June 24, 2014 · 9:34 am
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 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)
May 19, 2013 · 7:14 am
Jitters Coffee ~ Cary, NC
Update: Jitters is now closed. The owners have opened up a coffee shop at a new location called Racin Java in Fuquay Varina. Visit their facebook page here.
I love to explore locally owned coffee shops in the Triangle and recently my coffee adventures took me to a unique little drive thru coffee shop in Cary called Jitters Coffee. Jitters is located in the entrance to the Food Lion shopping center parking lot off Kildaire Farm road just outside of downtown Cary. There are two things that make this little coffee shop so unique. The first is that it is a drive-thru coffee business that operates out of what I would describe as a coffee “hut”. You pull up to Jitters in your car and a friendly barista takes your order, creates your drink and hands it to you through a window. The second thing is Jitters is the only place in Cary that serves locally roasted Carrboro Coffee.
Jitters Latte made with Carrboro Coffee
Don’t let the small size of Jitters fool you. They offer a full selection of coffee and espresso drinks that rivals the menu of any larger coffee shop. They even have fruit smoothies and a host of flavored shots to add to your favorite hot or cold beverage and offer various seasonal specialty drinks throughout the year. Their menu even features a frozen espresso drink called a “Granita” which is similar to a frappe but has a lot less calories. I had a sample of their Granita on my first visit and it was delicious. Of course my two favorite coffee drinks are lattes and cortados, and on this occasion I had a perfectly crafted latte (pictured above) and it even had some cool latte art action going on.
The Drive-Thru Window at Jitters
Jitters has been serving the faithful coffee crowd in Cary for several years now but is under new Management as of October 2012. That’s when local residents Jennifer Vaaler and Brett Coleman took over the business. Since taking the reigns, Jennifer & Brett have brought new inspiration to Jitters by offering locally roasted Carrboro Coffee, which is one of my favorite coffee roasters – their espresso is amazing! They have also been updating the landscaping around the coffee hut by planting a cool little garden out front surrounding the larger than life coffee mug fountain. They even added some cool tropical banana plants along the backside of the hut making Jitters feel and look like a little coffee oasis.
Jitters ~ A Coffee Oasis!
When it comes to great coffee spots, it is the little things the count. For example, while I was at Jitters taking pictures I saw several regulars pull up, Jenn & Brett knew them by name and began making them their “usual” drinks without even having to be asked. A neat little finishing touch on each hot drink is an easy to remove lady bug sticker on the “to go” cup lid to keep the steam in and the coffee warm. I highly recommend local coffee fans check out Jitters if you are looking for a new place to grab your coffee on the go or just want to try something new. I think you will be glad you did!
(Jitters is open 6:30am until 4pm Monday through Friday, 8am-3pm Saturday, and closed Sundays.)
920 Kildaire Farm Road
Cary, NC 27511
October 8, 2012 · 10:52 am
Respite Cafe in Durham, NC
This month my tour of the great local coffee scene takes me to Durham for a visit to Respite Cafe. Respite is a relatively new coffee shop in downtown Durham owned and operated by local resident and Duke alumnus Courtney Brown. The Cafe is conveniently located along Duke Street just around the Corner from Brightleaf Square (map).
I have had Respite on my radar for a while now and was fortunate enough to pay several visits over the past few months. I find the cafe’ to be a great place to relax and recharge whenever I am over in Durham exploring downtown.
Respite is housed in a building constructed back in 1929 and its interior is a little different than what you typically see in other local coffee shops, with its blue and white painted walls and original black & white checkerboard tile floor. However, the style fits the building perfectly and breathes new life into its space by creating a cafe with a 1920’s vibe infused with a modern touch. I find the interior calming and relaxing making it a great spot for catching up on work while enjoying my coffee.
Comfy Seating Options
There are several different seating options in the cafe, ranging from large tables that seat 4-5 people to cozy table tops, and comfy couches for relaxing along the window and in a smaller more private alcove in the back of the cafe. Their is even a small meeting room in the back that can be reserved for study groups or business meetings. On my more recent visits I’ve noticed Respite is a popular destination for Duke students . However, although it is a great place for studying it is also a great place for relaxing and conversation, lending the space more towards a community “living room” vibe in general which I like.
Respite serves locally roasted Carrboro Coffee which is one of my favorite local coffee roasters. Their high quality beans make for incredible espresso drinks that I find to be rich and well balanced. The organic homeland creamery milk Respite uses to make their lattes, my favorite drink, gives them a silky smooth texture that I love. Respite offers a full line of coffee and specialty espresso drinks. You can purchase coffees prepared via various different methods including traditional pour-overs and the Chemex method. In addition to great coffee, they also serve an extensive offering of 20+ different organic teas from Rishi Tea.
Incredible Baked Goods from Local Vendors
Complimenting the great coffee and tea at Respite are the abundant local food products they sell. This is one of the great highlights of the shop. Their pastry shelves are always filled with offerings from local and regional bakers including some amazing deserts from the people at Crumb in Raleigh that can be best described as edible works of art. Other baked goods featured are Kelly G’s cupcakes from Carrboro and Kismet artisan crackers from Durham. I’ve also recently learned that respite now also offers gluten free vegan baked goods from Zen Cat Bakery, cookies from Kukia’s Cookies, and gourmet popcorn from Durham’s own Mad Popper. Offerings vary weekly but there are always lots of great food options to pair with your drink. You can view a full list of their locally sourced products on their website here.
Lots of Natural Lighting Provided by Windows
I enjoy coffee shops that feature a lot of natural lighting and love all the windows at Respite that look out along the sidewalk and Duke Street. It allows for natural sunlight to pour into the shop giving it warm feel that helps create a nice transition from the quite interior to the hustle and bustle of the outside world. On my visits I often found myself staring out the window daydreaming as I watched the world pass by as people make their way to work and class. This is exactly why I like spending time in a coffee shop like this. It isn’t just about getting in and out with a great cup of coffee, it is also about the experience and taking time to enjoy your surroundings.
I think Respite is a great addition to the blossoming local coffee scene in the Triangle and look forward to visiting them again the next time I explore Durham. Respite’s Falls/Winter hours are 8am-8pm Monday through Saturday. For more information about Respite check out their website and facebook page or follow them on twitter at @Respite Cafe.
Filed under Coffee, Durham, Restaurant Reviews
Tagged as Cafe, Carrboro Coffee, Coffee, Coffee Shop, Crumb, Downtown Durham, Duke Street, Durham, Espresso, Gluten Free, Homeland Creamery, Kelly G's Cupckaes, Kismet, Kukia's Cookies, Latte, Mad Popper, Respite Cafe, Vegan, Zan Cat Bakery