Showing posts with label bozeman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bozeman. Show all posts

Friday, November 19, 2021

Essy's Coffee and Frozen Yogurt

Subject: Essy's Coffee and Frozen Yogurt
Location visited: Bozeman, MT
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

As a place I called home for nearly a year, I am always happy to return to Bozeman. The town is sadly losing some of its quaint quirks with its ever-growing popularity, but one positive is the increase in quality coffee establishments. The newest to my eyes on my recent visit was a combo that is not often seen, that of frozen yogurt and coffee at a place called Essy's. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Ghost Town Coffee Roasters

Subject: Ghost Town Coffee Roasters
Location: Bridger Center Dr location, Bozeman, MT
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

In my last trip to Bozeman, my lodging provided some coffee from a roaster I had not heard of prior, a local roaster called Ghost Town. After a quick google search, I opted to leave the free coffee at my shelter and made my way over to one of their cafes to experience it firsthand.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Treeline Coffee Roasters

Subject: Treeline Coffee Roasters
Location: Bozeman, MT
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

There are a few states that hold a special place in my heart, and the hardest one to physically get to has been Montana. After a decade of foiled attempts, I finally found myself back in Bozeman just a few months ago. North of Yellowstone and full of old memories, I was delighted to find so many good coffee options, some from yore but many new to me.

Monday, May 04, 2009

CC: Caffe Vita Coffee Roasting Co.

What's does "CC" mean?

Location visited: Seattle, WA
(Capitol Hill location)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

I never thought I'd be introduced to a great Seattle coffee company in Montana, but in my visits to Rockford Coffee of Bozeman, I became enamored with their roaster at the time, Caffe Vita (note: Rockford now seems to roast their own). Every time I got a drink at Rockford (especially their americanos), I really wanted to make a road trip to Seattle to taste the coffee direct at the source.

It took a while, but finally I was able to make a trip to the source. On a brisk weekday morning, I meandered over to Caffe Vita to meet a colleague for a cup of coffee. The shop is clearly visible from afar, as their mammoth sign broadcasts the location clearly. Upon moving closer, a few pieces of well-placed furniture underneath their ample awning drew me right through their front doors into the line. The inside itself has two floors, both with abundant furniture and rich woods, but the downstairs has a much more cozy and dim aura while the upstairs has a brighter and soothing feel.

Caffe Vita roasts their own coffee, having a nice selection of single origins and blends. Prior to this visit, most of my experience with their brewed coffee came from but one or two single origins, so I decided to try their Bistro Blend. It produced a zesty and buttery cup that had merit, but overall tasted a little too dark and a bit lackluster. The espresso came out better, as it was pulled short and demonstrated tinges of bittersweet chocolate and condensed milk, albeit small hints of bitterness on the back end. As for their teas, they have their own line of free leaf teas.

Given my past experiences, I would say this encounter with Caffe Vita really rounded out my perceptions of the operation. While I didn't end up falling as head over heels as I thought I might, I would say that I'm even more intrigued by the company than before. Definitely will warrant another try.

Thus, if you're in town, make a bee line for Caffe Vita to give them a shot yourselves.

Friday, May 11, 2007

CC: City Brew Coffee

What's a Coffee Commentary?

City Brew Coffee
Location visited: various
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Yet another small road trip ago, I got to see the lovely city of Billings for the second time in a much more comprehensive manner then the first (it was a 1 AM pit stop in a 10 hr drive). While it definitely can boast as the "city" of Montana (it has skyscrapers!) it's still no thriving metropolis.

Now that might sound critical and condescending, but it actually has a lot of perks. For one, never was it overwhelming to navigate the city. And secondly, its local coffee chain hadn't gone the way of charred disgusting-ness.

The chain I reference is City Brew Coffee, the other Montana coffee chain found mainly in its home in Billings. While I had heard much about it from a good pal (she's their biggest fan), I tend to hold skepticism of a coffee operation with so many locations across such a wide space...

So cut to the chase, I had to try it while I was in Billings. After a decent dinner out, a nice-sized group (about six of us) headed over to the closest branch to our sleeping quarters. The exterior of City Brew looks corporate as does the inside, with the expected Panera/Starbucks environment (which isn't bad, just a little overdone).

But the decor is where the corporate look stopped. I was stunned to see they offered french press (at a decent price too!) and that their espresso machine wasn't automatic (not completely manual either, but few places can maintain those machines at quality operation).

They roast their own coffee, and unlike many of their chain-brethren, its actually not over-roasted to an oily misery. On top of it, their various brews actually tasted decent (though not overly amazing either).

Their espresso, while light years beyond corporate charred espresso funneled out of an auto machine, still didn't really impress me. It had a decent body and flavor, but overall was pretty bland. The shots also failed to be consistent in my several visits, which would be the weakness of multiple locations.

The teas were also their own, though I didn't get to try them.

After much deliberation and visits to multiple locations (even the new one in Bozeman), I would say amongst coffee chains they're head and shoulders above the competition, but in the world of specialty coffee they still have a bit of improving to do. If you ever set foot in a Montana city (the places with more then 20K people), keep your eye out for one and give it a whirl.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

CC: Leaf and Bean

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Leaf and Bean
Location visited: Bozeman, MT
(both Main St and 19th St locations)
Free WiFi ? : yes

observe here
Rating: 4+ [see key]

A small piece of history, the Leaf and Bean stands as the oldest coffeehouse in all Bozeman, started back in the 70's in order to have a venue where one could grab a decent espresso or cup of coffee along with decent atmosphere for those dining in.

