Coffee in the Southwest: Las Vegas, Page, Bluff, Farmington, Santa Fe, and Flagstaff

coffee from my southwest roadtrip

coffee from my southwest roadtrip

A recent road trip in the Southwest yielded stops in a few coffee shops.  Sometimes for fun, sometimes out of necessity.  I visited places that offered good coffee and others that provided merely a vehicle for caffiene.

Sunrise Coffee, Las Vegas, Nevada

Sunrise is located in a small strip mall across from a sunny park in Southeast Las Vegas.  As I was walking in with my dad, a guy rode up on his bike and met with people who looked to be his parents.  I watched him lock his bike to a sigh in the parking lot – there’s no bike parking by the store front, but that is okay.

Other people sat inside with their laptops – a not too atypical coffee shop crowd.

Sunrise is an independently-owned shop that serves organic coffee and offers some vegan foods.

sunrise coffee, las vegas

I had their Espresso Blend from Mothership Roastworks.  I had low expectations for coffee Las Vegas.  I was pleasantly surprised by the coffee shop, which felt out of place at the strip mall.  The coffee was brewed well but I found it lacking some of the acidity that I was craving.  I like my espressos bright!

espresso at sunrise coffee, las vegas

I finished the last sip, put the dishes into the bus bin, and then we got on the road.

Beans Gourmet Coffee House, Page, Arizona

Sometimes when I am in a new place, I wonder if I am seeing the same things that a local would see.  In every new place, am I getting the equivalent of the Fisherman’s Wharf experience in San Francisco?  But, maybe Page really is a pretty small town, and there wasn’t too much that we missed.


I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the local experience in Page.  We were there to see Antelope Canyon, and the fact that others were as well is probably part of the reason for the row of hotels on the block where we spent the night.  I was pleasantly surprised to see so much foot traffic on such a wide road that was South Lake Powell Boulevard.  There were probably a lot of other tourists who needed to get food or stop by a drugstore, and I was happy that they were able to do so on foot, despite what appeared to be a lack of pedestrian-focused planning.


I had even lower expectations for coffee in Page than I did in Las Vegas.  Blue Coffee & Wine Bar had nice reviews on Yelp, but we could not go as they did not open early enough for us that Sunday morning.

Instead, we went to Beans Gourmet Coffee House.  There were two guys who looked like regulars sitting at the bar, and then three pairs of tourists sitting at their tables, working on or waiting for their breakfasts.  The regulars eyed my dad and I and gave a friendly nod.  The tourists minded their own business.

espresso at bean's gourmet coffee house in page, az

The interior was small – bright red walls with painted references to Italy on one side, and hurried staff behind the counter.  Not unfriendly, but definitely looking sort of stressed.

My espresso was served in a nice little Lake Powell demitasse, and I got a mango smoothie to tide me over until we could get a bite later.  The coffee was as expected – not horrible but not too pleasant to drink either.  Maybe not too different than a shot at Starbucks or Peet’s?

Bluff, Utah and Farmington, New Mexico

Comb Ridge Coffee – I was looking forward to checking this place out in Bluff.  Not necessarily for the coffee, but for to the fact that they were pretty much the only coffee shop in town.  I imagined they’d supply a unique, local vibe.  They’d be the curators or arbiters of the local scene in tiny Bluff.  And I was curious what their coffee offering would have been like.  But.. they weren’t open on Monday.  So we looked for another place.  And despite stopping in the parking lot, I didn’t feel like sitting down at Twin Rocks Cafe.  We decided to start driving and see what we could find along the way.


Nothing was on the way until we reached Farmington, New Mexico, two hours later.  At this point, I just wanted something – so I stopped into the local McDonald’s.

mcdonalds coffee in farmington, nm

Sadly, it tasted like burny flavored water.  Worse than I expected.  I wanted to believe that despite all of the negative feelings directed at McDonald’s for their food, their practices, and so on, that maybe their coffee would be okay.  But it wasn’t.  It was watered down enough to be somewhat drinkable, though.  So I suppose that’s a good thing?  I drank half of it and had to dump the rest out.

