Weekend Coffee Share — Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint

Iced black cow and cinnamon chip scone at Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint, Cedar Grove, NJ

So, this week’s Weekend Coffee Share is all about … well, coffee! I have been giving Dunkin quite a bit of business lately, but Friday, since I had a little more leisure, decided to give an indie coffee house some patronage and drink in some atmosphere as well as coffee. I went to the Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint in Cedar Grove, New Jersey.

Cedar Bean’s exterior on Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove, NJ
View of inside coffee counter at Cedar Bean’s

I ordered an iced coffee drink called an iced black cow, a cinnamon chip scone and a house made yogurt parfait called a Yumyah.

Iced black cow and cinnamon chip scone
my Yumyah yogurt parfait

I sat down on a leather couch in company with this hipster buck.

It seems perfectly appropriate to come here either with a companion or solo. If you’re solo, you can work alone on your laptop or read a book from the book cart.

book cart at Cedar Bean’s

The iced black cow is a mixture of flash chilled coffee, black cardamom syrup and milk. My coffee drink was subtly sweetened. I asked for “a little sugar,” so they were careful not to oversweeten it. It was a lot less sweet than my coffee usually is, but that was fine. It was healthier, and I was able to appreciate the coffee and spice flavors a little more. The cardamom flavor was pleasant and not overwhelming, like having a little cinnamon with your cappuccino.

The owner, Dave Fletcher, came over to me and had a chat with me, and without me even telling him I was a blogger or any reporter-like probing on my part, he told me a whole story about my iced black cow coffee drink. The name “black cow” is a tribute to Steely Dan and their song, “Black Cow,” as he shared that he is a fan of the band.

He also explained the history of the black cardamom syrup. Dave shared with me that due to a trade dispute between India and Saudi Arabia, they weren’t able to get regular cardamom for a while for their chai drinks. Instead, they got black cardamom which is quite a bit different from regular cardamom and has more of a smoky flavor. So, they developed this black cardamom syrup. He did not feel he was a fan of the black cardamom but noticed that many of his customers liked it.

Honestly, when I placed my order, I was not sure how I felt about cardamom in particular and am not sure even now I can discern between regular and black cardamom. I do know I appreciate a little spice in either my coffee or tea. My goal when I came was to savor something a little different than a chain like Dunkin or Starbucks has to offer, and I think I achieved that.

The cinnamon chip scone was wonderfully delicious. It was surprisingly very moist in the center, more than I expected for a scone, and had a really nice crisp, flaky exterior. The yogurt parfait was also surprising in a positive way.

I read my label and saw sweetened condensed milk on my yogurt ingredient list. That might sound like it would be a little too sweet, but it wasn’t. It was a little sweeter than I expected, but it had a good balance of sweet and tart. I’m a big fan of berries, and my berry topping was very tasty. I read what I thought was “cohberry” on the ingredient list. If I did, I think it was a misprint, and it should be cowberry, also known as “mountain cranberry.” There were also blackberries, blueberries and raspberries and a homemade granola topping with all organic ingredients.

Cedar Bean’s has a really, pleasant atmosphere, with this corner leather chair …

and this crackling artificial fire.

Dave told me that he has a background in graphic design, and although we didn’t fit this into our discussion, I imagine then that he designed this clever logo, a coffee bean with antlers.

Some mellow jazz was playing throughout the place, and, at one point, I recognized “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck.

One thing that I enjoy about indie coffee places is that they often seem to support the arts in various ways. This is important to me as an indie book author and as someone interested in all forms of the arts. This support was evident here at Cedar Bean’s.

There was this groovy piano just outside, welcoming patrons to play.

This sign board was tucked into a corner when I was there, but Cedar Bean’s hosts an open mic on Thursday nights. Since I’ve been so actively writing poetry lately — even a coffee poem — perhaps, I should return as a participant.

Open Mic night sign at Cedar Bean’s

The place even showed support for student artists with a scrolling slide show display of artwork, including pottery, from students at Cedar Grove High School. A barista behind the counter explained that the art exhibit was closed to parents due to Covid, so Dave decided to display the students’ work this way.

If you are local or just visiting the area, come enjoy a coffee at Cedar Bean’s. If you are not, I hope you enjoyed a “virtual visit.”