Notes From The Road: Travels With “Smokey...

Notes From The Road: Travels With “Smokey” and “Bubble and Squeak”

Over the past few days, has joined Counter Culture Coffee and La Marzocco USA for the East Coast debut of the Strada EP. Here’s a few notes from the first and second leg of La Marzocco Strada EP Tour 2011: Sherman’s March In Reverse. (Phrase Credited to Brian Ludviksen)

There’s about a million little details worth sharing from Scott’s presentation at the Atlanta Counter Culture TC, but that’s something we’ll be expounding upon throughout the week, as he continues his work in Washington DC and New York. Here’s a choice quote from his speech in Atlanta:

“This machine…it’s less about the art of the blend, and more about the beauty of the bean. We want to empower the barista to do more with what they have, with all of these beautiful coffees, because coffee has come so far in the last 10 years…”

Also, “rebuilds suck”, and Scott disapproves of “flavor pulsing”.While in Atlanta, we had a chance to visit these lovely shops:

Octane Coffee‘s main location has long been considered one of the best cafes in the South, but their newest location is a truly unique specialty coffee space: The Octane Pocketbar at Bank of America Center. Down a loooong hallway with huge high ceilings, past a clutch of tables adorned with copies of Barista Magazine and Fresh Cup, there sits a Strada MP, slow pour bar with Bonmac drippers, a Mahlkonig Guatemala grinder, pastries from local “oh wow” restaurant Holeman and Finch, homemade cucumber limeade, chocolate sea salt & banana pudding popsicles, and a slew of delicious coffees from Counter Culture, including the Ethiopia Shilicho and Kenya Thiriku.

Despite this clutch of gear and goodies, Pocketbar manages to be minimalist, and the setting is utterly piquant: huge floor-to-ceiling windows offer patrons a view of urban Atlanta during the long walk down the hallway, including a prime vantage point across the spires and distinctive onion dome of the historic Fox Theater. Our coffee and service was uniformly excellent, and the setting itself made my head spin. Between that long, overwhelmingly gorgeous hallway and the setting itself, the opulence and opportunity of New South urban Atlanta in the heart of the Bank Of America Center, Octane’s Pocketbar feels like something out of Tom Wolfe’s “A Man In Full”, as filmed by Kubrick.

We also had a chance to visit Condesa, in Atlanta’s Old 4th Ward / Edgewood neighborhood. Condesa currently serves Intelligentsia coffees, and they offer service on a La Marzocco GB5, Hario v60 dripper, and Chemex coffee brewer. The coffees available during our visit included Black Cat espresso, the Costa Rica Flecha Roja, and the Panama El Machete. Condesa has sort of a tin shed backyard charm, with chalk menus, concrete floors, enormous high ceilings, and a warm wood ceiling soffit directly above the bar, which helps service feel more intimate and closed in. Worth visiting.

Notes from our long drive:

*It was a really long drive.

*Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits is just okay, and can be quite treacherous.

*The vast, vast majority of what was discussed during our drive is entirely unprintable, even on a website like this (and we’ve printed some ridiculous shit).

*Brian knows everything about movies, Jordan knows a lot about jungle cats, and Scott loves fake flavored licorice.

*There should be comprehensive group health care and career advancement opportunities offered to working baristas. Any group, union or organization that offered these services would be enormously valuable to the industry, and well-worth its dues.

*Q Shack BBQ in Durham, NC. Yes.

More from us soon!


  1. jason dominy

    28 July

    The BGA is currently working on a way for baristas to obtain affordable group health insurance. Details will be made public soon. Viva Barista.

    • Nina

      4 December

      Great write up though a shame you had a few bad cups that day. I must rebmemer not to get on the wrong side of Fergus!Thanks for coming over to the event we always enjoy the mixture of people and the mixture of coffees!More videos in future. We’ll see if we can try and get the Winter Espresso to the top of your list of our espressos

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