By Judy Garrison
Someone approaches you on the street in Andes, and asks “where can I get a cup of coffee?” or it might be “a coffee to go” or “a good cup of coffee.” Sometimes there’s only one place open, and it’s easy. Other times the answer is “it depends”. I decided to do a little local research and find out what’s being brewed in the coffee department in Andes.
Maria Henderson at Cassie’s Kitchen told me they are carrying on the tradition introduced by previous owner, Nate Seals. He began serving Paul de Lima 100% Columbian coffee because he felt it was a better brew than what had been offered previously. According to Maria, the new brand was “voted in” by the regular morning coffee drinkers despite the fact that it would mean a higher price per cup. They were willing to pay for the enhanced flavor of these beans, which are ground on the premises. A cup is $1.25, with unlimited refills. A lot of coffee is drunk in this “coffee shop” and new pots are constantly being made. Cassie’s also offers a Columbian decaf.
Rosalie Glauser of The Slow Down Café, open weekends until spring, and then more often, is proud of their coffees, which are mostly organic, single origin, several fair trade, and shipped freshly roasted to order from a small roasting house in Massachusetts. Slow Down sells their whole bean coffees by the pound, and will also grind to order. Their cappuccinos (made with steamed milk and just a little foam), macchiatos (more milk in the ratio), lattes and café au lait (no foam) are made with dark roasted espresso. If you want a regular coffee you can choose between the coffees of the day which will come from Sumatra, Mexico, Guatemala or East Timor. A French roast decaf is also available. The milk used in the cappuccino is bottled-on-the-farm milk from a single farm in the Finger Lakes. Whether drinking in or taking out you can ask for small, medium or large. Prices range from $1.25 to $3.50 depending on type and size.
Don Hogan told me about his route to his current supplier, the Binghamton Coffee Company, which sells fresh roasted, small batch 100% Columbian coffee beans at a lower price than his previous supplier. Although less expensive, Don feels that these beans are of a superior quality. In fact, he recently upgraded to a still higher quality, while maintaining the current price. The regular comes in bean form, the others (hazelnut, French vanilla and decaf) are pre-ground. Hogan’s sells about 100 cups a day, though he would like to sell even more to go with the pastries they are baking on the premises. He instructs his staff to replenish frequently and he points out that the air pot, in which the coffee is kept warm, is not “cooking” while it sits, so the coffee retains the fresh flavor. A large (16 ounce) cup costs just $1.25 and you may add milk or half-and-half in addition to choices of sweeteners. Hogan’s will also sell a pound for $7.99, either whole beans or ground. When you see the lights on in the morning, even if it’s 5:30 (before official opening), that’s the signal that coffee is being made. So come on in and have a cup, Don urges, or take it “to go”.
Ever wonder why the coffee at The Andes Hotel is so good? It may not be the “main event” but the O’Neills pay the same close attention to its quality as they do to their food. Here’s what Sally O’Neill reports: “Since 2004 we have been sourcing our coffee and espresso from Jamie Weldon of Strategic Direction, a small distributor out of New York City. Jamie is a veteran of 25 years in the coffee industry with a grass roots approach to getting great quality coffee into establishments all over the East coast The coffee is a 100% Arabica blend made up of 40% Central American, 40% Columbian and 20% Brazilian coffees, roasted to order and shipped from the Ironbound section in Newark, New Jersey.” The Hotel grinds the beans for each individual pot of coffee to ensure freshness. “The coffee machine we use,” says Sally” is thermal-based as opposed to one with glass pots and burners which protects against burning the coffee. Strategic Directions also provides us with imported espresso for espresso and cappuccino, which comes directly from a roaster in Italy.”
Coffee is all about relaxing with conversation, so if you don’t already belong to a coffee klatch at Cassie’s, assemble one or join the counter crowd, get into a more continental mode at Slow Down, have coffee with your Sunday brunch, or lunch or dinner at the Hotel, or retreat with friends into the back room at Hogan’s. All of these eateries have a variety of teas, black and herbal, as well, and, of course, pastries and other delicious food items.
I may now know too much to give a simple answer. But, yes I can. I can say, all the Andes restaurants pay close attention to their sources and are proud of their coffee. Raise your cups to coffee in Andes. ~