Carmel Belle

Overall Rating: 6.850

Address: San Carlos St.
Cross Street(s): In the Doud Craft Studios, btwn Ocean & 7th Sts.
City, State ZIP: Carmel, CA 93921
Neighborhood: Carmel-by-the-Sea
Phone: 831.624.1600
Hours: M-Su 8am-5pm
Type of Establishment: Cafe
Cafe Rating: 6.80
Barista: 8
Savvy: 7
Ambiance: 5
Presentation: 7
Consistency: Inconsistent
Espresso Machine: Faema
Coffee Rating: 6.90
Aroma: 7
Body: 7
Brightness: 6
Crema: 7
Flavor: 7
Taster's Correction: 0.5
Size: M
Primary Taste: Warming
Coffee Beans: Mr. Espresso
Cup Manufacturer: Nuova Point
Price: $2.00
Last Update: 03/14/2015
First Reviewed: 03/13/2010
Notes: None

Paolina's was established on this spot - something of an indoor food counter - in 1955 and operated for years as Carmel's oldest Italian restaurant. Back then they used a three-group, manual, brass eagle Rancilio machine with "Paolina's" detailed on the back. The owners bowed out of the operations recently, and its new inhabitant - Carmel Belle (or just "Belle" at times) - took over in 2009 with a heavy local and organic theme. They offer no dinner service and primarily serve breakfasts, soups, salads, and sandwiches with the "Carmel Belle-iefs: simple, fresh, local & organic = yummy". The frugal set worship this place, and the quality of the simple products are worth a stop (just not anything so special to write home about). In March 2014 they expanded to more of the studio area to open a dedicated coffee and smoothie bar further in the back. For espresso service, they use a newish, shiny two-group Faema Due. Their single espresso used to be served as a huge shot in a large Mr. Espresso-logo Nuova Point cup, but they have since scaled it back from a doppio. It typically comes with a rich, congealed, mottled medium brown crema with lighter spots. And even when it was a larger size, it is not at all diluted or overextracted. The flavor may not be watery, but it is not terribly potent either. This could be due to the age of their bean stocks, even though the crema suggests it is fresh. It has a smooth flavor of some mild wood and spice. Add milk to it, and the coffee flavor will easily be lost. Still, it's one of the best shots in town. The milk frothing here is also decent, though beware that the large cappuccino is insanely big.