A red bicycle hangs on a wall at The Red Bicycle Coffee Café and Catering. Its perpetual stillness contrasts the bustling activity of the café's baristas, who grind single-origin beans for bold cups of coffee and creamy lattes. Though the beans are imported from exotic locales such as Hawaii, Ethiopia, or India, the local coffee artisans at Joe Van Gogh in Hillsborough check the expiration dates printed on each bean before roasting them to ensure a fresh taste.
In addition to steaming cups of joe, guests can sip Mighty Leaf whole-leaf teas, nibble locally baked pastries, and chomp into sandwiches loaded with deli meats and cheeses. The Red Bicycle's light morsels and laid-back atmosphere also attract local artists and musicians, who display their work on the walls and swing by to strum a guitar or perform Brahms's Second Concerto on the kazoo.
From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
After Jacobus Stam attained a compliment-baiting reputation for crafting delectable pastries and chocolates at his bakery, Chocolaterie Stam was founded in Amsterdam in 1913 to focus solely on chocolates and sweet treats. Visitors of Chocolaterie Stam's American branches can enjoy a wide range of assorted sweets that contain no wax or preservatives. Savor nearly a century's worth of quality and tradition in every decadent bite, recalling the time when actual gold coins were the de rigueur dessert. Percolate palates with a gift box (starting at $15.95), gelato ($2.79), or a toothsome stack of stroopwafels toting a layer of caramel syrup ($4.50). Additionally, visitors can stop by to soak in the relaxing atmosphere and sip on a flavorful Italian soda, gelato, or hot chocolate instead of converting their home’s crawlspace into a compact café.
From its quiet perch on Franklin Street, Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop slings premium fair-trade ice cream right alongside warm hand-rolled soft-pretzels from Auntie Anne's Pretzel. Friendly staffers fill cups with famous flavors such as Cherry Garcia, a smooth blend of cherry ice cream speckled with cherries and flakes of chocolate fudge. Phish Food infuses chocolate ice cream with marshmallow and caramel swirls, paying homage to the mellow tunes of the jam band Phish with fish-shaped fudge pieces that play eight-minute guitar solos. The shop was recently renovated to include an Auntie Anne's, whose pretzel professionals prepare a wide array of sweet and salty snacks, spiraling them into ornate knots with the delicacy of a grandmotherly sailor, and baking them to golden brown in full view of customers.
Miel's gourmet chocolates and baked goods are handcrafted from fresh, upscale ingredients to please taste buds and sight buds alike. Designer cookies, cupcakes, and desserts are stuffed to the sugary gills with unusual, imaginative flavors, such as lavender almond shortbread, as well as American classics like vegan peanut butter and Henry David Thoreau's Walden. With their palate-pleasing complexities, Miel's decadent chocolates could make for a dentist-taunting meal of savory sweets. Drop a few triple espresso chocolates in a steaming cup of morning brew for a luxurious eye-opener, or suck a sea salt caramel for a taste of swashbuckling adventure, minus the wooden limbs and scurvy. Lemon-basil white chocolates and raspberry-rose dark chocolates lend botanical notes to the roster, while the truffle de whiskey promises to become the favorite of besotted uncles across the incorporated township. Mix and match a crock o' chocs at Miel's candy counter, or purchase a pre-arranged pantheon with six-piece ($15), nine-piece ($20.50), or 12-piece ($25) chocolate boxes. Any exiled member of Russian royalty is sure to be the toast of the office party with a bundle full of Miel's sumptuous sweets.