Travel Review: Coeur d’Alene – Where the French Press likely went to die

I had a conference to attend in Coeur d’… We’ll just call it “Not-Portland”. So I had a conference to attend in Not-Portland and decided I would take a page out Ryan’s book and check out a few coffee places to review whilst there. Expectations were fairly low to be frank. A somewhat ponderous encounter with a local Macy’s employee concluded with her asking: “Ya’ll got a Macy’s out there in Oregon?”. Needless to say there was little to suggest artisan coffee is (or should be) a primary concern for the people of Not-Portland. Most of the places were bad and won’t get mentioned but there actually were some good ones I’ll mention too. Here’s the three most interesting ones on hit list:

Grumpy Monkey: This was the first stop Sharla and I made while exploring the town. While the barista gals were cute and breakfast sandwiches delicious, their coffee tasted like (to quote Ryan) “a fucking orgy in the back of a 7/11”.

Thanks to punchdrink.com

Thanks to punchdrink.com

Now I admittedly don’t know what that means – I assume it’s bad. In which case the analogy applies quite nicely as their espresso did indeed taste like a dirty ashtray was being rinsed out and poured in my mouth. I would wager that those willing to take part in an orgy in the back of 7/11 likely taste/smell like an ashtray. Grumpy Monkey likely caters to those interested in sugar with a hint of coffee or those just after a fresh made breakfast sandwich.

Calypsos Coffee: Later that same day Sharla and I ventured to Calypsos. The place is pretty cool looking actually. Sort of an SONY DSCeclectic art room with lots of nifty lighting and comfortable chairs. I was somewhat pleased to learn that Calypsos was a local roaster, and that they seemed interested in sponsoring community events in their area. The downside, of course, is that their coffee tasted like goat urine.

On a lost-episode podcast, Josh, Ryan, Sharla, and myself toured several drive through coffee shops; this was one of the few other times I’ve encounter espresso that tastes more like urine than coffee. Calypsos was on point in this regard.

1010151756

Vault: Good solid coffee. Seriously, little bad to say about this place. I didn’t get an opportunity to try the local roaster Doma
(they aren’t open on the weekends), but Vault serves their beans. I chatted with the barista a bit and he knew his stuff inside and out. The shots definitely had a nice chocolate and butterscotch taste and the nose was crisp, milky, and had this really nice extra dark chocolate and roasted almond scent to it. The beans were clearly darker, and the flavors from that type of roast profile would likely be more common in the Seattle 1010151755coffee scene than in Portland. Regardless, this place was definitely high quality and easily had the best espresso I tried in Coeur… I mean “Not-Portland”.

What’s the Word Hummingbird: All-in-all the coffee in Coeur d’Alene was pretty rough. That may not be entirely surprising given their size and population demographic. Not-Portland is basically a cute college town on a gorgeous lake; surrounded by scenic mountains and nigh-endless sprawl of conifers. The point being: they have a lot of shit going for them other than coffee. With that in mind though: Vault – who features Doma beans – was excellent. I’m sure Doma would be as well if they were open at sane and rational times. If you’re driving through or just in town for some reason, I’d seriously recommend dropping by one of those places. The beans were delightful, buy a bag. Added bonus: Vault serves beer and was a former bank, so even if you’re not a coffee drinker you can likely find something cool about their space.

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