Everyone thinks their local coffee shop is the best and I can't fault them for it. We're all a little biased toward our local businesses and I don't have a problem with that at all. Except... when I say Square One Coffee in PA is one of the best (if not the best), I can sort of back that up.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in getting my regular (a 16-oz latte) and when the barista Sarah was about complete, she dumped my drink out and began again. She apologized and told me she wanted to start over. When I asked what happened, she explained that the shot was pulling too slow - ten seconds too slow - and she wanted to make sure it was right. That attention to detail is just one of the reasons why I love the baristas over at Square One. Tell me you're going to get that kind of attention to detail at (insert name of a popular chain coffee shop with a drive-thru here).
Square One has gradually turned me into a coffee snob. Not a coffee snob in the fact that I look down on you for drinking whatever it is you're drinking that you picked up at the gas station, but in that I've come to appreciate the tastes and flavors that can come out in a perfectly made cup. A lot of that has to do with the bean. Square One roasts their own beans, and I admire them for so closely working with the farmers who grew them. Just like pouring the perfect latte design is an art, so is the process of roasting and I don't think most people know just what goes into it (or should go into it).
Coffee cupping (the process of tasting various brews and rating them for flavor and roast) isn't unlike wine tasting, and I don't mind bragging that I can now identify a coffee's origin by taste alone. Until Square One, I didn't even know there was a difference. Probably because most of the coffee I'd had until then was burnt to a crisp or pre-ground Folgers crystals that tasted more like something that should be used to fill a litter box.
Just a few more reasons to support my Square One fanboydom: They've won multiple awards for their coffee, co-owner Jess Steffy is a judge at the regional, national, and international coffee championships, and they have people like Hadassah training their new baristas. They have Joel, Sarah, Rachel, Trevor, Justine, and Taylor working the bar (not only is it a place where everybody knows your name, but you know everyone else's name, too) who always serve me a cup that makes me pause and say, "Man, that's good."
What really stands out, though, is how they've educated me about the coffee community - and it really is a community. The next time you visit your local coffee shop, ask questions. There's a lot to learn about the beans, the farmer that grew those beans, the process, the way weather affects how a shot is pulled...it's fascinating.
So yeah. I like this mug. Not only does it represent one of my favorite coffee places or let you know what brand of coffee is currently in said mug (as is usually the case in the Placencia casa), it's also a symbol of just how good you can be when you do what you love to do and take the time to do it right.