Category: Coffee

Copa Vida (Coffee) – Durham, NC »

The Basics

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Cuisine: Coffee Shop
Ambiance: Simple + Airy
Address: 2816 Erwin Rd, Suite 20, Durham, NC 27705
Neighborhood: Duke
Phone: 919.383.4900
Web Site: Copa Vida on Yelp
Must Taste (Coffee):

  • Coffee: A Latte with whole milk. They use milk from a local creamery, which makes the drink divine.

Best For: Group Outing (with friends or co-workers) or a coffee shop trip solo
What to Wear: casual (but casual-dressy is acceptable)Good to Know: the shop uses milk from a local creamery and that makes all the different in the quality of their beverages.
Fave Points: Use of local creamery’s milk (I believe the coffee beans are locally roasted, as well).
My Fave Dish: I absolutely loved my Vanilla Latte with whole milk. The froth was so decadently thick and the milk really made the drink.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

After our dinner, my friend and I decided to take our conversation to Copa Vida to enjoy some post-dinner coffees.

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I wasn’t sure exactly what to get at first. When I hit up new coffee shops, I try to look for their specialty drinks but the menu at Copa Vida had all the traditional drinks listed. I decided to order my usual – a Vanilla Soy Latte.

Lucky for me, somehow the topic of the shop’s use of a local creamery’s milk came up, so I quickly switched to a regular Vanilla Latte. I asked the barista what kind of milk she suggested and she said to get the whole milk for the full effect. She was so right.

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The shop had quite a few tables, but they were simple set-ups without much padding and my friend and I wanted to relax on something more comfortable. We headed towards the front of the shop and found a cozy couch to set up on.

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I loved my red mug. I prefer ceramic (or just not disposable) mugs when I take my coffee inside coffee shops and this one was really neat-looking.

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Check out that froth.

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It was so thick. The froth even stuck to the sides of my mug when the drink was gone. Impressive! The barista was spot on with the whole milk suggestion. The milk and froth were the best part of my drink. I think this was one of the best lattes I’ve had ever.

Final Dish

I really appreciate places, like Copa Vida, that go out of their way to support other local businesses. The shop’s use of the local creamery’s milk was my favorite highlight of this spot. The space inside was pretty large and would probably support a large group. They also have wifi if you’re looking to setup your laptop. One downside of the shop is the limited hours. I believe they close pretty early (early for a coffee shop IMO). Their hours aren’t going to put me off, though…I’m already looking forward to another whole milk latte the next time I’m in Durham. This place may become a Durham must-stop for me.

Park Chow (Coffee + Dessert) »

The Basics

Cuisine: American
Ambiance: Casual-Chill
Address: 1240 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
Neighborhood: Sunset
Phone: 415.665.9912
Web Site: http://www.chowfoodbar.com/
Must Taste (Dessert):

  • Ginger Cake – It’s an unusual dessert – one I’ve never seen before. This dessert was a rich cake sans frosting, but don’t worry, you won’t miss it. The Ginger Cake is served hot, topped with a syrupy sauce, and served with a scoop of pumpkin ice cream…so good.

Best For: casual date or meal with friends/family.
What to Wear: casual to dressy-casual (mostly casual)
On the Speakers: Smashing Pumpkins
Fave Points: that “where the locals eat” feel, the fact that they support local farms and utilize wild seafood, organic free-range chicken, and all natural beef.
My Occasion: coffee and dessert to catch up with a friend
My Fave Dish: The Ginger Cake – though the Huckleberry cobbler was darn good, too.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

Although we got a recommendation to try out a local, Healdsburg haunt for dessert (while we were in the area after dinner), that place and everywhere else seemed too booked up to serve my friend and I coffee and dessert. After circling the restaurants in Healdsburg, CA and finding zero good coffee + dessert options, and then getting a recommendation on a great spot back in SF (from my friend’s sweet-tooth roommate), we spent a long (almost 2 hour) car ride back to San Francisco, CA in search of dessert (my friend lives in SF, so we had to head that way anyways).

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We ended up at one of my friend’s roomie’s fave spots in town – Park Chow . I loved the ambiance in Park Chow. The place seemed very local-centric, one-of-a-kind, and super chill. Park Chow would turn out to be the perfect spot for us – somewhere where we could relax and enjoy some dessert and coffee without feeling like the restaurant and/or waitress was rushing us out the door to turn a table.

I was also intrigued with the menu there, which I perused while my friend ran to the restroom, even though I knew we wouldn’t be having a second dinner. All over the menu were the buzzwords I’ve been looking for when I grocery shop: organic, local, + sustainable. I was so impressed! I want to eat a whole meal there next time so I can check out their regular eats.

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My friend wanted to order a latte but didn’t see one on the menu. I suggested she just ask if they could make one and they said they could. Not only that, they could make what she really wanted – a soy latte. I’ve tried soy lattes before. I figured since I liked chocolate soy milk, I’d like a soy latte, too, but I wasn’t that impressed with them the first time I tried them. Fast forward to our SF dessert-meal at Park Chow, and I figured I’d go with the flow and try a soy latte again.

I guess the 2nd time was the charm for me because it was love at first sip. That soy latte was one of the best lattes I’ve ever had…ever! I seriously savored every, single sip. Just look at that froth. I can’t believe they can get froth like that from soy sometimes.

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As for dessert, the weather had been overcast and rainy all day, so I wanted something cozy and warm besides the soy latte. I thought about getting the cobbler, but my friend was ordering that, so I went with the Ginger Cake with Pumpkin Ice Cream. Turns out the Ginger Cake is served warm, too. Sweet!

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My friend ordered the cobbler – huckleberry and (I think) apple a la mode! We shared a few bites of dessert with each other, following our sharing theme from dinner. I don’t think I’d ever had huckleberries before, but they were quite good. I’ll have a hard time choosing between the Ginger Cake and the Cobbler next time I visit Park Chow.

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The restaurant was busy and a bit loud, but also relaxing and casual. Our waitress gave us space but also gave us enough attention, which I definitely appreciated. My friend and I happily eased into our lattes and desserts and enjoyed some good conversation to round out an overall amazing day in California.

My Dish

Sometimes, it’s hard to find a good restaurant where you can kick back and enjoy a slow coffee + dessert over a long conversation. Though Park Chow is not a coffee shop (where I normally think of relaxing over coffee), they took great care of us and left us enough space so we didn’t feel like we were imposing. To top that, their lattes and desserts were so warm and cozy and tasty – they were the perfect end to our awesome day of wine tastings and good eats. I’m looking forward to returning to Park Chow next time I’m in San Fran, but next time, I’ll be sure to try out some of their entrees to help them support their local farmers and try out some of those interesting-looking menu items. Don’t be surprised if I save room for dessert, too.