The first thing I do when planning to visit a new city is think: where am I going to get coffee? It’s the first thing I did for Pavia (flipping through a gourmet traveller’s guide to Italy) and something I did preemptively for Milan (thanks to an article in AFAR). I enjoy the search, I enjoy figuring out which places will be good and which places will be garbage. While yelp and urbanspoon reviews are generally unhelpful (do they have the standards I have?), the cafes website can tell you quite a bit.
I had high coffee hopes for Providence. Something online I read named them as the number four coffee city in America (above New York). The New York Times article mentioned White Electric, people seemed to like their coffee. Everything seemed to be positive. Not to mention, the week before I had been to a coffee shop outside of New York that served perfectly fine coffee. I would be getting perfectly ace cappuccini, wouldn’t I?
Well, maybe not.
The coffee I got in Providence wasn’t bad, per se, it just was average. On general, the coffees were better than something you’d find at Starbucks (thought that isn’t hard) but had the craftsmanship of something you’d find in a solidly mid range cafe. Okay, drinkable, but made for the masses. In some places I was surprised, in some places I was disappointed.
The croissants? It was fun to try, but I didn’t really expect them to be any good!
The first cafe we went to. Although I read more about teir philanthropic efforts than about their coffee, it seemed like quite the Providence institution. While this one looks pretty middling, it was much more pleasant than you’d guess. It was light tasting, while still managing to get an interesting nutty/chocolaty flavor in there. I liked it and would drink it again.
This was supposed to be the coffee to have in Providence. Well, maybe it was the cafe to have it in, but I thought the coffee was lack luster. Poorly frothed milk, bland tasting coffee, it was pretty average. The decor looked like Gorilla Coffee in New York, which is not something I count as positive. The croissant was perfectly fine — I would have loved it in Bristol. It was slightly dry, but decently airy with pull-apart layers and a faint butter flavor.
No one recommended this one to me (I had to search for it long and hard), but it was by far the best coffee we had. The milk was perfect, but much more evenly steamed than any of my other cappuccini. True, the cortado my dad got was oversized, but they served it in a gibraltar glass. The flavor was pleasant and original, not deep, but perfectly light. My croissant was a bit less lackluster. It hit an interesting medium between bready and pastry that I have not yet encountered. There were layers that tasted buttery, but they were still remarkably close together. Props for ingenuity? My dad got a bagel that came with, what we assume was, homemade peanut butter. Insanely good! I would go and get a bagel there just for that.
Do you enjoy trying new coffee shops/cafes/restaurants when you travel? Where do you look for advice?