Category Archives: Charleston

Kudu’s Stimulating Stimulant

Kudu Coffee, Charleston

Kudu is an animal native to eastern and southern Africa. If you’ve never seen one, it’s something “like an antelope on steroids,” describes Barista Derrick.

Remember that, especially if you’re ever in Charleston, and associate “Kudu” with 4 Vanderhorst Street. The residence, Kudu Coffee, is a dwelling pad for coffee and beer enthusiasts, and it’s name was given by the house’s African-born founder.

Even before noon, you can grab a cold one—available at all hours, except on Sundays because the locale isn’t licensed to serve it. Of the more than 20 craft beers, Two Hearted Ale remains a popular favorite, and as of next Tuesday, draft beer will be falling like Niagara with Kudu’s tap installation in place.

But what’s even more stimulating about Kudu is it’s liquid stimulant, served in the form of Krankies coffee. Each day, a three-and-half-hour direct freight line rides down from Winston-Salem, roasting home of Kudu’s beans. The delivered byproducts: fresh and distinct small-batch roasted coffees.

Among Kudu’s notables, the espresso blend, a medium-dark roast from Latin America, East Africa and the Pacific Rim. The flavor profile is nutty and smoky—recognizable in the house’s latte.

If your amateur tongue can’t handle the boldness, try Kudu’s house blend, featuring light-medium roasts from Latin America. It changes seasonally, but the flavor profile is typically smooth, medium-bodied and bright on the tongue. Because it airs on the caramel-chocolate side, it quite complements a chocolate croissant or a nutty scone—available goods served by two local bakeries, Normandy Farm and Saffron Café.

Drinks aside, one of the draws to Kudu is its maximum-casual environment, particularly the outdoor patio, which caters to a large crowd. It’s a perfect place to reunite with your best friend of 11 years over a latte + cappuccino + smuggled-in chocolate something from Charleston’s Macaroon Boutique—or if you simply want to relax with a book and man’s best friend.

A few more Charleston photos are available here.

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Hope & Union: Not Your Average Joe

Once upon a time in Ethiopia, red berry-nibbling goats suddenly got a little frisky. Sweet and refreshing was the snack, and it made their energy skyrocket like mad. Goat herder “Kaldi” was initially perplexed by the behavior of his woolly congregation. So, into his mouth popped said berries, then he, too, experienced a jolt.

So the fable goes, that was the founding of coffee. Naturally, goats are symbolic, a rationale as to why the animal appears on the milk and cream bottles at Hope & Union, Charleston’s magnetic boutique coffeehouse.

When first entering the java haven, located at 199 Saint Phillip Street, one might immediately be reminded of a Santa Monica beach house. Think SoCal fused with an urban, rustic vibe then topped with lots of Southern charm. No wonder it’s easy to be lured inside the restored house, a locale I easily deem as one of the country’s most aesthetically stunning coffee casas.

After all, where else can one take a seat on a beautiful pale Alice blue picnic table and eat a Sugar cupcake or Wildflour scone and be adjacent to a fireplace that needs no use because you’re in the South and it’s hot, hot, hot? There’s also a Mac waiting to greet your wallet at the register, and H&U has not one, but two stories. It’s the kind of place where the bathroom is worth checking out even if you don’t have to use it.

All of that is only partly what makes Hope & Union such an interesting hub. H&U’s philosophy centers on providing “an unparalleled coffee experience in an  inspired environment,” a promise that’s absolutely delivered. The cafe’s interior belongs to the azure color palette, bringing about an open and airy feel; framed artwork from New York and L.A.-based artists accompany the walls adjacent to the aforementioned cool picnic table. And behind it, a chalk board with the words “Hope & Union” scribbled in a multitude of foreign languages.

Aside from being a welcoming accommodation for the Sunday Times, H&U is plenty captivating for its coffee, and it’s a place to ritually sip Ritual coffee. Others on offer extend to single-origins from Intelligentsia, handcrafted by the cup using the Chemex brew method. This way of crafting coffee results in a very pure and flavorful taste and can be made at varying degrees of strength.

From every angle, Hope & Union is far from the average coffeehouse. Lots of character and some of the best coffees in the country–it doesn’t get much better than this charming Charleston spot.