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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Bar Hopping On A Budget: Missoula


College students can’t get enough of the weekends so why not just keep it going all week. There is an affordable way for college students to drink around town and have fun while doing it. Here are a few of the many great deals the bars have in Missoula that continue to drag students out each night.

Now tell me this, can you pass up on any of these deals?

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If I happened to miss your favorite special around town, leave a comment to share it with everyone else. We would all love to know!

Where are you drinking tonight?


~Posted by Lindsey Dahl a senior graduating in the spring of 2016 with a major in marketing and a minor in math.

7 Bucket List Items for UM Students

There’s more to college than lectures, homework, and simple house parties. Especially when it comes to Missoula. There is so much to offer in the town and the surrounding area that you just need to know where to look. Well, here’s a start:

Float the Clark Fork

Grab a tube, a 6 pack, your friends, and hit the river. Sitting on the Clark Fork, sipping on a cold Summer Honey, and just relaxing with your friends is one of the best ways to spend a summer day. Hell, you may even make some new friends on the journey down the river! One piece of advice I would offer: don’t forget the sunscreen or the float will be a red and painful memory!

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Spontaneous Road Trip

If it’s just a day trip up to Flathead Lake, driving to Coeur d’Alene to go to Silverwood, playing a road of golf in Ronan, or whatever floats your boat, make some memories. I can honestly say some of the best times I have had in college are when my friends and I just hopped in the car and started driving. Ending up at the Raven Bar and swing dancing after a few beers is a memory I will never forget. So get your friends, get in your car and go!

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Missoula Brewfest

Choose one or two or three or all of them! You don’t have a chance to sample some of the best beers Montana has to offer in one spot. I mean where else can you sample Bayern, KettleHouse, Lewis & Clark, Great Northern Brewery, and so many more for $20?

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Themed Party

While this is not just a UM thing obviously, it is still a necessity. Throw a Christmas Party where everyone wears their Christmas best, a Tight and Bright Party, or a Beer Olympics and have everyone wear the attire of the country of their choice (A kilt with Ireland is a must). Where else are you going to see people sitting on Santas lap taking a shot of peppermint schnapps with a chocolate syrup chaser?

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Hike Blue Mountain

Playing a round of folf or not, the view is truly amazing. No matter the season it is always guaranteed to be a hike you will want to do again and again. Hitting the trails with your friends is one of the best ways to get a breathtaking view of Missoula.

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Downtown pub crawl

Missoula has such a wide variety of bars that experiencing them all (or most) in one night should be done before your college career is done. If you get the chance, try the Craft Beer Cup. A mini putt/pub crawl through downtown Missoula. Experience some of Montanas best beers while playing a round with your friends!

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Griz Cat at Washington Grizzly Stadium

The Brawl of the Wild, winner takes home The Great Divide Trophy for at least one more year. If you don’t spend at least one game in the student section in Washington Grizzly Stadium you are missing out on greatness. From Monte and Mo, to the fans doing a MONTANA…GRIZZLIES chant back and forth, to the mighty North End Zone, it is possibly the biggest event in Montana. Don’t miss out!

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While there are so many different and exciting events in Missoula that a true bucket list could reach triple digits, these are a few that I believe every college student should experience before they graduate and head out into the real world. So get going, college goes faster than you think!

Thirsty? Grab a cold one at one of these breweries

In case you haven’t already noticed, breweries are a hot item in Montana. In 2013, the state ranked 3rd in the nation for breweries per capita. The number of breweries has grown since then, and the community is embracing it. Breweries offer a special experience for those who go. They also give back to the community by supporting non-profits, offer entertainment for people of all ages and gives the people of Montana a place to come together. Without further ado, here is a list of some of breweries worth checking out:

 

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Big Sky Brewing ~ Missoula, MT

One of the largest breweries in Montana, Big Sky Brewing offers a outdoor venue for its summer concert series that includes the likes of Slightly Stoopid, Ryan Adams, The Decemberists and Greg Allman.

Beers to try: Summer Honey, Trout Slayer

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Lewis & Clark Brewing ~ Helena, MT

Lewis & Clark brings a state of the art facility along with award winning beers to the Helena community. Awarded best brewery in the Best of Helena Awards, Lewis & Clark has something for everyone.

