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Today I had some extra time in between going to LA for work and meeting up with friends, so I stopped in at Lord Windsor Roasters located in a residential neighborhood close to my house.  This coffee shop and roaster opened up months ago on 3rd street in Long Beach which contains only a handful of commercial spaces east of downtown.  The other one being The Starling Diner.  The neighborhood is mixed, but many young professionals and hipsters live within a few blocks.

I am a coffee connoisseur, but when it comes down to it I am a very picky coffee drinker.  I don’t know if I have a refined palate, but I know what I want.  I expect every local coffee shop to have a great cup of coffee and a good environment, but I know that I’m not in Seattle or Europe.  I am searching for the perfect cappuccino such that when you drink it you are transported to Italy, the Balkans, or some small coffee shop you visited on vacation.

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My favorite coffee shop is in Ventura on the main strip; a great place to stop on your way to Santa Barbara.  The seating is very comfortable with a gift shop in the back.  Lots of natural light pours in through the front windows.  I realize that most of my favorite coffee shops are located in a place that I’ve only visited once on vacation, but they left such a mark that I long to return.

I don’t drink milk very often, so to me the perfect soy cappuccino is light, airy but not bubbly, with a nice body.  The foam should give you a “milk mustache” and be as satisfying as roasted marshmallows or homemade ice cream; where in their natural state the ingredients are pleasant but when transformed completely engage your senses.

I am not an expert in steaming milk (I worked for Starbucks for two years which doesn’t give me street cred), but I think for soy the brand of milk is a huge factor.  The better coffee shops I visit seem to use Pacific Natural Foods Barista Series Soy Blenders.  The website says that it is “Specially formulated to withstand high temperatures and foam so beautifully, you’ll think you’re using dairy milk.”

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I am not advocating a particular brand, just to say that the quality of soy milk seems to be a huge factor in the end result.  I love the atmosphere of Lord Windsor, but my cappuccino was heavy.  The foam did not mix evenly with the espresso and was a little cakie.  However, I do look forward to returning to read a book and try their fresh brewed coffee.

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