by SOPHIE BIRD
I had my first taste of coffee at age 8. It was coffee ice cream, snuck to me by my grandmother, and there was no going back. Soon it was coffee everything—coffee yogurt, tiramisu, chocolate-covered espresso beans. By adulthood, I was a fiend.
The best cup I ever had was in Seville, Spain, at a café just outside the gardens of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla—Europe’s oldest palace that is still in use. It was everything coffee should be—rich and deep and velvety. The delicious fresh cream didn’t hurt.
In Bloomington, there is no shortage of options for coffee consumption. For the wizened coffee drinker, this won’t come as a surprise. But for the merely coffee-curious, here are some good places to start.
Soma Coffeehouse and Juice Bar
At Soma, they do traditional coffee beverages like cappuccinos and lattes better than most. The baristas are knowledgeable and friendly, and the coffee is always well-roasted, lacking that “burnt” taste that I try to avoid. When I visit, I know that my cappuccino will have exactly the right amount of foam. This is no easy feat.
These days, I have cravings for Soma’s Honey Lavender Latte. If you enjoy floral flavors, I insist that you try this. The drink is delightful both hot and iced, slightly sweet with a subtle floral note that builds as you sip.
Crumble Coffee and Bakery
The only thing I love as much as I love coffee is a good seasonal special, and Crumble has some of my favorites, like the Cherry Pie Cold Brew flavored with cherry, cinnamon, and vanilla.
The Baklava Latte is another must-try seasonal drink. Truly a dessert unto itself, it’s topped with pistachio and honey. For tea lovers, Crumble’s Dirty Chai—a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso—is my favorite in town.
Coffee is my go-to if I’m craving a beverage for a long walk on the B-Line Trail. The folks at Hopscotch never shy away from creating something new. Just recently, I tried their Fuzz Petal—a combination of house-made cardamom soda and a double shot of espresso. While I’m not sure I prefer to mix my coffee and soda, I loved the combination of cardamom and coffee flavors.
The Little Wizard—a double shot with honey, cinnamon, almond milk, and cayenne pepper—is perfect for a cold day, putting just enough heat on the tongue to keep you feeling cozy.
Brilliant Coffee Company
The new kid on the block, Brilliant Coffee Company combines traditional coffee favorites like lattes and Americanos with another great love of mine—gelato. Try the affogato: gelato topped with a shot of espresso. Delectable.
An added attraction is Brilliant’s TopBrewer by Scanomat machine, imported from Denmark. With the touch of a button, baristas can prepare a drink with the perfect coffee-to-milk ratio. The process is streamlined and automated, with the machine located beneath the countertop and the coffee poured from a swan-neck tap above. Both the milk and the coffee are poured from a single spout to create a consistent and well-proportioned drink. Plus, it’s fun to watch.
Although there’s something special about local coffee—and I will always advocate for shopping local—I’m no stranger to the odd trip to Starbucks. While most Starbucks drinks are a bit too sweet for me, I am a fan of their cold foam beverages. Fluffy, creamy, and lightly sweetened, the foam is my guilty pleasure.
In autumn, the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) is too much for me, but the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew keeps all the delightful cinnamon and nutmeg goodness of the PSL and cuts out much of the sweetness. While you wait for autumn, try the Cold Brew with Salted Honey Cold Foam.
In Bloomington, it’s hard to go wrong with coffee. With so many quality coffee roasters and shops, there’s always something new to try. Although many of our local shops are not currently offering seating due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can order online at many of their websites and request curbside service or contactless pickup. I highly recommend that you do so. If, in the process, you find a new favorite, please let me know so that I can try it, too. You can send me an email at [email protected] or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Happy sipping!