Adam likes coffee, maybe a little too much. Chrissi, not as much.
Join the weekly conversation as they check out all the shops around town and let . Whether you enjoy the occasional sip or need a constant I.V. drip of that brown bitter bean water, we’ll let you in on which places have the best brews in town.
And no, decaf will NOT be entertained. Ever.
Rising Star Coffee Roasters
13368 Madison Avenue; Lakewood, Ohio
Rising Star Coffee has more than one location around town, but far from being considered a franchise, the shop on Madison Avenue has all the attention to detail and quality service that you’d expect from a boutique establishment. As we endeavor to deliver a coffee review that caters to your actual life, I’ll be reviewing Rising Star with a massive hangover the night after celebrating my birthday so we’ll see how Rising Star fares when facing a particularly rough morning after.
And for those playing along at home, we’ll be pairing today’s drinks with The International Vicious Society: Volume III and Tears for Fears; Songs from the Big Chair.
THE HOUSE COFFEE
Adam: I walked in in a blur. Probably unprofessional for a reviewer, but I couldn’t be asked to pay attention to anything in my state. Thankfully, you just say the word “coffee” and they take care of it from there. Strong and hot, the cup was tart and well overpowering if you’re taking it black.
Chrissi: Yeah, really hot, really strong. As for black coffee, no way. This was too much for me.
A: It does take you off guard if you’re not prepared. To take it black, yeah, I’d pass. But with some cream? This is right on. It wasn’t bitter at all though.”
C: “Are you sure? It seemed really sharp to me.”
A: “It definitely depends to taste, but I’d say tart, more than anything. You don’t need to add any sugar to make it sweet, that’s how you can tell if it’s bitter or just punchy. For me, I just add a bit of dairy to balance out the acidity and I’m really impressed with this brew. It’s a really strong cup of coffee that isn’t over-brewed or upsetting to a potentially volatile stomach.
THE SPECIALTY (Cardamom Bomb)
C: “I loved this, maybe more than anything I’ve tried so far.”
A: “Yeah, they infuse brown sugar and cardamom into the milk as they steam it. So, it’s a latte but it has that hint of chai to it without confusing or combating tastes.”
C: “It’s so smooth, but not bland. Such a unique taste.”
A: “Yeah, I haven’t seen this offered elsewhere. Like, chai lattes, sure. This is specific to its own. The brown sugar makes it stand out more than, say, just pouring half a chai and half a regular latte into a cup. No shortcuts here. Would you get this again if you went back there?”
C: “Oh yes, I really like this one. This one’s a winner.”
A: “It’s got a bit of a chain store feel with the brand-specific t-shirts for sale by the door but the small retail aspect is a far cry from the Hard Rock Café. Their glass bottles of locally sourced honey are gift basket centered but it’s priced to move as a tempting take home purchase too. Great source of daylight through their glass windowed storefront and the luck of the side of the street they’re situated on. You could plunk down for a while and get some work done here, if you wanted.
“The menu was not really user-friendly. The chalkboard near the counter was just too busy with countries of origin, etc. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it all in my bleary-headed state and was frustrated just looking it; overwhelming to a point.”
C: “Yeah, I didn’t know what that chalkboard was trying to say. I thought they were cookie flavors at first, then maybe coffee, then I gave up. But, I’m the rookie. What’s your excuse?”
A: “Thankfully, you can bypass all the specificity and just say ‘coffee’ and they’ll take it from there. Conversely, they don’t leave you hanging if you’d like a little guidance or a 101 on anything that strikes your fancy.
C: It was bright and very welcoming. They know what they’re doing without coming off pretentious. There were were customers inside but it didn’t have a crowded feel. A good flow to it.
A: “The food, behind the small glass display case on the counter, all looked like shiny props of what you’d expect to find during a stage play that featured a coffee shop; all a little ‘Uncanny Valley’. I just want a regular donut with my coffee without having to go to Dunkin’.”
C: Not a lot of nibbles. But what they had were good.
A: Better be a damn good cheese Danish for $3.50.
“Okay, that is pretty damn good.”
C: “It’s so fresh.”
A: “I’d eat that even without the cheese, just the bread.”
C: It’s got the texture and taste of a croissant, not just squishy regular ‘whatever’ dough.”
A: Crispy, flaky dough. Buttery rich. I like it. I’m pretty thrifty (cheap) and even I have to say that this is worth every penny, but not something I’d splurge on every morning.
A: “Super-chill. They aren’t overly-bubbly to a point of obnoxiousness. Their positivity wasn’t aggressive, which would be jarring to someone in my state when I entered, but they were still friendly. They give you a second to acclimate when you walk in but they don’t leave you hanging, either. He could tell I was adrift for a moment and kind of steered me toward a decent drink.
A: “We got a regular coffee, a latte, and a Danish. Over ten bucks in damage is a little too rich for my blood.
C: “Yeah, but it was soooo good.”
A: “True, nothing is half-measure at Rising Star. You get what you pay for. From the house blend to the dubiously priced Danish, everything proves worth its weight when it comes down to quality. You’re not blowing money on fru-fru sugary dessert drinks, you’re getting skilled baristas and bakers making incredibly well-crafted drinks and bakery eats that more than makes everything worth it.
“If I required anything more than a regular cup of quality coffee, I couldn’t budget Rising Star into part of a daily routine, but it is definitely merits the frequent splurge whenever you’re looking to treat yourself.
THE ALBUMS: (The International Vicious Society: Volume III; Tears for Fears: Songs from the Big Chair)
A: “The opening track off of The International Vicious Society, “Psicosis” by Geval Trio is readymade for a Cohen Brothers montage of someone walking across the desert. Billed as ‘Mexican psycho-cats, Columbian folk and roll, French, Arabic, Spanish hillbilly, Argentinean Gothic, Swiss, Beat, punk, twist from outer space and more…’ I like it, but what is it, really?
C: They’re not a band, per say. They were just a group of students and friends who got together and formed a group where artists and musicians could get together and collaborate. That’s why all the tracks are from all over the world.
A: It’s surprising they didn’t make a bigger dent considering all of the talent they gathered together from, really, all over the world. Just the diversity of culture and sound is such a deep cut for one vinyl record. The album is like some sort of strange artifact, eclectic and anomalous.
C: I think they were based out of France, so you probably had a lot of international students passing by from night to night. The liner notes say they were kicked out of ‘university’ for attempting to make ‘illicit drugs’.”
A: Such a fun album. It’s like a good wallpaper for whatever room you’re in; just fills in the scene and makes it brighter without distracting you. Every track makes you want to dance. –So, I all but wrote off the ‘80s until you got me hip to the wonders of post-punk, Tears for Fears sort of bends back to a more pop sensibility, no?”
C: “They’re pop, yeah, but its sad pop. Almost dark. Like “Shout” is a sad song when you really listen to it. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ is poppier. It’s so dopey, but so popular.”
A: “I think they should lean into their poppiness. It’s not like they’re ever going to on the same footing as Joy Division or the Smiths. Just steer into the skid. I mean, they have to be riffing off of Simon and Garfunkel’s cover for Bookends, right? –I mean, “Mothers Talk”? This is beyond the bend.
C: The vocals are so over the top and silly on that track. It’s completely ridiculous.
A: I’d like to get a cut of the track as an instrumental because the actual backing track is really fun. Roland Orzabal is killing it on keyboards. Very video game orientated.
C: Every play Lifeforce for NES? This sounds like that game.
A: I was thinking Battletoads, but, yeah, we’re in the cuff with this one.