Monday, April 1, 2013

Magic Lamp

My girlfriend and I were looking for something(of a latte variety) to satiate the sweet craving that had plagued us most of the day. Enter magic lamp coffee. I know. Your mind instantly wanders to some bohemian 70s kind of deal right? Well, you'd be partially correct. Magic Lamp coffee is actually a Converted VW van- wicked cool. It's literally right outside of Sun Yat-sen MRT and was hard to pass up... If just for intrigue alone.  They also have a lot of tantalizing choices in the latte/satisfying sweet craving department. The latte I ordered had that great creamy/dessert quality I was looking for. It even proved to be too big a cup. I know. I don't even know who I am anymore. 
The menu had diverse lattes if that's your thing-all at a reasonable price considering some of the other latte prices around town. Prices averaged around 35 NT to 90 NT. Some of the latte options included Peppermint Latte, Marshmallow Latte, White Mocha....need I go on?

Who knew coffee out of a be van could be so good ?

Directly out of SunYat-Sen MRT...looking for the exact address.....

Speed it up!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mia Cafe

I had passed by Mia a few times, always intrigued, but always a bit hesitant about going in. It always seemed a bit classier than I was A) feeling or B) looked and/or was dressed. By the time I actually decided to bite the bullet and just go in, I was with my kid. Go big or go home I always say. 
As you walk in the entryway, the option is to head on upstairs. With each step upstairs the din grew louder and my heartbeat quickened as if everyone was going to be decked out in evening gowns or something. I completely know how ridiculous and irrational I sound right now.There's no need to let me know. The decor shone with brassy chandeliers and white tables; each with a sweet yellow flower that gave a needed punch of color- a contrast against the black velvety/velour chairs. The cafe itself was in an expansive area with lots of windows allowing the light to pour in, showing off the circular wall designs. It had the distinct feel of an upscale hotel dining area. The iced latte that came to the other table looked Yummy. I gave an inward squeal. I love when a trip is not wasted. I saw the woman next to me pour what appeared to be a flavor of some sort into hers. Curses. I refused to let latte envy get the best of me on this trip. It was as if I was surrounded by good looking coffee....When my hot, caffeinated beverage finally arrived, it had a milky foam and with my added sugar, it was not bold but just the right amount of sweet for my insatiable sweet tooth. All in all it turned into a delightful afternoon treat. Really good- even if swiping my neighbors drink seemed out of the question. Next time I think I would pair it with one of their dishes though - the hot cake menu looked over the top.  They also had a lovely outdoor patio area, so, coupled with the right weather would be quite nice. 
Oh yeah, and just because I'm the epitome of class, the juice runs 160-220 may want to carry a big purse with treats if you've got a toddler.  Save the cash for the hotcake.
They have the higher priced coffees i.e. Kenya, Ethiopia, Golden Mandheling from 220-250 NT. The Espresso's (cappuccino, lattes, americano..) come hot or iced and range from 160-200 NT. 

Address: 台北市敦化南路一段235之2號1樓 106 Taipei Taiwan
No.235-2, Dun-hua S. Road, Sec 1, Taipei

 Chill and Stroll- No need to rush. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cocoro Café

A couple of weeks ago my girlfriend and I met up to try out a coffee shop in TienMou. Mind you, it's Friday afternoon and my son is whipped, cranked out and REALLY not in the mood for me to go on yet another coffee bender. The whining started instantaneously upon being seated. I was in the process of doing the infamous eye roll at my kid and silently mouth to my friend that this was not going to work when she saw it. Behind the middle of the support beam in the middle of the room was a tiny oasis for mother and child alike. A Lego table. I swear to you, I think beams of light were shooting out of it- it was that magical. Wyatt was ecstatic. I was ecstatic- and I had not even ordered my coffee yet. The coffee! The menu was a mini scrapbook…. adorable, but one that I couldn't read because it was all in Chinese and Japanese.* There were some scattered pictures throughout, but I figured I was safe ordering a latte. Hot, foamy, adequate creaminess with a touch of raw sugar, it made for a lovely afternoon treat. To clarify for my friends sans kids, just because the café is home to a Lego table does not by any means turn this coffee shop into a daycare. It must be a well-kept secret, as there were only 2 kids in the whole place. The decor was country/colonial-y with wooden rafter beams, shelves of crafts for sale, and overhead lights that looked to me like they could be watering can spouts. Cocora gave off that kind of comfortable warmth that made you want to stick around for awhile, like you were in someone's home. Shoot, it's probably good they didn't have a couch in there; I could have been there all afternoon. Cocoro Cafe is definitely a place I'd go back to. I mean, if my son can stay entertained throughout a leisurely cup of joe- I'm THERE. 
 *After taking some pictures of the menu, my girlfriend in all her awesomeness translated the coffee selections for me. Cocoro uses Italian brand coffee beans, Segafredo, and they have a number of coffee options ranging anywhere from an Americano to a banana mocha latte. Served iced or hot, prices range from 110NT to 140NT.
Lane 166 Zhong Cheng Road No. 7 Section 2 ShihLin


