Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Sept. 23
This little, Ethiopian coffee shop is a bit sequestered in an ugly plaza at the corner of Madison and 30th Street. The inside is a bit chaotic right now since the ownership plans on remodeling and turning the place into a hookah bar. But, for now at least, it's a pretty cool spot to grab a cup of coffee.
The credit card machine has been broken for a little while, so it's currently a cash only operation. That's not so bad since the coffee is on the cheap side. For $2, the man behind the counter put the espresso machine to work in an interesting way.
He packs the basket with ground coffee, and then pulls shot after shot through the machine until he gets a full pour of coffee. The resulting cup is dark and strongly flavored, much as would be expected of a giant espresso. It has plenty of crema, but it is definitely a different coffee style. The strong coffee benefits from adding some sugar, but once sweetened up it's fun to drink and brings on a pretty strong caffeine jolt.
Yohanes, an older, Ethiopian patron and friend of the people who own Vision, sits out front with his chessboard and rises to the challenge of a game. His play is remarkably sharp and he knows his openings. He says he hasn't played chess in years, not since he was living in Germany, but his tactics seem fresher than that.
Hot coffee and chess go together remarkably well on a nice afternoon.
One great thing about Vision: you can buy injera there. A bag of the staple, Ethiopian bread costs $6 and would be an amazing tortilla or sandwich bread alternative.
Call 619-727-4319 for hours.