Las Vegas | Eataly Coffee

Las Vegas | Eataly Coffee

An underground trip, a journey across the desert, the arrival in Las Vegas, a series of competitive events, a night of golf, a lazy river, some familiar coffee, and a night out that turned into morning, coffee. Strong, black, coffee.

Fortunately for me, Las Vegas has plenty of amazing cafes and restaurants including a personal favorite of mine, Eataly. Back in New York, I used to go to the Eataly by One World Trade Center at least once a month — for good reason too! The Italian food restaurant-bazaar hybrid (previously associated with Mario Batali) offers an incredible repertoire of delicious choices, including of course, coffee. Side note: Eataly also makes a fantastic (though somewhat overpriced) fruit tart — I surprised wife with one upon returning to Los Angeles.

Review: Just like the rest of Eataly, its cafe has an elegant yet welcoming factor that commands respect. At Eataly you will find Lavazza coffee, an Italian type coffee that has been quickly expanding across the U.S. in the last few years. Lavazza offers a decent cup of full-bodied aromatic coffee. Bitter yet flavorful, Lavazza was a great way to start the morning.

At $3.90 a large cup, it is still evident that you are paying the Las Vegas strip location premium — that, or they modeled their pricing after Italy. Price aside, this cup is good. It is delightful, but just short of memorable. Would I buy it again? I already have. The Ramdolfi Score: 5.9/10.

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Tell me, have you ever been to Eataly? Have you ever been to Italy? How do you take your coffee?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

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Las Vegas | New York Coffee

Las Vegas | New York Coffee

An underground trip, a journey across the desert, the arrival in Las Vegas, a series of competitive events, a night of golf, and a lazy river later, it was time to refuel. Some of us went to the MGM buffet, the rest of the party went to Shake Shack. But more importantly, coffee was overdue.

If you have not been to Las Vegas, you may not know that the MGM hotel (where we stayed during this trip) is next to the New York-New York — a hotel and casino designed after New York City. Incidentally, this was my first time at the New York-New York since living in New York City for a few years. As such, I could not resist visiting for a cup of joe.

Review: The first thing to notice about this cafe, and hotel for that matter, is that it truly resembles New York — but more on that later. However, the coffee itself was not necessarily New York-like. In fact, it had an uncanny Seattle familiarity. That is because it tasted exactly like Starbucks’ Pike roast. So much so that, while I did not see a “we proudly serve Starbucks coffee” sign, a blind test would suggest this to be the case. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not great.

At $4.75 a large cup, it is evident that you are paying the Las Vegas strip location premium — that, or they modeled their pricing after New York City. Price aside, this cup is acceptable. It is not dreadful, but it most certainly is not memorable. It’s just ok. Like I said, it’s effectively a cup of Starbucks’ Pike. The Ramdolfi Score: 5/10.

Upon acquiring this cup of coffee, I nostalgically gazed at the signature architecture around me before returning to the bachelor party that was still finishing their burgers. I found myself smiling. It was the stage from another life, but that’s a story for another blog.

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Tell me, have you ever been to the New York-New York? Have you ever been to New York, New York? Are you ever transported to times past by the sight of familiar places?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Gjusta Coffee

Gjusta Coffee

A little while ago, I received my first thank you present as a note of gratitude for my work. It was a touching moment. As I mentioned back then, I did not care what was inside that box. It could have been an empty box for all I cared. I was just thankful that someone appreciated my work enough to go out of their way to get me something — even if it was just an empty box. That said, it was not, an empty box.

The box was a Gjusta gift set that, among other things, contained some freshly roasted coffee beans that I was beyond excited to try! The only problem, I did not own a coffee grinder — until now.

Admittedly, for someone who loves coffee, I was surprised to realize that I did not own a coffee grinder. I have always purchased freshly ground coffee or used the grinders at the supermarket to grind my beans upon purchasing them. That said, and regardless of how I acquire my coffee beans, I do have high standards when it comes to how I brew my coffee.

I know that currently there is a fascination with Chemex’s pour-over coffee, but for me there will never be a cup quite as delectable as that which is brewed with a French Press — call me old fashioned, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So I ground my coffee, mixed it with some hot water in my French Press, and waited 4 minutes.

Review: Flavor. If I had to describe this cup with just one word, it would be flavor. Every note of dark chocolate, toasted almonds, and blackberries shines through each and every sip. This coffee is bright, crisp, and unbelievably mouthwatering. Sip after sip, this cup makes a presence, one that beckons your attention and commands authority. Suddenly, I realized something peculiar about this cup. It was effectively a cup of Blue Bottle’s New Orleans coffee — my absolute favorite commercially available coffee in the United States. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Unfortunately, I do not know how much this coffee costs — because, it was a present. However, after tasting this superior cup of what can only be described as the nectar of the gods, I will be sure to visit Gjusta’s store in Venice, CA. Perhaps upon learning it’s price I may reevaluate this coffee, but as of right now, it stands among the highest rated thus far. The Ramdolfi Score: 9/10.

