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Every day, some CAHS student or another walks into the school bearing their cups of coffee from Kettle. As I walk down Grand Avenue, I look in. I have waved at the sign twirler, nicknamed Dan the Man, as he shouts “Good morning!” to passersby while advertising the coffee and tea. And yet, in my three years attending Classical Academy High School, I have never had the occasion to visit Kettle Coffee and Tea.
I walked into the building on a Friday after school, accompanied by three of my family members, and I was immediately enveloped by the scent of freshly brewed coffee. The place was hardly empty, but there were enough tables for everyone there.
The menu was relatively small when compared to larger coffee chains, but definitely fit all the requirements. Despite the extent of my coffee knowledge being derived from a Keurig, I recognized most of the drinks. However, my mom still commented offhandedly that “it’s a little intimidating for a coffee novice.”
Not being a tea drinker, I gave little more than a cursory glance to that part of the menu, knowing that I would not be able to give an honest review for it anyway. The prices were reasonable. They were not astonishingly low, but, having seen much higher prices for similar beverages, I was content.
The customer service was not noteworthy, but this should not be taken as an insult to the servers. They took our orders in a professional, but not overly friendly manner. Perhaps this was the best service they could provide—too much enthusiasm can intimidate customers, while an aloof disposition can make them feel unwelcome. However, if you’re looking to become besties with your barista, this is probably not the place to do so.
As we waited for our drinks, my mom and I explored the shop. It is shaped like the letter C. The front part, where you order your drinks or watch entertainment, is more open than the back, which is darker and cozier. The back area had armchairs, a fireplace and a bookshelf full of options for customers who did not bring reading materials, as well as board games for all ages.
The bulletin board was also located in the back, but the placement was not ideal for advertisements, as it was hidden from immediate view. However, I can’t blame Kettle for hiding it; the shop’s decor was clearly carefully designed, from brick walls to cage lights to diagrams providing informations about the “Historic Distribution of Coffea Arabica” and the “Anatomy and Morphology of the Coffee Plant.”
My brother received his iced brewed coffee almost immediately. As for the rest of our drinks—my vanilla latte, my mom’s iced caramel latte and my dad’s iced mocha—I’m not sure how long it took them to make, for it was only 15 minutes later when we went to check on our drinks and found them already prepared and waiting for us. Perhaps they called our names and we did not hear, but, regardless, the baristas made no known efforts to find the owners of the drinks.
I tasted the iced brewed coffee, which remained translucent despite my brother’s claims of having put creamer and sugar in it, and I was reminded why I don’t drink black coffee. My family laughed at my sour facial expression. As my brother had little more experience than me in coffee drinking, but at least had the capacity to enjoy stronger coffee, I asked him what his opinion was. He stated that it was “certainly better than the store brand stuff I make at my house.”
The iced caramel latte had a subtle taste of true caramel, using it as an accent rather than the star of the beverage. Of all the drinks I tried, this was my favorite.
The iced mocha had a slightly stronger chocolate taste, but was still far from a dessert. It was the sweetest of those we tried, and, except for those who do not care for chocolate, most coffee drinkers would presumably like this.
My own vanilla latte was pleasant and foamy, but I did not catch a distinct vanilla flavor at all. Going down, there was no sweetness, only a mild, but not unpleasant, bitter aftertaste to remind me that yes, I was drinking coffee.
Kettle is conveniently located in downtown Escondido, as well as a high school and college, allowing it to easily cater to those strolling down Grand Ave or heading to their various jobs, as well as students in need of caffeine. The beverages can be a bit confusing and due to their prominent coffee flavor, may not suit everyone’s tastes. However, Kettle is a great place to hang out with family or friends, to study or work, to listen to the entertainment during their open mic night every Thursday or just to relax at the end of a long day.