May 9, 2010

Rocky Mountain high

John Denver swore up and down that his popular song was a reference to a natural high; that is, the feeling exaltation that accompanies a feeling of oneness with nature. Not drugs. Seriously. To try and infer as much, according to him, suggested an overactive imagination searching for controversy.

Having spent the last couple of days nestled at the base of the Rockies in Golden, CO, even a cynic like myself can't totally dismiss the possibility that maybe Denver was on to something. As childish as it may sound, there's something endlessly romantic about a mountain vista.

But this is not a nature blog. I write about coffee, because frankly, even in the face of such beauty, that's what I'm primarily concerned about. Thus I present to you the coffee which was presented to me, over the course of my visit.

The first coffee I enjoyed was a Bolivian Roast from Z's Espresso in Lawrence. It was subtle and soft, lacking the nutty acidity of a Columbian or the cocoa of a Guatemalan. The coffee was, for the hour especially, a bit too subtle for me.

Next up was a Columbian roast -- or rather, a Columbian VIA from Starbucks. I've already posted my opinion on the "brew" before. It's creamy and nutty, perfectly acceptable stuff, but nothing better.

And now to Golden, the downtown of which houses several coffee shops. What's more, nearly every establishment, regardless of purpose, seems to have coffee. Thus I like the town for more than the lovely scenery.

The Denver inspired (perhaps) Higher Grounds served up a dopio macchiato. The espresso itself was heavy and dense, lacking the usual caramel sweetness. The dollop of foam on top was exquisite, however. The barista steamed the milk well, then tapped the pitcher with a spoon. That little trick settles the foam to the top, and gave me exactly the texture I want in my foam.

Cafe 13, which I visited twice, served up both an iced coffee and a standard brew. The coffee was something of a house blend, and as such, promised little in the way of exotic flavor notes. Instead, it only claimed to be a smooth drink, which it was. But speaking of smooth, the iced coffee was that and so much more. Cafe 13 uses a cold press to prepare their iced coffee, which removes acidity altogether. The result is sweet and cocoay, dessert without and cream or sugar.

I also went to a Starbucks, because it was the only place open at the time. It was the best Pike's Place Roast I've had, I'm pretty sure. I blame the altitude for my inability to match it.

Most of my coffee consumption was at the Golden Hotel, however, not any given shop. Which, normally, would mean a steady diet of Folgers. Which, charming as it can be, would not have been as good as what was offered instead. So what did the Golden Hotel have? At their restaurant, wedding reception and desk, I'm frankly not positive. My palate tells me it's a darker roasted Latin American blend. And, especially for free, it was very very nice. A bit heavy and lacking in bite for breakfast, but a lovely compliment to food -- perfect for after dinner.

In two days, I managed to down more than my fair share of coffee. But it's me. That's what I do. True to form, Golden seemed to invoke a high beyond just the caffeine rush, however. But unfortunately, lovely as the scenery is, Lawrence's spectacular coffee scene was not matched. And so I will return home to the land of Oz and pancake jokes, knowing full well that the coffee is better, thus with my nose in the air (or in a cup of coffee).

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