Coffee, the experience

We are back in Ohio, and as I am still on Island time for another few hours, I wanted to pen this while it was still fresh in my mind.

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In my 4.5 Decades on the planet, I have had a lot of coffee. I have had coffee in five star restaurants, in boardrooms with Fortune 500 movers and shakers, I have sipped java by a campfire with family, and from a little brown packet mixed in stale canteen water at o’dark thirty with an M16 in the other hand.

And you know what? The fondest memories are not about the coffee, but rather the surroundings and people you share that moment with. I am sure the coffee in those board-rooms was excellent and expensive but I can tell you exactly how excellent that campfire coffee was and how many cups I had.   My coffee and coffee shop reviews on this trip will be fond memories not because of great coffee but because of time spent with my eldest daughter before her days are soon filled with college courses and work schedules.

Coffee is about the experience not just the bean, don’t forget that , drink up and be at peace!

Reflections and upcoming stuff.

Well this is our last day here in Avon on the Outer Banks. It is the first time we have been back in six years. Not a lot has changed, the people are still friendly and full of Southern charm, the beaches are still absolutely beautiful and the weatherman can still be ignored most of the time. Oh and there are more great places to get a cup of java!

I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing you reviews of a few of the coffee shops between Avon and Ocracoke, rest assured if we can make it back next summer we will do more.

We have a very very BIG interview and coffee review series coming up in the next 10 days that you simply will have to read! And BitoJava.com merchandise is on the way.

So as I alternate between watching the rain (hey sometimes the weatherman IS right), packing and preparing for a farewell blowout seafood dinner, I will be tweeting and posting further thoughts on our stay and the coffee we have sampled.

Oh and watch for Jessica’s Chai reviews  and we will be choosing our favorite coffee, and coffee shop from this expedition.

From Avon with a cup of Tortuga’s Lie in hand, enjoy some photo’s

Russ

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Where Turtles Dance

About a mile North of the Hatteras Ferry landing, on NC12 lies The Dancing Turtle Coffee shop. This was our morning stop, while we were at the tip of Hatteras island to visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

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Stepping into the Dancing Turtle across the inviting and shaded front porch, I found myself in a very eclectic spot. The Dancing Turtle is an Enigma, neither beach nor urbane but somewhere in between. With  décor that would be at home just as easily in Manhattan or Minneapolis or Marrakech as it is in the tiny village of Hatteras.

In its 9th year of operation, The Dancing Turtle is all about coffee without any pretense. The staff is not only extremely helpful and friendly, but extremely knowledgeable about the magic beans we all love.

The menu consists of not only my staple of COFFEE without external syrups or flavors, but also the full range of mocha’s, latte’s and teas. Smoothies and other iced drinks are available to accompany the baked goods sold at The Dancing Turtle.

Ready to grind beans are available by the pound along with a line of tea’s that are sold in ounce measures. A selection of Dancing turtle mugs and merchandise lines the walls for those who want a momento.

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Initially I started my tasting with a  fair trade Costa Rica that was piping hot. As always I added a few drops of crème the the bottom of my cup and then added the rich brown liquid.  After a few minutes of enjoying the aroma as the brew cooled, I took my first sip.

Oh my, this coffee is a treat with some hint of oranges and lemon crème. A perfect coffee for those who like a lighter roast and an excellent breakfast choice. I sat awhile,  and took in the surroundings with our media director, Jessica who was savoring a Chai Latte before heading back to the museum to pick up the rest of the crew.

Normally I would end the review here, but I must be truthful. You see we had to pass The Dancing Turtle again as we returned North, and did I mention the Dollar Refill policy? As I was just draining the last drop of Costa Rican, I swung back into the parking lot.

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The shop was less busy (likely between ferry off-loads), I had a chance to chat with the two baristas for a few minutes, and get half a cup of the Turtle’s house blend. The house blend was a horse of another color in comparison to the initial cup.  The House Blend was also very fruity to my palate but with more tartness and being a bit sweet. While not my favorite type of brew it was a nice change of pace and would be a go-to afternoon cup for summer.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to the Turtle and my chat with the staff, who were very knowledgeable about their offerings. I cannot wait until next years trip for a try of the Sumatran!

Rating:

Coffee:  Costa Rican (med light) 4.7/5

Food:  N/A

Atmosphere:  4.8/5

Staff:  5/5!

If you are reading this and are going to be on the Outer Banks you need a cup of Dancing Turtle Coffee!

Ocracoke Coffee Co.

Ocracoke Island is without a doubt my favorite spot on the Outer Banks. It was part time anchorage and death site of one Edward Teach (aka. Blackbeard). It has been a naval PT. Boat base, and now boasts some of the worlds most beautiful beaches.

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The island is accessible only by ferry and is uninhabited with exception of the village at its south end. On the sound side of the village set in a shady, tree covered lot is the Ocracoke Coffee Company.

This shop is without a question full of island atmosphere, sitting inside one could be anywhere from the coast of New England to the Bahamas. This is a full service shop with a complete line of coffee’s, specialty drinks,  cold smoothies, and teas to accompany the bagels and pastries.

The clientele ranges from lots of surfing and kiteboard aficionados to vacationing septuagenarians, all with common focus, good coffee and a laid back spot to enjoy it. Ocracoke Coffee Company also caters to the organic food and granola crowd with a variety of menu items and drinks.

The staff was outstandingly helpful and friendly, service was a bit slow mostly due to the number of baristas -vs- the line of customers and is understandable. Besides we all come down here to get away from the hurry-up mentality.

I was ready to sample the Tanzanian Peaberry medium roast, when the barista recommended the Celebes dark roast instead, stating that it was in his opinion “The best coffee we have man.”

