As we set off on our quest for culinary excellence across the valley, I find it only fitting to begin our voyage at the place that has restored my hope in the industry. The point of this blog isn’t necessarily to find the best food, but rather to find the places that have the best heart. Places that you really want to be at. Places that make you want to come back time and time again. Branch Street Coffee Roasters has become that place for me and Spade. It has become a weekly retreat that we continuously look forward to.
Branch Street is a local coffee shop near Canfield next to the Creekside Plaza. It’s easy enough to find for all of you directionally challenged people out there like myself. I was let on to this java joint by a colleague. He didn’t even really have to tell me about it, because I could infer by how often he frequented there that there must be something to it. Upon my first visit I was hooked. When entering, you instantly feel a sense of homeyness. The sleek, industrial-like interior design gives off a cool and eccentric vibe as your eyes wander to the simple and easy-to-read hanging menu.Most places you go, there’s usually that one employee that stands out among the rest. The one that just really loves what they are doing and seems to be genuinely passionate about it. At Branch Street, every employee we’ve encountered is that employee. I believe that this is truly the essence of what makes them exceptional. It seems that everyone there plays an important part in the success of the team. While I’m sure everyone has individually assigned roles and duties, no one is ever out of the loop. No matter who is working, everyone plays a part in crafting the drinks as well as being knowledgeable of the menu and answering any questions you may have. Something that struck me about how important each employee is to the group is the fact that each one of them has their own bio on the website, (side note — be sure to check out their website @ branchstreetcoffee.com, there’s tons of great info and Matt, the owner, has his own blog on there as well.)So what else could it be that elevates this coffee joint? Is there something in the water? Well funny fact about that, there is something special about the water. Branch Street actually treats their water in-house. They have carefully tested and treated the water before using it in their product line-up. If you think that is dedication, they are just as diligent with their beans. From what I’ve been told, the coffee beans are roasted a few times a week, ensuring consistent and maximum flavor. I also overheard the owner telling another patron once, “…the nerdy-ness I had in medicine is the same nerdy-ness I bring to coffee.” This is something you don’t always find—a brand so passionately dedicated to such quality and willing to go the extra mile. Another key to quality control here is the simplicity of the menu. It’s short and sweet. They don’t have an endless array of crazy drinks to look through or for the baristas to have to remember. They do what they do and they do it well. Spade and I are espresso drinkers. On our first visit, we ordered what is called a cortado. It is a dainty beverage consisting of almost equal parts of espresso and warm milk. Unlike in a latte, there is not an extreme difference in the ratio of espresso to milk. Additionally, in a cortado the milk is steamed to a lower temp. The word “cortado” is a Spanish word and literally translates to “cut.” The warm milk cuts (or dilutes) the espresso in this Latin American drink, leaving your taste buds with a touch of the buttery flavor from the milk, while still grasping the robust flavor notes of the espresso. Spade and I can’t make a trip to Branch Street without getting a cortado.It is the perfect beverage to pair with a pastry or macaron. They have a small selection of sweet treats from a variety of local vendors (Bread Chef, Hogans, The Orange Avocado, Bake Me Treats, etc.) We usually go for the short bread which I enjoy because it’s not overbearing in sweetness but still perfectly enhances the flavor of the espresso. That said, the macarons, (not to be confused with macaroons) are delectable. They literally melt in your mouth. There’s a plethora of classic and unique flavors to choose from, but I personally suggest the rose or vanilla bean.On another note, as a parent I have to be aware of what to order my little one especially in a coffee house where options are usually limited. Through a short episode of trial and error and with the help of the very accommodating baristas, I found something just right for my daughter. We first tried the hot chocolate which was a little on the bitter side for the sensitive palette of an eight year-old. Now we get her a vanilla steamer which technically ins’t on the menu, but the staff is always happy to make it for her. It’s a tried and true kid-friendly drink made up of vanilla syrup and steamed milk. With that issue conquered, we can now all happily sip on our brews together.In conclusion, Branch Street has almost all together annihilated what was left of my lust for Starbucks. As I said, our weekly and sometimes bi-weekly trips to Branch Street are me and Spade’s favorite parts of the week. It’s such an endearing and delicious treat each time with warm-hearted vibes all around. So whether you’re looking for a morning (or afternoon) coffee fix or planning for a relaxing rendezvous with a good book and cup of joe, Branch Street is worth the trip (again, and again, and again.)