This past Saturday Cristina and I wanted to make the trip uptown to visit our friends Eric and Vinnie doing there “guest” barista gig at Velvet Espresso and Artisan Teacakes. It was a perfect day for us to go since I had come in very late from the previous night’s basketball game. Coffee sounded like a very good idea for my foggy early afternoon brain.
Trying to avoid parade traffic, we decided to take Carrolton to get to Velvet which is located on the corner of Magazine and Arabella across from Whole Foods. Passing Palmer Park, we noticed that the Arts Council was having there Arts Market. Cursing myself for not knowing that ahead of time, I told Cristina we were going after Velvet. She didn’t need to be convinced.
We had planned to order some really crappy coffee on purpose to mess with Eric. We planned on doing this because Eric takes his coffee, as does Velvet, really seriously. Listening to Eric talk about coffee is a strange experience for someone who likes a little coffee with their sugar and cream. He talks about it the same way Ted Williams would talk about hitting a baseball. Velvet is not Starbucks. It’s not trying to be everything for everyone. It wants to serve refined coffee for people who really appreciate it, and I’m guessing that number is actually larger than most people realize.
When we walked into Velvet, the first thing we noticed was how small it is, and small might be too big of word to describe it. However, the size works for this coffee shop in that its not the kind of place to sit there and study while getting pints of coffee practically IV’ed into you. It’s setup for you to just enjoy the coffee and teacakes and some nice conversation. Vinnie and Eric instantly smiled upon seeing us. Why not? Cristina and I can make anyone smile. Actually, they had just been slammed with the pre-parade crowd, and I think it was nice for them to see familiar faces. We asked for some random teacakes (or did Vinnie just correctly assume we wanted them?). I abandoned the idea of joking with Eric about ordering a Folgers, and just told him to surprise me. He served me an espresso with almond milk knowing that I’m lactose intolerant (I do carry pills around most of the time but this was a nice gesture). I wasn’t sure what to make of the espresso at first. I rarely drink coffee and if I do it’s just at gas stations on long drives. It wasn’t very sweet; in fact, it was almost tart. Then Eric states the coffee has strong citrus tones. The more he talked about it the more I liked it. He wasn’t selling it to me though. He just really is passionate and knowledgable about coffee. I respect that. He made a cappuccino for Cristina. Cristina realized she is a sweet coffee girl, so Eric recommended a latte next time. We were both in agreement on the deliciousness of the teacakes. The teacakes, think miniature cupcakes, were perfect little bites of sweetness. I also couldn’t pass up a Mexican Coke – coke with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
Now it was time to head to the Arts Market.