Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Orinoco Coffee House in Columbia

(Update:  Orinoco Coffee House appears to have closed in early 2009.)

Orinoco Coffee House is the classic coffee shop -- and by classic I mean the casual, friendly kind of joint that appeared 20 years ago.

This could be a cousin of Mad City Coffee in Columbia -- house-roasted beans, breakfast sandwiches, lunch, and tables scattered for people to relax. You can go for java on your commute, for sandwiches on your lunch break, or for a quiet break with your laptop or a newspaper.

As I have written before, I'm a bad critic of coffee shops. I offer the addict's blind love for any place that sells caffeine, and I milk and sugar too much to distinguish the subtleties that excite the connoisseurs. Nina of Yet Another Food Blog says Orinoco is her gold standard -- and promises a post comparing the best coffee in Howard County.

Orinoco certainly works for me. Good flavor, nice people. It's a small place, but jammed full of stuff by people who want to do a lot. Inside seating and outside seating. Tables and seats at the bar. A large sandwich menu that runs to the unusual like Cuban or a Waldorf chicken salad, four vegetarian options or a chicken panini with horseradish cheddar. They even made their own empanadas (about $4 for beef, chicken or veg). I was impressed by the chicken empanada, which I brought home and reheated. Shredded chicken with some minced peppers and other vegetables. Great chicken flavor and a nice crust. I added some salsa for spice and a little moistness, and I was very happy.

Overall, this is a nice place for lunch and a good place for coffee. The owner's family has roasted coffee for a century, and Orinoco roasts nearby in Columbia. The bags of coffee tend more towards being different varieties of bean with few of the sweet flavored treats that Mad City seems to relish. Definitely worth checking out.

I'd love other people's views on Orinoco and on coffee shops in general if you want to leave a comment. Plus watch Nina's blog for her promised post. Coffee seems to be a personal thing, and opinions vary.

If you're looking for coffee shops in Howard County, also check out Mad City Coffee in Columbia or Bonaparte Bread in Savage. If you visit Orinoco, you are just around the corner from Lily's Mexican Market and Sushi King on Dobbin Road -- plus Mango Grove and Mirchi Wok for Indian.

Orinoco Coffee House
8874 McGaw Road #H
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: This is on McGaw between Dobbin Road and Snowden River Parkway. It's a new center with a smoothie shop, a Z Pizza and the Green Turtle. This is just south of Rte 175 near Apple Ford.

Orinoco Coffee House on Urbanspoon

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