I’ve been confronted by the great dilemma of our times: do I want good coffee, or do I want good pastry? Because I have a lot of trouble finding both.
Recently, I’ve had to temporarily live away from home. This has shaken up my habits. Among other things, I’ve had to go find a place nearby to get my daily coffee and pastry fix. And for me, pastry has to include a substantial amount of chocolate as an option.
In this neck of the woods, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks dominate the landscape, with the occasional Au Bon Pain or Panera, as well as the independents. Dunkin’ has a broad range of coffee, and even their regular isn’t that high in caffeine, so that’s all to the good for me. But their signature donuts and muffins tend to be soft and sugary. They’re good for a few days, but then I get to feeling I’m going to become a diabetic when I visit them. Starbucks, long known for their bitter coffee, has finally seen the light with lighter blends, but their pastry case usually leaves me cold. I find the only time I frequent them by choice is when I visit a Barnes & Noble bookstore in the late afternoon or evening, and want to curl up with a book, a big, soft, chocolate-chip cookie, and a latte.
When it comes to pastry, especially for the morning, I like the independent bakeries the best. My last hometown before this one, Amherst, Massachusetts, has the Henion, which offered a decent range of coffee along with their drool-worthy pastry case. I’m checking out a new bakery in my original home town, and so far the pastry is good, but they’ve got only one flavor of coffee (admittedly in regular and decaf). Maybe I’ll have to drop a word in their ear.