It has been years since I first reviewed Empire Espresso, the now thriving Columbia City coffee shop and neighborhood hangout. In that time, I more or less transitioned out of my previous line of work (the work that brought me and my laptop to coffee shops for hours at a time), and I sort of forgot about many of my favorite old haunts, including Empire.
I don't usually get excited about standard breakfast foods, but the taste I had the night of the reception inspired a recent Saturday morning return. The waffles are a delightful dimension of the evolution of Empire Espresso. Now, in addition to doughnuts and freshly pressed paninis, Empire cranks out slightly sweet, slightly salty, cornmeal waffles all day long. On the weekdays, they have a standard menu with both sweet and savory toppings. On the weekends, diners dress the waffles themselves from a high quality topping bar (butter, strawberries, syrup, cinnamon and sugar, shredded coconut, bananas, etc).
Empire Espresso also continues to make one of my favorite coffee drinks, the cayenne mocha. It is made with good chocolate and includes just enough heat to create a slowly building warmth.