Exploring cups of coffee from across Madison

 Mary SeGall  , Staff Writer

Calling all coffee connoisseurs! Where do you usually get your first cup of coffee in the morning? You know what I am talking about, that first cup in the morning to warm us up and actually make our brains function again! That cup starts our day; it is important to start the day off right. So where do you choose to purchase your coffee and more importantly why did you choose that brand? It is easy enough to stop at Starbucks and order the same caramel nonfat, two percent milk, drip coffee and wait in line with the rest of the morning rush but why not explore new options that can also help the community by shopping locally?  

I am an individual who enjoys her morning cup of coffee as well. It makes me feel alert and sometimes more pleasant people to be around after we have had our coffee, right? I decided to explore different coffee vendors and learn what makes them unique, maybe try a few new drink options I would have never thought to try before.  

My first stop was Moka, located on Madison’s East side on East Washington Avenue down by the mall to be exact. I had heard good things about this company but wanted to try it out for myself. Moka offers teas, lattes, cappuccinos, French roast and espresso smoothies among many others! I ordered a Cool Jamaican Cold Brew Coffee, made with Blue Mountain Coffee from Jamacia. Blue Mountain Coffee is more than often described as one of the best coffees out there due to its smooth light blend of coffee.  

I ordered my drink with coconut milk and two sugars. The service was very fast and the young lady standing outside, taking my order, was pleasant despite having to stand outside in thirty-degree weather. There is no place to go inside which I found unique from other coffee houses; it is only a drive thru. My order was taken, placed and made within five minutes and I was impressed! The cold brew Cool Jamaican was made to perfection, ice cubes layered the top but not too many to water down the drink. The amount of cream was to my liking, I drink my coffee with a decent amount of creamer, to create a lighter white colored coffee. For my first stop I would say it was going to be hard to beat.  

The next coffee house I visited was Gloria Jean’s Coffee, located in Madison’s West Towne Mall. My thought process was I wanted to review different places who serve coffee, I have heard a lot from friends about Gloria Jean’s, but I do not make it to the west side of town very often. Gloria Jean’s also proudly serves smoothies, hot coffee, blended coffee and espresso. Gloria Jean’s Coffee is a small little shop right after the food court in the West Towne Mall in Madison. It seems like they specialize in their own blends of coffee, and there were many holiday drinks available to try.  

 This time around I decided to change it up and get a still cold but blended, frozen beverage. While waiting in line to order, the workers behind the scenes were making drinks and joking with the customers so the camaraderie was not in short supply there by any means. From the time I ordered to the time I received my drink was about nine minutes, and they were not too busy when I arrived.  

The vibe I got at Gloria Jeans was not a grab your coffee and go, since you are in a mall, I guess they figure they can stop and talk to their customers and get to know them a little which was interesting and refreshing to see. My beverage was a blended coffee with mint and dark chocolate, it was very satisfying for a holiday blended coffee treat. For a place in a hurry to get coffee I would not recommend Gloria Jean’s but if you have a little time on your hands to chat while shopping at the mall then this is the shop for you! 

My last choice of coffee shops was Ancora Coffee Roasters. I’ve had Ancora coffee before and it is for the individuals that prefer a slightly stronger taste in their coffee. Their beverages include espresso, Black Thunder, French Sumatran coffee, Guatemalan, Black and Tan and Ethiopia Sideman coffee.  There is a new blend they are promoting for the holiday season called “ugly sweater,” a darker roast with a slight hint of cinnamon and citrus.  

My choice of beverage this time was a hot coffee, the Ancora D’oro blend. It has a smooth taste to it. I would call it a lighter blend of coffee which is exactly what I prefer. The aroma is slight but sweet. As I look around, the customers seem to be happy and served in a decent and timely manner. The servers were very friendly and extremely helpful in figuring out what I should order by asking about my preferences. There seemed to be good customer service!  

Out of the three coffee shops I had the honor of visiting, I must say the one that stuck out with me was Moka. All three shops were very good and different in their own way. I have dietary restrictions and they were so careful, and triple checked that my drink order was correct. 

What most impressed me was the girl went and cleaned out the utensils used for the last drink and made it with clean cups, pitchers and spoons just to ensure my safety. This really stuck out to me. The service I received was great and I will be back at Moka again soon.