Photo Menu: Buna

This week, Buna, a coffee roaster from Mexico City, joined us as our third roaster in residence at La Marzocco café.

On Friday, July 1st from 5-8 pm please join us in welcoming Buna to Seattle. We will be celebrating with live music from Mexico’s Sotomayor, as well as with complimentary samples of mezcal, tequila, Mexican beer and authentic Mexican food, as well as the specialty coffee beverages that are part of Buna’s menu during their residency.

Buna began three years ago as a small roaster with just one customer account. Lalo Perez Varona, one of its founders recalled, “We had a small 2 kilo roaster that we operated from a rooftop. I’d go up there at 6am and roast coffee all day long.” Today, Buna has a beautiful cafe in Mexico City, and a separate roastery that also serves as a laboratory for coffee experimentation and education. Their slogan “Café Rico” represents the company and its goal of serving delicious coffees as well as being, “rich in culture, agriculture, community and love.”

Buna is offering three classes during their residency that are free and open to the public. The classes will be held over first three Saturdays in July at 12pm and 1pm. Please see our events calendar for more details.

Be sure to make a trip to the café to experience Buna’s menu while they are with us through the month of July. Here is what you can expect:


Café Frio

Buna’s cold brew made with Tun Daja–a blend with notes of chocolate–steeps for 16 hours before being served.


Café de Olla

A warm filter coffee with a splash of house made simple syrup flavored with cinnamon, orange peel and pilancillo. Pilancillo is described as crystallized molasses and has a deep sweet flavor.


Frio Con Leche

Buna’s cold brew with a large splash of milk.


Soda de Café

This refreshing drink combines cold brew, freshly squeezed orange juice, sparkling water and a simple syrup flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and guajillo chillies.



A Buna original, this drink is equal parts cold brew and house made horchata–a sweetened rice milk drink with hints of cinnamon and vanilla.



The classic mocha is elevated by Buna to include hints of cinnamon, cardamom and star anise.

To view Buna’s full menu while at La Marzocco Cafe, head here.

Accademia Series: G&B Coffee

Over the last few weeks we’ve been sharing a series of posts profiling G&B Coffee from Los Angeles, and their dogged pursuit of efficiency in service. Part 1 explored how they grind coffee for espresso – pre-dosing and pre-grinding. Part 2 looked at how they get the most from their espresso machine: a single three-group Linea PB that helps them produce over 1,500 espresso beverages on a busy weekend day. Part 3 covered how their team interacts with guests at a bar where people can “order anywhere,” and also detailed how they brew filter coffee.

This series of posts is the first profile in the Accademia Series: an occasional series that profiles the people and companies who work with La Marzocco, and explores ideas in coffee.

This video summarizes our profile of G&B Coffee.

Accademia Series: G&B Coffee Part III – Bar Organization and Filter Coffee

This is the third post in a three-part profile of G&B Coffee, and is the first profile in an occasional series exploring ideas, principles, and practices in specialty coffee that we’re calling the Accademia Series.

 On average, G&B Coffee makes 1,250 to 1,500 drinks on a busy weekend day. Those drinks generally tend to arrive quicker than you would expect given the crowd, and taste as good as it does when there isn’t the crowd. This is a feat.

We’ve been looking under the hood at G&B Coffee, so to speak, seeing how owners Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski developed a series of unique systems structured around speed and quality. Earlier, we saw how they pre-dose and pre-grind their coffee for espresso, and how they take advantage of the volumetrics on their Linea PB to speed up their bar flow. Now, for this third and final entry in this series, we explore the process that led to their decision to use a batch brewer for filtered coffee, and how they’ve organized the bar and the staff to keep the gears running. And, in so doing, make G&B Coffee not just one of the best coffee spots in Los Angeles, but also one of the most fun.


Bar Organization

When G&B Coffee opened, it was but a counter flanked by a few stools. Just a few months ago, the bar was completely remodeled, so it is now a rectangular island. “It’s opened us up to the whole market,” Charles says. “It’s made us more approachable, and the experience more immersive.”

Significantly, part of the immersive experience is that there are no lines here. Instead, you just walk up to the bar and flag down a barista, if they’re not already on their way over to take your order.

