“Mint Eastwood” Iced Coffee at the Paper Plane Coffee Company

My “Mint Eastwood” iced coffee from the Paper Plane Coffee Company was refreshing and full of surprising flavor.

It does seem that I am indulging in interesting, refreshing beverages lately. I think that blogging is encouraging me to seek out every day opportunities for novelty and adventure, so that I have interesting things to share with you. I had to see a doctor yesterday, and when I was done there, I remembered I was in the vicinity of a unique indie coffee place I had visited once or twice before, the Paper Plane Coffee Company in Montclair, New Jersey.

Paper Plane Coffee Company on Claremont Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey

The creative and unique name of the place is explained on their website. It is named for their coffee farm in Colombia, high in the plains of the mountain where eucalyptus is grown for the national paper company.

The paper plane motif was visible inside and out of the place. You can see the paper plane designs on the outside of the window front, and the word “Departures” on the door.

These knick knack shelves inside displayed various whatnots including some coffee paraphernalia — a coffee mill and what looks to be a percolator — and a paper plane in string art. Further down the wall, colorful 3D sculpted paper planes arrayed themselves along the wall. I really wanted to photograph these, but by then, another customer was behind me, and I didn’t want to worry her that the paparazzi was after her.

The fun place was selling a few gift items too, like these mugs with their name and paper plane design.

I knew I wanted to order one of their unique drinks that you can’t find anywhere else, so I looked at the central panel of their menu under the “Science” category.

After looking over these unusual offerings, I decided to go for the Mint Eastwood in the iced version. This was made up of mint simple syrup, milk and chocolate-cinnamon espresso. I have to admit that the punny name Mint Eastwood was part of the fun.

I didn’t really expect it to look so minty or green. When the barista put it on the counter, I said, “It’s so pretty!” She beamed and said, “Thank you!”

I told the barista, mistakenly, that I had tried the West Side Story coffee drink before. When she told me that this was another pretty one, in pink, I knew I didn’t remember right. It sounds just like something I would order, because I love the musical, but I have yet to try this exotic one with guava nectar, sweetened condensed milk and espresso. What I think I did try was the spicy Nam-Dam made with cardamom, sweetened condensed milk and cold brew.

I have never before this tried any food or beverage that combined both mint and cinnamon in the same recipe. Probably most have concluded that those wouldn’t mesh. (If you can think of another example where these flavors are combined, let me know in the comments.) Maybe, because of the way the liquids were layered in my cup, initially, I tasted that sweet pungent mint, and then, a little later, got the chocolate-cinnamon flavor. As I consumed more of it, the flavors were a little more combined. I don’t know why it works, but it does. I give it a definite thumbs up. My barista friend told me that all the “Science” drinks were worth trying.

Some of these coffee sodas sound intriguing too. I have tried a coffee soda perhaps once before but nothing as complex as these recipes seem to be. The one that interests me the most is the Vincent Vega with cherry, vanilla, Mexican Coca Cola and espresso. I’m not sure what I think of mango flavor combined with coffee. The combination certainly never occurred to me before, but whether it sounds tasty to you or not, I’m sure all the Star Wars fans can appreciate the punny Mangolorian name for that one.

If you’re a local or if you’re visiting the area, try out the Paper Plane Coffee Company. Even if you’re not a local, you can order some coffee products online, including wholesale products for your restaurant or cafe.

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.”