Princeton’s New And Coolest Coffeehouse? The Rojo’s Taste Test.

Your cup of joe is taken to the next level at Rojo's coffeehouse in Princeton's Palmer Square. (Click to expand.)

Your cup of joe is taken to the next level at Rojo’s coffeehouse in Princeton’s Palmer Square. (Click to expand.)

Where do you go for coffee in Princeton? Small World, right? Small World has been the standard since 1993, but now, as Small World has the distinction of hosting Presidential- Senate-hopeful Cory Booker‘s latest photo-op, a new player has set up in Palmer Square, aiming to take your cup of joe to the next level…

Rojo’s Roastery has been operating in Lambertville for several years, but has now opened a second branch in Princton. The store got its name from the owner’s nickname from his time playing steel guitar with Willie Nelson. The music in the store during our visit was a pleasnt blend of soul and light funk, featuring The Spinners, Tom Tom Club and Dazz Band. The interior features a pretty dazzling array of coffee-making kit, but my coffee selection (Colombian) was brewed using a low-tech, slow-brew apparatus: the ‘Hario V-60′:

The Chemex V-60, the workhorse for slow-brewed coffee at Rojo's. (Click to expand.)

The Hario V-60, the workhorse for slow-brewed coffee at Rojo’s. (Click to expand.)

The barista who I chatted with appeared to have a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of coffee brewing. We discussed whether I should go for the Hario brew, or the Chemex apparatus. (Apparently the Chemex extracts more coffee oils during the brewing process, producing a less bitter but potentially lighter-bodied cup of coffee. Another difference is that Hario is $3.50 and Chemex a full $5.50– I figured Hario was good enough!) We also chatted about what how Rojo’s sees itself as different from Small World. Rojo’s consider themselves a ‘third-wave’ coffee joint, where there is focus on the beans and the brewing process and ultimate transparency for the customer regarding what they are drinking. This was impressively baffling stuff, but how was the coffee?

Rojo's beans are selected directly from the growers in South America. The growers are paid more by Rojo's than is typical of other coffee outlets. The beans are roasted using a vintage gas-fired Probat UG-15 machine. (click to expand.)

Rojo’s beans are selected directly from the growers in South America. The growers are paid more by Rojo’s than is typical of other coffee outlets. The beans are roasted using a vintage gas-fired Probat UG-15 machine. (click to expand.)

My coffee was very nice, definitely nicer than the burnt-brew typically offered by Starbucks. Nicer than Small World? I’m not enough of a connoisseur  to tell after just one taste, but it’s possible that both coffeehouses can develop their own loyal customer base, just like there is plenty of custom in Princeton for both the Bent Spoon and Halo Pub ice-cream stores (not to mention a couple of others!). Extra choice is definitely a good thing!

Rojo's is on Palmer Square, right next to the Bent Spoon.) Click to expand.

Rojo’s is on Palmer Square, right next to the Bent Spoon.) Click to expand.)

Been to Rojo’s yet? What are your thoughts? Does Princeton need another gourmet coffeehouse? Let us know in the comments!

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3 Responses to Princeton’s New And Coolest Coffeehouse? The Rojo’s Taste Test.

  1. Pingback: Six Princeton Things We’re Thankful For This Holiday. | walkableprinceton

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  3. Pingback: Princeton To Get New Café On Nassau Street | walkableprinceton

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