COOKING IN THE CAVE: Is Insight the new Temple Coffee?

Hi, I’m Connor Martin, and I’m a coffee addict—and maybe a bit of a coffee snob.

For the past year and a half, I’ve gone to Temple Coffee (2600 Fair Oaks Blvd.) about four days per week—and I would go more often if I had the funds.

I’m even likely to go to Temple up to three times in one day.

And on the weekends, if I’m craving a cappuccino, I often take the 30-minute drive from my El Dorado Hills home to Temple—because, let’s face it, Starbucks is absolute crap.

Phew. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

My friends enable my addiction, as I accumulated $80 worth of Temple gift certificates over the holidays.

But I think my Temple obsession is justified. named Temple’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe beans the top coffee of 2013. And Temple is consistently ranked as one of the best (often top 20) coffee chains in the United States.

Furthermore the café is a great spot for group study sessions (I love all the potted plants).

Thus it’s fair to say I have a deep sense of brand loyalty to Temple.

So when I heard that local coffee roaster Insight Coffee would be opening a new location in the nearby Pavilions shopping center, I was skeptical.

I mean, this is Temple’s turf. Who the hell do they think they are?

And, apparently, there is some unfriendly competition between Temple and Insight.

I was told by an Insight employee that Temple’s and Insight’s owners worked for local coffee roaster Naked Coffee before getting in a bad argument and going their separate ways.

My curiosity was piqued, so I had to do a side-by-side comparison of the two.

And, I have to say, Insight impressed me. A peer had told me that Insight was supposed to be a middle-of-the-road café—not quite Temple, but better than the S-word (Starbucks).

But that’s not what I found.

Due to delayed building plans, Insight had not yet moved into its indoor setting in late September but had set up an outdoor coffee stand.

The barista, who looked awfully cold outside, crossed his fingers as he said that Insight would be moving indoors in about a month.

Since the current location is makeshift, they carry only one bean—the Nicaraguan.

According to the barista, all of their beans are Fair Trade, organic, and single-origin.

I ordered a drip coffee (black) and a cappuccino.

The drip coffee was prepared by the cup, utilizing the pour-over method.

It had a nice brightness, as Insight advertises. Although they don’t specify the flavor profile (as Temple does), I tasted notes of lime.

I hate coffee—especially black coffee—that tastes overly roasted, so I really enjoyed the bright flavors.

The cappuccino was nice as well, though I wasn’t a huge fan of the drier foam they use.

There was a distinct separation between the foam and the coffee. The foam was light and airy, but the coffee part was completely flat and unfrothed.

After initial tastings, I drove to Temple.

Temple’s cappuccino has a wetter foam and an overall thicker drink, which I much prefer. And the El Salvadorian single-origin beans they used in the drink had a pleasant sweetness.

So for a cappuccino, I prefer Temple.

Temple’s drip coffee, which was Ethiopian, had a much darker and unclear flavor. I had trouble picking out any flavor notes, like the ones Temple described, such as bergamot, jasmine, and assam (black) tea.

Perhaps it was because the drip coffee was pre-made and dispensed, or perhaps my palate was fatigued after so much coffee.

That sounds so pretentious, but black coffee really is hard on the tastebuds. I should have cleansed my palate.

So did Insight’s drip coffee really win?

I can’t say for sure, but they did give me a great cup o’ joe.

Besides, both Insight and Temple have many different beans. I tried only one from each because that’s all they were offering for the day.

Will I be sharing my patronage with Insight?

The simple answer is no—but not because I don’t like their coffee. Temple is just so much more accessible, coming from SCDS. And my go-to drink is the cappuccino.

But for the two drinks Insight was about a dollar cheaper.

If I’m near the Pavilions, or at The Fresh Market, then I will definitely stop by Insight. And because Temple is often filled with people, if I can’t get a seat the next time I go for a study sesh, I know a great alternative.


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