Beers to try: Miner’s Gold Hefeweizen, Backcountry Scottish Ale

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Mighty Mo Brewing Co ~ Great Falls, MT

One of the newer breweries in Montana, Mighty Mo opened its doors in 2013. Since then, it has become one of the most well known breweries in the state with it’s open floor tap room. It’s also one of the few breweries that you can challenge your friends to a game of ping pong.

Beers to try: Dam Fog, Smoke Jumper

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The Great Northern Brewing Company ~ Whitefish, MT

Great Northern Brewing Company is home to the tallest building in the town of Whitefish. This unique brewery churns out over 310,000 gallons of craft brew annually. Located downtown, Great Northern Brewery is right in the middle of many attractions.

Beers to try: Wheatfish, Wild Huckleberry

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Bozeman Brewing Company ~ Bozeman, MT

Bozeman Brewing opened its doors in 2002 and hasn’t looked back. Located in the historic brewery district, their unique tasting room compliments perfectly with their weekly Sunday Funday events.

Beers to try: Bozone Select Amber Ale, Hopzone IPA

Ten Mile Creek  ~ Helena, MT 

Ten Mile Creek is an up and coming brewery that is planning on opening its doors in late Spring/early Summer 2015. The owners are some recent college graduates looking to break in to the industry.

Why We All Need to Get #MyMissoula Trending


Main hallThe views in this blog are absolutely not designed to discount the severity and importance of the issue of acquaintance rape and sexual assault. This is an issue that must continue to be talked about and brought to light so victims can ultimately feel more comfortable coming forward to confront and convict the cowards that are guilty of such heinous crimes.

By now, most have heard about the new Jon Krakauer book: Missoula, which is a narrative about sexual assaults at the University of Montana and are used to depict the national epidemic of college rape. Although the book has not been released at the time of this blog, the available information about the book’s content is sufficient to warrant a counter position regarding the image of the Missoula community. The book may offer a short disclaimer of the true nature of the community of Missoula, but the entirety of the book will potentially be damaging to Missoula’s image and reputation. However, I submit that instead of a counter position, Missoulians leverage the true nature of the community in combination with supporting the books content ideally creating a winning scenario for all.

Anyone that has actually spent any amount of time in Missoula or the surrounding areas understands the friendly, happy, outgoing, supportive, adventurous, artistic (insert your adjective here) nature of the town’s inhabitants. Missoula is big enough to offer some great entertainment and experiences, yet small enough not to get lost in the masses. This is a city that has also continuously appeared in lists of best cities in which to live (Outside Magazine, Livability), to raise outdoor kids(Outside Magazine), and to retire(Livability) in the U.S. for reasons relating to diversity and openness of the community.

This is just a glimpse of what Missoula has to offer. But deeper than that, this is a town where just last winter, I witnessed 5 cars sequentially pull over to help another who got stuck in the snow. Or in 2014 when the Mount Jumbo avalanche hit the lower Rattlesnake area, more than 50 Missoulians showed up just to help search for salvageable belongings for the affected families. These are just two, very small, everyday examples highlighting the true spirit of the Missoula community I have come to love. But these examples will not appear in the search results for those Googling information about Missoula, but Jon Krakauer’s Missoula, will.

In a perfect world, Missoulians and beyond can help Jon Krakauer expose the injustices of sexual assault while simultaneously proclaiming the positive nature and experiences Missoula has to offer. Unfortunately, Missoula will ultimately be reflected in the negative nature the content of Jon Krakauer’s book narrates. But that is not my Missoula. It is up to us to help reveal and share stories highlighting what makes this beautiful town, Missoula, in an effort to leverage the true nature of the community. We need to embrace this exposure as a challenge to further improve the Missoula community and become an example for all other communities. So share a memory or picture (something as simple as seeing cars pull over and helping someone stuck in the snow) that makes it so easy to LOVE Missoula. Share your #MyMissoula moment, story, and/or picture on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. using the hashtag #MyMissoula to get this trending to show the world what the true Missoula spirit looks like.