My dad wanted to visit the KFC nearby, so I paired my coffee with salty chicken tenders and a salty, buttery biscuit.  I did not use their “Honey Sauce”, which claimed “7% real honey

Betterday Coffee, Santa Fe, New Mexico

betterday coffee in santa fe, nm

Betterday is situated in a strip mall not too far from downtown Santa Fe – a strip mall with some pretty cool shops.   It’s next to La Montanita food co-op and a fancy (and expensive) looking butcher, The Real Butcher Shop, who boasts “We are Santa Fe’s first Whole Carcass, Farm Direct, Producer-owned butcher shop.”  The three make a pretty nice combo.  If I lived in Santa Fe, I think I’d spend a good amount of time at that strip mall.

The cafe is pretty open, a mix of wood and concrete with a few Cinelli frames hanging on one wall and some old road signs at the other end.

betterday coffee in santa fe, nm

I only had time for one coffee stop in Santa Fe, and had to decide between Iconik and Betterday.  I’d been told about Iconik’s beautiful space and I knew they roasted their own beans.. but I ultimately chose Betterday because I’d been craving a good espresso and I knew that I wouldn’t be let down by Stumptown’s beans.  Interestingly, the baristas were not nearly as hipstered out as I would have expected.  What does it mean if I’ve come to expect a certain type of barista with a certain type of coffee?

espresso at betterday coffee in santa fe, nm

And I wasn’t let down.. the coffee was great!

Late for the Train Coffee, Flagstaff, AZ

I had lower expectations for coffee in Flagstaff after browsing yelp reviews.  At least for coffee quality – the spaces could still be awesome.  It was interesting that a lot of the shops also were performance venues – places that would have been cool to check out some music or so if we had more time to spend.

The Late for the Train location I went to was sort of small and fairly crowded with a mix of people working on their laptops and others just sipping coffee outside in the sun.  They did not appear to have space for any types of musical performance.  The counter staff were young, female, and quite busy taking orders.  As was the case with the rest of Flagstaff, a number of mountain bikes were locked up outside.  I wonder why so many people get around with mountain bikes there?

espresso at late for the train coffee flagstaff, arizona

The coffee was.. as expected.  Kind of thin, darkly roasted, but with enough caffeine content to get me going.

That was the last stop for our trip.  We hung around town for a bit and then drove back to Las Vegas, for we had planes to catch to take us back home.

in search of new (to me) places to get coffee in new york (with bonus bagel visit)

epresso at prodigy coffee


it was a short visit this time around but there was still time to have coffee thrice!epresso at prodigy coffee

coffee and the times.  espresso at prodigy coffee.  Coffee roasted by George Howell Coffee Company.  My tasting notes: muted brightness, buttery and light.  enjoyable.

inside prodigy coffee neat vibe, very friendly baristas, nice light.  this was a good visit.


everyman espresso.  despite the barista’s expression at the moment I shot the photo, they were great and there was nothing disgusting about the experience.  they are located in a cool spot near union square in the lobby of the classic stage company.espresso at everyman coffee

espresso – espresso toscano by counter culture coffee.  tasting notes: bright, not much sweetness, light fruit aftertaste, hints of vanilla and peachmacchiato at everyman coffe

macchiato.  but it was the drip that Diane ordered that stole the show.  the baroida papua new guinea from counter culture

 was amazing.  delightfully fruity.bagel at absolute this year’s real new york bagel was had at Absolute Bagels – an everything with nova lox and cream cheese.  I had to go to “recalibrate” my bagel sensors as Israel would saymacchiato at 3rd railand the next day, back to the always-great third rail coffee – serving stumptown.  this is a macchiato but my espresso was light and citrusy

The last of the Portland photos: Voodoo Donuts, Stumptown Coffee

From another day walking around Northwest:

At Voodoo Doughnuts.  They’ve got a large menu.  It’s so hard to decide.

There’s a mango tango, an old dirty bastard, a portland cream, and an old fashioned glazed.


