Some of you may know that I am a self-proclaimed coffee snob. I mean that in the kindest way though...I've never turned away a cup o' joe offered from a friend and I still can be found drinking an occasional cup at a diner or even, get this, a gas station (gasp!). But on the whole, I really do like
a good an exquisite cup of coffee...often in the form of a latte or, better yet, a flat white. My habit has also rubbed off on Clark, although he's not quite as picky selective as me. I love coffee. I love trying coffees everywhere I go. And I love sharing my love of coffee (here's a photo glossary of espresso drinks for your viewing pleasure).
So, it dawned on me yesterday, as I was enjoying a homemade spiced flat white, made with some beans from Black Cup Roasters in Anchorage, that I've yet to do a "round up" kind of post about my love. Instead, you'd only find my favorites by perusing through Instagram or shuffling through the many scattered photos on Facebook. What a pain in the rear...I mean, even I don't want to go through all that. But I did it anyway. And now I present a few of my favorite coffee shops and roasters we've encountered in our travels.
Top 10 Coffee Shops
10) Cafe Louisa (Montgomery,
AL) ~ I have to admit, there's not a lot I like about Montgomery. But
my mom has decided to retire nearby so we find ourselves in the
area every once in a while. I was determined to find something good about
the place during our last visit, come hell or high water. I found it in the Cloverdale area
and it's called Cafe Louisa. I went there 3 times in one week. The
coffee, Counter Culture, is very good. The lattes are made with care and
the food (mostly sandwiches) are exceptional. So Waffle House isn't the only
place to get coffee in Alabama after all...
9) Java Joe's (St. Ignace, MI) ~ Not only does Joe's serve up a nice cup of coffee...they also make the best breakfasts in the area. This is the quintessential coffee shop...from the squeaky screen door to the logo coffee cups this place screams comfort and caffeine. The coffee is top-notch and the service makes it a pleasure to hang out for an undetermined amount of time. Just look for the pink wall with the unicorn on the side of the building and you can't miss it.
8) Cafe Aquatica
(Jenner, CA) ~ This was the first coffee shop I visited when we hit the
road. Perhaps that's why it's one of my favorites. I am a sentimental
person after all. But it's really a charming place. You literally sit on
the edge of where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. It's
stunning. The coffee is very good (and organic). The atmosphere is warm,
artsy and relaxing...perfect for reflecting on life, writing in your journal or just enjoying the day.
7) Michael Thomas Coffee (Albuquerque, NM) ~ High points for ambiance at this cool coffee shop!
It looks just like any other pueblo style home on the street (so you
might think you're lost when looking for this place since it's in a
neighborhood) but it's awesome! There's seating out front, on the side
and in the back where there's a small garden. Of course, there's also
seating inside and it's comfy and adorable. The coffee is outstanding
and roasted onsite. You won't be disappointed.
6) Kiva Koffeehouse
(Escalante, UT) ~ By far the most uniquely beautiful coffee shop we've
been. Do yourself a favor and plan a trip to Grand Staircase
Escalante National Monument and Capital Reef National Park, two lesser
visited parks in Southern Utah, and throw in Bryce for good measure.
Then travel via Highway 12 so you can stop in at Kive Koffeehouse. It's
out in the middle nowhere but so worth the stop. The coffee is good but
the scenery, the building, the rocks...man, oh man. It's beyond
description. There's ample room to park your RV so this can be a fun pit
stop along the way.
5) Bean North Coffee Company (Whitehorse, Yukon Territory) ~ So what if this place seems out of the way. It's worth it. Besides, you can make a day of it by stopping in for some local, organic veggies at Rivendell Farms and then go for a soak in Takhini Hot Springs, both of which are right down the road. The coffee shop itself is adorable and surrounded by wilderness, wildlife and flowers. The beans are among the finest I've had and the drive is actually really nice (and worth it). The only reason I'm not including this place on my top coffee roasters is due to the fact that shipping costs to the U.S. are double the price of the beans. but if you're in the area definitely buy some beans! Favorite bean: Guatamala Chajul and Sexy Mexy.
4) Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet (Grayton Beach, FL) ~ Built as a scaled down replica of Claude Monet's home and garden, Monet Monet is worthy of a visit regardless of your coffee preference. The place is simply gorgeous. Peach trees, wind chimes, archways made of flowers and shrubbery all invite you to come and linger for a while. Inside you'll find comfy, overstuffed chairs with side tables. A large, inviting couch is yours for the taking...put your feet up, lay back and relax. If you're lucky the coffee shop owner's little dog or adorable cross-eyed cat might snuggle up to you while you enjoy your locally roasted organic coffee, latte, tea or smoothie. Head out back to see the koi pond, outdoor art displays or to find a chair hidden in the garden so you can really get away from it all. This is a memorable coffee shop. I think I could live happily inside of it.
