The Little Montana Guide for Coffee Lovers


The Little Montana Guide for Coffee Lovers

By James Rahr

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Introduction

With only 1,023,579 (2014) people in the 4th largest state in the U.S., it’s hard to imagine that in a place like San Francisco, with 852,469 people (2014), there are some bazillion coffee houses pulsing throughout the peninsula. This guide examines the top 15 coffee houses in the treasure state.

 

Geography

Let’s take into account of the space of Montana for a second. It’s pretty big-meaning that if everyone got their own piece of land, it would be 6.8 miles square. So it is difficult to navigate a coffee scene that is divided by this much space and not buildings.

Roastery

We also gave brownie points to brew spots where they had roasted their own coffee. Montana has a small intimate economic environment and so it’s no surprise that the roastery business seems like nurturing a relationship rather than performing business. A lot of coffee shops examined were using similar beans and similar espresso machines. The key diffferences between coffee shops then become softer and less factual than geography and roastery. In researching our sample size, which included 70+ coffee shops around the state, the cheeky question of ‘on average, what quantity of espresso beans do you use each day for crafting espresso drinks to drink on site?’ was asked. Some were reluctant to reveal this number, others felt no pressure, and for some it is difficult to estimate. However the specificity of this question can be referenced to provide a general inference for how much revenue is made with those beans, kind of like through-put in a manufacturing plant.

Coffee Connoisseuring

“To recognize, develop and promote specialty coffee.”

After accounting for the coffee shops location, and the to roast or not to roast question, the ability and efforts of the cafe to include the community and share coffee knowledge was taken into consideration. Some cafes or roasters do not have the capacity to utilize traditional coffee engagements, but other forms of community involvement were taken into account based on the audience of each individual organization and their geography, again.

 

The Best of the Last Best Place

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Polebridge Mercantile-Polebridge

This cafe is a weird one. It is a jack of all trades by far. Nestled over the river and through the woods, literally, this little shack is the place of gathering over a good espresso for many. There are plenty of specialty coffee spots around the state but this one tops the list for being geographically located right next to Glacier/Waterton National Park. Canadians and Montanans enjoy lattes and, the local favorite, a bear claw whilst gazing at the iconic scenery. The espresso machine is a bit old, like the character of the building, and the town, and the park, but that is what makes it so infinitely beautiful. Give the latte a try and breathe in the freshest air in the state and try and tell me you hate it. Just try.

 

 

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Coffee Factory Roasters-Redlodge

This tiny ski town is similar to those trickled along the continental divide. The powder falls and the mountaineers crowd the area. This little roastery becomes a port to skiers and boarders alike, fueling them for the day’s new runs. The tourists that arrive in the summer for the idyllic drive up the mountain and nearby pig racing attraction often stop and chatter about with the locals. In the winter, after the mountain warms and the ice melts and the lifts stop, the crowd slowly and sometimes sorely, saunters back to the coffee shop for a warm up.

 

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Rock Creek Coffee Roasters-Billings

Rock Creek Coffee Roasters is one of the older roasters in the area. It has a perfect location in the heart of the downtown of Montana’s largest city. Inside, the roasting is done right next to where the drinks are served. Bags of beans, roasted and not, are scattered throughout the cafe making a meaningful impression on those who visit. The company has stayed true to its italian roots in keeping drinks simple and not adding all the ‘loaded extras.’ If coffee isn’t your best friend, but after this place it might be, they offer a small selection of bottled beverages and light snacks. If anything, stop by, grab a latte, and shmooze with the barista over that week’s upcoming concert next door.

 

 

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Rockford Coffee Bar and Roasters-Bozeman

Cyclists and coffee experts gather at this local watering hole. Rockford coffee bar is a mecca for integration of roasts and espresso drinks. The roaster boasts the nickname ‘Bozeman’s coffee of choice.’ This is a true statement based on the number of people in the coffee bar at any given time of day. The roaster sells their beans online so those traveling or those who stopped in and fell in love with their techniques-like I did-can have the fresh roasts delivered straight to their door just after roasting has ended.

