Two days ago I was on my way back to from a late lunch when I drove by Kitanda Brazilian Espresso. I have never heard of Brazilian espresso so this certainly caught my eye. In addition to this, since this was in Redmond, this was even more exiting, primarily because the options for good espresso on the east side, i.e. Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland etc are extremely limited. The only place I can think of right now is Jitters Coffee and even that is not super great. So I resolved to pass by the next morning and find out exactly what Brazilian expresso, as opposed to Brazilian coffee, is all about.
So early the next morning, I stopped by Kitanda. As I was entering the shop, the first thing I noticed was the big Caffè D’arte sign that hang by the window. Hmm… I was thinking, maybe they don’t serve Brazilian espresso after all. But I decided to forge on and see. Maybe they have the Brazilian espresso on the menu. So I walk up to the counter to place my order at the same time taking note of the fact that all the paper coffee cups, and the 1 pound bags of coffee were all Caffè D’arte coffee bags/beans. It became pretty clear to me that I was in for Italian espresso and not Brazilian espresso.
The barista came out from the back. She was really nice and friendly but not too knowledgeable about the specifics of their coffee. The first thing I asked her was that blend of coffee they served… she points to the Caffè D’arte coffee cups and coffee bags and tells me that this was Brazilian espresso. Now I didn’t know whether to call her on her obvious mistake but I thought I’d let it pass. I then asked for a “double tall latte” and she proceeded to tell me that they did not have that particular blend. Ok, now I started thinking to myself that there was still time to back out and go to Jitters instead… but even that thought didn’t really excite me so reluctantly I decided to press on. At the very least I would have something that I could blog about.
So once again I asked for a double tall latte. After a bit of back and forth, I realized that she didn’t understand my request so I pointed out on the menu board exactly what I wanted. She finally got it and told me that she didn’t quite understand my accent and thought I wanted a pineapple latte!!!!!!???? That done, I paid and waited for my latte. I noticed that she was going to make my latte with fat free milk. Ok, one thing I must say is that I think fat free milk is disgusting and totally pointless and is one of the reasons why a lot of deserts here taste like crap but that’s neither here nor there. I was not going to have fat free milk in my latte so I asked her if she has whole milk instead. “Yes” she said with a big smile, “we have 2%”. Ok now here we go again. So I proceed to tell her that 2% != whole milk and she, knowing better than me, proceeds to argue with me. Knowing that I was in a hurry to get to work and I had no time to argue, I decided to try a different approach. So I asked her a simple question, “do you have any milk that has a red top?” “Yes” she replies and goes to the far corner of the shop where she pulls out a gallon of whole milk. I didn’t bother to tell her that Whole Milk == 4% == Container with Red Top.
By now I was thinking, let me get my Italian “Brazilian” espresso and even though it will be pretty bad, at least I will have tried this place and can talk about it. she gives me the latte, I add some white sugar (they don’t stock the sugar in the raw type sugar that I prefer) to it and taste it. Big pleasant surprise, the coffee was actually pretty decent. Certainly way, way more decent than Jitters Coffee or that other alternative on the east side, Starbucks. Clearly, using Caffè D’arte coffee beans was a factor the decent latte I got. The other factor was the whole milk, but I also think that part of it was that she wasn’t too bad when it finally came to making my drink and that to me as the biggest surprise. I am certainly planning on going back from time to time in the mornings.
I didn’t want to ask her anything about the actual Caffè D’arte blend they used in their espresso, but I noticed that the labeling on the Caffè D’arte coffee bags would seem to indicate that Caffè D’arte do a custom blend for them. The custom blend is called Kitanda Gourmet Espresso blend.
But what about this Brazilian thing? Actually the place, which is sort of a Brazilian bakery and cafe, does serve Brazilian cakes, pastries and pasties and other Brazilian type treats. I met the lady who baked a lot of the goodies and she was really nice. I promised them that I would come back and try out some of the goodies… and I certainly intend to keep my promise…