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Wake Up to Waking Life

February 16, 2010

I finally visited the fairly new espresso house, Waking Life, on 976 Haywood Rd in West Asheville.  Joining me were two houseguests, both of whom consider themselves espresso junkies and experts in the craft.  Hip artists living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, my friends can get some of the best, most compulsively perfect espresso in America on their morning walk to work.

These New Yorkers were humbled before the ultra-specific, handcrafted espresso, presented in precious robin’s egg blue cups.  Sunlight streamed in to the cozy little shop.  We sipped our drinks and watched in awe as customers, all sitting alone in front of laptops, meandered in and out of conversation, debate, laughter, and then back to the solitaire game or whatever.   They didn’t arrive together, but the atmosphere there was so comfortable, they spontaneously treated each other like old pals, working side by side.  This phenomenon felt completely foreign to my New York visitors, who declared their Americano a perfect storm of balance, richness, and adrenaline.

In this Starbucks age, a local coffee shop must deliver high quality coffee or have an unbeatable location to stay competitive.   Waking Life’s owner has invested most of his money and energy into the  (hand-cranked) espresso machine, the fine,  locally roasted coffee, and a small assortment of rustic loose teas.  Get the espresso right, and you’ve got an instant following.   Waking Life has earned their place in the coffee pantheon of Asheville, and is sure to attract a dedicated clientele.

When it comes to coffee, I’m kind of like the girls from Sex in the City.  I often go for the Cosmopolitan of caffeine, the Mocha.  I detected none of the requisite thick, high-fructose corn and chocolate syrup in my mocha.  Instead, the coffee leaped ahead of a lingering chocolate aftertaste, balanced so exceptionally well,  I hadn’t even ruined my appetite for dinner.   Rather than simply discerning the tongue parching experience of “sweet” coffee, I was able to separate the flavors enough to experience them both, bitter acid and sweet decadence, before they met in an erotic tango of caffeinated bliss.

If espresso’s not your thing, you can find (arguably) the best cup of coffee in town.  Each individual cup is hand brewed, just for you.  That’s dedication.

I love when a fanatic like Jared Rutledge opens a coffee shop, simply because he loves his town enough to do the hard work to elevate the quality of its beloved coffee.  Sipping our steaming drinks on a frigid winter day, we felt loved too.

If you have a morning, afternoon or evening to kill, I suggest you spend it at Waking Life, open 7am-9pm daily.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 1:01 pm

    Glad to see Waking Life get some blog love. Theirs is perhaps the best coffee I’ve had in Asheville. I mean, really…dude grinds and brews each cup to order. If that’s not coffee snobbery at its finest, I don’t know what is. I love that place!

  2. February 16, 2010 3:56 pm

    I’m the same as you – I usually go for the sweet drinks. When I tried Waking Life I just got a latte with nothing fancy, and I barely even had to put any sugar in it. The coffee was so good, so perfect, so balanced, that I didn’t even need to! This place is awesome. I live on the east side and it’s worth a drive over to west asheville to have a drink.

  3. February 16, 2010 10:42 pm

    hey ya’ll, thanks for the kind words and review! one tiny correction – our address is 976 haywood.

    glad you liked the coffee. it’s been a fun journey so far getting this thing off the ground, but i think the coffee is good and i’m glad you do too. i also love the fact that there’s usually a decent conversation going on in the shop.

    i actually use a semi-sweet organic dominican chocolate for the mochas (http://bit.ly/bSmnn3) and people seem to be fond of it. i don’t often drink them but i think it tastes nice and isn’t overbearing.

    thanks for stopping by, and i thoroughly appreciate all the word of mouth that’s been happening. please tell your friends if you like it, and tell me if you don’t! haha

  4. February 18, 2010 2:29 pm

    I haven’t been yet & I’m kicking myself for it. (Sorry, Jared)! I’m sure I’ll be hooked.

  5. March 1, 2010 10:39 am

    My mom and I popped by Waking Life this weekend and were impressed. Jared is so nice, so knowledgeable and the coffee so good that we’ll definitely be back. I had a traditional cappuccino, and it was best since Italy, no lie.

    Thanks for the review!

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