 

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Wild Joe’s Coffee Spot-Bozeman

Wild Joe’s sounds like a safari or something not related to coffee other than the word Joe. But do not be fooled by the name. WJ’s is spot in the heart of downtown Bozeman and is sure to ignite a curiosity for coffee in anyone. The interior features a coffee bar structure as you order from the barista and further along the cafe are a wide variety of seats  expanding all the way to the back of the building. In the back, is the best area. The cafe features local coffee information and new updates on brew methods and where their coffee source is currently. I read a fascinating article about the history of coffee  from 1974 while waiting for my latte. While the store doesn’t roast their own beans, their impeccable coffee knowledge and adoration are something to be admired. I highly suggest stopping in after a snowy day on the mountain.

 

 

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Sunrise Coffee-Missoula

While this coffee picture wasn’t from the actual cafe it still represents the attention to detail at Sunrise Coffee. Pat, the owner, and coffee specialist has dedicated a day once a month to sharing coffee expertise. The Coffee Lab, as he calls it, is a workshop like orientation to explore variations and brew methods of coffee. This cafe is a hidden gem and rightly so for the treasure state. Not too many locals know about it, but the cafe is slowly joining the local coffee hype.

 

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Off The Leaf Coffee Company-Billings

Anyone and everyone seems to know of Off The Leaf in Billings. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone that hasn’t gathered at the 819 location. Started in 2008 and still going strong, the company uses profits to help fund nonprofits, both local and those pertaining to coffee growing. The bar is also home to a pay it forward board on which locals pay in advance for others drinks. Thus many firemen and policemen can be found reading the newspaper with their morning cup. If you ever have time, try out their new location just down the street for a more intimate feel. This new location also has a drive through, so if you’re on your way out of town it’s a quick minute for one of the best coffees around.

 

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Morning Glory Coffee-West Yellowstone

When I spoke to the owner of this wayside cafe located just feet from the oldest National Park in the country I was enamored with his affection for the industry. In such a rural area, but also highly trafficked during seasonal periods, it is rare to find such a commodity. The owner was extremely aware of the coffee scene nationally and has been in past years a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. The coffee house also features Montana Made goods and Teas. It is the ultimate spot for Yellowstone visitors, souvenir hunting, and coffee lovers.

 

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International Coffee Traders-Bozeman

International Coffee Traders  is the perfect study sanctuary. Located less than a block away from Montana State University, this roaster and cafe is a picturesque sample for any prospective student magazine or publication. But don’t let their demographic fool you, their coffee is just as in top-notch as any Blue Bottle-esque cafe. While they don’t offer any cupping classes they do encourage coffee passions and anything related to the nearest ski hill.

 

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Gil’s Goods-Livingston

Gil’s goods is a one part to a menage a trois of entrepreneurial endeavours. The coffee part comes from the restaurant slash bakery. The building is part of an old hotel, The Murray, and is definitely a must see if you’re ever in Livingston. The small town encourages tourism and travel, especially being on the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. This shop provides the perfect pick me up and one of the best lattes in the area. You might even be lucky enough to bump into Kesha or Leonardo, like some of the locals have.

 

 

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Colter Coffee-Kalispell

Colter Coffee is the epitomy of western when it comes to a cup of Joe. The coffee collective of Kalispell knows too well that Colter Coffee is the center for good coffee. If you’re looking for a true western experience and happen to be near Glacier National Park, I highly encourage going here. The company was one of the firsts in the area to integrate light roast coffee. The friendly barista’s will always tell you about the weather, what activities are going on that  weekend, and always, always share their love of coffee.

 

 

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Montana Coffee Traders-Whitefish

Montana Coffee Traders roasts their own beans making it a highlight of the Whitefish downtown scene. The company has locations across the northwest region of the state. Since 1981 the company has been roasting beans out of its iconic farmhouse. A fact the company likes to share is that the beans are roasted at the same altitude as they are grown. The company also sells to multiple coffee houses and retail organizations across the state. Polebridge Mercantile, a middle-of-no-where-place we will see later, is a recipient of the beans.

 

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Black Coffee Roasting-Missoula

Quonset huts are corrugated galvanized steel structures that usually aren’t utilized as coffee houses. But when Black Coffee Roasting Company expanded it seemed like the perfect design for a unique experience in sharing coffee. The shop now features other beverages other than their homemade beans but with local ingredients. The simplicity and minimalism is the perfect interior to harbor a specialty coffee crowd. The shop does not offer wifi to explicitly create a more meaningful and intimate environment.

