Tuesday, April 16, 2013

eBar at South Shore Plaza in Braintree, MA

"A coffee shop attached to a department store!? Hogwash!"

Nordstrom? Nope, that other place hidden to the left.
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This could be the response from a coffee lover before trying the modern Nordstrom affiliated coffee bar for themselves. Nordstrom is well known for having over 100 restaurants in their locations around the world, but their Espresso Bar (now called the eBar) is very rare to find in comparison. You may be lucky to find one in your entire state; Massachusetts has a few. I found an eBar right off of the highway inside of the South Shore Plaza mall in Braintree, MA. The shop states that they provide “made-to-order, handcrafted beverages prepared by skilled baristas with completely fair-trade and organic coffee selections.” Signs inside the shop display that “they’ve embraced the philosophy of reduce, reuse and recycle by participating in recycling and composting programs, Using 100% compostable paper cups, buying bleach and dye-free napkins made with 100% post-consumer waste paper, and using only 100% recycled paperboard carry-out packaging.” Alright eBar, this is a good start…
Feel free to come by and sit underneath a staircase if you'd like.

I walked from inside the mall towards the eBar tucked away in the corner of the Nordstrom entrance. The shop is placed under the second floor loft and slightly hidden amongst the tables and couches they provide right outside of it. If you are coming from inside Nordstrom, you’ll find it by the exit at the end of the makeup section, which seems to be a clever reason why I saw many female shoppers stop there on their way out. On the second floor right above the eBar is a Dunkin Donuts in the food court, which usually has a decent-sized line.

The making of an "ice storm" drink, AKA the sweet coffee menace.

I went to the eBar at 1:00pm on a 50-degree day, so it was not immensely busy but there were many people drinking coffee creations at the tables and a few people in line. Modern architecture and design stuck out immediately as soon as I walked in. A couple of young girls that were in front of me bought enorme (their largest size) Mocha Banana “ice storms”, which I can assume would be quite the sweet toothed brain freeze. In the corner of my eye I saw one of the girls scrunched her face as if she just drank the sweetest drink in her life. The man in front of me saw that as well and asked if the caramel macchiato the eBar carried was also sweet, which was responded by the barista with a sincere “oh yes, but don’t worry it’s delicious! A specialty!” Maybe the baristas are trained the same way Nordstrom employees are trained, because they knew how to sell themselves like a true retail associate (I can tell since I am a retail associate myself). He paid for one and sat down to relax with his book.
Some angles of the eBar.
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 It was finally my turn to order and I simply asked for a black iced coffee, since I pretty much only drink my coffee black. She immediately replied saying “our coffee here is fine black, but even more amazingly phenomenal is our extensive menu of flavors!” She was so excited that I would not have been surprised if she had 5 espressos before she went on her shift. She then said that the Almond Roca was her favorite and recommended it to me. I respectfully declined but finally got persuaded by her to add cream and whipped cream to my iced coffee. The prices were quite fair and looking at their menu they had some other refreshing items among the abundance of different coffee creations, including teas and smoothies for instance. I asked if the eBar made their own coffee and she said they partner with Coffee Bean International for their coffees, whom I have never heard of but she assured me they provide top quality coffee. (Through further research now I can see that CBI cares for their coffee, but you can never be completely sure unless you’re right there seeing how they process it all)
The menu... enough to keep your coffee belly full for a month.
They had some bags of coffee pre-packaged on the shelves and had a fair amount of pastries displayed in a glass box available for customers to add on to their purchases if interested. I sat at the closest table and drank my whipped cream filled coffee while people continued to stop by the eBar every three minutes or so. It was definitely a mixed bag of ages, genders, and cultures, which makes sense since it’s in a mall. I do not usually enjoy anything sweet in my coffee, but I have to say it took me by surprise. I initially sensed the taste of high quality black coffee followed by a quick rush of milky sweetness. The more I drank it down, the more I was impressed by my cup, because even though the color was light brown due to the sweet additions, the tastes seemed to stay separated. It was like taking a sip of a black coffee then taking a bite of ice cream. Usually the sweetness ruins the blackness of the coffee for me, but this was certainly not the case for me at the eBar. I was very impressed by the coffee and I encourage anyone going to the South Shore Plaza mall to run by the eBar rather than settling for the completely average Dunkin Donuts inside the food court. A better environment, experience, and they actually CARE for their COFFEE!

Two thumbs up! (Really, this coffee tastes GREAT)

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