Cheap Eats - Bean intelligence at Method Coffee Bar & Tea Lounge

Although he is the owner of Method Coffee Bar & Tea Lounge (1593 N. Decatur Road, 404-549-8942, www.methodcoffeebar.com), Don Lowell insists Dale Donchey is the mastermind behind the operation. Donchey placed third in this year's Southeastern Regional Barista Championship and is going to Portland for the nationals in March.

The coffee shop's name comes from its devotion to methodology from beans to brew. Method sources all of its coffee beans from Intelligentsia, the lauded Chicago roaster whose "direct trade" sourcing philosophy and commitment to quality has made it the preferred bean for discerning coffee drinkers. The coffee shop serves an ever-changing handful of varietals in a range of prices, which the seasoned (and super-friendly) baristas will describe to you in such romantic detail you'd think you were discussing wine with an experienced sommelier.

While the coffee shop brews its espresso on a top-of-the-line La Marzocco machine, its use of Chemex coffeemakers is the draw for aficionados. The Chemex method employs a heat-resistant, nonporous glass carafe with a special unbleached paper filter. The coffee grounds are slowly saturated with hot water, resulting in a clean cup of coffee where each note shines. Method "pre-doses," or pre-measures, each bean varietal accordingly to achieve the perfect strength and balance of flavor. Each dosage of whole beans is stored in an individual glass bottle until it is ground to order and brewed drip by precious drip before your eyes.

Tea is another area where Method excels, as they treat and present their impeccably chosen whole-leaf teas with great care. An assortment of Vosges sipping chocolate – like the spicy Aztec – is perfect for chocolate junkies and kids alike. And a short but sweet list of locally made pastries from tattooed baker Larisa Slaughter provides that much-needed nibble as you linger, sip and type.

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