 

 

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Revel Coffee Roasters-Billings

The most hipster of the selection of coffee shops in the state. You’ll be fortunate to find this one if you have time in Billings, MT. The craft coffee connoisseur and owner of the biz is Gary Theisen. He’s been featured in Sprudge and noted in numerous local publications. His goal is to change the perception of coffee and roasting strategies. He began roasting when he was fifteen and continues to share his passion and insatiable curiousity with customers frequently. His operation is small but no less in quality. His coffees are featured around the community in various restaurants, retail locations, and other coffee houses.

 

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Cold Smoke Coffee-Bozeman

Fairly new into the coffee scene, Cold Smoke arrived in Bozeman, MT in 2011. The coffee house was started from a passion to share coffee. The roaster and cafe  promotes awareness of where the sources come from. The roastery is off site, but I’m sure with a nice smile and little conversing about the love of coffee, owners Caleb and Laura would let any coffee aficionado in for a tour. With regular cuppings and various other community engagements this little cafe can easily boast being, if not number one,  in the top five coffee house around the state.

 

Conclusion

While this coffee shop list is not exhaustive, the shops in here were specifically looked at for the three above engagements. This survey was conducted only on studies basis and was not paid for by any organization. Photos taken from Instagram accounts of businesses or related location tags.

 

James Rahr is a Marketing Major at the University of Montana. He anticipates graduating in the Fall of 2016. Coffee is a passion of his.

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10 Things All College Kids Should Thank Their Parents For

If your parents are anything like mine, they raised you with lots of TLC, advice, and knowledge, and a little tough love as well. Most college kids have their parents to thank for where they are today, so why not take the time to actually thank them, even for the simple things.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for…

1. Listening. If your group projects are anything like mine, you need someone to vent to. When I say vent, I really mean yell and scream to get everything that you’ve been bottling up out so you don’t freak out on that lazy person you’ve been forced to work with for 15 weeks straight. There have been more than a few occasions that my parents have listened to me vent for 30 min. or more, even when I know they don’t care. You guys are troopers!

a8c9dc91bf62ea21d206ecddec4b2acd.500x282x92. Making me humble. Parents teach us the values and morals that mold us into who we are. They hope that they have given us enough knowledge in order to make us good people and to survive out their in the “real world.” I truly believe that being humble got me my job (thanks mom), and my hard work ethic helped me to succeed in my job (thanks dad).

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3. The letters and CARE PACKAGES!! There is really nothing better as a broke college student than going to get your mail and seeing a big box with your name on it. Also, even though the older generation might not believe this with all of our gadgets these days, most college students still love getting letters, or at least I do. I love getting letters from family and friends, knowing that they sat down and took time out of their busy schedules is very special to me. Care packages and letters give college kids something to look forward to, so keep ’em coming please and thank you!!

Me when I get mail that isn’t junk….

2004. Being patient with me. Let’s be honest, all kids suck. Sure, yeah, they are great and all. They love you and they are humble ;). But kids can be shitheads, and parents have to put up with them. I applaud my parents for putting up with everything I put them through; I can’t imagine how much patience they had to have with my siblings and myself.

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Speaking of siblings….

5. Siblings. I guess I should probably thank you for blessing me with two of the most frustrating, loving, idiotic, and comical siblings ever. We fought like all siblings do, but I wouldn’t trade my brother and sister for anything. Siblings teach us many important things in life like how to win arguments and how to get what you want in return to keep your mouth shut and not tell mom and dad. 

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6. Teaching me that it’s good to make mistakes. Growing up I always got down on myself for making mistakes. My parents taught me, as I’m sure yours have taught you, that as long as you learned something from the mistake, it isn’t a bad thing. As simple as this lesson is, I believe it is important in life to not get down on yourself and be positive. Thank you for making me learn from my mistakes guys.

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7. Giving me my love of pizza. I truly believe that my family loves pizza more than any other family, and I’m sure my cousins will back me up on this one. College students love pizza, and I just think that we should all thank our parents for introducing us to this heavenly food.

