Blind Coffee Taste Test with Next Door at C&I
I love coffee. So very much. But in no way would I consider myself a coffee expert, I just know what I like and what I don’t. That’s why I was excited and nervous when Next Door at C&I invited me over to do a blind taste test of their speciality coffee’s. If you havn’t heard of Next Door, its literally next door to a photography studio in Fat Village in Fort Lauderdale.
This neighborhood gem is truly that, a gem in the community. The space is cozy, and inviting, with their statement book wall and window wall (you’ll know what I mean when you see it). Couches, chairs and a good vibe linger in this space and on different nights you may find yourself listening to the talents on Open Mic Nights or watching a movie on their huge projector screen for Movie Night. Or like me, you stop by before work for a coffee at Brew, who is in charge of the coffee, or after work, for a happy hour sip. My favorite is the Maya Angelou (phenomenally tasting for a phenomenal woman ), a rum // ginger beer drink that is as smooth as it is strong.
Back to the coffee, I was given 3 coffee cups to try from. One from the gas station, one grocery bought, and one, the specialty BREW coffee you can find inside of Next Door at C&I. Keep reading to see how I did!
ALSO - save the date! Next Door at C&I & myself have come together to throw a fun birthday brunch so we can all celebrate my birthday together. I wouldn’t be a foodie if there wasn’t going to be food. See you there on April 28 from 11-3!
The original article appeared on Next Door C&I’s blog. All images courtesy of C&I Studios See it HERE.
All Coffee Is Not Created Equally
For those of you who are not aware of the distinction between Next Door at C&I and Brew Urban Cafe, know this…
Next Door at C&I is the space, the culture, the well-known colorful bookshelf, the glass bay doors overlooking the train tracks… basically, Next Door is the atmosphere. We collaborate with BREW from 7 AM – 7 PM to bring our guests the best of specialty coffee before the bar opens for business at 5 PM for Happy Hour.
Since the beginning, we have focused our strengths on everything Fort Lauderdale, so partnering with BREW was a no-brainer.
It’s also why we host a diverse range of community events centered around local artists, live original music, and the Monday blues all leading up to the monthly FATVillage Artwalk on the last Saturday of the month.
Now, back to business…
The Blind Taste Test with @FTLauderdaleFoodies
Ally was on the hunt for a local spot where she could enjoy specialty coffees, fresh, quality bites and the occasional artisan cocktail, so we invited her to Next Door to sample the goods… with a twist.
We couldn’t just offer up the best of what Next Door has to offer without putting her to the test.
During her visit, we set up three coffees without telling her which one was BREW’s and which were the imposters.
Two of the coffees were there to test her palate.
Turns out, @FTLauderdaleFoodies does indeed have a well-developed palate… and no shame when it comes to criticizing something she doesn’t like.
She easily narrowed down the imposters, summing up options one and two as watered down caffeine and burnt muddiness respectively. The third option [from BREW] she liked the most, describing the complexity of the roast and the unique nutty flavors that stood out in each sip.
Phew, that would have been a disaster. 😉
After guessing correctly, Dan shed some light on how the flavor profile and complexity of our specialty coffees elevate the guest experience.
“When it comes to specialty coffee it seems like every new coffeehouse touts the superiority of their products,” he started. “But… the quality of the product is only half of the equation.”
The secret to top-quality specialty coffee in every cup comes down to the baristas preparing it daily.
Dan compared it to baking cookies. Timing is everything. The ingredients could be assembled perfectly, but if you screw up the baking process you screw up the end result.
That’s what it all comes down to: timing.
Since each roast is different [literally every batch], the barista’s knowledge of the coffee’s origin really comes into play. Knowing the product dictates the most important steps in the brewing process.
Just as wine sommeliers need to maintain comprehensive knowledge of different varietals, their regions, the soil, and so on, so does a masterful barista need to know the farm where the coffee was grown, the recommended grind size for the coffee bean, the richness of the roast, the best ratio of water to coffee bean and how all of those minute details can be balanced in the brewing process.
It’s not like the baristas at BREW get in a new batch of Ethiopian beans, brew it that same day and hope for the best. Dan experiments with timing until the ratio is exact.
That’s why @FTLauderdaleFoodies could taste the difference between our specialty coffees and the imposters without second-guessing.
After guessing correctly and proving her foodie superiority, it was time to treat Ally to our top selling sandwiches and the cocktail of her choosing.
The Avocado, Egg & Cheese – Though Ally doesn’t prefer eggs, she enjoyed this sandwich. Her one recommendation: add bacon. We’re sure we can all agree to that!
The Avocado Toast – According to @FTLauderdaleFoodies, “This is a really delicious guacamole spread!” Need we say more?
While snacking, Ally tried the Maya Angelou [Gosling’s black seal rum, ginger beer, and lime]. Though the conversation shifted to planning an event for her followers [possibly at Next Door] before we could get her feedback, the glass was empty by the time she left.
Since our kitchen is so new, we’re giving our regulars a say in what goes and what stays… with @FTLauderdaleFoodies being our first major culinary guide.
Our focus is on creating delicious food that is healthy and balanced yet filling. We strive to keep calorie counts low and nutrition high. It’s also one of the reasons we focus on providing quality breakfast options.
We also want to continue supporting local! We currently serve bread fresh from Gran Forno on Las Olas. As our menu develops, we’d like to incorporate more local goods, so if you have any recommendations don’t hesitate to let us know! Who knows, we may even name our next signature dish after you as we did with our favorite lunch salad The Cordell.
If you’ve yet to order from our new food menu or try our new signature cocktails, no hard feelings. We haven’t always been a cafe, eatery, and bar.
We integrated a fresh kitchen and opened up the bar full time to give all of you awesome people a place to make your own — regardless of the time of day, or day of the week.
If you’re feeling productive? Grab a latte.
Craving a savory sandwich? Treat yourself to an Avocado, Bacon, Egg & Cheese.
Thinking of unwinding at Happy Hour? Take a page from Ally’s book and order the Maya Angelou.