Coffeehouses Add More Froth to the Cappuccinos

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), February 20, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Coffeehouses Add More Froth to the Cappuccinos

Byline: Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

For most people, coffee is an afterthought. For Jim Broemmelsiek, it's an art form.

The 6-foot-3 steel fabricator from Eugene favors the "Little Caesar" - espresso and whipped cream - and Caesar himself couldn't be more demanding: The beans must be of the highest quality, the grinds packed especially tight.

Broemmelsiek even counts off the seconds while the coffee barista pulls a lever that will send steaming water through those grinds: He likes four seconds and not a second more.

Thus is Broemmelsiek assured a complex, nutty flavor that unfolds in his mouth like a spring tulip.

"At one point I had them steaming the cup, too," the 59-year-old confided, smiling. "For most people, a cup of coffee's a cup of coffee. It's just kind of evolved with me. I discovered this could be better and better."

Broemmelsiek is a member of Eugene-Springfield's exacting coffee community, people for whom a "cuppacoffeeplease" just won't do.

But these days, coffee outlets aren't just for connoisseurs such as Broemmelsiek. They're for music lovers, families gathering after a busy workday and people who may want to start the day with an espresso and end it with a glass of wine - or get both at once if they're short on time.

Yes, wine. To compete in a hot market, some coffeehouses are offering decidedly non-coffee drinks - along with expanded menus and open-mike nights.

Perugino in downtown Eugene, for example, showcases an eclectic mix of tango and Celtic-jam nights, plus a knitting session where a dozen women swap salty jokes over wine.

It's no wonder. Eugene-Springfield's 30 or so specialty coffeehouses - those using commercial espresso machines - represent a doubling in the number over 10 years, said Matt Milletto of Eugene-based Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup, an industry consultant.

In the last two years, Starbucks has enjoyed its fastest growth since coming here a decade ago, opening three of its 13 locations. The funky Indigo District opened in downtown Eugene and the venerable Allann Bros. remodeled both locations of The Beanery for a fresher look.

Full City, in the heart of Eugene's core, is a second home for Kathi Wiederhold, 49, and her family: They go for the coffee and stay to catch up with each other, visit with friends, take care of homework - even line up a barista to baby-sit.

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Coffeehouses Add More Froth to the Cappuccinos


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