The Culinary Institute of America not only makes good chefs, it makes a good cup of coffee.
By Bill Walsh
To be perfectly honest, a lot of mainstream chefs have let me down with the breadth of their culinary knowledge. Sure they know their food, and most at least understand their wine, but very few masters of the kitchen seem to have even heard of high quality coffee. Sadly, this seems to have stemmed largely from many sources (archaic benchmarks, corporate sponsors, etc), with poor coffee being found rampant amongst the nations finer culinary institutions.
But just when I was about to lose hope in the movers and shakers of the culinary realm, a little blue bird confided in me that the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park was serving up Counter Culture beans a la french press as well as in their espresso machine, all from within a cozy, CIA bistro dubbed the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. Thankfully, I happened to be winding up the Hudson River one weekday and thus, I made a stop in for lunch and some coffee.
The CIA itself has a nice parking garage for visitors and finding your way through the campus was none too difficult. The Apple Pie Bakery Cafe exists in Roth Hall and is accessed in one of its many hallways. The cafe, decked in bright colors and light from large windows, was brimming with patrons, both visitors and members of the school, either eating their lunch or communing over coffee.
I ordered a french press of a Nicaraguan (in my haste, I did not write down which Nicaraguan) and an espresso of the Toscana blend. The espresso held a monotone brown crema and was pulled to a short/medium volume. It held flavors of bittersweet cocoa, lemon, cider, potato chip, a bit of salt and romaine. The shots were definitely pulled in a more traditional (Italian) fashion but the use of great beans made this a great espresso. The Nicaraguan held notes of subtle roses, cherry candy, asian pear, sweet tea, seaweed salad and a bit of caramel in smooth, light/medium body.
To put it succinctly, I was delighted with my experience. The CIA proved that at least some of the culinary intelligentsia in the world recognize good coffee. If you happen to be in Hyde Park or close by, stop by the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe for a stellar lunch, snack or great cup of coffee.