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)

Las Vegas | The Best Man’s Bachelor Party

Las Vegas | The Best Man’s Bachelor Party

After waking up at the crack of dawn and navigating the road less traveled for no less than 5 hours, I finally arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada for my best man’s bachelor party — a celebration I would not miss for the world.

This weekend was all about my best man — one of my best and oldest friends. Story time: We met back in high school, freshman year I believe. We were both in Track & Field, Cross Country, and Tennis (we were athletic back then). Throughout the years we stayed in touch, always picking up right where we last left off. As an only child, I imagine this is how having a brother is like.

In the blink of an eye, our youth had vanished, we moved out of our parents’ houses, got jobs, and met the women we would marry. He would go on to be my best man, and now I would find myself in the middle of the desert to bid his bachelor days farewell.

Our headquarters would be based out of the MGM hotel (next to the New York, New York), right on the strip. The gents would then trickle in throughout the rest of Friday. Meanwhile, the Bachelorette and her party gathered just a few hotels down the block for a concurrent (but separate) celebration — we would only meet for Saturday night’s outing.

This would be one for the books and essentially a sequel to the first time we went to Vegas together about 7 years ago, back when we could partake in the excessive intake of libations without suffering from unpleasant symptoms the morning after — but that’s a story for another post. Of course, there is only one way to start any adventure in my book, specially after waking up at 4:00 AM, an ungodly hour of the night.

That would be coffee. Upon finding the man of the hour, his brother, and his best man, we made a stop to get some strong, pour-over, black coffee to fuel the start of the day. He thought it would be funny to photobomb my coffee shot, he missed.

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Tell me, have you ever been to Vegas? If so, have you stayed at the MGM? Do you still keep in touch with your high school friends?

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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)

Gjusta Coffee and a note about Gratitude

Gjusta Coffee and a note about Gratitude

As I begin to type, I realize that I am not sure if this review is entirely about coffee, or if it’s more about gratitude. Allow me to explain. I work in U.S. Immigration Law. I have been in the field professionally for about half a decade, and in one way or another, have had a connection with it my entire life — but more on that later.

My job is complicated, to properly explain what I do would take dozens of blog posts — and perhaps someday I’ll write them. But for today’s story, all you have to know is that a part of what I do includes providing foreign nationals with permanent residences, more commonly known as “green cards.”

In all of my years in immigration, and after the hundreds of cases I have processed, I had never received a thank you present — until this week. I should mention that I have received emails thanking me for my work. Although even if I hadn’t, ultimately it is my job, and I do believe that a job well done is its own reward. But presents, those are reserved for partners at law firms.

Still, yesterday when I arrived at my desk I found a box. A coworker then explained that a foreign national was looking for me with regards to his recently issued green card. In an instant I realized what it was, a tangible manifestation of their gratitude. It was touching. Honestly, at that moment I did not care what was inside that box. It could have been empty for all I care. 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 gift set from Gjusta, an artisanal bakery in Venice, CA that I had admittedly not previously heard about — but I am now stoked to check it out! The box included some seasonal espresso coffee beans, walnut honey, and my new favorite hipster mug. I cannot wait for the weekend to go purchase a coffee grinder and try this delicious-sounding coffee. The Ramdolfi Score of Gratitude: 10/10.

Tell me, have you ever been thanked for your work? Have you ever thanked anyone for their work? Do you grind your own coffee beans, or do you prefer to buy ground coffee?

Thank you so much for visiting our corner of the internet! If you enjoyed this post, please make sure to subscribe and follow us on Instagram for more caffeinated content! Have an awesome day! ☕️️

(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?

Thank you so much for visiting our corner of the internet! If you enjoyed this post, please make sure to subscribe and follow us on Instagram for more caffeinated content! Have an awesome day! ☕️️

(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)