Every time I go to Coffee Exchange, I'm reminded why they are my favorite cafe. I get good espresso at Blue State, or Seven Stars, and even Three Sisters (Especially if my favorite barista is working), but none of them have every, single employee trained to such a degree as CofEx. They've got the milk right, they've got the skill, if only they'd top off their espresso creations with the latte art that signifies a truly great barista.
Just look at the two CofEx lattes. Compare them to the lattes I got at Brewed Awakenings, or Roba!Dolce, or, shudder, the one from Felicia's Coffee. Look at the smooth texture of the milk; the dark, reddish-brown of the espresso as it mixes with the milk foam; the swirls of white signifying a skillful free-pour. These are well made drinks. And most importantly, the two drinks are from two completely different baristi... as opposed to two only slightly different baristi? I guess they could be identical twins. Wait, what was I saying?
The flavor is just right. The fact that all the beans are pretty much straight out of the roaster shines through loud and clear. The espresso is rich and sweet, with complex flavors that wake up the tongue. The milk is velvety and well-textured. For comparison, I've put up some pictures of lattes at various other locations. I haven't reviewed a few of them, and considering they're up here as fodder, that may be a good thing. The abject disaster from Roba!Dolce was a huge let down after the good latte I received on my first trip. I don't even have to describe the flavor, you can tell it wasn't good just by looking at it.
Likewise from Java Madness, down in South County. The espresso was watery and bitter, the milk felt like it was frothed with an immersion blender, and no amount of sugar could make it palatable.
And all of this is juxtaposed to the masterpiece that was Mainstreet Coffee. Only one guy, the owner I assume, does this, and the other employees make decent drinks, but the mere chance of receiving a drink like this makes CofEx a must-stop for any and all who love espresso. It may seem weird to segue from loving CofEx to praising MainCof, but MainCof's owner shows us how it's done, and CofEx pretty much does that, and they do it more consistently than others. That's their secret, consistency. And for that, I love them.