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Breaking up the queue was not something Kyle and Charles initially set out to do. Rather, the idea occurred to them bit by bit. Before starting their business, the two took a trip to Madrid for a friend’s wedding. While there, they very much liked the bars found in most every neighborhood, little places where you could grab a spot at the counter, surrounded by anyone and everyone, grab a sandwich and maybe a caña. It was energetic; it was lively. They liked that vibe. They tucked the idea away in the back of their minds.

When Sqirl opened with G&B Coffee in tow, it wasn’t immediately packed with folks jonesing for toast and jam and coffee. Within a few months, though, word got out, and the lines gradually got long, and then longer still; indeed, there are many people in Los Angeles who could tell you about that line, and how it started early and snaked out the door and well past the patio and didn’t really let up until about an hour before closing.

Charles says, “At a certain point, we thought, What if we just helped anybody who needed to be helped? That way, we can better serve customers. That sentiment was freeing and exciting.”

“The more aggressive we were about getting out into the space and meeting people and getting their orders, the more communal the vibe was,” Kyle says. “It felt more real. It felt like a dinner party.”  That thing they liked about the places they went to in Madrid was something they could see working at their own place.

Thus you do not queue up at G&B Coffee. You order anywhere, on any side of the bar, at any time. It’s a challenge to not fall back on the queue — especially when it seems that, despite “Order Anywhere” signs posted around the bar, a line forms anyway — but it’s a challenge the team readily accepts.

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The other challenge accepted: creating a system behind the bar to handle the non-lines. Kyle and Charles have broken up the bar into two general areas; the center area is where most of the food and drinks are prepped. The outer lanes of the bar are divided into color-coded zones (up to 6, depending on the size of the crowd). Each zone is equipped with its own till, as well as leather swatches, both of which match the color of the zone. Baristas are assigned to zones, and when they pass an order to the prep area, they’ll put down the appropriately colored swatch, then a cup. The exact order is communicated through the swatch and the cup like letters in a language: a swatch placed upside down, for example, signals almond milk; a wooden stir stick placed in the cup indicates a hot chocolate order.

For them, this is far more efficient than a ticket system that requires baristas to find buttons, punch in modifiers and so on. Sounding a bit like a hockey coach talking defense, Kyle says it also keeps the staff “moving horizontally across the bar” and actively taking orders, keeping water glasses filled and generally providing solid customer service. An expeditor (or, in G&B Coffee parlance, the Bar Boss) keeps everything in order at the prep station.

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As quickly as orders go out now, Kyle and Charles are still looking to unclog other bottlenecks. Currently, they’re focused on the milk station: thanks to pre-dosing, pre-grinding and volumetrics, baristas can pull more shots than they currently can steam milk for. This is a very good problem, one that will be resolved with the addition of a steam wand, which should be installed by sometime this summer. On a more general level, they’re contemplating ways to reduce milk waste and keep their milk dosing consistent.

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All that, so great coffee can be made even more quickly and accurately in an environment that’s fun for everyone on both sides of the bar.

“We’re going to do the thing that gives us the best, most consistent coffees, at the speed we need to, to serve the customers we have well, so that more customers can come and more people are here,” Charles says. “So it’s a bigger party. With more fun vibes.”


Filter Coffee

If you order a filtered coffee to stay at G&B Coffee, it will be delivered on a tray, in a pretty ceramic hand-thrown mug filled nearly to the brim.

Prior to being delivered on the tray, in a pretty ceramic hand-thrown mug filled nearly to the brim, the coffee would have been brewed in a Fetco. Which is not always how Kyle and Charles made filtered coffee: back before they opened G&B Coffee, when they were popped up on one side of the tiny restaurant Sqirl, with Jessica Koslow and her kitchen team making toasts and sorrel pesto rice bowls on the other side, they brewed coffee using Kalita Waves. They treated the Wave like a batch brewer, making one liter at a time to yield three 12-ounce cups. As they and Sqirl became more popular, this brewing method didn’t make quite enough fast enough, but they continued with it nonetheless, all the way up until the early days of G&B Coffee.