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It was a great cup of bean juice indeed, with just a bit more bite than I generally like but without the bitter finish. It did as advertised have a nutty flavor although nowhere near so much as the Indian coffees. I savored the brew as I walked the back-roads of Ocracoke.

I texted Joel from our lunch stop later on and he stated that bringing back some beans would be appreciated, so we made a rare second stop and scored a half pound of the Tanzanian Peaberry (hey no sense in repeating a tasting right) in whole bean form.

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It was approaching dinner time as we boarded the ferry, sneaking our precious cargo past the nice Homeland Security agent and past the coast guard patrol boats….but it is securely stowed now for its trip back to Bitojava’s subterranean lair, for a proper brew-up and tasting.

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Ocracoke Coffee Co.

Coffee: Celebes dark Roast   4.3/5

Food:    N/A

Atmosphere: 5/5

Service:         4.9/5

Will I visit again? Definitely, and if you do, don’t forget to see their visitor maps and put a pin in your home town!

Search For The Big Ugly

For those that have never passed through or spent time on Hatteras Island in North Carolina, you likely have never heard of or had an encounter with a Big Ugly.

Locals will give you wrong directions if you ask where to find a Big Ugly, and summer vacationers walk away changed for life after their first encounter.

So what is a Big Ugly? Imagine the best apple fritter you have ever eaten combined with a turnover and the hit with a race-horse dose of growth hormones!

Ready to start the car? Well there is only one place to have your own Big Ugly sighting and that is The Orange Blossom in Buxton North Carolina.

Finding the Orange Blossom is easy, There is only one road through the island and that is NC12, so just follow that until you see the Orange Blossom sign, the traffic and the line that sometimes runs into the parking lot.

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The Orange Blossom has a full selection of muffins, strudels, and donuts, all priced very economically, but the draw to the Orange Blossom is and always has been the Big Apple Ugly. In fact I arrived at the cafe at 8:45 this morning and had to wait for a batch of Uglies to come from the back, a 28 minute wait!

The Orange Blossom staff is always friendly and helpful. Best of all they take advance orders for those who want to pick up and run and not wait around like I did. This is especially helpful if you are trying to stay on schedule for a ferry.

To pass the time I sampled two of their coffees, first the house Guatemalan blend which was identical in flavor and robustness to the one I reviewed here a while ago. The second was their Florida Dark which unfortunately was a very over-roasted as in burned bean, much like a certain national chain we all know tries to pass off as coffee.

Finally my Big Ugly was in my hands, and I have to admit as I drove to catch the Okracoke ferry, I was driving distracted!  These things are huge and delicious.  The Big Ugly is hot, filled with apples, sticky glazed nirvana!

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I have driven 600+ miles and braved tropical storms for a big ugly on more than one occasion. So tell us what you have braved for yours?

Rating:  Guatemalan Blend, 4.5/5

Florida  Dark Roast, 2/5

Food:  5/5

Information Security Trends

Security

I was recently at a presentation done by the local FBI office. During the meeting I was able to confirm with them what we have been seeing in a trend of attacks on small business.

It seems as though the organized crime elements in the world have realized that it is easier and cheaper to phish with a wide cheap net as opposed to an expensive harpoon.

In other words they (organized crime and other professional hackers) are going after smaller firms in larger numbers as opposed to spending effort and time on difficult breaches of large corporations with equally huge IT security budgets.

To wrap up we used to tell folks “If you have a competitor you need strong security.”

Now we just tell everyone they need the absolute best Information security measures they can afford! The bad guys really are out to get you now.

Review: Uglie Mugs, Avon NC.

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We are no closer to the capture of Bigugly, but we did find a neat coffee shop in the Village of Avon, here on the Outer Banks.

 

Uglie Mugs is located (like most everything) on NC Highway 12. It is a very small shop which makes it “cozy” I suppose. It seats maybe 20 unless you go outside. Decor is lots of Ugly Mugs along the walls and over the bar.

We were there mid-morning and there was a steady traffic of both vacationers and locals. We sat for awhile just to get a feel for the place.

Offerings run the full gambit from Chai tea to Raspberry Mocha’s. Prices are in line with coffee shops back in Ohio.

Staff seemed friendly enough but not the expected South’n friendly we have grown accustomed to here.

I am not a flavored coffee fan, I like coffee that has distinct flavors based on how it was grown and roasted.

Thus I had a LARGE cup of Tortuga’s Lie, which is but one of the organic coffees offered by uglie Mugs.

This is a truly good cuppa coffee, it has all the power and boldness that was once Starbucks without the burned finish that is currently found at their stores. These beans were roasted right to the edge of oblivion and the dragged back kicking and screaming.

There is a strong dark aroma to the cup and there is a hint of a chocolate finish with absolutely no bitterness.

Paired with this mornings muffin it is a great brew, that does not over-ride the food and I can tell already it’s chock full of caffeine!

I will give the Tortuga’s Lie a solid 4.5

If you are on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and need a good cup, stop and try Uglie Mugs.

If you are off the coast and being pursued by the crown for Piracy mmm..Entreprenuership it’s worth dropping anchor and sending a couple of mates ashore for a cup of Uglie Mug’s brew of the day.

Bit O Java attacks the coast

We have arrived after 600 miles of “are we there yet” from the  back seat.

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Braving hotel coffee (Hampton Inn does have a marginally good brew) and horrid Norfolk Traffic to bring you our week of reviews of Outer Banks coffee houses and other coffee related items of interest.

Dont forget to follow us on Twitter for news on the search for Big Ugly, #searchforbigugly. As we attempt to prove or disprove the existence of the fabled Big Ugly of Hatteras Island.