Cappuccino and a shot of espresso from Stumptown coffee


We stopped by the Saturday winter farmer’s market at Shemanski park to meet some friends.  there were lots of colorful carrots including these white “creme de lite” carrots.


American Dream Bingo in the NW Pearl District.  “Dream More”

Upside down bicycle route sign

A beer at Deschutes Brewery.  I don’t remember which one :(

We ran into some folks on a Brewcycle Portland tour at Deschutes.  Andrea guides this 15-person Crawler Fabrications vehicle between breweries for weekday and weekend mini-tours.

US BanCorp Tower

This is an old Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo bike hooked up to a mill to grind flour at the Portland Homestead Supply Company in the Sellwood district in Southeast Portland.  It still has front fenders and a back rack.

A neat mosaic-y use of reflective tape on the fender and the rim and spokes

A shot of espresso from Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roasters.   I think I had found a recommendation to visit them from  It was a decent cafe but I was disappointed with the shot.   The one from stumptown above puts it to shame.

Tilde had some neat items, really nice people, a great window display (shown above) and some beautiful art on the walls.  I was really impressed by Marnie Karger’s hand-cut work that she sells under the named “Crafterall”.

A house in sellwood

We took a little trip to Dairy Creek to finish off the evening.  Here are the pool cues and some of the many beer signs at the dairy creek tavern.

stumptown coffee at thinking cup

stumptown coffee espresso at thinking cup at 165 tremont st, boston.


I stopped by here soon after they opened one morning and had a nice, quick shot of espresso to wake me up.  They’re the first coffee shop in downtown boston to serve stumptown exclusively, according to their website.  It was a nice little walk to get the coffee – I love seeing the city wake up and it’s pretty nice being near the boston common.




thinking cup, early in the morning.


I also had a nice bacon cheddar and chive scone here.  Just a hint of bacon and a yummy scone-y texture.  it was just about a perfect savory scone.  They also have an affogato on their menu, which I would have gotten had it not been morning.




Amsterdam: Day 2

Every trip I take somehow ends up becoming a bike and coffee (and sometimes beer) tour.  We did some preliminary research on chowhound and coffeegeek for the coffee and beer and found a place for bike rentals.  Also handy was this interview of Stumptown owner Duane Sorensen by Oliver Strand of the New York Times It’s been a couple of months since our trip so my memory is a bit hazy but I’ll try to piece things back together with the help of these photos and the internets.

Die Koffie Salon Storefront

Coffee was my first priority.  We walked from our hotel to de koffie salon (Utrechtsestraat 130) based on recommendations from one of the above threads.  Patisserie Kuyt is across the street and these two were probably taking pictures of the storefront.  I did the same later, of course.

Impressive looking lever machine at Die Koffie Salon.

not as impressive-looking espresso from Die Koffie Salon

The espresso from Die Koffie Salon was pretty disappointing.  Light-bodied and not so good.  Drinkable though.  I don’t remember much else about it.  We moved on to across the street.

Patisserie Kuyt storefront

Patisserie Kuyt was a treat.  We ended up getting a variety of sweets, including the famed Appeltaart.

Bike rentals were from Dam Bike (New 26).  Cheap bike rentals, pretty crappy bikes.  But most bikes in Amsterdam were crappy.  We had some brake and wheel-truing problems, but hey, we didn’t expect much.  Another factor in choosing this bike rental place: we didn’t have to ride the super touristy orange bikes.  We were still touristy of course.

Nespresso storefront

I stopped in here to see if there were any Nestle-fueled single serve espresso innovations.  I didn’t see any, but I did see some (apparently top secret) designer Nespresso machines.  There were patterns screen printed on some of the plastic panels.  They kicked me out of the store for taking photos.  First time for a coffee shop – in the past it’s usually been for taking pictures in churches.

