News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Review: 25 30 Espresso in Fredericksburg
The numbers “25 30” in the name 25 30 Espresso refer to the world’s optimum coffee-growing latitudes. But last I checked, Fredericksburg’s latitudes didn’t even fall between the best coffee-buying coordinates.
Case in point, the first time I visited 25 30, last spring: I’d gone for a small cup of drip coffee in the early afternoon and was charged around $3 in the process. I thought I’d misheard, but no.
“At this hour, we have to do a pour-over,” I was told. A “pour-over,” I would find out, is where your coffee is individually brewed in a cup accessorized with its own dripper, filter and grounds.
“Well, that sounds like your problem,” I felt like saying. I mean, go anywhere else and you’ll pay no more than $1.60 to $2 for a small coffee, max. This seemed excessive. I figured it was a one-time thing and paid the tariff, but wasn’t happy about it. However, when I returned another time, again after morning rush, and was careful to ask the price ahead of time, the same rates applied. I ended up walking out in a snit.
Turns out, that’s just the store’s policy: Pre-9 a.m., “morning,” or regular drip, coffee is offered. After 9 a.m., they “craft brew” their java, so folks can experience “all the nuances of the coffee,” explained manager Maureen when I asked her about the practice recently.
Later I would go online to see whether others were similarly indignant, and lo and behold, people, without exception, love the café’s craft brewing, attention to detail, and the care and consideration they find implicit in its pour-over policy. OK, so maybe I overreacted; truth is, I can be as big a coffee snob as the next guy. In fact, I use their same pour-over method at home. I just didn’t know there was a café charging premium rates—$2.75–$4.50 a cup before tax—for such an antiquated coffee brewing method. I mean this is the Age of the Keurig, right?
My wife and I headed to 25 30 the Saturday ahead of Christmas for breakfast and coffee. I ordered an eggnog latte, as well as a breakfast burrito (sausage/egg/peppers), while my partner selected the s’mores latte with a bacon/egg/cheese bagel sandwich. We also split a couple of baked goods, an apple spice scone and a chocolate–raspberry turnover.
The coffee drinks were among the best I’ve ever had. At any price. Really. No lie. Deep, rich taste, subtle, natural-tasting flavors. Yumm-o! 25 30 uses beans exclusively from Counter Culture, the Durham, N.C., roaster that’s green, sustainable and direct trade, but even more importantly, packages its coffee in bags with really cool designs!
The sandwiches and baked goods were acceptable: No complaints there, but also nothing to write home about. The baristas at 25 30 have been known to travel to barista competitions, but judging from the food we had, café staff would never be considered a threat to take home honors from even a local cook-off.
When I approached the counter for a drink of water, I used the opportunity to ask one of the baristas—who look like they just walked off the set of TV’s “Big Bang Theory,” and sound like it, too—about an odd-shaped kettle with an exceedingly long, narrow spout.
Trevor calmly explained that the Hario drip pot allows him to control the water’s pour flow rate so that maximum flavor can be extracted from the coffee grounds. That might have been just a little more info than I needed, but it served to show just how seriously these folks take their coffee, and could explain why they do so well in those regional barista competitions.
Even in a city the size of Fredericksburg, there’s probably room for a café on every corner, provided it has something unique to offer its clientele—and 25 30 does: a real reverence for coffee—as well as a nice quiet, relaxing environment in which to decompress and enjoy it.
What: 25 30 Espresso
Address: 400 Princess Anne St. (near train station)
Info: 540/368-2101; 2530espresso.net or find them on Facebook
Hours: 4:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday–Friday; 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Espresso drinks: $3.40–$5.60
Breakfast and lunch sandwiches: $3.95–$7.25
Baked goods: $1.95–$2.95
The Scoop: Slow down and smell the coffee: Café that caters to commuters is also nice place to relax and unwind while watching baristas do an expert job of filling orders.
Kurt Rabin: 540/374-5000