I had the opportunity to combine a lunch stop, café review, and good fellowship in Price Hill today. I had heard great things about this shop from some friends…the Corner BLOC Cafe.
Becky just prepared La Armonia Hermosa for us with their spectacular pour-over setup. Seriously, this setup is the first thing that caught my eye as we walked into the shop. I naturally look for the espresso machine first, but the hand-crafted system of copper pipes, glass drippers, and antique drip tray so caught my attention.
Since they get their beans from the same roaster I patronize in Northside (La Terza), I was already familiar with the 3 bean selections they were offering. Choosing this beautifully harmonious bean from Guatemala was sure to be a good “drip” coffee experience. And that is exactly what happened. Drinking coffee brewed in this way is quickly becoming my favorite means of experiencing the glory that is coffee. Fresh. Aromatic. Balanced flavors. Aesthetic experience. I’m already a fan of the BLOC regardless of how the rest of this little “review” goes. (just being up front with my bias, eh?!)
Drip Coffee Score: 5 out of 5 stars
Dropping in on a café during the “down” time has been my usual habit. The baristas have a little more time to chat and share information about their coffee, espresso, etc. My campus ministry buddy & friend, Aaron Klinefelter, was with me and he addressed the barista by name so we had a jumpstart on the conversation with Becky. She was very welcoming in her demeanor and explanations. You would think this is a given when it comes to baristas but it’s surprising how many are actually not that personable or hospitable with customers. And way too many baristas have a pretty condescending tone as they “educate” you.
Besides the great conversation with Becky, we were impressed with the space. There was plenty of seating, free wifi, and a good mix of tunes playing in the background. I don’t know much about the Price Hill community, but I’m sure the blocks surrounding this café are enhanced by the presence of this BLOC. We also had the treat of meeting Dwight, the director of BLOC ministries which has developed this space and community concept.
Hospitality Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
My expectations are high from the beautiful two-group Elektra. I have not-so-secretly coveted this machine ever since it was sitting on the bar at Brutopia on Ludlow. So let’s see what Becky can get out of this beauty. She too has a history with Starbucks (as I do) but she has obviously overcome those challenges (Ha, ha!) and learned the art of hand-crafted espresso. The shot was nearly perfect. The only problem was that it left my demitasse to quickly. Maybe I needed a triple.
Most cafes serve an underextracted (“short”) shot of espresso which starts blonding almost immediately in the brewing process. There’s often very little crema which often offers the sweetness and balance that espresso needs in the cup. None of these problems were issues at the BLOC today. The only issues which kept this from being a perfect “5” was that the shot was slightly long and didn’t quite yield a full 2 ounces of ‘spro…but that is being very nit-picky, I know!!
Espresso Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The first sign of good things was that Becky didn’t ask me what size I wanted. A cappuccino by definition (at least an authentic cappuccino) is a certain size…about 6 to 8 ounces of perfectly blended espresso, steamed milk, and silky-sweet microfoam. Another factor which propels this café forward in the game is adding the option of milk from Snowville Creamery. Since two-thirds of the drink is the milk…what a difference! As you can see, the drink came out beautifully. She didn’t get the artistic results she wanted but the taste, texture, everything else was there.
Total Score: 18.5 out of 20 stars
Obviously, this is a café I highly recommend. Whether you’re in the Price Hill area or need to drive 20 or 30 minutes…get there and enjoy!