See also Centered on Taipei Link listed below:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mask Cat Coffee and Tea Restaurant

Wyatt and I had some time to kill before going to the museum, so when I saw this cafe beckoning me from across the street.... coffee AND cats, I thought sure! Why not? 

*Let me make this disclaimer to get it out of the way. This cafe most certainly is not everyone. Particularly not for those who allergic to cats. Or those who hate cats.....or have any remote hesitancy about  cats randomly sidling up to you. I'm not really sure what I was expecting to be quite honest. Throughout the duration of our visit I saw up to 3 cats on the benches ....and the table. I know what you're thinking, but from my first impression the place was clean- sans odor. The restaurant itself was dimly lit and not shockingly, there were cat drawings, mini pictures and cat paintings adorning white/red walls. I found the place intriguing and interesting (not interesting in a bad way).
The coffee? Did I mention they sell pots of coffee!! 70-200 nt for a pot! Mask Cat also offers single origin coffees( i.e.- ethiopia moca, brazil, gold mandheling, Ethiopia yirgacheffe) I went all "frou frou"(I know...another shock) and opted for the vanilla cappuccino for 130 nt. 
At the end of the day, I felt as if a write up was warranted.....If you are a cat lover this is certainly a cafe that is worth a try.


Address: No.64, Chang'an W. Rd., Datong Dist., Taipei City 103
Tel :02 -2550-0561
Holidays: Monthly last Monday
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 11:00-22:00 / Saturday 11:00-23:00 / Sunday 11:00-20:00
(MRT Zhongshan Station)

Verdict? Hmmm.... Verdict is still out...I think I'd chill and stroll. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ueshima Coffee Lounge

Let me first make a bold statement. Ueshima is the standard by which I hold all other lattes. Decadent is a heavily weighted word that I don't throw around in casual conversation. Seriously people-I COULDN'T EVEN HANDLE THE CUP IN MY VERY  HAND. As if that wasn't enough, I about snatched my girlfriend's too. Let me blame-shift for a moment.-It was her fault. She offered. OK she offered a sip…then relented to another sip; probably upon eyeballing my pathetic longing glances at her large sesame cup of goodness(150 NT for those who want to know). Upon our arrival, the Lounge was packed. No seats. Wistfully forgoing the cool tin-looking mug I opted for a to-go cup and took the standing room only option on the patio outside. I was a bit bummed, I really wanted to enjoy the inside surroundings a bit, not to mention sit. It was also quite difficult to observe the surroundings, being as there were so many bodies. The shop itself was quite a decent size, perhaps just not as readily available for a lounger like myself on a Saturday afternoon.  When there is room to sit, the front of the shop offers deep living room type seats, while the rest of the shop has your standard table/chair/countertop seating. The coffee options? Sesame, Strawberry or Caramel Milk Coffee. MMMM. Oh, and let us not neglect the Vienna, Soy or Sugar Free Milk coffee options. I rose to the challenge and caramel being the sinister temptress that she is, had me from go(120NT). Dessert in a cup. Truly. Oh and the aforementioned Sesame Milk? Dreamy. I was tragically close to going back in and ordering another cup of coffee when I suddenly became mindful of my waistline. I did however go back in and tell the young man behind the counter how amazing my cup of coffee was- I just couldn't help myself. He humored me and nodded and smiled in all the right places all the while refraining from pushing the panic button under the counter. He even entertained my brief discussion of the coffee shop while confirming that all ingredients were from Japan. Poor guy. I decided to cut him some slack and ease up on the inquisition. The price point on the coffees ranges from a low of 70 NT dollars and goes up to 150 NT for a large cup. I'm telling you, while not on the food pyramid, a large Sesame Milk Coffee is completely worth making your breakfast. I eat dessert for breakfast don't you?     
** I don't usually recommend lattes and/or specific coffee's for people, however in this case I will make an exception. The sesame latte is a MUST TRY.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Address: no.199,Section1,DunHua South Road (ZhongXiao MRT station Exit8)
Rating? You can't run fast enough.       

