I knew my visit to Noble Coffee Roasters would include some respectable coffee, but I had no idea I might try an entirely new drink made from the pulpy flesh that surrounds the coffee bean (seed). This Caracas tonic was so delightful on a summer afternoon, that it made me question why I ordered hot coffee in the first place. However, after I received my extraordinary brew I was blown away by the quality of both of my drinks.
I stopped in to Noble Coffee on a warm, late August afternoon. It was one of those hot breezy days in Ashland where the wind feels a bit like a hair dryer blowing on you. The coolness of Noble’s interior was a welcome respite to otherwise hot winds. Similarly, I was looking forward to an afternoon caffein pick-me-up to help me through the summer heat.
Noble Coffee Cafe Visit
I knew before stopping in this would be my official visit to the cafe that I would use for this review. So when I walked up to the counter, I asked for the best coffee they had. You see, in some of the previous research I did on Noble, I knew they had some peculiar ways of brewing coffee so I was hoping the barista would point in that direction. Clearly, what might be “the best” for me, might not certainly be the best for someone else. So the barista understandably asked what sort of coffee I liked. I replied with how my tastes usually side with most fine foods, wines and coffee, “I generally like my coffee big and bold”.
The barista let me try some Guatemalan that was freshly brewed. He didn’t claim it to be too bold and it fell short for my style. But I could still appreciate its well rounded body, light aside and hints of citrus. Overall, it had outstanding flavor and passes my “excellent cup of coffee” test. He then mentioned that they could brew me anything from the beans they had, which was a great selection. After some brief discussion I decided on the Columbia “Los Vascos”. Now the visit began to get really interesting.
The barista gave me two different brewing options: 1) chemex or 2) siphon. I’ve seen chemex setups before, but a siphon coffee? This was totally new to me. Obviously, I chose number two which involved a setup that would look right at home at a SOU chemistry lab.
At this point another barista came over to start making my “chemistry coffee”. After she explained how the siphon worked and chit-chatted about botany and coffee plants. She asked if I wanted to try Caracas Tonic. I was like, “huh, cara what?” Then I saw it written on the menu and she explained what it was. Caracas tonic is made by steeping the “husks” from the coffee beans, then adding some lemon and agave as a sweetener. It is then infused with CO2. The end product: a lovely, sparkling drink. The barista poured me a sample to try. The flavor was mild, yet refreshing; sweet, yet tart. Put simply, on a hot summer day, it was decidedly delicious.
I watched her finish brewing my coffee via the siphon setup (also known as a vac pot or vacuum coffee maker). It was fun to watch the water rise up through the tube into the chamber with the grounds and smell the wonderful aroma.
When the coffee was done I was given a coffee cup and a glass carafe to hold the remaining brew. At last, I finally sat down to try the siphon coffee. Normally I drink coffee with cream, but for this cup, I drank it black in order to fully experience it. The coffee was rich and creamy, full-bodied but not overly bitter. All in all, it was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. At $5 a popup I can’t say I’ll get one everyday, but I don’t buy any coffee drink everyday.
Around the Cafe
The cafe is large with tall ceilings and an uncluttered feeling. There is a separate room with a glass door and window that houses roasting equipment. On earlier visits I saw them roasting small batches of beans watching a laptop with fancy graphs on it. My understanding is they take this roasting and coffee business very seriously.
The cafe has abundant seating options. Eight or so small tables for four are spread out. Another corner has a larger table for six and there are two bars with stools. There is also a couch tucked away in the corner. And my favorite spot is the four ergonomic chairs around a lower coffee table. There is free open wifi (no password required). The bars have outlets and a few other outlets are scattered about. There are also a few tables outside on the sidewalk that are shaded in the afternoon.
They have an interesting collection of carafes and coffee brewing apparatuses (or is that apparati?) on some of the shelves. They also sell french presses, carafes and other coffee paraphernalia.
Here are the roasts that were available for brewing on my visit. The prices are cheap, but based on my sampling, these are some superb beans. They are all organic and handcrafted.
With so much coffee drinking going on, it’s just a matter a time until some needs a restroom. Noble Coffee cafe has two unisex bathrooms that were large and clean. (Well actually, the one I went into was large and clean, I’ll be honest, I didn’t check the other one.)
If you are a cyclist and ride to the cafe, they have an indoor bike rack. This is a great option in case you forget your lock. There is also a bike rack outside.
For dog lovers, like myself, there is a water bowl outside.
Areas for Improvement
Clearly, Noble Coffee has refined their coffee roasting to an exceptional degree. I can’t ask for a better cup of coffee. If they asked me to suggest a few things, here they are:
- Stay open later. They close at 4pm everyday and I know I’d certainly like it if they stay opened to 5 or 6pm.
- More food selections. I did see a few items in a glass case, but I really think it was 3 items. Now if each one is as good as their coffee, then three is probably all you need. However, I’m a sucker when it comes to a fresh baked, handcrafted bear claw, but I didn’t see that offered.
It’ll be hard to find a better cup of coffee in Ashland, let alone the Rogue Valley. The comfortable atmosphere, outstanding brew and welcoming baristas make this one of my favorite places in Ashland. Go there, you won’t be disappointed.
Noble Coffee House is located on 4th St in the Railroad District of Ashland, Oregon. The cafe is open from 7am to 4pm everyday. The do provide wholesale beans and services which you can read more about on their website. Peasants, serfs and royalty are all welcome equally to their noble establishment.
Have you been to Noble Coffee cafe or been fortunate enough to try it somewhere else? Do you think there is a better cup of joe to be had? Let me know, I’d love the feedback.
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