A few weeks ago, I visited Cafe Demitasse in Little Tokyo and had a delightful experience there. This is a short review of Cafe Demitasse with a discussion on coffee brewing methods.
Normally, I do not dedicate an entire post to a single coffee shop. But this is a bit different. I have been working (procrastinating) on a coffee roasters review post for over a month now, but I still need some time to finish that. In the meantime, I would like to keep the blog semi-active. Besides, I have written quite a few two thousand words posts recently and feel like I (and the readers?) should take a break with a shorter one. So, enjoy this short little review.
135 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
This is not my first time visiting Demitasse. Little over a year ago in January 2018 when I was touring Little Tokyo, I also visited this coffee shop. I wasn’t that into coffee back then and didn’t know much about it either. However, I was amazed by the various kinds of drinks they offered. I remember getting a citrus-infused coffee made from a vacuum pot. The taste was decent, and this unique way of brewing coffee left a strong impression. Now a year later with me back in Little Tokyo, I decided to check it out again.
From reading my previous posts, you would notice that I write about my ordering process a lot. Not because I want to drag the posts longer, but because I truly spend a lot of effort into deciding on what to order. I am extremely indecisive. I would have a general idea about what to order, but it is often difficult to get down to a precise item. Choosing one means giving up potential experiences with all other choices. Therefore, I should aim to choose one that will give me the best experience.
It was a quiet Friday morning and there wasn’t anyone in the line, so I had the opportunity to ask the barista for his recommendations. And I did, shamelessly asking him about nearly every drink on the menu. In the end, I ordered the “one coffee, three ways,” a single blend brewed in three different ways: espresso, drip, and their specialty Kyoto cold brew. It seems to be the most suited choice for indecisive people, paying the price of one to taste three. The blend itself comprises washed processed El Salvador and Guatemala, which creates a nice balance between fruit and chocolate notes. If I have to guess this seems to be an espresso blend.
Now, some may have the question of why brew the same coffee in three different ways? Wouldn’t the only difference be temperature and concentration? Well, different brewing methods can bring out distinctive flavor notes of the coffee and produce drinks with different tastes. This makes the world of coffee brewing so fascinating. Here I will discuss the brewing methods and their respective tastes. Even though I had experienced many brewing methods myself, I had never conducted a side-by-side tasting of the same beans brewed with different methods. So this was a brand new experience for me. The barista recommended the order of consuming from the espresso on the left to the seltzer water on the right, so I followed his instructions.
First the espresso. It is the base of some of the most popular drinks sold in coffee shops, from americanos to cappuccinos. Espresso is made by using high pressure to force water to flow through the fine coffee grounds, resulting in a highly concentrated drink with a rich flavor. It is, however, a delicate drink that depends heavily on many variables, including the quality of beans, input dose, output yield, grind size, extraction time, machine pressure, tamping pressure, water temperature, etc. Therefore, it is challenging to make a good espresso. So how does this one taste? The aroma is pleasant, sweet ginger combines with nuts and chocolate. The taste is more on the acidic side, which suggests light to medium roasted coffee. There are strong ginger and syrup flavors, with a hidden watermelon note that unveils in the mouth. Overall an excellent espresso.
Second, drip coffee. Drip coffee is commonly known as “black coffee” or “brewed coffee.” Put coffee grounds on a filter inside a large container, then pour water on top, allowing it to seep through the grounds. It is the most basic coffee, but I found that with a proper brewer and high-quality beans, drip coffee can be surprisingly decent. Compares to the espresso, drip coffee offers a more “gentle” experience. This cup has a more earthy, barley tea-like aroma. The ginger note is a lot more “cloudy” this time, no longer pronounced but more balanced mixed with other flavors. The overall taste is reminiscent of a warm winter melon soup.
Finally, the Kyoto cold brew. This is different from the usual cold brew. Most cold brew methods are immersion brewing, allowing the coffee grounds to sit in water, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator, for a long period to extract the flavors. Kyoto cold brew, on the other hand, is percolation brewing, which iced water, a drop at a time, drips through the coffee grounds. Since both cold brew methods use cold water for brewing, they hide out the acidity and give a more earthy, nutty flavor. This cup has a smooth caramel flavor, giving it an overall milk tea-like mouthfeel.
Oh, and the seltzer water. 10/10 best drink I have ever had.
But Jokes aside, I realized that serving a cup of seltzer water with espresso has become a common practice in third-wave coffee shops. The water can cleanse the palate, either before consuming the espresso to clear out other tastes or after to remove unpleasant aftertaste. It is certainly an interesting practice to note.
If you ever visit Little Tokyo or downtown LA area, I would recommend you to try out Cafe Demitasse. They make amazing coffees and use some unique brewing methods. I had a pleasant experience there, and I think no matter how much you are into coffee, you can always find a drink suited for you.
(I want to say expect some new posts in the following weeks but I can’t promise that :P)