Capital has undergone some serious changes this summer, and the heavily caffeine addicted have likely noticed that new brewer Crimson Cup has replaced Starbucks on campus. Crimson Cup has been around since 1991, started right here in Columbus by a Harvard graduate. I was curious about Crimson Cup, as I’ve seen their cup sleeves littered all over Ohio State’s campus. I wanted to give it a shot to see what all the fuss was about.
On the first day of school, I waltzed into One Main Café and was cheerfully greeted by the server at the counter. I asked for a menu and was assured by the barista that they would have anything I wanted. I went for my go-to: a soy milk cappuccino. To my annoyance and dismay, I was told that they did not have any soy milk, and to try the café in Saylor-Ackerman.
After trekking over to the other café, I was disappointed again by a lack of soy milk (or any non-dairy milk). I was assured, however, that they would be able to make me a drink if I brought them some of my own milk. Having left my normal weekly supply of soy milk at my apartment, I settled for an espresso shot.
I’m not usually brave enough to try a straight espresso shot, so I figured I could handle it a little better with a pump of some sticky sweet hazelnut syrup. Turns out I probably could have handled the espresso solo.
The drink seemed to start off on a positive note. Its color and viscosity were comparable to motor oil, the way any great espresso is presented. A light mocha, filmy froth lined the ring of the drink, and I was eager to sip. But I was a little disappointed by the drink’s lack of zing upon bringing the tiny cup to my lips. The bitter, Tabasco sauce style aroma that makes great espresso almost unbearable was totally absent in scent and flavor.
Initially, I just assumed that flavor profile was being unjustly masked by the sickly sweet hazelnut, but no. It was just lacking.
I shouldn’t blame the drink entirely—I did ask for some syrup to be added. And that’s not to say that the drink was bad, because it wasn’t. It just didn’t have that extra bit of chutzpah that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. It was an espresso shot with training wheels. A stepping stone between Starbucks and a more reputable coffee shop, if you will. Ideal for the college first year who can’t live without their coffee, but doesn’t want to deal with the additional gastrointestinal distress the heavily caffeinated drinks can bring.
After being told twice that my request for a soy milk cappuccino would be impossible to fulfill by the Crimson Cup staff, I stubbornly filled a disposable water bottle with about a cup and a half of Silk vanilla soy milk. I would not be thwarted.
The day after having my espresso shot, I marched over to Saylor-Ackerman, water bottle full of non-dairy milky goodness in hand, and ordered a cappuccino.
The baristas kindly accepted my order and began brewing. I’ll admit, I was a bit antsy for my drink, since I had been waiting over 24 hours for it. But, as with my espresso shot, I was not thoroughly impressed.
The ratio of milk to espresso was way off. It was like drinking hot soy milk that had sat next to a bag of coffee beans. I’m not expecting to be entirely blown over by espresso flavor in a drink that’s so milk heavy, but I usually like to cut through the bitterness with a touch of raw cane sugar. But there was no need to add sugar to this drink.
I was also hoping for a little poured design of a heart or rosetta, but the milk was hastily poured into my paper cup. Similarly to the espresso, I find this Crimson Cup coffee ideal for the novice or intermediate coffee drinkers. There is nothing too terribly under or overwhelming about the flavor of Crimson Cup espresso, it is merely some average coffee to help out the morning of a hangover. I would drink it in a pinch, but by no means seek it out as a top preference.