After experimenting with ways to use the Wave to make even bigger batches of filtered coffee, they decided to try using a device that is actually intended to make big batches of filtered coffee. They borrowed a Fetco from a friend, programmed in their Wave recipe to make a two-liter batch and ran a few blind tests. Hands down, they preferred the coffee brewed by the Fetco. The decision was easy from there: they let go of the kettles and the cones. They installed the Fetco. And haven’t looked back since. Indeed, in a high-volume environment like theirs, the benefits are too great to go back to the pourover system of making filtered coffee.

“If the only way to get a delicious cup of coffee was to do it individually, upon order, that would be one thing,” Charles says. “But you can make the batch of coffee 15 minutes before the customer shows up, keep it hot and it’ll be just as good.”

For their filtered coffee, then, a Mahlkonig EK-43 grinder is dialed in so the brew hits 1.45 to 1.55 percent TDS. That translates, Kyle says, to coffee with “lovely aromatics, citrusy complex flavors that aren’t sour and certainly not too light.” Around midday, after several brew cycles, the coffee is checked with a refractometer to make sure things are in order. If the strength is off, adjustments are made to the grind.  In general, though, the batch brewer, like their Linea PB espresso machine, reliably follows their set recipe, so the coffee you have here is pretty much what Kyle and Charles intend you have. Delivered posthaste, of course.

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Final week of G&B Coffee; Welcome Buna of Mexico City

We’ve been thrilled to have G&B Coffee from Los Angeles in residence at the La Marzocco café and showroom in the month of June. The community has responded to the dynamic and creative menu, and our team and our customers will miss everything from the 100% vegan “Tumi Latte” – made from fresh whole turmeric and house-made almond macadamia nut milk – to “Business and Pleasure” to the yeasted waffles. To coincide with G&B’s residency, we’ve also been sharing a three-part profile of G&B’s approach to service and efficiency in their busy Los Angeles café. We’ve posted parts one and two, and look for part three later this week.

Tumi Hot Cold Combo

Beginning next week, on June 28th, we welcome Buna, a Mexico City-based coffee roaster that describes their purpose as being “to share café rico, innovate, and inspire people to strengthen their relationship with the world and to form a conscious community.” Because Mexico is a producing country, Buna is uniquely positioned to work directly with coffee farmers and form strong, direct relationships – offering farmers guidance on how to improve their growing and processing techniques in order to achieve higher quality. Mexico does not allow coffees from other countries to be imported; all of Buna’s coffees are from Mexico.



Lalo Perez Varona, one of Buna’s founders, experienced and came to be aware of “third wave” specialty coffee during his time living in Colorado. He returned to Mexico City with a vision to bring third wave style coffee to Mexico. Buna was founded in 2013, and is one of two distributors of La Marzocco coffee equipment in Mexico.

We will kick off Buna’s residency with a launch party on July 1st 5-8pm that will feature all sorts of Mexican fun: mezcal, Mexcian beer, tacos, and dancing.

During their residency, Buna and our café team will be crafting espresso-based beverages on the La Marzocco Strada AV. The Strada AV has just entered production at the La Marzocco factory in Florence, and is newly available in the US this month. The Strada has always been the barista’s machine, and was designed and continues to evolve with the input of baristas from around the world. The Strada AV is the result of continued input, and features La Marzocco electronics and volumetric controls ideal for high-volume café settings.

But before Buna remakes the La Marzocco café in their vision, be sure to stop by to experience G&B’s menu and service design during their final week in residence. After June 27th, you’ll need to travel to Los Angeles to experience their work.

Accademia Series: G&B Coffee Part II – Espresso Machine Efficiency

This is the second post in a three-part profile of G&B Coffee, and is the first profile in an occasional series exploring ideas, principles, and practices in specialty coffee that we’re calling the Accademia Series.

There are many reasons to go to Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski’s G&B Coffee in Downtown Los Angeles. There’s the coffee, of course, but also non-coffee drinks like turmeric almond macadamia lattes and fizzy hoppy teas, and excellent yeasted waffles and housemade granola. And there’s the experience of the place itself, a space where your beautifully made drink arrives faster than the time it took you to find a spot to park. And that, exactly, is the point.

