899 North Milwaukee Avenue, Unit 300, Vernon Hills, IL 60061
The landscape of craft coffee and tea is booming with shops, purveyors and pop-ups. One hardly knows where to turn when choosing that next hot cuppa. Time is money, and money is money.
I’m here to save you some time and money.
Scroll down to see more photos and read more about Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea.
“The Marin Kombucha Pinot Sage Tea is very light and smooth. It almost tastes like a wine!”
Mellody Farm, an outdoor mall located at Milwaukee Avenue and East Townline Road in Vernon Hills, opened in the fall of 2018. Since its opening, Lisa and I have enjoyed the shopping but found something lacking. And then it hit me.
Every farm needs a fairground.
Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea, the newest cafe in the landscape of craft coffee and tea shops, purveyors and pop-ups, is the place to be. Full stop. Craft coffee and tea is in the name. It’s what they do. It’s who they are. Period.
Lisa and I were excited to try this new sensation. With locations in Chicago, Oak Park, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles, we felt like this was a gift right in the lap of our neighborhood. The door was open. The lights were on. People were buzzing. It was time for Sunday to become Funday.
Armed with food and drink menus, we took a little extra time in line to study the big boards behind the baristas. Once we settled on a few blue ribbon contenders, we found a table and started to soak in the environment. We loved the upside down pour over coffee flasks that were repurposed as steampunk lighting. It felt like this was the hangout for the next Tesla. That would be Nikola Tesla.
The shape of the cafe was unique—long with space that stretched far beyond the front door. At the back of the cafe, we found ample seating in a lounge setting; and, we also found a few swings. Yes, swings.
After a short wait, one of the baristas arrived with our food and drinks. I had to take pictures fast. It’s not that anything was melting or shifting. Everything looked so good and we wanted to get started!
Lisa and I wanted to try a little of everything. First up was an On The Tap, Taste All Flight. This was a selection of three 4-oz. pours from any of the drinks on tap. We chose: Marin Kombucha Pinot Sage Tea, Colectivo Nitro Cold Brew, and Limitless Salted Caramel Cold Brew.
Lisa and I took a sip from the Marin Kombucha Pinot Sage Tea. Lisa said, “The Marin Kombucha Pinot Sage Tea is very light and smooth. It almost tastes like a wine!” I followed up, “The Marin Kombucha smells sweet and fruity, and tastes like a light wine. It’s a little dry, not vinegary, but very smooth!”
Next in the Taste All Flight was the Colectivo Nitro Cold Brew. Lisa raised the glass, admired the light foam, and took a sip. She said, “The Colectivo Nitro Cold Brew has a deep roasted taste, but not harsh. The body is rich like a Guinness stout!” I sampled a taste and answered, “The Colectivo Nitro shows a nice foam. The color is mellow, dark caramel. The note smells very fresh with a definite roasted bean quality. The flavor is not at all bitey or acidic. The baristas were right!”
The third 4-oz. pour was completely different from the first two. It was on ice. The color was beautiful deep honey. This was the Limitless Salted Caramel Cold Brew. Lisa swirled the ice around a few times and took a sip. She said, “The Limitless Salted Caramel Cold Brew looks a little like iced tea. I can smell the caramel! The taste is light with just a hint of bite, but it’s instantly smoothed out by the caramel.” I love caramel, so I tasted and noted, “The Limitless Salted Caramel is nice, burnt auburn. The fragrance is maybe a little floral. This is my favorite! The taste has a mellow, caramel finish.”
Our breakfasts were waiting. Everything was still piping hot from the kitchen. The expert kitchen staff prepared everything perfectly. Lisa ordered the Bacon & Potato Tacos. The portions looked just right. Lisa folded up her first taco and took a bite. She seemed impressed when she said, “The Bacon & Potato Tacos show off a great balance between all the ingredients. The eggs are light and fluffy. The bacon is cooked perfectly, not greasy. The roasted potatoes are sized into nice chunks. Every bite has a little bit of everything! The tomatillo salsa is bright with a tangy zest.”
