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Daily Press: not your typical coffee shop

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This article was published at CharlotteFive on March 11, 2015. It looks so pretty on their website, you may want to read it there instead: http://www.charlottefive.com/the-daily-press-clt-not-your-typical-coffee-shop/

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The Daily Press CLT: not your typical coffee shop

by Jody Mace

At first glance, The Daily Press CLT doesn’t seem much like the typical coffee shop. There are no over-stuffed chairs. There might be a slightly lower than usual number of laptops in use. Instead, there’s a higher concentration of beards and tattoos. The furniture consists of a few tables and chairs, pushed around as needed, and the walls are plastered with posters for upcoming concerts. During the day The Daily Press uses the space that The Evening Muse fills with music at night. It’s at 3227 North Davidson Street, right on the corner of 36th Street.

The first time I peeked in during the day, I wasn’t sure I’d find it comfortable as a coffee spot, despite the hundreds of times over the years I’d frequented the NoDa venue at night to hear music. I’m glad I gave it a try. Now it ranks among my favorite spots in Charlotte for coffee, primarily because of all the other ways that it’s atypical.

Adventurous coffee menu

Full disclosure: I’m an unapologetic fan of complicated coffee drinks. I do appreciate good coffee, straight-up, or a simple latte, but if a barista has put together a really elaborate concoction, I’m going to try it. Same reason as why I’ll try any insane thing that an excellent chef creates, or why I definitely want to hear the latest song by a brilliant, unpredictable songwriter. When someone combines talent and risk-taking, interesting things happen and you should say yes.

Life is too short to say no to “Tim and Eric’s Awesome ‘Spro Great Shot.”

Sit back, relax and read this description: “A double shot of espresso, split in half. One shot is sweetened with a strawberry-basil sauce and topped with whipped cream, fresh basil and star anise. The other shot is sweetened with spiced vanilla sugar and topped with whipped cream, spiced onyx mint chocolate and a Pakistan rosebud.”

Or “Fig’s Particle Collider”: “Iced Aleme Wako coffee, shaken with fig and orange bitters and fig and ginger sauce, sprinkled with Mayan cocoa and garnished with a fresh orange peel and clove, served with Whisk & Wood chocolate-dipped orange macaroon.”

How do owner Lindsey Pitman, head barista Diana Mnatsakanyan, and the rest of the staff come up with this stuff?

“We’re very fortunate that Savory Spice likes to work with us,” Pitman says. “So I’ll just go in there and, knowing the coffees that we’ll have, we try to base them around the coffees that we have and highlight the flavors, the natural flavor notes in the coffee. I’ll just see things that stand out to me, that are really interesting, like the pistachio that they have there and the different Pakistan rose buds, and then try to incorporate good flavors that will pair with them. A lot of trial and error.”

The process takes a little while. Consider yourself lucky if you’re in the coffee shop when they’re developing a new recipe.

“Usually we have a solid idea of how the flavors will taste together before we start, but it usually takes two or three days of us adjusting. Like if we’re adding bitters, do we add eight or twelve drops of bitters? If we’re adding extracts, the extract to syrup ratio. All of that takes probably two or three days, and we’ll try to have as much input as possible, so those are always fun, the days when we’re trying to hone the recipe, because we offer a lot of free samples to people.”

What I got when I asked for something “hot and fancy:”

something-hot-and-fancy

Important note: Most of the drinks described and pictured here are seasonal winter drinks, so you might not be able to order them for long. Spring drinks are on the way.

The ingredients

Pitman sources her ingredients carefully. Besides the ingredients she finds at Savory Spice, she buys milk from Hunter Farms, which is right outside of Charlotte. She will soon be adding essential oils to the coffee drinks and signature beverages. As far as the coffee itself, she works with several specialty roasters, including Mountain Air Roasting out of Asheville and Counter Culture out of Durham, and will often feature guest roasters’ products as well.

But don’t be scared

If ingredients like cascara-molasses make you a little uneasy or if you just don’t want black walnut and brandy extract syrup in your latte, no problem! Just because Pitman and Mnatsakanyan are intense about coffee doesn’t mean you have to be.

Pitman says, “Honestly, I feel like a lot of people who have been intimidated come in and then they meet us, and they realize, yes, we are intense about coffee, but it’s because we love it and we want to share everything about it with people. It’s not like we’re pretentious about it. We just really, really, really like it and we want everyone else to like it as much as we do. But we don’t force it on anybody. If someone comes in and they like vanilla lattes we have that. We make our vanilla in house. There’s not one drink that I push on people. It’s a matter of collaborating with each customer and figuring out what is going to make them happiest.”

And if you do want to order something unfamiliar, don’t be afraid to ask how to drink it. I had to ask when I ordered this. PSA: don’t eat the flower.

Instructions-needed-coffee

Which leads to the thing that sold me on The Daily Press…

A customized experience

Just the third time my husband and I visited, Pitman knew our names, and, even more impressively, remembered that my husband likes the Pistachio Agave Latte and that I like something different every time.

I ask her how she does that. (Especially since I can’t even remember what I ordered.)

