By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local
In Montclair Eats, Food writer Steven DeSalvo compares dishes at Montclair restaurants. DeSalvo has a degree in Hospitality Business Management from the University of Delaware, and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels.
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How do you choose to wake up in the morning? Almost 50 percent of Americans start each day with a cup of coffee. Montclair is absolutely no exception, with a vibrant resurgence (over the past number of years, to be fair) of specialty coffee shops, giving the big brands a serious run for their money.
I wanted to explore the local coffee scene, so I decided to try three different coffee or coffee-based beverages around town to get a feel for what is new and fun to drink in the world of coffee. I decided to visit Java Love, which has locations in both Upper Montclair and downtown. I went to the downtown location at 49 Church St. Next was Local Coffee at 107 Watchung Ave. in Watchung Plaza. Finally, I stopped at Layers of Flavors at 102 Walnut St.
At each of these establishments, I asked the Barista or in some cases, the owner, what they wanted me to try. It was great to see what a special assortment I ended up enjoying!
- At Java Love, I was given the “Patti Smith,” which was a blend of “bold coffee with cayenne pepper and cinnamon.” This drink certainly helped wake me up on a cold, snowy morning. Aside from the caffeine, the pretty intense spice from the cayenne pepper (it is quite spicy!), along with the beautiful floral character, provided by the cinnamon made for an exciting, multi-sensory experience. If you like a little spice in your morning brew, definitely give this drink a try!
- Local Coffee in Watchung Plaza served up one of their specialty drinks, which was quite delicious. They call it the “Cinnamon Toast Crunch.” It contains two shots of espresso, cinnamon, Maldon sea salt and foamed oat milk. The oat milk provided a distinct oatmeal flavor that brought its own nuttiness to the equation. Combined with the nuttiness already in the coffee, this drink had intense layers of flavor and texture. The sea salt helps to bring all of that depth of flavor to the forefront, as well as increasing the noticeability of the cinnamon. This drink is both different and delicious.
- Layers of Flavors on Walnut street is putting coffee itself at the forefront. My conversation with the owner very quickly made it clear that I would be receiving an espresso. The coffee they use is from a company called Devoción, based in Colombia. The beans are sent fresh to a roaster in Brooklyn that sends a delivery of freshly roasted coffee every week. This stuff is as fresh as it gets. My father is quite the “espresso aficionado,” so I have an appreciation for the craft, and this espresso was the real deal: Very balanced acidity, delightful crema, and intense texture. Be sure to give it a try!
All three of these establishments provide a wonderful and unique coffee experience. I might suggest not trying them all in the same morning within 30 minutes of each other, because I am not likely to sleep for the next day or so!
In this article:
- • Java Love
49 Church St., 973-744-2323
- • Local Coffee
107 Watchung Ave.
- Layers of Flavors
102 Walnut St., 973-860-7569