When we opened The Red Cat in 2008, we wanted to create a coffeehouse that struck a balance between our own personal tastes in coffee and ambiance, what our customers desired, and what makes practical sense. We didn’t want blindly to follow the third wave of coffee culture without questioning every aspect of it to see if it is right for us. There are times when coffee is not a science experiment, but a positive experience for the customer.
The result of that underlying philosophy has been a distinctive coffeehouse that doesn’t easily fall into any prefabricated categories. For example, we French Press coffee to order if that’s what the customer wants – French Press introduces something into the equation that the standard brewing does not – but we have eschewed the “pour-over” method as a fad that, while cool to watch, brings nothing new to the table. Modern brewers can do what “pour-over” does, and more consistently. Also, we recognize the trend toward lighter roasts in the hip coffee culture, but we have found a sweet spot that both we and our customers like. The lighter roasts turn out too citrusy/lemony and lack the roast flavor that so many people still enjoy. We know this because we have bought, tasted, grimaced, and thrown away our competitors’ coffees. To each his own, right? On the other hand, we embrace the new standards for pulling shots of espresso and for texturing milk. Latte art is not a pretty picture in your coffee, it’s an indication that care has been given to the process of making your drink.
Coffee shops, in our experience, often serve awful food, as if it were only an afterthought. Not all, but many do. We decided long ago to maintain a high standard of quality, even when the economy tanked, and to offer a range of standard items together with some unique dishes that we have perfected. It has been our good fortune, in the kitchens in Greece, to learn the art of making spanakopita, the real, laborious, Greek way, and we have continued to offer that as our signature vegetarian dish. Along the way we have added a turkey pastrami on pumpernickel (with goat cheese spread and red-wine vinegar coleslaw made in-house), bleu cheese and chicken salad, and several gluten-free items. On Saturday mornings, we serve the world’s most fabulous crepes, some made with ingredients from the Pepper Place Farmers Market outside our door. There are so many more good things: Our Greek salad, to name one, is a masterpiece.
Because we haven’t tried to be trendy, just good, you won’t read about us or our menu in the local media, but that’s okay by us; The Red Cat is packed day-in and day-out. People come back for the comfortable spaciousness and the excellent coffee. They come for the friendly staff. No news outlet had to tell them; their friends passed it on by word of mouth.