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In the first part of this series, we looked at how Kyle and Charles honed in on their recipes and how they pre-grind and pre-dose their coffee to speed up espresso service without sacrificing accuracy. In this part, we look at how the volumetrics on their La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine help their baristas make solid espresso drinks in no time.


The Linea PB

“If you’re a barista on any level, working on a semi-automatic machine where you start the shot and stop the shot manually,” says Kyle, “You just have some shots that you fuck up. And the busier it gets, the more that happens.”

He and Charles, like most every coffee shop owner, want to avoid those mistakes. They also want to make and deliver espresso drinks quickly. With their Linea PB’s volumetric controls, they have achieved both goals.

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Initially, the two were not completely sold on a fully automatic machine. There was — and to some extent, still is — an attachment to the idea that baristas, not machines, should control the shot. When Kyle and Charles opened G&B Coffee in 2013, in fact, they were using a machine with a mechanical paddle.

Then they watched Matt Perger’s “Man vs. Volumetric” experiment. For the uninitiated: Perger put a barista up against a Linea and its volumetric capabilities. The machine was far more consistent than the man. (Ben Kaminsky ran a similar experiment, “Barista vs. Volumetrics,” with similar results.)

Kyle and Charles decided to go all in with an automatic machine for their second shop, Go Get Em Tiger, which opened just after G&B Coffee began serving drinks at Grand Central Market. It was a custom four-group Linea with group timers, volumetrics and a “few other tricks,” Kyle says. Even at this point, though, the buy was a leap of faith. “We bought this very expensive machine, premised on the idea that we could abandon this very manual thing that we were used to doing,” he says. “Which maybe doesn’t sound like a big deal, but felt like a big deal at the time.”

On bar, the Linea proved itself in no time: its deviations from the set target extraction rates were within half a gram, in either direction. “Even a barista, staring at a scale, could not replicate that precision,” Kyle says.

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That precision means recipes can be executed accurately and consistently, no matter who is on bar. As owners, this repeatability is an enormous benefit: they can be confident that the espresso served while they’re away from their shop is the same as it would be if they were the ones on bar. The other benefit is a bit more of an existential one, as there is a communal identity to the coffee, precisely because the quality of the drinks relies so much on recipes and not on individual baristas. Everyone, in other words, is invested equally in the same outputs and the customer experience.

Over at G&B Coffee, Kyle and Charles now use an automatic volumetric three-group Linea, painted a deep purple. Especially here, with the crowds as they are, embracing volumetrics has enabled them to achieve their other goal: speed.

“Volumetrics allow the barista to cover a wider area and do more things and do the central role of pulling shots more accurately,” Charles says. Among other things, it frees up the barista to pull even more shots.

Because the coffee for espresso is pre-dosed and pre-ground, a barista dedicated to just pulling shots can plug in three portafilters in the Linea and, in the 30 seconds or so while those three are extracting, can load up three more portafilters. When the portafilters in the machine finish extracting, those three come out, and the three that were just prepped are locked in. And repeat. At full speed, then, a fast barista working with the portafilters in triads can do six shots in about a minute.

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“Basically, the machine is always running,” Charles says, “And it can make more espresso than one shop can serve, really.”

“If we ever hit a volume where that’s not enough,” Kyle adds, “Then we’re the richest men in Los Angeles.

Accademia Series: G&B Coffee Part I – Grinding Coffee for Espresso

This month, G&B Coffee is in residency at the La Marzocco café and showroom in Seattle. In advance of their residency, our team spent time with Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski to document their unique approach to pursuing efficiency – with the ultimate goals of creating a great customer experience, but also great business practices.

We’ll be sharing G&B’s story in a three-part series of blog posts over the coming weeks.

This multi-part profile of G&B is the first of an occasional series exploring ideas, principles, and practices in specialty coffee that we’re calling the Accademia Series.

