A new to Montclair reader wrote to Baristanet with the following question:
I am completely convinced that the food in Montclair is incredible, the antiquing is fun and a little too enticing, great shops, great frozen yogurt, incredible diversity, and more! But WHERE IS THE COFFEE?! And I mean the real stuff – coffee for connoisseurs.
There are coffee lovers and there are coffee connoisseurs. I fall somewhere in between. I love coffee and have since my dad would make me a Sanka every night before bed as a little girl. It’s my favorite flavor of all, so I took the challenge to find the best Cup of Joe Montclair serves.
For the true coffee connoisseur, I’m voting Le Salbuen‘s “pour-over” coffee, also known as “hand pour coffee,” as the winner. I had the pleasure of having the Executive Chef and Owner, John Salierno, demonstrate a pour over coffee using the only coffee Le Salbuen brews—Toby’s Estate Coffee, a local roaster from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A “pour-over” involves perfect water temperature, exact measuring, and knowing how to pour the water perfectly over the grounds to get a cup of coffee that retains its oils and flavors. John explained that with this method, you could really taste the distinct flavors that make up the coffee. The brew he made us had lemon and honey notes.
We can’t talk about being a coffee connoisseur without espresso. My personal favorite cappuccino in Montclair comes from Raymond’s on Church Street. Always packed and a favorite for food, Raymond’s has made a big effort to serve up really good coffee. Owner Joanne Ricci told me that Raymond’s redid its entire coffee program about a year ago. They purchase their coffee from Red House Roasters, a coffee company in Union City, NJ, who roasts a special unique blend just for Raymond’s. Red House delivers its Rainforest Alliance certified coffee by order and nothing is more than one week old. The espresso machine is top-notch and the baristas went through a very thorough training. Just look at the cappuccino, you can tell it’s made with love.
Barista Kids food writer Lisa Davies says that her favorite cappuccino comes from Osteria Giotto on Midland Avenue. And if anyone is a coffee connoisseur, it’s Lisa. Her coffee would make this list if she brewed it up for the public. So trust her opinion. She describes Giotto’s cappuccino as having, “just the right amount of froth, strong Italian espresso – perfect.”
Over the summer I became addicted to Red Eye’s signature iced coffee drink called a New Orleans Sludge, which is a cold brewed French roast iced latte. The slow, cold method of brewing coffee brings out the natural sweetness of a dark roast without the bitterness. Mixed with just a few spices and milk, it’s served on ice and is awesome. Red Eye uses several local roasters, such as Kobricks Cape Horn Blend, and Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso for the freshest coffee: Fair Trade espresso and coffee. Red Eye also serves a French Press cup. If I’m not drinking a New Orleans Sludge, I order a Caramel Latte, which is made with really good and strong espresso, steamed milk and topped with caramel sauce. Red Eye’s Caramel Latte is not syrupy sweet like one may get at the coffee franchise found everywhere.
So there you have it. My picks for the Montclair coffee connoisseur. Do you know of a place that should be on this list? Let us know in comments where you get a great cup of coffee.