Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coffee House Review: Cafe Amity

*Update* Cafe Amity is now known as Upper Crust Cafe, yet the rest of the review remains the same.
Today, I visited Cafe Amity located in Arlington, opposite of the hustling and bustling Ballston metro on Fairfax drive. Cafe Amity offers pastries, European and Turkish food for lunch and dinner, and most importantly coffee beverages including Turkish coffee.

Atmosphere: There is plenty of seating including elevated two-person tables for staring out the windows and people watching. WETA plays in the background providing calming classical music to accompany conversations, work, reading, or having a minute to yourself. When I went my first time, Mozart's The Magic Flute was playing during the Hölle Rache aria (see 0:58). Although do not worry, opera generally isn't on! Adding to the relaxing atmosphere, Cafe Amity offers free wifi with no registration, allowing easy access to the Internet. The design is clean and modern with a nice wooden floor providing an uncluttered and spacious area to spread out. One will not feel cramped like the coffee shops in DC. Temperature: It was extremely air-conditioned. It may be a bit uncomfortable for some, but in the humid, summer months in the metro area it is appreciated.

Service: Cafe Amity offers friendly service without the accompanying barista snobbery. You order at the counter, sit down, and they bring it out to you. My favorite aspect is that you pay at the end, and not when you order. In this manner, they invite you to stay and enjoy your time, rather than paying and ignoring your existence once you paid. Oddly, by changing the order it develops a better atmosphere. Any ideas why?

Price: The prices tend to be a bit higher than the average price in the DC area. A single espresso is 1.75 and Turkish coffee is 2.49 (not including tax). With that said, the aforementioned service, free wifi, and atmosphere mitigates the slightly higher price. For some, those prices may not even be that high.

Coffee Impressions: Today I ordered Turkish coffee. Having never tried it, I was excited and wanted to see how it differed from drip or espresso. For more information on Turkish coffee, see Coffee Geek's excellent guide on how to make Turkish Coffee, it provides an introduction too. The barista brought out the coffee to the table and even water for my girlfriend, which we didn't even order demonstrating their effort to cultivate an inviting atmosphere. Oddly, the Turkish coffee came in a large espresso cup. After sipping, I tasted a strong floral taste coming from the cardamon, a spice traditionally used in Turkish coffee, providing a pleasant touch. At first, my girlfriend and I wondered what the taste exactly was ranging from pine to mint. In addition, there was no bitterness or burntness, only a smooth aftertaste. Unfortunately, it was gone too soon, leaving me wanting more. A few questions I had was whether Turkish coffee comes in larger cup than 3-4oz, and my coffee had no foam.

After chitchatting, I paid and asked about the spices used. The owner came out, and happily explained the whole process of brewing Turkish coffee for a few minutes, mirroring much in the Coffee Geek guide. One could tell that he genuinely cared about coffee.

Overall: Cafe Amity provides excellent service, pleasant and spacious environment, and decent coffee. While a tad pricey, (at least for my wallet) the pleasant and engaged baristas make the experience. If one is near Ballston, one should walk in and order the Turkish coffee.

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