Today, the business has expanded to two shops on both sides of town, one in the bustle of downtown Main St and the other in the shopping plaza of 19th St and Oak. Both have spacious atmospheres (Main St has a high ceiling and 19th St has a really open dining area), both decorated in a pleasing and subtle manner.

Getting into the coffee, Leaf and Bean serves Montana Coffee Traders as their bean of choice. I had enjoyed MCT's coffee when I had it at their Columbia Falls location, but every time I've had it at Leaf and Bean, it's been stale (a matter of keeping the java fresh) or over-roasted (a bean problem).

And on the topic of brewing, I have to say I'm amazed they never used their french presses for coffee, only for tea. I mean a press is a good tool for brewing free leaf tea but to not even consider offering french press service for coffee (I asked so many times) doesn't compute. But alas, I think they have done away with the presses altogether (*tear*).

The espresso is also really sharp here, with a very strong bitter aftertaste. I don't know if it's always been the case for the past 30 years or if most of their patrons get sugar-ladened drinks and don't notice, but the times I've sipped the espresso have caused me to wince. On a chipper note, their small army of teenage/young adult female baristas do seem to be wise in their ways.

Montana Tea and Spice purveys the tea. This company I still have not sampled but with the attention given to it by the baristas (solely using french presses for just tea), I'd guess it's decent. We'll see...

I would say that I would diagnose Leaf and Bean as a promising establishment with some areas of improvement with their coffee/espresso. I like the establishment but I can't fool my tongue.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

CC: International Coffee Traders

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: International Coffee Traders
Location visited: Bozeman, MT
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 3+ [see key]
Hours: observe here

The town of Bozeman, a nice college town nestled in the mountains, has so many coffee establishments, it's almost ridiculous (keyword: almost). One of the few next to campus, though quite concealed behind a gas station, is International Coffee Traders (from here on in the post I will refer to them as ICT). I actually heard of them before I got to visit. I was told they were pretty good and a nice place to hang out.

Well, they were right about the hang out. ICT displays a very exotic, tropical decor with lots of green plants, tables made to look like they were straight out of South America, and numerous other tropical accents. The seating and tables are well-spaced and they even have two computer consoles free to customers.

But I wasn't as impressed with the coffee. Admirably, they roast their own coffee but they only know how to do really dark blends. Their light roast is about as dark as I can drink it and their dark roast is blackened to oblivion. The tang of over-roasted beans typically shadows the drip (and they don't do french press service either).

The espresso is not much better sadly. The shots have the same bitter, over-roastedness as the coffee. I'm no professional, but my taste buds definitely grab its jagged sharpness . The issue with the espresso could also just be that the blend/single-origin is not meant for espresso, but I think it's still more the roast profile.

On a positive note, ICT does have an intriguing way of doing iced coffee. They use a process dubbed "Cold Press", where
heavily concentrated coffee is extracted through a specialized filter, then added to ice and water/milk (depends on your preference). It comes off smooth and very chocolaty, but alas I have not had it in awhile b/c they either run out or the weather is not right for it.

ICT also has a fair offering of Numi teas, but nothing extensive. Regarding their sweeter/sugary drinks,
from what I gather they tend to hit the spot (though I cannot vouch for such beverages).

Overall, it's a great place to hang out or study, but not so great if you're looking for a great shot of espresso or a well-roasted cup of coffee. We'll see if that changes...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

CC: Rockford Coffee

Subject: Rockford Coffee 
Location visited: Bozeman, MT
Free WiFi ? : yes
Hours: observe here 
Rating: 6+ [see key] 

*Update 2/07/21
Wow, this is post is a blast from my past. Rockford was a great shop back in 2007 but it is a solid entity now in 2021. Now at a different location down Main Street, they are also roasting their own coffee and producing some top notch beans, Rockford has come to be a spectacular coffee gem in lovely Bozeman. If you have the fortune to visit, most definitely make a stop in Bozeman for some of Rockford's treasures. 

Original post:
As I first entered Bozeman through Main St, Rockford was one of the three coffee places to catch my eye (the other two were Rocky Mt. Roasters and Leaf and Bean). One of the relatively new coffee places on the block, Rockford definitely seems to be pretty wise in the ways of coffee preparation. 

The decor is minimalist yet appeasing. Light woods and eye-catching art resonate the entire space, with ample seating. A nice aspect common to Rockford and many coffee places in Bozeman is that they have computers free to customers (for a 1/2 hr, which is generous), an oddity all too rare in the Philly region. 

The coffee is Caffe Vita, a small batch roaster out of Seattle (10 hrs away) which apparently does their roasting in vintage German roasters from the 1930s (I have no idea why that's a plus, it just sounds fascinating). The coffee at Rockford tastes pretty good, though I've only had their medium roast (they also do a french roast, but darker roasts usually don't catch my taste buds in a flattering manner). The funny thing about their coffee is that not once have they espoused what the name of the coffee was outside of "medium." Not a big deal really, as long as the java is decent. The espresso also tastes delightful, with a very full and robust kick to it. The one time I had it, the taste really preserved, all the way to the bottom of my 16 oz americano. Another oddity/unique aspect is that they only serve iced americanos, never iced coffee (there could be several reasons, but I still like an iced coffee occasionally). The tea was Harney and Sons, a tea company out of NY which looks interesting (it's on the list of things to try). The chai, once again, was overlooked. 

During my time here in Bozeman, I've grown an appreciation for Rockford. If you're zipping East on Main, it's a good place to stop (if you're going west, take precaution as it's a hard turnaround to master). Overall, well done.