There are a few facial expressions that will inevitable make me laugh. The half-grimace is amusing, as is the perpetual smile, especially in curious situations. An awestruck reaction is also priceless. Who doesn’t love seeing that moment when someone breaks their composure and their demeanor shifts?
I’m willing to bet that my face was distorted in the above manner when I arrived at Artifact Coffee in Baltimore. After a long and stressful morning, I craved a comfortable cafe in which to relax. Leaving New York can do that to this girl.
A group of us were pushed into a car like the Japanese on a rush hour commuter train. We nearly missed the entrance to the cafe. It’s not visible from the street and the sign, while a light house to those fluent in third-wave cafes, is extremely discreet. Luckily, I spotted the drifted wood and rushed out of the car.
Artifact Coffee was huge: a two room shabby-chic ode to the brew. The front room had a huge bar with an impressively sparse display case of pastries. There was a communal table and four little ones arranged around a corner with bench seating. In the second room, there were four more tables, each of which coule easily fit a herd of five poeple. For the laptop armies — they’re a national tribe! — there was a long bar with six chairs. In New York, there could easily have been twice as many people in half as much space.
Artifact brews Counter Culture, which isn’t surprising given Baltimore’s relative proximity to their North Carolina headquarters. I ordered a cortado, which was great; rich and satisfying without being heavy. There was the sweetness of milk chocolate without any of the cloying aspects. My other ordered a pour over, Las Milpas, which we all loved. We loved it so much in fact, that I bought a bag of it when I returned home.
The food, I should note, is also top notch. I adored the tofu-mushroom burger and the salads were nice as well. If you order to soba salad, use the hot sauce. Artifact coffee may be in Baltimore, but it feels like an oasis of family hip New York.
Where do you go to relax when you’re away from home?