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James Brown Hard Cider's Horse Thief and Joe Bella Coffee Roaster's Latte


James Brown Hard Cider's Horse Thief

I need to talk about James Brown. No, not the sweaty, booty-shaking founding father of funk music, but the truly complicated guy who served as the real-life Johnny Apple Seed of Avila Valley. Brown, infamous for his life as an outlaw and horse thief, first planted apples at See Canyon Fruit Ranch circa 1892. Today, the folks at James Brown Hard Cider are turning those 120-year-old heirloom apples into refreshing, effervescent booziness. Oak barrel fermented, barrel-aged, and bottle conditioned, their cider is complex, not unlike the man who inspired the label. I found James Brown’s Horse Thief to be delightfully crisp and on the drier side, a welcome reprieve from the overly sweet apple swill you’ll find in most commercial bottles. Find this boutique brew at Novo Restaurant in SLO, at Avila Wine Company, and I recommend “liking” the business on Facebook for updates (check out the pic of a bottle of James Brown cider “hanged” gallows-style on a Santa Maria style barbecue). Thanks James Brown. You may have pissed off a heck of a lot of ranchers with your horse thievery and wily ways, but you did good in the end. Cheers, you old dog.

• Prices vary;


Joe Bella Coffee Roaster's Latte

Joe Bella Owner Joseph Gerardis is the master of his own destiny. So, when he became fed up with sub-par coffee in his life more than a decade ago, you better believe he decided to do something about it. Gerardis began roasting his own beans at home, experimenting with techniques and flavors. What started out as a hobby quickly snowballed into a passion, and you can taste that passion in every cup served at his Atascadero coffee shop today (formerly of Templeton). Beans sourced from Africa, Central and South America, and Indonesia intermingle with special blends sure to re-awaken your brain. Not only can you buy these premium beans in bulk, but you can also order a fresh cup with a side of coffee education. My recent Joe Bella latte, made with rich espresso and satisfying whole milk was eye-poppingly powerful, fabulously foamy, and absolutely, slurp-the-last-drop delicious. Want to know more about what makes a perfect cup of Joe? You now know exactly who to ask and where to find him.

• About $3 for a medium; 3168 El Camino Real, Atascadero.


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