I’m doing something unusual for me, and writing this review as I sit inside the restaurant. I go to Coffee Emporium with some regularity—enough that the woman who works the shift when I’m there knows my usual order. I am the kind of person who loves to sit in a coffee shop for hours and get work done, and Coffee Emporium (the East Hyde Park location) has become one of my usual places to do so. The downstairs is your typical independent coffee shop: fancifully decorated blackboard listing all their drinks, sign saying “friends don’t let friends go to Starbucks,” and lots of coffee and tea related merchandise, much of it local. The shop is in a converted row-house, so the enjoying-the-drink magic happens upstairs, in what I imagine started as the bedroom portion of the house. There is seating for about 25 spread across 9 tables (I’m sitting and counting, but I can’t take pictures since my phone isn’t the fancy one), although the exact configurations change from time to time. There is free wireless internet, one of my personal keys to a great coffee shop. It varies in noise level. Until about 10:30ish on a weekday, it is often somewhat noisy with groups, and it can be hard to get a table. After that, it is often quiet, with several individuals working, or groups of 2 or 3 meeting for coffee or lunch. They have Belgian waffles on Sunday mornings, and while I haven’t made it yet, I hear they are fantastic—and I would guess that the tables are full and noisy!
My drink of choice is a skim-dark-mocha. The dark refers to the chocolate; they also offer white and milk. One of my favorite policies is the bring-your-own-mug. They will charge you for a small, regardless of the size of your mug (up to a somewhat absurd 32 oz.), and fill your mug, even for the fancy drinks (like a mocha)! It’s fun to feel good about being environmentally conscious, and also get an extra $0.50 worth of mocha goodness. I usually eat lunch on my days working at Coffee Emporium as well. My usual choice is the Breakfast Burrito (no bacon), which is, of course, also available for lunch. Wrapped in a tortilla is egg, cheese, and potatoes, with salsa on the side. They warm it up when you order at the counter downstairs, and then bring it up to your table. The salsa has just a bit of kick to it to make it interesting, and it is a great filling lunch (or breakfast). They also have other sandwichy type foods; the spinach-ricotta pie is also very good, although not as filling. Today they had a special veggie wrap, roasted veggies with a bit of cheese in a wrap, but I stuck with my usual that I had been looking forward to.
There are also sometimes samples by the register, and today’s samples may prove to be my downfall. I had never tasted their cookies, but there were little pieces on a plate when I went to get my lunch. There were four different types of samples: chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter. I tasted three of them (with encouragement from the woman at the register), and wow. Those are some outstanding cookies. And I have high standards for cookies! They are soft and chewy, thick, and full of the chunks of things they are supposed to have in them (chocolate chips, mainly). In fact if this posting is delayed, it’s probably because I decided to go back downstairs for a chippy treat.
I mostly sit here on Fridays, although I have been known to appear on other random off-days of school as well. I’ll most definitely be back. I’ll be back for the laid back, coffee-smelling, relatively quite atmosphere, I’ll be back for the coffee and lunch and hopefully eventually waffles, and I suspect I’ll be back for the cookies.