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DODARO: Penstock Coffee Roasters offers craft blends, inviting atmosphere

Column: Sip it Up

Penstock Coffee Roasters gives patrons a cozy space to enjoy craft coffee.  – Photo by Penstock Coffee / Twitter

Since I have been exclusively writing about bubble tea shops for a while, I thought it was time to shake it up a bit and try a coffee shop in the area. Penstock Coffee Roasters is a craft coffee shop within a mere 10-minute drive from the College Avenue Campus. And believe me, it is definitely worth the distance.

While driving, I glanced at the cafe and realized there was not a parking lot for the shop itself, but there was a public parking lot nearby. After parking, I stepped into the cozy atmosphere of the cafe and smelled bitter coffee notes in the air. I immediately noticed that the wooden tables are perfect for studying, and the number of people in the shop had me excited to taste the beverages offered.

Not only was I impressed with the store itself, but the menu also had a pretty extensive number of options. These include hot and iced coffee options, seasonal and specialty drinks, a variety of teas and various food and dessert selections.

After taking my time to decide what to order with the help of the barista, I settled on a latte with caramel flavoring, a hot chai latte and an apple maple latte.

As I waited for my order, I noticed baristas making different craft beverages, and I was interested in the art of coffee making since the cafe is set up to allow customers to witness their beverages being made in real-time.

Even though it took time for my drinks to be done, the taste of each beverage was a reminder that the wait was nothing in comparison to a prime cup of joe. I gravitated toward the latte first, since I did in fact choose a coffee shop to review.

The bitter coffee had a bold flavor with nutty notes in the background. The foam gave a light creaminess to balance the taste of the espresso. Despite not being a fan of coffee, I could definitely appreciate how smooth the blend was.

Finishing off the latte, I made room for my next culprit: the hot chai latte. The smell of chai instantly wafted up to my nose, and I was delighted to taste the drink. As I brought the cup to my lips, I was greeted by an amalgamation of star anise, cloves and cinnamon. It was definitely a lovely combination of spices. The creamy and spicy contrast had me wanting more until there was nothing left.

The apple maple latte was next, and I was surprised by how well the apple and cinnamon flavors melded with the bitterness of the coffee. All of this was heightened by the milk foam which added a nice creamy end to each sip.

As for pricing, I think Penstock Coffee Roasters is justified in its $3 to $6 price tag because their drinks are high quality, and every cup has unique notes depending on the blend. They have diverse coffee beans for the coffee connoisseurs out there and plenty of delicious drink choices for those of us who do not appreciate the coffee fine arts to that level.

While delivery is not available, you could certainly order ahead online and enjoy your craft drink at the click of a button. With a coffee shop as inviting as this one, who would not want to make the trip to Highland Park for a wholesome cafe experience? Also, getting your favorite blend straight to your door is possible if you fall in love with a specific coffee bean from the shop.

There are also plenty of restaurants in the area, so after drinking some high-quality drinks, you could seek out plenty of delicious cuisine in the area. The shop does close at 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday and at 2 p.m. from Sunday to Monday, so keep that in mind when planning your visit.

Penstock Coffee Roasters really does have it all, from a cozy atmosphere to quality craft drinks all wrapped in a phenomenal bow. Even though you do have to make the drive, the coffee is definitely worth the distance.

The service does take a bit of time, but the quality of the drinks is on point and justifies not only the wait time but also the price. If coffee is your thing, absolutely check out Penstock Coffee Roasters — even if it is not, though, there are plenty of other options on the menu for drink-lovers of all kinds.

Francesca Dodaro is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in English. Her column, "Sip it Up," typically runs on alternate Wednesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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