As Australians we love our coffee. There are endless coffee bars in Australia and boutique coffee roasters and funky cafes are everywhere. The barista is the new bartender and having worked in the coffee industry, I truly believe that making a good coffee is an art form and most definitely requires some skill.
When we lived in the USA back in 2006, espresso coffee was a very rare find. The majority of Americans drink drip filter (percolated) coffee so that is what you will find in most coffee shops. I don't think it is wrong, in fact I don't mind it at all, it's just different and that's part of the travel experience right?
Fast forward a few years (ok, make it 9 years), and there are cafes serving espresso coffees everywhere! We were pretty excited by this and even more excited when we tried them and found ourselves pleasantly surprised. Don't get me wrong, there were a few duds for sure, but many were definitely on a par with what we would get at home.
Before I list our favourite spots, here's some tips which you might find helpful:
- Always go the smallest size. In the USA, everything is super sized. And if you're drinking filtered/drip/percolated coffee then I can see why you would go the larger size. But for an espresso, unless you prefer your milk with a dash of coffee, then I would always choose the small size.
- Skip the cappuccinos, unless you want a hybrid macchiato. The coffee to milk to foam ratio is really variable and you are most likely to get a shot of coffee and the rest filled with foam.
- Make sure you choose from the espresso menu. Most coffee shops will also have a coffee menu which uses filtered coffee so it is easy to get caught out. For example, the Cafe au lait is simply filtered coffee with milk.
- Go the latte if you usually have a flat white. Technically, a latte and a flat white have the same amount of coffee but a latte is usually served in a larger cup which means more milk. Most coffees here are served in takeaway cups so it doesn't really make a difference. Plus there are no flat whites here! If you really crave a flat white, just ask for less milk.
- An Americano is the American version of a long black. It is a shot or two of espresso coffee which is then topped up with hot water.
- Try a Breve. This is our newest find, thanks to our friend Dan who discovered it on one of our road trips. It's not for everyone though! It's espresso coffee with steamed half and half. Half and half is literally half cream and half milk. You won't always see it on the menu, but more than likely they will be able to make it for you.
On to our favourite spots!
The main towns of Summit County include: Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Frisco, Dillon, Keystone & Copper Mountain.
Abbey's Coffee - 720 East Main St, Frisco
We discovered this one quite late in our stay, but wished we had found it earlier. It's a cute little cafe which serves deli style items, ice cream and of course coffee. These guys have been around since 1996 which says a lot about their patronage! They also have free wi-fi and a cosy, relaxed setting right on Main St in Frisco.
Rocky Mountain Coffee Roasters - 285 Main St, Frisco
Located right in the heart of Frisco Main Street, Rocky Mountain are small batch roasters. They also serve grab and go style breakfast along with other local goodies. There are four seating areas including an outdoor section so you have a choice of chilling in the booths, bar, lounges or cozy upstairs section. This place has been our meet up spot anytime any of our visitors leave, so it has happy and sad memories for us!
Inxpot Coffeehouse - River Run Road, Keystone Village
Inxpot was the first place I discovered when we came here and is still one of my favourites. Located at the main village of Keystone, we regularly take breaks from snowboarding and head down to Inxpot. It has a relaxed feel, great menu and friendly staff. You can choose to sit at the bar, on stools by the window, outside or in the lounge room style area which also doubles up as a bookstore. For an on mountain place, the prices are very reasonable. They do a good espresso coffee but we got addicted to the $3 Irish Coffees and although they are made from drip filter coffee, they are pretty damn good! And the liquor in them is rather generous. It's a perfect apres ski beverage. I love the atmosphere here and have had some great chats and laughs with random strangers.
Clint's Bakery & Coffee House - 131 South Main Street, Breckenridge
Breckenridge is such a beautiful area and Main Street has a very European feel about it. Clint's Bakery & Coffee House is located right in the midst of the bustling Main St. We first visited here over 3 years ago when we were staying in Breckenridge. It's a cute little cafe which also serves ice cream, breakfast, lunch and baked goods.
Cabin Coffee Co. - 222 South Main Street, Breckenridge
Cabin Coffee Co. is located on the south side of Main Street in an upstairs block. It's a franchised chain and I haven't been to any others but the Breckenridge cafe has a good vibe to it and seems to be fairly busy which is always a good sign. They have an extensive drinks menu and they serve breakfast and lunch.
The main towns of Eagle County include: Vail, Avon, Edwards, Minturn, Gypsum, Redcliff, Basalt and Eagle.
Loaded Joe's - Bridge Street, Vail Village
Loaded Joe's is just total coolness. It's coffee bar by day and bar/lounge by night. The original store is located just down the road in Avon but we have only ever been to the one in Vail for a quick hit before hitting the slopes or for apres ski. It's small, but it has loads of atmosphere and an impressively creative espresso menu. You can pick up grab and go food items, smoothies and bar style food in the afternoon/evening. They have regular events and DJ's so check out their website for more details. We happened to be there during the Burton US Open where they put on a free keg and our crew decided to turn it into a 80's hip hop dance club for a few hours. It was hilarious!
The main towns of Lake County include: Leadville, Climax, Oro City & Twin Lakes.
City On A Hill Coffee - 508 Harrison Ave, Leadville
What I love most about travelling is discovering random stuff. You know, not the stuff that you had planned on doing, but the stuff that you accidentally find along the way. City On A Hill Coffee is one of those places. After spending the day snowboarding at Cooper Mountain, we decided to take a drive through Leadville. The words organic bakery caught our eye so we thought we would stop for a bite to eat. What a find! Beautifully fitted out, this cafe makes you feel like you are at home. There is beautiful art pieces, lounges and a warm, comforting feel. They have a great menu, freshly baked goods and plenty of gluten free options. I didn't intend on having a coffee but after finding out that they are also a coffee roaster, I just had to. I ordered a Breve (which wasn't on the menu) and it was sensational.
So those are my favourite coffee spots in Summit and Eagle County! I do have one disclaimer though. A well made coffee comes down to the barista and even at the best coffee shops, there will be a variance depending on who makes your coffee. I really hope you get the same baristas that we had! I really should have taken down some names shouldn't I?
Have you been to any of these coffee spots? Do you have any others in the area I should try out? Let me know in the comments below!
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Jen spends most of her time following Mick around the mountain, often unintentionally off jumps and cliff drops. Currently on a mission to prove that you’re never too old to try freestyle. Aside from snowboarding, a little obsessed about tattoos, CrossFit, saving animals, learning to play the guitar and clean eating. Web designer and digital marketing nerd.