This last weekend was the IESA State cross country finals down in Normal, IL and in an effort to keep things as stress free as possible, we opted to drive down the night before and stay at the Marriott on campus.
As graduates of ISU, my wife and I always enjoy an opportunity to visit the campus, marvel at whats new, and reflect on items from our past that have faded into history.
After a less than stellar breakfast at a local diner, the family headed into CVS to buy some gloves to stave off the morning chill, while I decided to head over to the Coffeehound for something different to keep the cold away.
This wasn’t my first time in the Coffeehound, about eighteen months earlier we were down for a visit and I stopped in for some coffee. Given that it was still around, I thought it high time for a review.
Walking from the Marriott toward the heart of downtown Normal you pass by the backside of several main street businesses, Coffeehound happens to be one of those businesses. What immediately jumps out at you is the Coffeehound logo – It practically howls at you announcing its presence. The first time I saw it I knew I had to stop in.
Today I came in from the front, the place has a great vibe, from the locally sourced art on the walls, the exposed brick and jaunty menu artwork it just feels like the kind of place you would want to sit around and talk/study for hours on end.
For 8:30 on a Saturday morning the place was absolutely packed with as many college aged people as older folks like myself. On a past visit to ISU we noted how much like a barren wasteland the campus was on Saturday morning. A helpful student working at the Alamo graciously explained to us that Friday is when college kids party. No shit? I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was doing keg stands here before she was born.
But I digress, the Coffeehound was packed! This could mean only one thing, if it could drawn these students out of their beds this early in the morning, there must be something special about Coffeehound.
From their website coffeehound.net I learned that there are two Coffeehound locations:
Owners Steve and April Fritzen have been in business since 2002, with two locations in Bloomington and Normal, Illinois. Our downtown Bloomington location is also home to our bakery and roastery. Both locations offer a unique feel— whether it be the more historical feel of Bloomington or the modern vibe of Normal— and both are always bustling with business.
Yes, they roast their own beans! Score. I would learn this while waiting for my coffee, the barista was chatting with another customer and mentioned that they roasted all of their own coffee which they had for sale up front. If you recall I tried my hand at roasting coffee in the past and Dan has done much more of it that me, I think we both would agree that having truly fresh roasted beans makes the best coffee.
As fully bearded man, I was happy to see another bearded brother in arms behind the counter working the espresso machine, he was assisted by a lovely lavender haired lass that just added to the quirky creative feel that infused this place.
The real star however was the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia World Barista Championship branded espresso maker. Anytime I see a place using a high end Italian espresso maker I know I will be in for a great experience. This time proved no exception.
So what did I order?
Well I entered Coffeehound with the idea to order a vanilla latte made with heavy whipping cream. Being on a paleo diet I try to cut out dairy as much as possible from my diet, since heavy whipping cream is almost entirely fat, it gives me every bit of creaminess (and more) that you get with half and half, without the Lactose, etc. As I mentioned earlier, Coffeehound was packed. When it was my turn the conversation went like this:
Can you make me a 20oz vanilla latte made with heavy whipping cream?
We can put whipped cream on top of the latte.
Make that a Breve Vanilla Latte.
Honestly I am sure I could have spent the time explaining what I wanted, and I imagine they had heavy whipping cream in the back and could have accommodated me, but:
- They were busy as hell.
- I didn’t want to be “that” douchey coffee snob.
So, note for Coffeehound owners, you might get a request like this in the future from Paleo/Primal dieters.
For those reading this who are not familiar with what “Breve” means, “Breve” or Cafe Breve is an American variate of the latte that uses steamed half-and-half instead of regular or whole milk.
The latte I received had a nice little heart design, visually everything you could want in a latte if such things matter. Of note was the eye fluttering excursion into another dimension that each draw of the coffee gave me. Fuckin-A that was some good coffee. I apologize for the colorful language but it was just that good. The combination of great beans (I think they were using Guatemalan beans that day), a great espresso machine and a competent bearded god barista all added up to one mind blowing latte.
I don’t have that reaction when I head down to Starbucks for a latte. That experience leaves me feeling a little bit deader inside, this was altogether refreshing for my soul. About halfway through the shop was getting even fuller. I went outside to the seating and just relished the crisp, borderline cold morning air. The searing heat of the coffee cup almost too hot for my fingertips, but it was a heat that I embraced and with each sip slightly diminished.
Before I knew it I was taking my last sip. The latte was gone and I was off to cheer on my son at State. Thank you Coffeehound for a great start to my morning. If you are in the Normal, IL area do yourself a favor and stop in at the Coffeehound for some coffee, and if you can eat bakery goods try some, they looked delicious.comments powered by Disqus