Java. Black Death. Liquid Life. Café. Morning Mover. Cuppa Joe. The Sacred Bean. Whatever you choose to call coffee, it is apparent that the coffee culture has pervaded our entire society. Debate rages about its relative health or physical danger. Even in small Loveland, Colorado one can see some of the coffeehouse kitsch that has become so prevalent in larger, younger, and hipper communities such as Seattle or San Francisco. But where can a really good cup of coffee be found?
Apparently, that is dependent on what the coffee connoisseur is in the market for. Those looking for a plain old cup of joe can find it almost anywhere: nearly every restaurant in the United States carries plain coffee, or Americano, many places offering free refills of 'Liquid Life' for the truly attached. For the drinker in search of gourmet espresso coffees such as lattes, cappuccinos, or straight espresso shots the choices are somewhat more limited, but they are out there. Two such cafés are Boyers Coffee Emporium, in Loveland off 29th street, and Sweet Rosie's Café, also in Loveland, off Eisenhower (HWY 34).
While both places are purveyors of what a Turkish proverb says should be 'Hot as hell, sweet as love and strong as death', they have concentrated on different aspects of the community to draw business. Boyers is a small café that somehow manages to look like a Starbucks without sacrificing the hometown friendly appeal that first drew coffee drinkers to its doors. Sweet Rosie's, on the other hand, would never be mistaken for a chain with its individualistic demeanour.
Boyers Coffee Emporium
Boyers, owned by Mr and Mrs Trinowsky, offers not only plain Americano for traditionalists but also a fairly large selection of espresso drinks, many mixed and invented by the house staff. Their double café mocha latte, a good drink to test an establishment on, had a nice acidity to it, but the drink could have been mixed better. It had fallen prey to the dreaded SOB (Syrup On the Bottom) syndrome, a common affliction. It was, however, a nice strong brew and served very warm. Boyers also offers tons and tons (probably literally) of just about any kind of bean the average layman could desire (although the way they store the beans does bring a question of freshness to mind).
The setting, however, is slightly cold. The furnishings include several small tables and chairs, some of them elevated, and one or two large tables in the wide-open room. Interior decorating-wise, the look and 'feel' of Sweet Rosie's is great. It's a somewhat new shop in the Safeway shopping plaza (off Eisenhower). Coincidentally, the setting outside Rosie's is almost identical to that of Boyers, which is in the shopping plaza dominated by King Soopers. The two shops are even in similar placement within the centres. However, the interior of the cafés couldn't be more different.
Sweet Rosie's Cafe
The clean and efficient interior of Boyers, almost bordering on the sterile, sharply contrasts with the homey arrangement Rosie's has affected. Couches and giant chairs lounge behind bookshelves containing volume upon volume of books related to the bean and some merchandise in the same vein (ie, espresso demitasses). Aside the couch are even stacked interesting diversions including magazines, decks of cards, a chess set... and yes, a guitar. A wall of water cascades near the restrooms and tables outside on the patio/walkway encourage lunchtime dining in the sun during the warm season. All said, Rosie's is a place that makes the coffee connoisseur want to stay.
Their coffee itself isn't too shabby, either, although a little sweet. It's fresh, and although hot, it's tasteful almost immediately. Underneath all that flavoring lurks a very strong brew, always a plus, made even more desirable when compared to the typically weak coffee in this particular area.
Location, Location, Location
Atmosphere, however, cannot survive on decor alone. Rosie's is a newer business without an established clientèle, so if a customer walks in during an off hour, he or she might be the only patron in the place - a lonely and often intimidating prospect. It is interesting to note, however, that Rosie's draws a huge crowd during the lunch and breakfast hours. Furthermore, placement in a grocery store shopping centre always adds a little wariness to a café. Boyers, on the other hand, has been a locally operated business for years, and their location in the King Soopers complex has lost that sense of 'dubiousness'. People have gone there, and they know that the store knows its coffee. Or, at the least, they know it more than Perkins or Denny's, and even that much is an improvement over the usual.
The baristas operating in both stores range from the teenage high school student to the owner. The owner and proprietor at Rosie's, particularly, was very visible and extremely knowledgeable. Asked about where his coffee comes from, he says his source not only supplies the country but describes the precise chain the bag goes through to get to the cup. He relates that one of his employees is a trained barista (whatever 'trained' means. Barista 101 at the local community college? Institute for the Caffeinated Studies at Purdue?), but he's the one seen actually brewing the specialty coffees and espressos. At Boyers, the employees are more proactive: they will make whatever is ordered, and the owners are less involved. This can be both a pro and a con to a business. On the one hand, one wants to know that the owner is informed as to his or her business, but on the other hand, employees should be knowledgeable. If the owner of Rosie's is on vacation, will a desperate customer still get their double mocha latte?
Regular brewed coffee at both places is better than the average cuppa, but each place has its edges in this area. Cheap but not free refills can be had at Boyers, which offers another cup of your Black Death for only 25 cents a go. Rosie's lets you have free refills. One may choose from about six different sinfully good flavours, and it's self-serve at the coffee bar, so one can mix-and match them. Another related drink is the Americana, half espresso and half coffee. Boyers doesn't offer it. Rosie's does, calling it 'Rosie's Rocket', and it lives up to the name.