I chose the Scrambled Egg Sandwich with Avocado. This looked like a hotel breakfast sandwich. I took a big bite, since only a big bite would do, and managed, “The Scrambled Egg Sandwich with Avocado is amazing! The eggs are so delicious, light and fluffy. The avocado is a decadent extra touch. I am impressed with the charred salsa that is a little zesty, but not acidic or bitter. The English muffin is tender and satisfying.”
The end. Of part one!
“The Spiced Pear Matcha Latte introduces itself with an earthy fragrance, courtesy of the fresh matcha. The color is very beautiful. I can definitely appreciate the fresh and dark green matcha! The spiced pear carries a satisfying warmth.”
Part two expanded into selections from the Brew Bar (Four Letter Word) and the Elixir menu (Spiced Pear Matcha Latte). But we couldn’t just drink and drink. We had to break it up with something. How about a From The Fair, Giant Pretzel? Coffee and pretzel. Years ago, people would have thought you weird for eating chocolate and caramel covered pretzels. Not anymore; no, not anymore.
Lisa wanted to try Four Letter Word, from Chicago, a rotating single origin coffee from the Brew Bar. This was a basic black pour. Lisa moved over from the pass to the coffee bar with milk and sugar. A little this and that, a sip here and there, and then she returned to our table and presented me with a cup of golden brown warmth. I asked her what she thought. She said, “The Four Letter Word is served black, but I added some milk and raw sugar. Now I can appreciate the strong, rich coffee! I can taste the roasted beans. There is no bitter after taste.” I have an affinity toward good, strong coffee. I took a sip and added, “The Four Letter Word is like a punch to the face and a pat on the head. The body is very smooth. I really like the noble, roasted bean quality!” Again, I did say that I like good, strong coffee.
Perhaps needing an elixir, I pulled up my Spiced Pear Matcha Latte. This looked even better in person than the image on the giant screen advertising this very elixir. I let Lisa take the first sip to which she said, “The Spiced Pear Matcha Latte has a strong matcha flavor that goes smoothly with the almond milk and spiced pear. This tastes very good and healthy!” I wanted some Zen in a cup. I took a deep sip and felt the flavors swirl in my mouth, then in my head as the words started to come together. I gathered myself, “The Spiced Pear Matcha Latte introduces itself with an earthy fragrance, courtesy of the fresh matcha. The color is very beautiful. I can definitely appreciate the fresh and dark green matcha! The spiced pear carries a satisfying warmth.”
It was time to try a souvenir From The Fair, Giant Pretzel. This was giant indeed. The tray could barely hold the knot. We were also chomping at the bit to try the two dipping sauces: spicy mustard and house made Stumptown Nitro Cold Brew cheese dip. Lisa ordered the Giant Pretzel, so she was first to pull apart a hunk and dip it into the spicy mustard; and, another into the cheese dip. Lisa really loved pretzels, but not any pretzels. These had to be good pretzels or there would be some four letter words. And I don’t mean coffee or pats on the head. Lisa put it all together breezy and easy, “The Giant Pretzel is amazing! There’s more than enough to share. The body is tender, almost like a pastry. It pulls apart like fresh bread. The spicy mustard tastes bright and packs a punch. The beer cheese is zesty and smooth.” All this punching. I pulled apart a couple pieces, hardly making a dent in the knot, tasted a sample of each sauce and said, “I feel like I should be in Germany. This pretzel is the best I have ever tasted. The surface texture is crisp and snaps with every bite. It’s also not too salty. The beer cheese is smooth with a taste similar to roasted red pepper. The spicy mustard is just amazing. I can still feel the heat in my mouth!”
“The Four Letter Word is like a punch to the face and a pat on the head. The body is very smooth. I really like the noble, roasted bean quality!”
We also brought home a few souvenirs: a Banana Walnut Muffin, an “F” Logo Cookie, and a Red Velvet Cupcake. To see photos of our after party treats, the swings and much more, visit the Adobe Spark and Instagram links for my other social media channels to enjoy expanded views of Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea.
Will we visit Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea again? The question should be “When?” The answer is “Now!” I posted this blog review; and, now I can revisit my new favorite place for craft coffee and tea!
To see all the locations, menus and more for Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea, visit Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea
To experience an amazing dynamic presentation of Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea, click on the link to my Adobe Spark photoblog at Adobe Spark – Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea
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