Tell me, have you ever had Gjusta coffee? Do you grind your own coffee, or do you buy it ground? Are you a French Press person, or do you have a different method of choice?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks Coffee

At last, it is time to cover what I referred to on my first coffee review as my measuring gauge, Starbucks. This is because Starbucks is neither gourmet nor vending machine quality, it is simply a good cup. It stands in the middle, and for that reason, it is my point of reference.

Starbucks’ Menu

While at CityWalk, the wife indulged my request to stop for a cup of my favorite roast from Starbucks, their blonde roast — the fact the that wife is blonde is but a fun coincidence. Fun fact: I’ve been a gold member of Starbucks’ rewards program since 2011, but an enthusiastic patron since 2009.

Review: When I bought this cup, I thought I would not even need to try it to write this review. I’ve been ordering this cup (almost exclusively) for at least four years, and drinking Starbucks in general for ten years. And yet, I was conflicted. I tasted it, and there it was, the comforting, smooth, mouth-watering flavor of bright, crisp, coffee. But I wondered, is it it’s familiarity that made it so comforting? Was I biased? Maybe, but I’ve had enough variety in my life to objectively deem it a decent cup of lightly roasted coffee. Like I said, it is a good cup.

At $2.45 a grande (medium), and I know that price by heart (or $2.85 if you’re paying the CityWalk location premium), this cup is a solid choice. After all, there is a reason why Starbucks is a coffee juggernaut around the world. Before I present The Ramdolfi Score, I feel the need to clarify that when this cup is freshly made via pour over, it is closer to a 7/10. Alas, your average morning brew is not always up to par. The Ramdolfi Score: 5/10.

Tell me, are you a fan of Starbucks? Do you prefer dark roasts or light roast? Are you a black coffee or frappuccino type of person?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

It was a Monday morning and I woke up slightly disoriented, my body mildly aching, and in desperate need of water — for once, not the result of libations. My wife and I were exhausted from our wedding day just hours ago. We checked out of the hotel, and I beckoned my first cup of coffee as a married man.

Blue Bottle Coffee’s Menu

Not just any cup would do on this momentous occasion. No, I had to make this one count, and that’s exactly what I did. The wife and I drove to Ventura Boulevard to secure a cup of my absolute favorite coffee in the United States, Blue Bottle Coffee.

Review: On this hot summer’s day, a 16oz New Orleans cup of iced coffee was the perfect first cup to christen my caffeinated marriage. From the first sip, this cup is worthy of praise in every way. It is a lavish beverage, rich in flavor, essentially flawless. Indeed, it is smooth, refreshing, and satisfying, but it is also so much more. It is comforting like a parent’s hug, soft like a cashmere sweater, and gentle like a lover’s caress. In short, this cup is the nectar of the gods.

At $5.00 a large cup, this cup is as close as it gets to buying happiness. In the words of Matthew Broderick’s most iconic movie character: “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” The Ramdolfi Score: 9.7/10.

Tell me, have you ever had Blue Bottle Coffee? Do you prefer hot or iced coffee? Did you get that pop culture reference?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

IKEA Coffee Review

IKEA Coffee Review

While not know for its coffee, IKEA is famous for its affordable yet stylish furniture and decorations — the latter of which we sought to purchase for the wedding. Specifically, we went to IKEA in a semi-last minute effort to find wood slices for our wedding’s table decorations.

We perused the somewhat defined trajectory of sample setups, many of which displayed our own furniture — it would, this is where we purchased most of it. Halfway through, we arrived at the cafeteria-style restaurant famous for its meatballs where I picked up, you guessed it, coffee!

Review: I quickly noticed that my cup had a delightfully sweet aroma. At first taste I was intrigued, and upon second examination, I was able to detect hints of berries. Overall, it was a surprisingly full bodied, low acidity, semi-sweet cup of Scandinavian coffee.

At $1.00 a cup and free refills, this is a great cup! I may not go out of my way to buy IKEA’s coffee the way people do for their meatballs, but it is good, and that’s something I was not expecting to say about a furniture store. The Ramdolfi Score: 4.5/10.

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Noah’s New York Bagels

Noah’s New York Bagels

Today I review Noah’s New York Bagels’ coffee. I wish this was a review of Noah’s bagels instead of Noah’s coffee, because those bagels are just about as good as it gets in Los Angeles. In New York, not so much, but on this side of the country they’re great!

I love that Noah’s venues are designed after New York’s architecture and subway style. It really does feel like the East Coast. In fact, if Noah’s was half as small, I may actually believe I’m back in the city that never sleeps.

Review: It took me a minute to separate this cup from my love of Noah’s bagels. Their website states that “all of Noah’s Hot Brewed and Espresso coffee is small batch craft roasted, from the top 1% of the world’s beans and 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified.” I’m not sure what that means in terms of taste, but I can attest to the fact that their coffee is good. Not great, but definitely good. It is comparable to Starbucks’ flagship Pike roast, which places this cup right in the middle of the Ramdolfi Scale — not bad for a place whose main business is bagels.

At $2.40 a large cup, I think this cup is acceptable. I know, not my highest coffee praise; but again, this is not really a coffee place. Perhaps if the coffee was $1.00 a small and $1.25 a large as sold in every bagel cart in Manhattan, then I would be sold based on the experience alone. The Ramdolfi Score: 5/10.

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)