Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Low Down Purr and Sweet Sugar Finish at Coffee Labs, Slave to the Grind, Noka Joe's

Years after I first spurned the snap jawed caffeine buzz of the roasted bean in favor of the tranquil fermentation of tea, and months into a downward spiral of a lowbrow tooth-to-gutter descent that landed me in Dunkin Donuts coffee, The WesFoodie has rediscovered the full bodied joys of the high priestess of darkness. And in public places. In the suburbs. No, I don’t mean Jeannine Pirro or her husband’s mistress. For this rapidly aging, stomach bulging, sleep deprived, tied to a desk, blind-in-one-eye-from-staring-at-the-glow-of-a-computer-screen Burbanite who still needs more hours in the day to get some work done and assure his kids that daddy hasn’t gone bye-bye like great grandpa, a dark and tempting priestess up high means up-market coffee, of course. And it is to the heights of coffee that I once again turn in my time of need for an energy substitute with kick.

Earlier, The WesFoodie famously described the downward arc of my coffee palate (well, not famously, but not entirely in obscurity either – the article is Number One on Google for “Westchester Food’s Dark Master” and it’s good to be number one). That was a tale of the descent of taste in the age of caffeine frenzy, or how I went from drinking a really great cup of coffee to slurping down fast food Styrofoam cups of light roasts. No more! The devolution had to stop somewhere! And that place turned out to be the crowded, fluorescent lighted, road side Dunkin Donuts near Highway One where I was served my forth or fifth consecutive cup of dastardly sour and burned brew with too little sugar and too much cold light cream. “This is terrible” I said with frowning puckered lips and pain squinted eyes. I didn’t even finish the cup.

Cue up the Pearl Jam, its back to the bean roasters for The WesFoodie! I’m getting back on that gussied up oil laden engine of brew with the low down purr and sweet sugar finish. It’s good to be on top of my coffee game again. From up here you can see the caffeine highway cutting a ribbon of speed through drowsy afternoon hills. It looks like alls go from here on in.

Lo and behold, it turns out that there are not just one but at least three really great coffee bars in Westchester. And there are some not so great ones. I’ll stick to the good stuff:

Coffee Labs Roasters on Main Street in Tarrytown has what is to my taste the best brew in the Burbs. One sip of the deep, balanced roasted cup and my mouth comes alive with the multi-note flavor of the bean. It’s like an old friend. A sip, and . . . “hello old friend bean,” mellow giver of jolt. And just three more sips of the stuff and I had enough energy to walk to the corner again (even with my five year old clutching onto my leg at once begging for and demanding another pretend light saber battle). Thank you old friend.

A new favorite is Noka Joe’s in Katonah. Their’s is a rich brew with heavy body and a slight bite of bitter at the finish. Unlike many coffee bars that self-connect to the hipster parlors of earlier years with a dark lighted nod to the Beats, Noka Joe’s feels right at home in Katonah with its small town feel and preference for friendly, never alienated, hip gilding. Perks, another local coffee bar (also good), down the avenue from Noka Joe’s gilds it up a bit more.

Another uber coffee spot is Slave to the Grind in Bronxville. With a steady influx of Sarah Lawrence students, this coffee house feels young and out-of-the-ordinary in its staid Bronxville environs. Slave has been serving up good strong cups of dark roasts for years and they have kept the quality high. There isn’t much seating but it’s the kind of place that lets you hangout forever once you’ve grabbed a table. I’m not sure what grinding the locals are slavish about but this place makes a nice strong cup of brew.

Coffee Labs Roasters
7 Main Street
(914) 332-1479

Slave to the Grind
58 Pondfield Road
(914) 961-8622

Noka Joe’s
25 Katonah Avenue
(914) 232-7278


Jennifer said...

This is Jennifer, the owner of NoKa Joe's, one of the three coffee shops recommended in Jack's article.

Thanks, Jack! I'm a new business and it is very satisifying to know that I'm doing it right! Anyone who reads this...come on down and taste our coffee--it is delicious.

Cheers, all!
Warmly, Jennifer

WesFoodie said...

Glad to have you as a reader Jennifer. Love the coffee!!!! Everyone needs to get a cup of the NoKa Joe!

Anonymous said...

Followed your link about Yvonne's over here. Like what you are doing!