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If you go to G&B Coffee at Grand Central Market, the 99-year-old food hall in Downtown Los Angeles, on an early weekday morning — early morning being right before potential jurors report for duty at nearby courthouses, when the area traffic is, by Google Maps standards, dark red  — you will notice a crowd. A crowd of accountants and fashion design students, of City Hall staffers and Los Angeles Times reporters, of construction workers and realtors, of novelists and East West Players theater actors, all clustered around the bar, getting coffee to go, getting coffee to stay. If you get your coffee to stay and just watch the ebb and flow of the crowd, you can’t help but notice that quite a cross-section of Los Angeles passes through here.

G&B Coffee owners Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski very specifically set out to build a coffee shop that could handle a crowd. A big crowd. They envisioned a high-volume place, one that delivered not just high-quality coffee, but high-quality coffee quickly. They wanted to be realistic about how their customers want to experience their local coffee shop. “We want people to be able to walk up to the bar and get their coffee in 30 seconds. Immediately, essentially,” Charles says. “And we want that coffee to be as good as the coffee can be.”

To make the coffee as good as the coffee can be, the two zeroed in on setting their recipes. “We didn’t want to have an experience where the quality of the coffee depends on the barista,” Kyle says. “We wanted to have recipes that we could repeat, over and over again, within a very narrow window, no matter who is on bar.” The person who is on bar, meanwhile, is freed from the task of dialing in and instead can focus on other aspects of service.

Indeed, the major components of the bar — the grinders, the La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine, the batch brewer and even the organization of the bar itself — are all fine-tuned in a way so that these recipes can be followed precisely, shot after shot, drink after drink. What can be done in advance is done in advance; machines are trusted to automate certain processes. But building this system has not been easy; it required, among other things, a complete reevaluation, and at times rejections, of many values that have been held so dear for so long within the specialty coffee industry. The result, though, is an ecosystem where regular customers find their regular drink order waiting for them by the time they’ve settled in at the bar. And that drink is as good as it can be.

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In this series of posts, we’ll take a closer look at how these major components at G&B Coffee are set up to make the shop’s unique style of service possible. First up: their system for grinding coffee for espresso.


Grinding coffee for espresso

Generally, baristas (and home coffee drinkers) have been taught that coffee for espresso must be ground just before the shot is pulled, lest this precious cargo be degraded and staled by even the briefest exposure to oxygen. For a coffee shop, particularly for one that has decided quality and speed need not be mutually exclusive, that value represents a major break in bar flow.

“We were observing that espresso grinders were giving us very highly variable outputs in either direction,” Kyle says. That inconsistency, says Charles, means the barista has to spend time adjusting, and re-adjusting, the dose. Those extra steps add up. The bottleneck is not pretty.

Kyle and Charles were willing to absorb the speed bump, if it truly was the only way to preserve the quality of the espresso. But it occurred to them that it might be worth the effort to see what happens when the ground coffee sits out for a bit.

The seed of this idea actually goes back to Charles’s 2013 barista competition routine. As he prepared for the competition, he was, as competitors are, concerned about time. “I was trying to find a way to manipulate how the grinds fell into the portafilter and was using one of the HG-1 dosers,” Charles says. “I was showing this to a friend and fellow coffee professional, Ben Kaminsky, and remarking how it was taking up even more of my comp time. Ben suggested that I try grinding the coffee ahead of time, since he had observed that there wasn’t a real drop in quality.”

Charles took his friend’s advice and ground the coffee during his preparation time before his routine. (He did the same in the following year’s competition. Since then, though, the competition rules have been changed so that such pre-grinding is no longer permitted.)

The idea to pre-grind the coffee eventually made its way to the shop, and they began to test it. They ground some coffee. They let it sit for an hour. They pulled the shot, and put it up against one made with coffee that had been ground right before being set in the portafilter.  Surprise: “We observed a difference, but not a degradation,” Kyle says. It was smoother and sweeter, even, with a fuller body.

They ran a few more experiments before ultimately concluding that they could pre-grind the coffee, up to a certain point, without a loss in quality. And that meant they could greatly speed up their bar flow by having a line of pre-ground coffee dosed out and ready to be popped into portafilters.

There were other advantages as well. Accuracy, for one: the shop doses to a tenth of a gram, which is as precise as their scales will go. If the grinder is over its target dose, the excess is dispensed into a side receptacle. When the grinder is under, grinds from that receptacle are used to make up the difference, which, at the end of the day, means less coffee waste.

