Sunday, January 27, 2013

Baltimore, Where Do You Get Your Brew?

It takes a lot to persuade me to spend over $2 on a cup of coffee that I just as easily could have brewed at home.  No, I don’t have an espresso machine.  Yes, I use the wrong grounds for my French press, and no I do not care.   I’m just not overly particular about my coffee, so spending large amounts of money on a cup of joe is hard to justify. 

Instagram makes my book and tea looks less like I'm procrastinating and more like I'm being artsy.

There are days, though, where I go stir crazy in my apartment.  Where if I sit on the sofa with the dog for one moment longer, I fear I’ll either lose my sanity.  At times like this, it’s helpful to have somewhere to go.  Sometimes, the best medicine for productivity is to be surrounded by other productive people.  The motivation and inspiration do wonders.

I live within decent proximity to a Starbucks, but that’s not what I look for in a coffee shop.  I want Macs littering the tabletops and fair trade coffee poured into mugs.  Most importantly, I want my coffee size options to be “Small,” “Medium,” and “Large.”

At this moment, I am in the corner at Charmingtons (Remington - N. Howard and 26th) , willing myself to catch up on blogging and some other work that I’ve been putting off for far too long.  The Wi Fi here is turned off each day from 11a-2p to accommodate for the lunch rush, which irritates some folks and warms the hearts of others.  I find it refreshing, being able to be surrounded by the efficiency of others without the temptation of Facebook or Wikipedia.  I’ve always been pleased with the coffee I’ve ordered here, and I hear wonders about their baked goods.  Charmington’s is a hop away from Sweet 27, the gluten-free bakery, so I sometimes allow myself the decadence of a rarely-had cupcake on my way over.

Other area favorites for me include Milk and Honey and Artifact.  Milk and Honey (Mount Vernon - Cathedral and W. Read St) is one of the few coffee shops in the heart of Mount Vernon, and I’m a big fan that they have a gluten-free baked good in house (yes, brownie, I’m talking about you).  I sampled some of their sandwiches before going gluten-free, and they were delicious.  The coffee isn’t much to write home about, but it provides the needed boost of caffeine in the right location.  Word on the street is that Mount Vernon will be gaining a new coffee shop in the spring.  Dooby’s Coffee is coming to 800 N. Charles St, referred to as a “coffee shop and then some” in this Baltimore Sun piece.  I don’t know much beyond that, but it does peak my interest each time I walk by.

I was actually introduced to Artifact by my brother who works in the coffee business.  We stopped in on our drive up to Philly while I was suffering from the Ultra-Flu, Part I.  I didn’t fully appreciate the atmosphere, as it was 8:00am and I was already delirious from a fever/DayQuil/cough drops.  I couldn’t speak to their coffee at the time, because I drank a very strong Earl Grey to stay awake for the drive.  I decided to give Artifact a second chance for the New Year, free of germs and meds.  Now, I live under a rock and unknowingly decided to go the night of the Ravens/Broncos game.  I was curious as to why the coffee shop was near empty, but the divey local corner bar across the street was bursting with yelling patrons in decked in purple.  Context clues are glorious.    As a result of the game being on, I had Artifact nearly to myself.  The staff was incredibly pleasant and the coffee blew me away.  I worked, distraction free, for hours, and was even allowed to choose which LPs would play for the rest of the evening, in order to cease bickering over Fleetwood Mac.  

There are other coffee shops in this city, to be sure.  There’s Spro on the Avenue in Hampden, LAMILL in Harbor East, of course Zeke’s, Peace & a Cup of Joe in Ridgley’s Delight, Red Emma’s in Mount Vernon (that I have shockingly yet to try) who will be moving to Station North soon, Carma’s in Charles Village, Patterson Perk by the park, and so many more.  The thing is, at the rate it takes me to try coffee shops, I’ll be 80 and have just finished the above-mentioned list.  Baltimore definitely has an array of coffee shops available; it’s just a matter of finding the right vibe in the right neighborhood for your liking.  

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