I don’t know about you, but for some reason I have a thing for coffee shop/book store combos. I EVEN will go to a Barnes & Noble despite the Starbucks because of the atmosphere it offers. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dawson’s and Rembrandt’s as they are, but there’s something to be said about an environment rich with literature, while the air is rich with coffee.
Red Letter Books and Cafe is located by the mall on Franklin and Milwaukee. It uses a medium Full Circle fair trade coffee, which they purchase from Rembrandt’s in Eagle (Review here).
To be honest, I’ve heard a lot about Red Letter Cafe, and even drive by it quite a bit, but have never actually walked in a bought a drink. This was a first for me.
Walking in, the first thing I saw was an employee on the phone – not unusual for a book store. What was unusual was his response as soon as I put my foot on the other side of the doorway. Setting the phone on his shoulder, he turned to me and said
My first impression of this coffee shop I’ve never been to was one of feeling not only welcome, but glad I had chosen to come here today. If nothing else, this set Red Letter Books and Cafe apart in my mind right away.
Red Letter’s coffee is delicious. I got a mocha (becoming my standard grading drink) and looked around. The store is set up like a donut – books in the middle, coffee and tables on the outside. My barista was a nice girl with a bright attitude. Again, great on the customer service. After receiving my drink, I grabbed a seat at one of the tables, flipped open my laptop, and checked for internet. Free WiFi, awesome! At this point, I took my first sip of the coffee.
I opened up Firefox on my computer, and signed on to Facebook…then realized I hadn’t actually noticed the coffee. My first thought was that this wasn’t a good thing. After all, shouldn’t good coffee really stick out? Maybe. Dwelling on this thought, it hit me: not noticing anything about a sip of coffee is probably more of a plus then a minus. As a coffee snob, that which will immediately stick out to me in a cup of joe is stuff like off texture, burnt shots, rotten milk, and temperature; in summary: bad stuff. Because nothing stuck out in this sip of my mocha, I can honestly say I found nothing wrong with my coffee. It was…really good! Taking another sip, I could taste the resemblance to Rembrandt’s coffee.
The texture was smooth and clean- no disturbances to distract. It hit my palette and the medium-roast shots revealed themselves as being full in body and well pulled (kudos to my barista). As the brew rolled to the back of my mouth, the chocolate milk made its appearance and the sweet tinge made me glad I had chosen this particular drink. I’m not sure if Red Letter uses chocolate syrup with white milk or pre-mixed chocolate milk, but either way it was well steamed. The temperature was just perfect. The coffee finished similar to how it started: clean. The chocolate left an aftertaste that, upon finishing the drink, made me want to go order another.
The thing that sticks out to me most about Red Letter Books and Cafe is the customer service. The employees are genuinely nice. This alone made my entire experience with Red Letter worth it to me. I will indeed return here.
Come to Red Letter if you have a literary work to crank out, or a person to meet. It’s a perfect place to inspire conversation and stimulate the author in all of us. Also, don’t forget to get a coffee – you won’t be disappointed!
The Coffee Guy