lassie come home

March 30, 2007 – 12:07 am

on a blog fraught with hyperbolic overkill, what are the rhetorical options when you’ve stumbled headlong into a brew-place that’s flabbergastingly good? litotes?!

turns out that about the same time we first asked the geekers about passable espresso in this barren nexus of the country a guy in a kiosk started doing, day by day, what home junkies and establishment shunners the world over now accomplish with increasing regularity, thanks to these global innernecks — brewing and tasting, reading and brewing, brewing and serving passable spro … without any physical addict community to speak of. this was shortly after this blog last tasted of the liquid that came from the mall nook, the cozy, syrup-producing counter at the entrance to belk’s.

two years later, what we have now is something heretofore unthinkable: a sneak attack on mediocre swill in south carolina. someone who evangelizes with every pull of the lever. a dude with a self-exercised palate, an affinity for single origin and a willingness to exhaust himself on showing people how good coffee can be. somehow, staggeringly, in this here buckle of ye olde bible belt, this seat of boiled peanut wars, this place of steeples and powerful legislative branches of government and earnhardt memorials we got a commercial espresso operation that made our jowls ache with a shot of hair bender — hair bender! — this very afternoon.

i don’t know what else to say. in the past 24 months, we’d tried just about anything gossip-worthy in three statesexcept the department store kiosk. then, just as we authoritatively cleared our throat, shannon asked sunday if we’d tried coffee & crema in haywood mall, and the reaction in our entire local circle of amateur nutsos was: “comment say what?”

the hair bender was aging, eight days old, pulled on a two-group e61 faema legend, custom flushed to somewhere close to 198 degrees and nicely speckled. definitely heavy on the infamous citrus front notes but, in context, mind boggling. i’m not going to compare the pure skills of this guy with the competition-seasoned people at octane or the eager start-ups at muddy waters, but i will say with confidence: it was the most impressive commercial shot of espresso i’ve had since last year’s charlotte nationals. in hearty accord is the now slack-jawed bioluminescent cypriot. (he was taking tongue cultures on the way home, for later in the evening).

scattered remainders nag the brain: the owner looked somewhat thrashed, like he’d been giving his life, regularly, to long hours and expensive coffee — with the mermaid operating in the same building. meaningful exposure, apparently, has been minimal. turns out george howell’s terroir is the regular fare, and strides are being made in the latte art department. over doubles, then double maccs, a regional espresso jam was contemplated. espressomap will be notified. i left the largest tip in the history of my dress pants pocket. and the recurring question kept forcing itself through an addled cortex: how did this happen?

anyway, greenville’s haywood mall may have the most bankable known espresso in the state of south carolina. this blog dares you: go see for yourself.