruschetta, and new fresh salads and artisan pizzas. This is all in addition to their already fantastic menu of homemade soups and sandwiches that Sola continues to offer (along with their famous mini doughnuts which are always available!)


White Garden Pizza

If you follow Sola on facebook you will often catch updates about the homemade soups they offer, like this weeks vegetarian chili! My current favorite new menu item at Sola is the White Garden Pizza (pictured above) with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, spinach, pesto, basil and a flavorful balsamic glaze. As with all their menu items, the ingredients for the new dinner options are always fresh in addition to locally and regionally sourced whenever possible.


Local Beers & European Wines

With the addition of new food items, Sola has also started offering a select menu of locally brewed craft beers and several great European wines. I love the local beer scene in the Triangle and am thrilled to see Sola offering brews made by some of my favorite local places like LoneRider Brewery and Big Boss Brewery. If you are more of a wine drinker they have a nice selection of whites and reds to enjoy with dinner. I’m a big fan of gruner veltliner wines out of Austria. I find the spicy fruitiness and dry finish of a gruner makes for the perfect white wine to enjoy during the colder fall months.


Mixed Green Salad

If you have been following my blog recently you know I have been writing a bit about upcoming marathons and half marathons I am preparing for. Part of my training is about eating better and that includes eating more healthy salads. Fortunately I have found lots of great salads at Sola. I particularly enjoy their mixed green salad (shown above). It has a healthy portion of mixed greens along with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, almonds, red onion, and garbanzo beans. The homemade dressing is fantastic and is made using a secret recipe!



Of course, just because I am eating healthier these days doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a treat now and then. There are several sweet options to enjoy at Sola including yummy affogatos (espresso shot poured over a scoop of ice cream) or a slice of cheesecake or chocolate cake. They also now offer a gluten free apple crisp desert which I think is great. It is very yummy and I appreciate the fact they provide options for people with dietary restrictions looking for gluten free items.


Live Music at Sola

If you are looking for a fun date night location in North Raleigh check out the Live Music scene at Sola. They typically have live music each Friday and Saturday night starting around 7:30pm. I’ve heard everything from bluegrass and Jazz to Celtic music played at sola. It is great to see the community support great local artists and I love that there is a great place to grab dinner and hear live music in North Raleigh now on the weekends. Visit their events calendar to keep up to date on the live music schedule.

Sola Coffee_TriangleExplorer


Of course no matter when you visit Sola you can always enjoy a great coffee or espresso drink. My current drink of choice is the cappuccino. I always make sure I leave room for coffee after dinner! To learn more about Sola and keep up to date on their special events and new menu items visit their website and follow them on facebook.

Make sure you stop by Sola this week and pick up your free invite to their “Thank You Raleigh” celebration scheduled for this Sunday, November 17th. The invite is good for one free drink at the event – donations will be accepted to support the Friends of Guardian ad Litem Program of Wake County and the children they represent.

Sola Coffee & Cafe
7705 Lead Mine Road
Raleigh, NC 27615

Website: http://solacoffee.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/solacoffee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SolaCoffeeCafe
Twitter: @SolaCoffee


Filed under Coffee, Raleigh, Restaurant Reviews

Picture of the Week – Morning visit to Yellow Dog Bread Company in Raleigh


I snapped this week’s photo yesterday during my early morning visit to the new Yellow Dog Bread Company. Yellow Dog is located in the redeveloped strip mall located at the corner of Franklin & Person Street in downtown Raleigh. This area is undergoing an incredible revitalization and is quickly becoming a hot spot of local activity downtown. While I typically pick up a baked good during my visits, on this particular morning I stopped in for a quick cappuccino made by my friend and local coffee aficionado AJ. Yellow Dog uses beans from Lamplighter Roasting Co. out of Richmond, VA and the drink AJ crafted for me with their espresso was fantastic.

I’ve made several visit to Yellow Dog in recent weeks to try their various breads, cookies, and other baked goods and plan on sharing a full overview in a featured post on the blog in the very near future. In the meantime make sure you check this place out. It is quickly becoming one of my weekly “must visit” spots!


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Coffee & Community – A Visit to Raleigh Coffee Company

Raleigh Coffee Company

Raleigh Coffee Company Roasting Facility

Did you know there is a great local coffee roaster located right here in North Raleigh? It’s called Raleigh Coffee Company and they are creating some excellent coffee roasts and making a big impact on the local coffee community here in the Triangle. I first tried their coffee this past winter through the Raleigh Coffee Club and have since become a big fan of their roasts. Overtime I started following them on their social media feeds through twitter and facebook and grew to appreciate how they both support the local community and strive to educate the consumer about coffee in a friendly and approachable way.

Raleigh Coffee Company

The Coffee Roaster

Raleigh Coffee Company’s roasting facility is tucked away in very cool nook behind the retail space of North Raleigh Meat House in the Quail Corners shopping center along Falls of Neuse Road. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to stop by their headquarters and talk to Raleigh Coffee Company founder and owner Joe Bland. I went there hoping to learn more about the coffee he is roasting and his mission to bring great coffee to the community and foster the local coffee culture in the Triangle. I left there with my head filled with new coffee knowledge and feeling inspired by what this company represents.


Raleigh Coffee Company Owner Joe Bland Roasting Coffee Beans

Joe started Raleigh Coffee Company back in 2012 after spending years home roasting and tweaking coffee profiles in his spare time. He initially sold his coffee through an online store, but as his customer base grew he obtained the space at the Meat House to roast out of to increase production to meet the increased demand. Since then he has already started selling his coffee at various retail locations and restaurants & cafes throughout the Triangle.

