the search for great coffee

Last Monday morning started just like most work mornings.

Alarm goes off. Eat oatmeal. Read daily devotional. Write a small blurb in my journal. Get ready.

But y’all, I was dang tired. I had come back from my trip with Grandpa up in the Northwest and I was still feeling a bit lagged.

There’s an easy solution, I thought. Let’s get some coffee.

I used this incredibly useful device on our recent travels that I’m sure most of our technologically apt society is aware of: YELP.

‘Yelp’ is awesome because it helps you find the nearest eateries, bars, cafes, and the sort in the area you are. AND, reviews and rankings are readily available to help you discern and make the ultimate dining decision. After coming off of two years of eating rice, beans, bananas, cassava bread, and potatoes, all of the options are exciting (albeit overwhelming) and I take my choices seriously.

And so, I used this wonderful application and decided I would spend this week searching, scoping, and perusing some local coffee shops I could find. Here’s a bit of what I found.

coffee

MONDAY: KUNJANI COFFEE HOUSE

Yelp’s highest rated coffee place within a relatively close radius was this cozy, beige-colored joint right off Lincoln & Jordan, not far from my home. I noticed the stone fireplace immediately and was excited that at even at the bright and early hour of 6:30am there was a fireplace going. It added to the worn couches and fresh flowers scattered among the wood tables. It felt like the perfect place to have a warm cup of coffee.

There were two male baristas that were nice enough, but they seemed like they could use a cup for themselves – they seemed a bit sluggish. But hey, they probably woke up well before 4:00am so what can I really say? I ordered an Ethiopian dark roast for a nice price of $2.47. I sat at a table in the corner and sipped a bit of my drink before heading to the office. Bold, strong, with a taste of pecans. I liked it.

TUESDAY: DAZBOG COFFEE

Dazbog, up until recently, has been a Denver-only sort of thing. I perused their website and it appears they are expanding their operations to Wyoming and to Texas as well. And you know what? They should. They know how to serve a good cup of joe.

Their website tells web visitors that,

“Dazbog Coffee is the realization of the American dream by two immigrants of the former Soviet Union, Anatoly and Leonid Yuffa. The dream that is now Dazbog began on a bitter cold night among the cobblestone streets of Lenigrad. The Yuffa family fled Russia to embark on a new and better life of freedom, democracy, and opportunity…Anatoly and Leonid have found a way to honor the past and enjoy the present in a rich-tasting cup of coffee. The history and character of their homeland inspired the unique and intriugiing names of Dazbog’s fresh and roasted blends. The White Nights Espresso is named for the summer days in Lenigrad when the sun never sets. The Hermitage, once home to the czars and now a world-renonwed museum, is the namesake of their Hermitage House Blend, a fine medium-roasted coffee that appeals to wide variety of tastes.”

A coffee house with history? I can get down with that.

I ordered a large 20oz café au lait using the house blend, called ‘organic mocha java’. I tasted dark notes of chocolate and a nice blend of sweetness with the soy I ordered. I was pleased. I sat in a red loveseat, crossed my legs, and looked around. The walls were full of Russian sayings and near the barista station was an entire box full of merchandise. Rock music blared through the sound system. I was the only customer inside; most of the clientele was hopping around the corner through the drive-through window. My hot paper cup cost me only $2.98. And with milk! I liked the price, probably could do without the rock music (maybe it was just too early), but I miss the “localness” the shop used to have a few years ago. It’s expanding – and fast – and while that’s great, I miss the local-ish ambience.

WEDNESDAY: LORA’S DOUGHNUT & BAKERY SHOP

 If you want any kind of pastry, cake, doughnut, sweet treat….THIS PLACE IS IT. It’s adorable and has a selection that could rival a lot of doughnut places. I arrived really early this morning as I wanted to do some writing before I had to report to work. I was the only person in the store and I was engaged instantly with the large pictures of doughnuts on the wall. Cinnamon, sprinkles, chocolate, you name it. Like I said, choices are a plenty.

However, this place isn’t really the place to get a coffee. I mean, it’s good, but it’s exactly what I had sipped on Tuesday – they serve Dazbog. So, while I enjoyed my soy latte for a jacked up price of $4.76, I was hoping to get a different sort of feel after having visited Dazbog the prior day. But no worries, the latte was even more delicious than the café au lait. It had more of a kick and was a better mixture, in my opinion. I sat at a high-table, did some writing, and sipped my drink in preparation for the day. And boy, with tax season in full swing at work, the caffeine sure did help.

SUNDAY: JAVA MOUNTAIN ROASTERS

My last coffee tasting experience for the week of ‘the search for great coffee’ ended up in Idaho Springs, Colorado. Dad and I had finished an attempt to drive up to the top of Mt. Evans and had stuffed ourselves to no end with Beau Jo’s Colorado-Style Pizza. I hadn’t drank any coffee by noon, and so I was determined to find a shop before we hit the road. Luckily, there was a cute café and roasting company right across the street from Beau Jo’s. The coffee gods were definitely taking care of me.

JMR – Java Mountain Roasters – hands down had the cutest shop I had visited all week. And I don’t think it was just because we were up in the cute mountain town of Idaho Springs. It had that relaxed, homey feel. Books lined the old dressers in the shop, and they displayed various beans they roast from around the world. It’s a family owned place and they were certainly kind and chirpy in greeting me. I ordered my go-to, a soy latte, and poked around the coffeehouse while they were working on my cup. I found all sorts of home-roasted products and cozy decorations on the walls. There were a lot of pastel colors in the shop and so you could just feel instantly at ease. If we weren’t in a rush to get back home I would have been fine hanging out there all day.

My order came and I paid just over 4 bucks for my large cup. Totally. Completely. Worth it. It was the best tasting coffee I had had all week. It felt smooth, easy to drink, and was the perfect temperature. It wasn’t too bold; probably made with a medium roast, and had a perfect balance of flavor. I loved it. And I told them as much.

I’ll be back! I yelled on my way out. And I will, because this shop, well it’s exactly why it’s fun to look around and explore new places in the first place. Because you find winners and places you want to come back to. And let’s be real, finding the perfect cup of ikawa (‘coffee’ in Kinyarwanda) is a nice, lovely surprise. Particularly on a nice afternoon Sunday drive in the Rocky Mountains.

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