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When you see the pre-grinding and pre-dosing in practice, it looks quite a bit like cooks assembling their mises en place. Which is sort of the point: an efficient restaurant kitchen, after all, depends heavily on having the onions diced, the jalapenos seeded, the cilantro picked before service begins. Sitting at G&B Coffee’s back bar on a weekend morning, with the famed wonton soups from neighbor vendor China Café behind you, you’ll have perhaps the clearest view of how this sort of efficiency works in a coffee bar setting. There are three grinders there, a Mahlkonig Peak grinder for espressos and Americanos, and two Mazzers for espresso and milk drinks. Next to them, a tray of small shakers: three across, four down, twelve in total.

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A barista will grind the coffee, adjusting the dose as necessary, then will drop those grinds into one of the twelve shakers on the tray. When each of the shakers on the tray is filled — three across, four down, twelve in total — the barista will pick up the tray, turn around and place it next to the espresso machine. The barista working the machine needs only to grab a shaker and funnel it into a portafilter.

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Generally, the ground and dosed coffee is funneled into portafilters within 15 minutes of being set down. That said, they’re still exploring the concept. “We’re actually considering a minimum time of rest after grinding,” Kyle says, “Because there are some taste benefits and extraction benefits from oxygen exposure.”

After the grinds are funneled into the portafilter, all that’s left for the barista to do is to pull the shot. The barista pulls the shot, by the way, on a volumetric machine that is pushed to its limit most every weekend.

In our next post, we’ll examine how G&B gets the most out of their espresso machine.

Photo Menu: G&B Coffee

This month we’re thrilled to welcome G&B Coffee as the resident coffee program at our Seattle café.

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G&B Coffee, a coffee shop located in Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, is owned by longtime specialty coffee thought leaders Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski, both Intelligentsia Coffee alumni. Kyle and Charles don’t serve a single coffee roaster’s coffee. Instead, they are constantly blind-tasting coffees from roasters from all over North America, then choosing their favorites to serve in their bar. During their residency at the La Marzocco cafe, we will be serving coffees from four roasters that are routinely served at G&B: Heart, Madcap, Parlor and 49th Parallel. G&B’s menu is notable for its creativity and ambitious ingredients and flavors. Everything they serve is made in-house––from their almond macadamia nut milk to the sparkling black tea with hops. They’ve done everything possible to recreate their menu, and their service experience in Seattle. What follows is some detail about the beverages you can experience at the café during G&B’s residency.

When visiting the cafe this month, no need to form a line. G&B runs a bar-style “order anywhere” service, so find a spot along our bar and our baristas will be happy to help you explore the G&B menu.

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Almond Macadamia Iced Latte

This latte is as smooth as it is cool, and has been named one of the best iced lattes in America. The almond macadamia milk is made in-house daily.

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Turmeric Almond Macadamia

For a caffeine-free option, just ask for a “Tumi.” Served either hot or cold, the base for this drink is made with fresh organic turmeric and ginger then lightly sweetened with honey.

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G&B’s own six-spice recipe made in house.

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G&B Shake

Four (4!) shots of espresso and almost a whole pint of ice cream, let it be known that this milkshake is intended for two! Fair warning, but we won’t judge if you can’t bear to share.

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Fizzy Hoppy Tea

The refreshing house-made Fizzy Hoppy Tea is a carbonated blend of black tea, citra hops, with just a hint of sweetness. Served alongside espresso and G&B’s 1-and-1 selections, this slightly bitter beverage is an excellent alcohol-free alternative to beer.

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Yeasted Waffle and Filter Coffee

Because there may not be a greater combo. Served to you straight from the iron, these waffles are light with crispy edges, and come dolloped with butter and a generous drizzle of pure maple syrup. Order one with the filter coffee of the day.

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Enjoy coffee’s version of a root beer float. G&B’s Affogato starts with a generous scoop of ice cream covered in a single shot of espresso.

To view G&B’s full menu at La Marzocco Cafe, head here.

Over the coming month, we’ll be telling you a bit more about G&B and their innovative approach to processes and service. Stay tuned to learn more!