“That’s a part of the collaboration. It’s a process and we kind of go through this experience together of finding out something that you’re going to enjoy. And if you come to me and you say that our collaboration was successful then I want to remember that because we both put in effort to find something that was going to make you happy.”

“So it’s personal?” I ask.

“It’s very personal. I’ve never liked when people would say ‘It’s just business, it’s not personal’ because to me, business, if you’re passionate about it, is so personal.”

Friday Night Lights - 2015 CrossFit "NoDa" Open

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10268434 646071872147126 483822545042005889 nThe CrossFit Games is the first stage of the worldwide competition. The Open is a 5-week event with the workout announced Thursday night.

CrossFit NoDa will host the Open workouts on Friday evenings, February 27 to March 27, from 6-8pm. Come out to cheer our athletes as they need your support to perform their best.

We need the support of our community to cheer us on. Event starts at 6pm. Stop in at 624 Anderson Street! 

See Facebook Event

10176178 697876946966618 2897926777624289543 n

The Island of Interesting

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Directly from: https://www.ourstate.com/noda/

NoDa Is Charlotte’s Island of Interesting

  • By Jeremy Markovich
  • Photography by Patrick Schneider


NoDa, Charlotte’s historic arts neighborhood, reflects the ever-changing New South right now — no telling what it’ll be tomorrow.

noda featIt happened right in front of me: A guy sheepishly walked up to a man, perched on a barstool, wearing a camouflage hat, sweatshirt, and fleece. They talked under the din of the crowd. Cash was exchanged. They both walked out to the parking lot, opened a trunk, and completed the sale. When the guy in the fleece got back, I asked him what I’d just witnessed. He sold that guy two 22-ounce bottles of beer for $25 each, he said proudly.

Ray Bellen, Fleece Man, drove to NoDa Brewing from Mooresville, got there at 7 a.m., huddled in the cold, pounding rain until the doors opened at 9, then waited for 84 people ahead of him in line to buy cases of NoDa’s Monstro Russian imperial stout before Ray got his hands on his. NoDa is arguably the most popular of the neighborhood’s three breweries, and it didn’t take long for word to spread about Monstro: a limited-run beer with the alcohol content of a glass of wine, aged in Van Winkle bourbon barrels. It was gone in just a few hours, leaving beer lovers who didn’t have Ray’s forethought looking for people willing to scalp them.
hopdropIn NoDa, shifty eyed-looking guys making deals in parking lots now has a whole new meaning. The neighborhood is Charlotte’s experiment in coexistence. It is the litmus test of a New South neighborhood in North Carolina’s New South city, where change is constant and tradition continually gives way to new ideas. The rent is low in some spots and high in others, so things that seemingly have nothing in common sit right next to one another. A car repair shop, with middle-aged S10’s and Oldsmobiles, sidles up to the Solstice Tavern, whose bricks have been painted with a yellow-and-blue sunburst. The Evening Muse is a dreamy spot to catch up-and-coming musicians. There’s a head shop next door. The Neighborhood Theatre, the hottest music venue in the neighborhood, used to show XXX-rated movies decades ago. Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen has fried alligator tail on the menu. Amélie’s French Bakery sells éclairs 24 hours a day. There are creatively named hangout spots: The Dog Bar and Smelly Cat Coffee. Old mills are now apartments. During the week, the neighborhood’s dead. On weekend nights, the wait at restaurants can top two hours. There are painstakingly intricate murals painted on some buildings, and spray-painted graffiti on others.

NoDa began as a mill village along North Davidson Street (hence the name NoDa). After the last mill closed in 1975, the neighborhood drifted into poverty and crime before becoming an edgy punk rock oasis in the 1990s, thanks to the now-closed Fat City Deli. At the same time, NoDa started billing itself as an arts district, where the low rents were supposed to encourage the most creative among us to move in, make things, and sell them nearby. But the recession killed off most of the galleries on North Davidson, going from eight in 2006 to just one now. The rest left, closed, or found other ways to survive — paintings still line the walls, but the center of the stores are now full of display cases, trinkets, or tattoo artists.

christrappereveningmuse“I don’t think galleries could survive on waiting to sell a painting a month,” says Teresa Hernandez, who owns Pura Vida Worldly Art, a store on North Davidson that sells $20 T-shirts and $8,000 paintings. She’s adapted. She’s been in Charlotte for more than 15 years. NoDa’s better now than when she got here. Cleaner. Safer. Busier. Now, between 70 and 80 percent of her clientele are people in from out of town, many referred to NoDa by people working at hotel counters. When tourists ask for a cool place to go in Charlotte, this is where they’re sent. And so NoDa remains an island of interesting in a corporate town, where Charlotte’s history has been remade into its present. The smell of the mills is gone, and the smell of Cabo Fish Taco now drifts down the sidewalk. Growlers Pourhouse serves craft beer, fresh oysters, and sausage. New apartments are going up north of 36th Street. To the west, a light-rail line is taking shape. NoDa is slowly becoming newer. It’s pushing outward. It’s changing. And that’s OK. “This neighborhood can have development and be full of character,” Hernandez says.

It’s not neat. It’s not orderly. It’s not finished. It’s not what it once was, and soon, it might not be what it is now. It might not be what you expect. But really, where’s the fun in that?