Jan 17, 2010

Tasting at Madcap

Imagine Starbucks when it was only a single store trying to making a name for itself. The owner worked tirelessly at the store as a barista, a marketing exec and a pitchman. No international enterprise to deal with. No real worries about global coffee pricing. It's all about the coffee, the customer and the experience.

This is Madcap.

Local food alchemist and dear friend, Lisa Rose Starner, invited me to a coffee tasting at Madcap one Saturday afternoon. I've been meaning to visit this java joint on the corner of Ottawa and Monroe center since it opened about a year ago. Local foodies swear by it. My friends from New York couldn't have enough of it. I must say that I was so pleasantly surprised on how much I enjoyed the experience and the buzz inside the cafe.

The coffee tasters circled around a tasting table on one end of the cafe. A young family with two little kids took their claim by the windows. Students with laptops perused their facebook accounts. A Korean guy who looks like he belonged in a Benneton ad lingered by the coffee counter with a friend. For a second, I thought I was in San Francisco, given the variety of people in the cafe.

For some reason, all these professional photographers were also gathered in one section claiming their spot in this esteemed hangout. There were a couple at the tasting, too. Shutter clicks were heard in every corner of this cafe. I didn't hesitate to pretend that I was one of them - and I must say - I did a pretty nice job with my photos (see next entry). The bright afternoon sun permeated through the many windows of the cafe on this afternoon. A perfect invitation for photography and reflection.

But Madcap is truly all about the coffee and the personalized coffee experience. Madcap builds relationships with coffee farmers around the globe even featuring the farmer's name on some of their bags of coffee. Don't expect clueless barista's here killing time in between classes. The staff at Madcap are well trained in the art of brewing and are genuinely passionate about their product. I regret taking this long to visit Madcap, because just like my New Yorker friends, I am looking forward to my next cup of coffee.

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