Lots of orange going on – we were nearing the quarterfinals of the the world cup.

women walking along albert cuypmarkt

After hanging out for a bit in Vondelpark, our next stop was Stumptown Amsterdam.  The market was super crowded and the actual store front was obscured by tents.  Lots of semi-crappy stuff but it was all interesting nonetheless.

an overexposed view of stumptown amsterdam

stumptown amsterdam: cupping station

Stumptown Amsterdam had a similar feel to other Stumptown locations but also had a more boutique-y feel to it.  The barista was a bay area guy (if I remember correctly) and it sounded like a pretty sweet gig to be working at that pop-up coffee spot with an apartment paid for by the Stumptown folks.

stumptown espresso

The espresso was predictably good, of course.


Dinner was at Bazar (Albert Cuypstraat 182).  We got some sort of kebab platter and though I was stuffed afterwards, I was intrigued by their mint syrup + ice cream + fruit dessert combination.

dessert at Bazar.

Canteloupe, honeydew, apple, grape, ice cream, whipped cream, mint syrup, pineapple, and strawberry.  The mint syrup was too sweet for my tastes but it was an interesting combination made a bit refreshing by the mint.

Albert Cuypstraat, post market

The market had shut down and the cleaning crews were tidying the street as we walked out of Bazar.

Albert Cuypstraat, post market

biercafe gollem

A recommended beer place, Cafe Gollem (Raamsteeg 4),  was nearby, so we sat down and had a beer.  Good selection with a very low-key vibe.  The only thing that sucked was a woman sat down next to us and started smoking.  The breeze was blowing all of her smoke right at my face.  She must have had about 3 cigarettes while we had about 2 beers.

biercafe gollem – at the bar

We left Cafe Gollem to return our bikes to Dam Bike and then walked home.

dam square at night

kind of a sweet bike design.

It doesn’t look very practical but it’s kind of cool how the rack is integrated and how there’s tons of standover clearance.  The decal says “Nationale Postcode Loterij”  Not sure why they’ve branded a bike with their decals or who the manufacturer is though.

the intercontinental amstel amsterdam hotel

The last shot of the night was of the fancy-looking InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam Hotel (Amstel Hotel).  FIVE STARS PLUS!

bike and coffee shops in new york (part 3)

This is part 3 of the bike and coffee tour.

(part 1 of the tour and part 2)

the cruiser, parked across the street from lit fuse

my time for the rental was running out and I was meeting friends at pacifico for dinner.  I left lit fuse and rode through downtown brooklyn to get back to recycle a bicycle.

there were a lot of bike lanes going on here under the manhattan bridge (sands st and jay st)
happyface sadface

chris at recycleabicycle invited me in to take more pictures.

ridiculous amount of used bikes and parts.
left crank arms
lots and lots
crates of brakes
right crank arms

I took the subway back to my sister’s place in manhattan.  It was kind of sad to leave the cruiser behind.

I caught this before the end of the night:


your brake levers overlap!  but I suppose it’s good to at least have brakes.

I had to work the next day but continued the bike shop and coffee tour the day after that, on foot with my friend sam.

first stop: stumptown.

I was debating whether to post this. ok shepard fairey, you win.
stumptown barista

I was really impressed with stumptown (18 West 27th Street New York, NY).  It’s a really well done little spot attached to the swank ace hotel.

stumptown: menu

the line was about 8-10 deep, which was a bit long but manageable.

stumptown: grinding and brewing

there was lots of fun stuff, coffee and not coffee related on the walls.

stumptown: espresso

stumptown’s espresso was my favorite of the tour by far.

saw this guy parked outside stumptown:

is this comfortable? I kind of wanted to hop on and try it out.

has anyone ridden a no-nose saddle before?

next stop: conrad’s in tudor city.

conrad's store front

conrad’s bike shop (25 Tudor City Place New York, NY) looked like they got pretty serious with the bike fitting:

conrad's interior. bike fit setup is the 2nd bike in
conrad's interior

there was a decent selection of apparel and accessories as well as many fancy bikes on the floor.

sam and I walked down to the east village next, to hit abraco.

this guy had a good look:

riding a strida? on 10th st

and this note, hilarious:

nobikes, bike, note

“Don’t come crying when we cut your chain and remove your bicycle from the fence!  THAT’S A BIG SIGN!”

one more to go.  part 4 comes next.