Background: Founded by native Venezuelan and master coffee roaster Rafael Oletta, Angel Falls Coffee began as a primary source for quality Venezuelan coffee--as well as other single-origins and specialty blends. Nearly five years ago, however (the website, last updated 2005, still lists Venezuelan coffee for sale), Hugo Chavez in Venezuela outlawed the export of coffee. Therefore, the only thing Venezuelan about the coffee shop now is its name and the fact that it sells (delicious) El Rey Venezuelan chocolates. The shop itself, located on market square in Akron, OH, is open Monday through Thursday from 7am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday from 7am to midnight, and Sunday from 9am to 10pm.

Store Ambiance: The patio outside of Angel Falls Coffee has plenty of seating as much of the area along the strip of local shops is reserved for Angel Falls. As you walk in, 80s and 90s pop music is playing through a system linked with, an online music source. Immediately inside the entrance is a wrap around coffee counter straight ahead, a wall of merchandise to the left, and the cafe/dining area through a doorway to the right. Two servers, both male and in their thirties-forties, were shuffling around behind the counter. On the counter was an assortment of El Rey Chocolates. As the counter wrapped around toward the left-back of the store, there was a display case of whole bean coffee from a variety of regions. On the wall to the left was first a counter of books and memorabilia from local authors and celebrities and then further back a shelf-bay of full leaf teas. As I walked through the doorway into the dining area, I was perplexed by the intended mood of the shop. There were several comfy chairs (some cloth, some leather) mixed and matched with a few tables and sofas. There was a large treasure chest being used as a coffee table. On the wall, there was everything from a giant picture of an abstract Dalian dragon painting, a vintage black and white family portrait, and album covers from singers such as Doris Day and Bette Middler. There was a large bookshelf with books about art and history on it, as well as some children's books on the bottom shelf. The room was small--no bigger than an average family room--but cozy enough.

The menu and my selection: The menu was a little less impressive than I had imagined it to be--but there were some rather unique options. First, there was what Angel Falls called the Volcane Hot Chocolate--which was made with any of the available El Rey Hot Chocolates and steamed half-and-half. They also had smoothies, available in flavors such as cherry, mango, strawberry banana, and kiwi-banana. They had freezes in flavors such as mocha, mint-chip, mocha peanut butter, and flavor creme. They also had coffees, teas, iced teas, hot chocolates, chai, Italian soda, steamers, cortadas, french presses, coffees au lait, espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas. One cool option they had was to substitute rice milk for regular. I decided to get a small cup of the Colombia Mesa de los Santos coffee. It was lightly roasted, medium-bodied and highly acidic, with notes of sharp hazelnuts and juicy light berries. I also got a double 12 oz. latte with rice milk, just to see what it was like. The rice milk did not carry the espresso well and the beverage was very light on the tongue. The espresso itself had a mild honey sweetness to it.

I recommend Angel Falls Coffee to anyone who lives nearby and is looking for a quiet place to kill some time. The espresso was pretty good and the selection of whole bean coffees was worth the visit.

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