Raleigh Coffee Company Equipment

Raleigh Coffee Company Equipment

It was great to hang out in this space surrounded by all the coffee equipment and get a better understanding of how a small local roaster operates. Joe was great and took time to explain to me the process he goes through to obtain quality beans and the nuances of working with the coffee roaster to get the timing and temperature just right to develop the desired flavor profile. But making great coffee is just part of the mission.

Pulling a Shot of Espresso

Pulling a Shot of Espresso

On the morning I stopped by Joe was roasting up some Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. This coffee can be described as complex with fruity notes. It is naturally processed coffee. Naturally processed coffees typically have heavier mouthfeel, lower acidity levels and intense, exotic flavor profiles. He also had some Tanzania coffee he had roasted the day before. The Tanzania is a bolder earthy coffee that makes a great espresso with bright notes of lemon and dark chocolate making for what Joe described as a multi-layered orange, lemon, and chocolate espresso shot.

Espresso & Pour Over Coffee

Espresso & Pour Over Coffee

Joe used some of these beans to create a pour over coffee as well as shots of espresso to demonstrate how the different methods highlighted the coffee differently. He also gave me a sample of the beans to experiment with at home and I made some incredible iced coffee with the Yirgacheffe using my AeroPress. In addition to the Tanzania and Yirgacheffee, Raleigh Coffee Company also roast coffee from Costa Rica, Guatemala, and even offers a Honduras decaf.

Pouring out some delicious Ethiopia Yergicheffe

Pouring out some delicious Ethiopia Yergicheffe

Raleigh Coffee Company is also very active in the community and spearhead different “Bean Projects” throughout the year. These projects are initiative designed to generate support for charitable causes through funding for inspiring ideas and needs locally, nationally, and globally.

In February Raleigh Coffee Company teamed up with Love Wins Ministries for a Valentines Day coffee and coffee bag special. $5 from each bag went to benefit the homelessness in Raleigh. This past June, Joe and his friends created Team RCC – a team of 20 athletes that competed in the Ironman Raleigh 70.3 triathlon. The team used the event to help raise money for the “We Build People” campaign for the Triangle YMCA to help fund scholarships, for kids of all ages, to attend a multi-sport summer camp.

Coffee Equipment

Coffee Equipment

There are also two future projects planned for later this year. This Fall Raleigh Coffee Company will serve coffee alongside some greatest local chefs in Raleigh at the American Cancer Society’s “Raleigh Roundup” event on October 19th at Marbles Museum. Then this winter they will have a Christmas Bean Project. A big initiative to help raise money for Help One Now. The funds will go towards a playground for a community in Haiti.

Raleigh Coffee Company

Raleigh Coffee Company

I truly enjoy the Triangle’s great local coffee scene and feel fortunate to have a great local roaster in our community like the one Joe has created with Raleigh Coffee Company. I highly recommend you pick up a bag of their beans or stop by one of the local cafes & restaurants serving their coffee and give it a try.

Raleigh Coffee Company

Raleigh Coffee Company

You can currently find Raleigh Coffee Company coffee being served at the Undergrounds Café in the NC Museum of History in downtown Raleigh, Grounds in downtown Cary, the Cowfish restaurant in North Hills, and the Village Deli in Wake Forest. Bags of their coffee beans can be purchased at The Meat House in Raleigh and Cary.

For more pictures from my visit my Raleigh Coffee Company check out my flickr photo album.

Raleigh Coffee Company
Website: www.raleighcoffeecompany.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RaleighCoffeeCompany
Twitter: @RaleighCoffeeCo


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Latte Art Throwdown at Jubala Village Coffee in North Raleigh ~ February 28th 7pm!


Local baristas pouring latte art

It is time once again to cheer on the Triangle’s most talented baristas as they put their skills to the ultimate test at the next Thursday Night Throwdown (TNT) latte art competition this Thursday, February 28th at 7pm. The event is hosted by Counter Culture Coffee and the great people at Jubala Village Coffee in Raleigh. As always, these throwdowns are a celebration of the local coffee culture and feature the areas best barsitas from the many great local coffee shops throughout the the Triangle. It is a friendly competition open to all (cost $5 to enter) and is free to watch.


Example of latte art: The Rosetta

What is a Latte Art Throwdown?

This is how it works: baristas put their names in a hat and are selected at random to go head to head creating espresso coffee drinks featuring identical latte art designs which are then compared against each other and judged by a three person panel made up of local coffee experts. Judging is typically based on four categories:

1) Aesthetic Beauty

2) Definition

3) Color Infusion

4) Degree of Difficulty and Creativity

photo 1

The New La Marzocco Strada Espresso Machine at Jubala Village Coffee!

The winner moves on to the next round to compete again until an ultimate champion is crowned. The purpose of a throwdown is to cultivate a coffee culture that respects presentation and quality – and of course having a fun time doing it! The winning barista not only wins bragging rights, but he/she also wins some great prizes! This month’s throwdown will be particularly special as baristas will be working with Jubala’s new espresso machine, the La Marzocco Strada! This machine is special in that it allows the baristas to manipulate the amount of pressure pushed through the coffee which can result in different qualities being pulled out of the bean leading to different flavors being expressed.


TNT Event Details

– Date/Time: Thursday February 28th 7-9pm

– Location: Jubala Village Coffee – 8450 Honeycutt Road – Raleigh, NC

– Open to the public

– $5 for baristas to enter the competition

photo 2

Cortado paired with Jubala’s famous biscuit & Big Spooners peanut butter!

Jubala Village Coffee Wins Square Wallet Challenge!
In case you missed it, earlier this month Jubala was announced as a winner of the Square Wallet Challenge by Visa. Jubala was one of only twenty small businesses in the US to win this award. Square Wallet is a moblie payment application for customers that enables them to find neighborhood businesses and pay using only their phone. Congratulations Jubala!

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