See Also: Centered on Taipei Link listed below

Black Bean House Coffee

This little coffee house is a gem…..a diamond, sapphire-whatever precious stone suits your fancy. I found it kinda/sorta by accident; as the coffee shop, along with slightly obscure directions were given to me in passing conversation. I was browsing some retail shops with my son in the general described vicinity when shockingly he had to use the restroom. Even more shocking, the salesclerk said no, we most certainly couldn't use theirs. Upon our journey to find a bathroom we had a happy accident. Not in the way you may be thinking- we actually ended up arriving at our destination! I think I can speak for my son when I say it was a win-win. I walked into the shop and the smell of fresh coffee beans hit me like a load of acme anvils. The decor? Charming. It was everything a coffee house should be; quaint, a bit eclectic replete with a window front full of unground beans, grinders, coffee pots and a slew of coffee gadgets. Wooden beams with billing floral cloth overhead added softness and a homey feeling that made you want to settle in for awhile. The tables that flanked the walls each had lamps, perfect for bringing a laptop and finishing up homework, work or a really good book. Oh yes..and the coffee. Well, at the risk of sounding desperate, I really needed an afternoon pick me up- and it did the job. You all will be proud to know that I ordered a plain, no frills coffee. Just black.I believe the exact brew was Guatemala Huehuetenango SHB (for 150 nt) What is happening to me?????? The coffee was good, strong and hot. I could sip it without squinting, shuddering or involuntarily sucking in my breath. When drunk hot there was not really much of an acidic aftertaste which I appreciated. It was exactly what I was looking for. The prices ranged from medium to high depending on your roast (100NT-300NT). They had coffee from Middle and South America,Africa, Middle and South America and Asia. Seemingly something for everyone. Oh and they sell bags of beans there which = awesomeness. So you may ask, was my blind date with Black House coffee a love match? Indeed.

Address: Section 5, No 527,Zhongshan north road Shihlin


See Also: Centered on Taipei link below

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lucias Cafe

I came across this oasis on section 7 while on a search for another recommended cafe. Not having the desire to pedal a second more, I took a chance and walked into Lucia's. I'm glad I did. The outdoor space that you walk through to get inside is simply lovely. It reminded me a lot of Sonnentor's in Tienmou actually. With it's foliage and wooden dining tables, I could picture myself cozying up with a book and just "vegging" out for awhile. Inside I was immediately welcomed and provided a glass of cool tea while I was making my selection from the menu. I'm not sure if this is customary or if they were nervous my red face was giving the appearance of nearing heat-stroke like conditions. Whatever the reason, it was unexpected and a kind of those little details that one remembers when making a second visit. 
After perusing my options, I settled on a latte and took my seat. The room appeared to be divided by a sliding door and was small with that well worn feel of a grandma's house. A hodgepodge of mismatched furnishings and tables made up the decor ( yes some if it had flowers on it)but I found it to be quite homey. In fact, the longer I sat the more I felt like all the patrons just meandered into a super- nice friend's kitchen who happens to have an open -door policy. A feeling you don't get from the big chain coffee shops I may add. When my latte was set before me, so was the most delicious little bite sized oatmeal cookie . It was even warmed. Did I mention it was also complimentary? Sweet!!While the foam on my latte did not require a ruler, the coffee was strong and hot... Fantastic qualities, I may add. I have found, and have discussed with friends who agree, that all too often the ordinary latte over compensates in foam and fails to impress with the lackluster liquid underneath. I can warm my own milk at home thank you very much. With that bring said this latte was a welcome departure from what I had been encountering as of late. Verdict?I was a sweaty, albeit VERY happy camper.
Bonus? They open at 8:30 am and typically close at 9:00.
(forthcoming)Zhong Shan Road Section 7 Shihlin District
Phone- (02) 2871-2507