Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Caffeine in the air at Guillermo's Gourmet Grounds

Posted By on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 3:42 PM

MASSIVE BROWNIE:  Goes well with Guillermos
On a rainy day, I enjoy indulging myself in guilty pleasures — an open window when the weather is warmer, or a hot cup of coffee and sugar biscuits.

If I really want to indulge myself, though, I could do much worse than spend a few hours in Guillermo’s Gourmet Grounds, savoring a latte and listening to the pop and sizzle of the coffee roaster.

At Guillermo’s, it’s out in the middle of the place. Well, it is now. A group of my friends would gather at Guillermo’s over several months last year on Friday nights, taking over the lone couch and sharing gossip over little craft projects. The tiny little coffeeshop was the perfect place to chill out and do so. The coffee roaster in the corner was usually silent on those Friday nights.

Eventually live musical acts started coming in and so did customers, and we modified our Friday girl nights elsewhere. So it has been some time since I’ve darkened the door.

I decided today was the perfect day to find a latte and something sweet while getting some work done. The first thing I noticed was the fact that the place is about three times as large now. It’s spacious now, with a lengthy bar and plenty of tables and a fireplace and couches and…

Ah.

Anyway, I wanted some wintery flavor, so I ordered up a Brown Sugar Cinnamon Latte and pulled a mammoth brownie out of the jar and paid up. I found a nice corner in which to work, plugged in and wired up.

I was interrupted by the clatter of coffee beans. Hans Oliver is in today, and he was getting the beans together for roasting. I knew who he was because of John Tarpley’s excellent article from a few months ago.

Typing away to the sounds of roasting was pleasant. There’s no music overhead here, just the quiet din of conversation and the rattle and pop of beanery. And though I was writing about pizza and brooms (you’ll see), the thought of coffee never left my head thanks to the roasting soundtrack.

At one point during the roasting there was a sizzle and pop that continued for nearly 30 seconds. I can only imagine this was a change in the state of the beans themselves.

The scent of the coffee changes as it’s roasted. About 30 minutes after I observed the beans going in there was a heavy salty scent in the air, sort of like popcorn but more robust. The scent spread through the room and perked me right up, even more than the coffee. At this point another amount of beans was dropped into the giant funnel on top of the coffee roaster. The rattling sounded like a big wave in the machine that grew quieter and quieter.

The machine itself sounds like a dishwasher going, not too loud. At times the beans sound like popping corn; at others like pennies in a piggy bank being rolled over and over again.

It went on most of the afternooon — the constant hum, the occasional rattle. It was fine music for my writing and for the consumption of the excellent brownie I had acquired. A full inch and a half thick and three inches square, the slightly moist chocolate confection was sufficiently dense, studded with semi-sweet chocolate chips and graced with that lovely crusty end on two sides. The top had that perfect brownie crisp. It was rich, almost painfully so, and I nibbled on it for over an hour.

There’s no rush to get you out the door… Guillermo’s is excellent in that regard. In fact, no one pestered me all afternoon after I picked my order up at the counter. I had my little corner table to myself, and while I could envelop myself in the coffee-and-a-show aspects of the coffee roasting, I could also divorce myself from the scene with my earbuds, typing out more about salads and drum sets and all the things that have consumed my day.

You notice I’ve said nothing about the coffee. I shouldn’t have to. But in case you just haven’t had the experience, Guillermo’s does the classic coffee designer beverages well. If I hadn’t been craving sweets so strongly, I’d likely have gone for my favorite of their roasts, the Monk’s Blend. Smooth yet hearty and nicely bold, a shake-you-by-the-shoulders wake-up cuppa with excellent body. Well, there you go.

Guillermo’s is also offering sandwiches and such for more substantial fare. I guess I’m gonna have to try that at some point or another. Watch this space.

Guillermo’s is north off Rodney Parham at I-430 next door to Chili’s. It’s open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. Get your grounds on. (501) 228-4448 or check out the website.

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