C. Adam Pfander Photograph


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Hamilton's Coffee Scene

October 18, 2012   

Coffee was one of the top concerns about college.  I fretted about the taste of dining hall coffee; the possibility of lattes from various cafés across campus.  I found the closest Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, in case these on-campus vendors failed me.  I even brought my own coffee maker.  I grew up engrossed in fantastic coffee; I’ve grown accustomed to the deep, smoky aroma, the bitter, invigorating taste, and, of course, the perky feeling of caffeine.

My parents own a small restaurant in Southern Vermont, which ships in large quantities of coffee beans.  Once every few weeks, we receive a new shipping box filled with five-pound bags of coffee.  The dark black beans have not touched air since they were roasted, since being sealed away inside the silvery container.  Opening one sends forth a wave of deep, rich aroma like stepping into the streets of Seattle.

Now, cafeteria coffee can be bad.  Some of the coffees my secondary school served were valued more for being hot and dark colored than for their taste.  And I am sure we have all lived through the tragedy of airplane coffee….  But Hamilton has shown some strong roasts—my fretting for caffeine over the summer proved unwarranted.

“Witches Brew” is one such roast that I generally opt for.  It’s dark with subtle smokiness behind it.  It is a quite pleasant start to the morning, sure to wake you up.  Opus also offers some top performers.  I recommend the lattes—while the espresso remains the star of the show, the richness of the milk counteracts the bitterness beautifully. The other coffees, especially the breakfast blends, I generally avoid.  They are lighter roasts, loaded with caffeine.  They taste punchy, like bitter water.

However, a star has emerged among the coffees.  McEwen Dining Hall recently adopted a new roast, outside of the usual local blends, called, “Bolivian Dark.”  It had a distinct, full-bodied coffee flavor, without being abrasive; the bitterness was welcoming, almost enrapturing.  As you took a sip, your palette was immediately cleansed and aroused into alertness.  I would not go so far as to call it smooth—no, too strong for that.   It unfortunately lacked the pleasant smokiness of witches brew.  But the flavor did blend well, and sit well.  It was a roast with character.

On top of all this, the McEwen coffee is included in my meal plan.  In a world of Starbucks and inflated prices of lattes, I say get me another cup!