8. Being my best friends. A best friend is someone who listens without judgement, who’s there for you always, and who pushes you to be your best. Best friends get excited to see each other when they’ve been hundreds of miles away from each other for months. Best friends make you laugh and cry, and they order you pizza when you’re having a really bad day, or a really good day, or just an okay day, they just eat pizza together okay? My parents and I eat pizza together, and all that other stuff too.  

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9. Worrying about me. I know I missed a lot of curfews and made you wait up for me. I always told you I would be fine and that you didn’t need to stay up and wait for me. I hate that you worry about me so much, but sometimes it feels nice to be worried about. Knowing that there are people out there that are worried about you, makes you feel special.

My parents when I tell them I was at a friend’s house watching movies…

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10. Making it so hard to leave. To quote my dear old friend Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Thank you for being so great at parenting. I like to think you did at least an okay job 🙂

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If you have parents who raised you right, and loved you more than anything, don’t forget to thank them!

This blog post is dedicated to not only my parents, who gave me life, but also to the many other sets of parents that have figuratively “adopted” me over the years. I will never ever be able to thank you all enough for everything you’ve done for me. I love you all to the moon and back <3

Written By: Megan Johnson is a Senior at the University of Montana, graduating in December of 2015.

10 Life lessons Friends taught us

 

Friends Logo

    1. How to Make a Proper Entrance: Whether you are moving into a new place, entering a big party, or returning home to your parents’ house you should always make a memorable entrance. Maybe not as extravagant as riding a greyhound sculpture into an apartment, but maybe a beagle or something.How_To_Make_An_Entrance
    2. Dress to Impress Your Guests: It can be a friendly get together or a big family holiday dinner whatever it is you should bring you’re A apparel game! Remember accessories are key especially ones that accentuate the giant turkey on your head.Monica wearing a turkey
    3. Don’t Let Your Haters Get You Down: When someone is down on you for any reason or you are down on yourself because of someone else you just need to do this motion and forgetaboutit! Go see your Friends at the coffee shop and get the downers off your mind.Not_To_Care
    4. Knowing a Foreign Language is an Impressive Skill: Many employers in this age seek a candidate who knows at least a second language. So get a great language tutor like Pheobe and kill that audition.How_To_Speak_French
    5. A Great Football Strategy: For all you athletes out there, you have teammates out there with you so use them to your advantage against a strong opponent. And if that doesn’t work just flash them. This is usually only acceptable in an informal game with Friends, not so much in official competitions.Win_At_Sports
    6. Know your competition: If you are playing against someone use your knowledge of them to your advantage. If they have a tendency to overlook certain details, then win around those details, at least it will end up reminding them of something important such as dry cleaning.Coin_Flip
    7. Get some of that ever important self-confidence: If you are a bigger or smaller than most, then own that look and be happy with who you are. Joey is an actor and he knows what is worth is, why shouldn’t you?Be_Confident
    8. Once you get that self-confidence you are going to attract a lot dates: And you are going to need to develop some new “moves” when things progress back to your place. Being obvious and straight forward about your excitement has to be the most attractive way to initiate things. Even if it is with one of your Friends that is part of a prank to get you to admit you are secretly dating someone else in the friend group.Come_Here
    9. The proper fake surprised reaction: You love surprises but you hate the anticipation of finding them out, so you do some professional spying and figure out the secret. But now when it is intentionally revealed to you it would be wrong to let them know that you found out. So when you find out the secret, like that two Friends are now dating, this reaction will certainly sell that you are still oblivious to the fact.How_To_Act_Surprised
    10. The way to make your significant other feel loved: When you finally find the “One” the best way to explain your love is the famous lobster theory. They will know that you two will be together into old age holding claws *cough* hands. They will forever be your lobster.Lobster_Theory_PT_1Lobster_Theory_PT_3Lobster_Theory_PT_2One final thought: Just remember who they were. So no matter what you think of someone and their past you shouldn’t write them off, because they could become one of your best Friends or more.Final_Thought

Sam Johnson is a senior in the School of Business at the University of Montana. Graduating in December 2015 with a double major in Marketing and International Business and a minor in Russian Studies.