Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Amherst Coffee (Amherst/Greenfield/Northampton, MA)

Amherst Coffee, also known as Greenfield Coffee and Northampton Coffee, is one of a couple great options for a good, strong brew in Amherst or Northampton, and really the only good option in Greenfield.  I haven't been to the Northampton branch yet, but I have been to both Amherst and Greenfield several times, and as a person who likes both good, strong coffee and loose leaf tea, I'm a huge fan.

Amherst Coffee, which is the original location, is actually called a coffee and whisk(e)y bar, offering their standard options of fresh coffees from the Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, a Boston based company that supplies all their beans.  In a world occupied primarily by people who think that Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have "good" coffee, a place that doesn't over-roast their coffee or make it as watery as possible is a blessing.  They have great lattes and cappuccino as well, for those who prefer a little fancier option than simple coffee.

However, as good as the coffee is (and it's damn good), the tea is really what makes Amherst Coffee stand out; their menu includes several black and green teas, as well as an oolong or two.  All are loose leaf, adding a level of "freshness" to the tea that you won't see in bagged teas purchased at the store.  They serve the tea by giving you a small pot of water with the tea suspended in it via a small basket, which you can remove when the tea has steeped to your preferred level, giving you what I'm going to guess is in the 16oz range of tea; the cups they use are large, heavy glass, which appear to be a little larger than most home mugs.

The requisite pastries that they offer are only okay; I had a croissant with my iced tea, and while it was flaky, I'm about 99.9% sure that it was not made with the proper amount of butter (if any at all), so it lacked the exceptionally rich flavor I associate with a really good croissant.  I've had cookies there before as well, and again, they were nothing special, though at least everything tastes as if it really was made that day as they claim on their website.

Amherst is the only location that serves alcohol, and it's unfortunate, because they offer a truly amazing selection of spirits, including a few I'd never even heard of, like Anchor Distilling's Old Potrero 18th Century Single Malt Rye.  Among their more impressive offerings are a wide selection of A.H. Hirsch bourbons, including a 16 year aged option that was distilled in 1974, and 22 and 25 year aged varieties as well.  They have a fantastic selection of Scotch, including Lagavulin Distiller's Edition, which I'm dying to try once I find it in my heart to spend $18 on a glass of whisky.  They also have Glenrothes 32 year old and Laphroiag 30 year old, two of the older Scotches you'll find outside of a specialty bar in a large city (or, you know, Scotland).  If this sounds intimidating, don't worry; there are some more moderately priced options as well, such as Aberlour's 12 and 16 year varieties, Laphroiag Cask Strength 10 year old, and Ledaig 10 year old.
Also, while I've never had it, they have Suntory Yamazaki whisky, from Japan's first and oldest whisky distillery.

If you're not into drinking whisk(e)y straight, the bar offers numerous cocktails, as well as a few beers, and a pretty interesting looking wine selection.  They also list a few snack options, such as olives, almonds, and boquerones (anchovies); at some point I'll try them, as boquerones are among my favorite things.


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