Cappuccino Review #7 – Cafe Soleil

Cafe Soleil

Cafe Soleil is on the ground level of L'Etoile Restaurant.
Cafe Soleil is on the ground level of L'Etoile Restaurant.
25 North Pinckney Street
Madison, WI 53703


For an intro about how and why I am trying the cappuccinos of Madison, go here.

I had never heard of Cafe Soleil until someone replied to my blog entry about the cafes I was planning on visiting.  I’m glad I learned about it, because it certainly is one great coffee shop.  It also makes me wonder whether I’m missing an entire host of other places that I’m simply unaware of….hopefully not.

Anyway, Cafe Soleil is downstairs from the french restaurant L’Etoile, which is one of the best (and most expensive) restaurants in Madison; they also have the same owners.  Like L’Etoile, Cafe Soleil prides itself on using locally produced ingredients and using sustainable practices (they brag about their use of florescent lighting and how their to-go coffee cups are biodegradable….).  One should also be aware that Cafe Soleil is a morning affair; so, if you want to go you need to show up before 1pm.  I suspect the owners don’t want to have to run both a cafe downstairs and a restaurant upstairs during the evening.  It seems that Cafe Soleil does benefit in one way from the connection with L’Etoile; they have some truly awesome food.  On our visit, we got the almond marzipan croissant  while waiting for our cappuccinos; it was interesting and pretty much perfect.  We also stayed for lunch and got a couple of sandwiches, served with their home-made potato chips.  Everything was delicious.

The cappuccinos, though good, did not quite match up with everything else.  Both Taryn and I ordered a ‘6 oz cappuccino’; I thought it a good sign that this was on the menu.

There seems to be some sort of design in the foam...though I'm not sure what it is...
There seems to be some sort of design in the foam...though I'm not sure what it is...

This cappuccino was sort of an odd experience.  The foam was certainly good, and the first sip was very smooth.  However, there was something that made it somewhat inferior to the cappuccinos at Mother Fool’s and Bradbury’s.  Taryn thought it was somewhat weak, though the underlying espresso was good enough.  She suggested that we ask for a double shot of espresso on our next visit (this was on option on the menu)  I, however, though it was plenty strong but that the espresso was a bit dull.  Typically our perceptions of cappuccinos seem to converge, so I’m not sure what the truth is.  I scored it as if my assessment were correct, but that’s just because this is my blog; I may in fact be wrong about any imperfections. Taryn liked the cappuccinos at Cafe Soleil more than I did, so maybe one should take my rating with a grain of salt (I suppose one should always take my raitings this way).  All scores are out of 5.

Presentation: 4

Smoothness: 5

Strength: 4

Complexity: 3

Foam: 4

Correctness: 5

Mean: 4.17/5

SD: .75

I strongly recommed a vist to Cafe Soleil, especially because their pasteries are among the best in the city.  Their cappuccinos are also very good; so you should get one while you’re there.  And some fine day I will actually be rich enough to come back at night to visit L’Etoile…when I get that job in finance perhaps…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *