05 May, 2011

Espresso a Mano

I have had a ridiculous craving for coffee in the past few weeks, and I mean good coffee, not Starbucks or cafeteria coffee. So, at the recommendation of Heather, I went to Espresso a Mano in Lawrenceville after work. 

First impressions: I like the atmosphere a lot. It's a little tight for me (not so big with the crowds, me) but there's plenty of seating for the space and it's comfortable seating for anyone - both hard seats and soft ones. There's some sweet artwork on the walls and some greenery, plus the music in the background is fantastic. It's nothing particularly attention-grabbing, but it's enough to keep your mind moving, which is great. The big chalkboard menu has the drink list - and the prices are more than reasonable, in comparison to my experience with coffee purchases.

I have to say that one thing about this place really made my night: the barista. I feel terrible for not getting his name, but from what I understand, he's the only one who works there other than Matt G. (the owner). He was one of the nicest baristas I have ever had at a coffee place, and I wasn't in the door longer than 30 seconds before he said hello and asked how he could help me. That's awesome. 

On to the coffee, I had a single espresso and a latte. The espresso had a beautiful crema, and I'm big on the smell of coffee, so espresso always gives me a momentary omgsobitter in my head before I drink it, and I have had a lot of bitter espresso. This was not that kind. It smelled great, very bold, and it tasted super smooth. This is an espresso I could have had a double-shot of and definitely not gotten burnt out on the flavor.

The latte was one of the best lattes I've ever had. Not only was it super pretty (I love pretty lattes!), but the foam was very smooth (I'm big on smooth in my coffees), and this is the first latte I have ever had that I didn't want to sweeten. The balance of the milk and espresso was perfect to my taste. The coffee they use at Espresso a Mano is rich and almost caramel-like, and the foam had a buttery taste. 

I like that they have a limited selection of pastries - I didn't get one, but I am not too big on having pastries with my coffee. I like biscotti (which they have) and small cookies, but big pastries often take away from enjoying the coffee. I think one of the signs listed sandwiches, also, but I was too busy breathing in the smell of my latte by the time I noticed the sign to pay attention. 

They also offer San Pelligrino & some small-brand sodas, which is nice, because I like to drink sparkling water between my coffees (I admit, I'm weird) so that the flavor doesn't carry over to the next one. 

I really enjoyed going to Espresso a Mano, and I'm looking forward to going back and continuing my writing sometime soon. It's a good atmosphere to just sit and relax, and it gave me a little inspiration to keep going on what I am working on. In short, it's basically what I think a coffee shop should be like.

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