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Mar 12, 2007 04:38 PM

Artifact Coffee

In advance of opening the Woodberry Kitchen, Nelson Carey (Grand Cru) and Spike Gjerde have opened a coffee bar in the Mill Race center. All Fair Trade organic french press coffee, plus espresso drinks and organic loose tea.

The best espresso I've ever had. Anywhere. And the maple breve is off the hook too. They only opened on Friday and are not at all busy yet. I don't know how the French press thing will fly when they get weeded...time will tell. But I have to say that from what I tasted, they have destroyed every other coffee joint in town for quality, care, and commitment to doing it right.

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  1. Excellent. . .
    I just had my "best ever, anywhere" cappuccino at Intelligentsia in Chicago last week. So I have a high benchmark still fresh in my head. . .er. . . mouth. Can't wait to try Artifact.

    When is the restaurant opening?

    1. Thanks for the tip, pleiades. Where is this place?

      Do they have a relationship with a roaster? Fair trade organic does not translate to "tastes good" in all instances. I'd be more impressed if they went with a well regarded national roaster (such as the afore mentioned Intelligentsia or Counter Culture Coffee). Those companies are excellent at both generating a quality product and PROPERLY TRAINING the staff. I have given up on finding a decent barista in this area now that Jay's Shaved Ice is gone.

      4 Replies
      1. re: KAZ

        It's in the Clipper Mill development. Between Hampden/Woodberry and TV Hill/Druid Hill Park.

        Don't the answer to your second question, though I agree with your assessment.

        1. re: KAZ

          Counter Culture, my friend. Painfully aware of the fact that FT doesn't equal yummy, Spike and Nelson care deeply about yummy.

          1. re: pleiades

            Fantastic! Sorry about the rant vis a vis the FT / organic thing. Most places that prominently advertise this seem to be more interested in image than quality.

            Any comments on the talent of the barista? Did you notice if they grind for each shot?

            I'm headed there this weekend. I'm pretty sure Counter Culture will ship their beans over the internet. Its great to be able to try a blend locally before purchasing.

            1. re: KAZ

              a Counter Culture dude was there today training staff. I'm pretty sure they grind for each shot. Baristas are all in training right now (sort of a soft opening).

              Maple Breve FTW.

        2. Yes! Finally decent coffee in the city! This place is great. I had a straight cappucino and it was fantastic. Spike was the barista and I can only hope the rest of the staff is equally well trained.

          Best sign yet that they are serious about their coffee: NO SIZES!

          Great find pleiades. Thanks.

          1. Well, that was weird. For those of us Baltimore hounds who love good coffee, espresso to be sure, we lost one (and the only?). Artifact is now closed. Strangely the closing is being reported as being part of the plan? The space will be used as a room for the new Woodberry Kitchen. Too bad, their espresso was great. I wonder what will happen to that ridiculous machine.

            So, hounds, where is the best espresso in the city? (Sorry onocoffee, it needs to be in the city).

            5 Replies
            1. re: KAZ

              :-( I am particularly dismayed to hear this, since I never got to try their stuff. It's not for lack of effort; I stopped by no less than three times over the course of one month, but they were never open. (What's with a coffee shop not being open on a Saturday or Sunday morning??) Maybe they were already starting to cut back hours or something ...

              As for the best espresso, I can't really say, being a coffee drinker myself. But I will say I was pretty impressed with the coffee at this coffee shop on Eastern Ave I stumbled into earlier this year. The guy behind the counter told me he does all his own roasting, which he learned from some coffee purveyors in California. I forget the name of the shop, but it's in a little corner rowhouse, kinda near the Patterson Theatre, but on the opposite side of the street. I admit to not being a coffee expert, so I'd be interested in hearing other 'hounds impressions. The guy certainly gave the impression of being serious about coffee and knowing his stuff.

              1. re: charmedgirl

                The Woodberry Kitchen will probably use the espresso machine that was used at Artifact. So if you have dinner at the Woodberry Kitchen, you can finish off your meal with GREAT coffee or espresso (from Counter Culture, I believe).

                It sounds simple, but it is surprising how many good restaurants serve bad coffee and espresso. I am quite sure that Woodberry Kitchen will be serving good dishes throughout the meal, including coffee.

                Is the coffee shop Patterson Perk?

                1. re: smt

                  No, I've been there too. This place also had a book thing going on. Like it either sold books, or lent them out or something. It's owned by this guy and his wife. Next time I'm driving down eastern ave I'll try and pick it out.

                2. re: charmedgirl

                  The coffee place across from the Patterson is called "High Grounds".

                1. re: honeybee926

                  So, what's the story with the re-opening? Is the former Artifact space incorporated into the restaurant? Can you still go there just for coffee?

                  And what are these rumors I am hearing about a new Spike/Spro Coffee venture? Is this the re-opening of Artifact or is there another project in the works? Perhaps someone with knowledge, like I don't know maybe onocoffee, could respond?

                  Sorry for all the questions and I understand if its too early to show the cards.

                  1. re: honeybee926

                    So, its safe to qualify that all caps re-open message above with a more accurate: you can get coffee at the bar of Woodberry Kitchen while the restaurant is not open.

                    Also, I'm not sure why it was deleted, but for those who care to know, it seems the coffee is not available on weekend mornings.

                    Essentially it seems to me that the place realized they have an awesome espresso machine, a small residential community around and people generally in the building doing prep work requiring the lights to be on. Hey, we are paying the electric bills anyway, why not sell some coffee! Not quite the same thing as "Artifact Coffee has re-opened".

                    Regardless, I'm pleased with the news. Kudos to Spike and the gang for recognizing a need. Now, just figure out a way to open on Saturday and Sunday mornings!

                    1. re: KAZ

                      Just thought I'd update this thread with a link over to the main Woodberry Kitchen thread ... Basically, Woodberry is making coffee with all the same equipment, coffee and skill that Artifact used to, but only during restaraunt hours. Supposedly, Artifact will be re-opening sometime soon, but no date yet. I'm not sure what will happen to the staff and equipment when it does.

                      Patterson Perk was a bit of a dissapointment. If you happen to be near there and need some coffee, it's certainly drinkable and better than most things in the immediate area. It also might not be a bad place to sit for a while, but the coffee was pretty lackluster and they also didn't have particularly quality equipment (a cuisinart burr grinder for their decaf espresso).