Showing posts with label Montana Coffee Traders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Montana Coffee Traders. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

CC: Sweetwater Coffee

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Sweetwater Coffee
Location visited: Dillon, MT
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]

Small towns have a certain charm to them, but growing up in the crowded East, I don't think I ever really got to truly see a small town until I went west, where in some places in New Mexico and Nevada there stands only one main road through all of town and you can take the tour in about 10 minutes.

Of all the west, Montana is the state that I have by far visited the most small towns, some of them more like a NJ rest stop then a town while others do hold a bit of charm. On one particular road trip through the lovely state of Montana south to Idaho, a colleague and I stopped in one such described-charming place that's home to some mutual good friends, a town called Dillon.

Arriving in town early in the mid-morning, Dillon qualified as a good coffee stop, especially because my one friend raves about one specific establishment called Sweetwater Coffee. And as any good friend would, I made a bee line for the venue in the heart of Dillon (it's near city hall, I recall).

To say the the least, the outside failed to blow me away, with a very industrial, bleh-looking building with but a small (by comparison to the backdrop) circular sign. The inside fortunately was a whole lot warmer and enticing, with very bohemian, mis-matched furniture as well as some interesting local art. The place seemed to be a local hangout for people of all ages (even though not many people seemed to be around at 10 AM this particular Thursday).

They serve only espresso (only americanos for the usual drip/press coffee drinkers) with their espresso blend being Montana Coffee Trader's French Roast. The doubleshot I had was a bit sharp with an ok acidity, but nothing amazing. The barista, who was very amiable, seemed to know what she was doing but as I was a bit scatterbrained that morning, I failed to note her skills. Also, didn't note the tea but I did observe that they do offer hot lemonade (new one to me), and though it was tempting, I didn't want to leave on a sour note (haha, get it?).

Overall, Dillon proved favorable and Sweetwater satisfactory. I would say my friend gave a fair recommendation as Sweetwater may not be the best coffeehouse EVER, but for a small town it's a nice operation. For those in Dillon or passing through: if you try the hot lemonade, let me know how you like it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

CC: Montana Coffee Traders

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Montana Coffee Traders
Location visited: Columbia Falls, MT
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

he state of Montana: land renown for its natural beauty and fossils, home to a dedicated breed of people who love the cold and/or downhill sports. Given the 7-9 month periods of cold (depending where you are in the state) and the natural progression of trends from the West Coast, Montana is slowly developing a strong coffee culture of its own.

One place that seems to be extending its influence throughout the state is Montana Coffee Traders, a 25 year old operation based out of Northwest Montana near Glacier National Park. I personally had heard of their beans but did not get a chance to visit a shop until recently running through the town of Columbia Falls. This particular location had a
restaurant paired with a coffee bar (I was happy to see that the two aspects were not merged, but that the coffee area was a distinctly separate chunk of the establishment). The interior had a TGI-Fridays-meets-hunting-lodge look (when in Rome?) with seemingly adequate seating (definitely not enough for the Sunday rush).

The coffee, to my chagrin, was fairly tasty. The medium blend hit the spot, though the dark blend was a little overdone (couldn't put my finger to whether it was brewed strong or if it had something else to it). They offer numerous blends and seem to be very dedicated to well-roasted, socially-responsible
(i.e. fair-trade) java.

The espresso was completely different; it tasted so burnt I nearly spat it on the floor. The beans seemed stale as well as a little too over-roasted. That paired with questionable barista skill(s) (maybe it was an off day?) definitely exposed a possible weak spot in a seemingly strong tank.

The teas came from Montana Tea and Spice, a company out of Missoula that's been around since disco. This tea I've seen in various Montana coffee locations though I have yet to sample it. It looks promising (I hope).

Regarding the various coffeehouse aspects, I'd have to say it was good, especially for a small town like Columbia Falls. If you're going to Glacier or you're of the few hardy folk who live in NW Montana, I'd say it's a good java option.

PS: the breakfast here is AMAZING (though not cheap)