3) Back Porch Coffee Roasters and Looney Bean Roasting Company (Bend, OR) ~ Clark and I had a "discussion" about this one. We both love Bend. It has so much to offer including several great coffee shops. He felt Loony Bean deserved this spot because the place is funky, quirky, cute and has a great outdoor space that's dog friendly. It overlooks the river and it really is quite lovely. However, we both agree that Back Porch had better coffee. Back Porch has a more modern feel and therefore, isn't quite as comfy and homey feeling. But they pay attention to detail. They're foam is perfect and...they make my favorite...the Cardamom Latte. Get there early enough and treat yourself to the "world famous" Ocean Rolls (ask around...people who know Bend know about Ocean Rolls). We'll let you decide which coffee shop is better...
2) Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters (Mancos, CO) ~ I'll admit it now...one of the reasons Mancos is on my short-list of places we might settle down in is because of this coffee shop and roaster. The town is small so you can guarantee that a good portion of the locals will eventually mosey in and grab their morning, or late afternoon, java. It's a hub. And it's cozy and comfy and the coffee is out of this world.
1) Bisbee Coffee Company (Bisbee, AZ) ~ Don't do like I did and confuse this place with Old Bisbee Roasters...they are not the same. The Coffee Company is the place across from the library where you can hang out and enjoy lattes, real macchiatos and the best Mexican Hot Chocolate I've ever tasted. It seems that every time we've visited Bisbee it's been cold out and Bisbee Coffee Company is the right place to go to warm up and enjoy a fantastic cup of coffee. I tell everyone to go here...even the people I like!
Top Coffee Roasters
5) Black Sheep Coffee Roaster
(Bishop, CA) ~ What Black Sheep lacks in ambiance (I'm not a big fan of
the interior of their cafe in Bishop...sorry) they make up in fantastic
coffee. They roast their own beans and this stuff is good. Good enough
that it's one of the few roasters I buy from online. Although I
personally don't feel the cafe is a comfy, cozy place to hang out they do
have outdoor seating that is pet friendly...a big plus for those of us
who travel with our furbabies. Black Sheep is a gem along one of our
most favorite byways...Highway 395. My top pick Yirgacheffe Konga.
4) Alaska Coffee Roasting Company
(Fairbanks, AK) ~ Yes, I'm just as shocked as you that an Alaskan
roaster would make this list...and from Fairbanks no less. Well, it
seems that Alaska isn't as far behind the rest of the country as it was
when I went to school here (20+ years ago if you must know). This is
another nice (maybe upscale feeling) coffee shop that also roasts their
own beans. They're lattes were the good but their beans are highly
recommended. I especially loved the Timor L'Este (organic) and will
ordering some as soon as they have stock again (hurry please!).
3) Back Porch Coffee Roasters (Bend, OR) ~ These guys know coffee. Just watch them as they make the perfect latte...they put real care in their cups. This place seems to have a steady stream of customers, many of whom are picking up their locally roasted beans. And they do not disappoint. My top pick: Peloton.
2) Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters (Mancos, CO) ~ I can't say enough good stuff about this place. Maybe I'm just too in love with the town, and therefore biased, but the beans still haunt my dreams. I'll be sure to do a double taste test to ensure they belong in such a high spot on both the of my lists the next time we pass through. It's just too bad they don't offer online shopping.
1) Old Bisbee Roasters* (Bisbee, AZ) ~ My absolute favorite coffee roaster is Old Bisbee Roasters. Seth, the owner, is a riot and he knows his stuff. You'll either find him at his store front on Naco Road or on Peddler's Alley (where you'll find the fabulous vegan restaurant Poco) on the weekends. There isn't a coffee shop per se, but Seth will gladly make you an espresso (or three) while you decide what to order. My recommendations: you can't go wrong but my personal favorites are the Sumatra and Mexico Loxicha Pluma Real. Stock rotates frequently so these aren't always available so I recommend getting the coffee sampler (4 different half pound selections) and/or joining the coffee club for you folks who don't travel.
So there you have it...my favorites. The lesson I learned compiling this list is that it's almost impossible to narrow down the "best" after 3 years on the road. I should have thought about doing this as an annual post. There are so many places I know I've missed (like Red Cup on Washington Island in Wisconsin and Luna Rana in Cosmopolis, WA and even the New Sheridan Hotel Parlor's classic coffee served with a simple sugar cube) but of the ones listed, I can assure you they're all great.
*This is an affiliate link. There's a chance I might one day earn enough money from this link that I'll be able to get a "free" pound of coffee. It's never happened before but one can still hope. Being an affiliate does not mean I've over-inflated my recommendation...quite the opposite...I became an affiliate because Old Bisbee Roasters is simply my favorite.
Labels: coffee, favorite places, Top 10 Coffee Shops