Category Archives: Coffee

Hotel Boulderado’s Upcoming Lobby Renovation

Boulder’s historic landmark hotel to upgrade main floor space.

boulderado-logoThe Hotel Boulderado, which opened its doors on New Year’s Day 1909, continues to reinvent itself, piecemeal. The restaurant was the Teddy Roosevelt Restaurant or Rough Rider Room (or similar) when I moved to Boulder in ’88. It was later Q’s at the Boulderado, and is now Spruce Farm Food Fish. The down-market Catacombs has been turned into a speakeasy-inspired cocktail lounge called License #1. The Corner Bar has been refreshed.

Now, the hotel at the corner of 13th and Spruce is about to embark on its most dramatic change, a makeover of the lobby. Beginning right after the enormous Christmas tree comes down on January 2, the four-month renovation will begin. The hotel initially said that the restaurants and rooms will still be operating, but it appears that Spruce Farm and Fish is, in fact, closed while the work is going on.

If I understand the plans correctly, the beautiful front desk will become a lobby bar and the gift shop will become a coffee bar operated by Boxcar Coffee Roasters. I’m not sure where the registration desk will go — or perhaps it will be replaced by several sets of tables and chairs. The beautiful staircase to the mezzanine, the stunning glass ceiling and the water fountain boasting of the Arapahoe Glacier as its source will presumably all remain.

Good Coffee at Bad Ass

New Mexico café fuels drive back to Colorado.

P1050650Early in my blogging life, I wrote a post called “Caffeine Loading on the Road,” in which I listed some of my favorite Colorado cafés. Most of them are still around — and I still stop there when I’m driving. When I’m elsewhere, I pass every Starbucks and seek out the local. And I always feel triumphant when I find a good one.

Bright mural adorns the side of Bad Ass Coffee.
Bright mural adorns the side of Bad Ass Coffee.

If I were doing a more regional roundup that included New Mexico, it would include Bad Ass Coffee in Bernalillo, north of Albuquerque. The faux adobe with the big moral on the side houses everything I like in a coffee shop: conscience-free coffee (Kona, which has no fair trade issues as developing countries do), an ample menu of espresso drinks, pastries, sandwiches for any time other than morning and local ownership.

Bags of Bad Ass's house-roasted Kona coffee.
Bags of Bad Ass’s house-roasted Kona coffee.

The roadside café along our route back to I-25 across from the Santa Ana Casino (if you need a landmark) offers grab-and-go sustenance from the drive-through window or the inside counter, indoor and outdoor tables for more relaxed coffee-ing, and retail shelves so that customers can buy some coffee, which is roasted there, to take home. We’ll be stopping by again the next time we are down that way.

With miles of roads like this ahead, it's a good idea to coffee-load.
With miles of roads like this ahead, it’s a good idea to coffee-load.

Bad Ass Coffee & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Backroad to Los Alamos

Jemez Road is a quiet byway for shunpiking Interstate 25

When we drive to and from Albuquerque, we almost always take Interstate 25, and since many of central New Mexico’s most interesting events, museums and restaurants are in Santa Fe, we find ourselves on the Albuquerque-Santa Fe stretch of the highway over and over. Someday, I’m going to take the Rail Runner Express train (below, heading south out of Santa Fe), but it didn’t happen this trip.

On our most recent trip, we wanted to make a day trip to Los Alamos on a gray, sometimes- rainy Tuesday, so instead to reprising I-25, we followed New Mexico Highway 4, the Jemez Road. Much of it travels through tribal land, where photography is generally discouraged — if not downright prohibited. Exterior shots of the Jemez Pueblo’s Walatowa Visitor Center (below) are permitted, but the small tribal museum is also off-limits for photography.

The small, artsy Anglo community of Jemez Springs with a handful of galleries, shops, restaurants, accommodations, the Jemez State Monument and several hot springs, makes for a fine quiet getaway from Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Los Alamos, but the monument (ruins of an ancient pueblo) was closed the day we passed through, so we just stopped at the Highway 4 Cafe for coffee and pastry — both of which were very, very good.

Most of the roadside pullouts on public land north and east of the pueblo provide fishing access, but one is a bona fide scenic and geologic attractions. The Soda Dam, one of the area hot springs, is right off the road, so of course, we stopped.

So did other travelers, and many of them were wandering around the travertine formation.

The highlight is a waterfall that emerges out of the tangled rock layers.

Valles Caldera National Preserve was created in 2000 to preserve and protect the 89,000-acre Baca Ranch in a volcanic crater in the Jemez Mountains. The preserve also represents a unique experiment in public land management, combining historic ranch operations with programs and facilities for visitors.

Leaving Valles Caldera, the route passes through the section of Bandelier National Monument burned during the Cerro Grande Fire of May 2000. It started as a prescribed burn that went out of control and ultimately burned about 48,000 acres, destroyed 235 homes and other structures, threatened the towns of Los Alamos and White Rock from which more than 18,000 residents were evacuated and threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Natural revegetation has occurred in the nearly nine-and-a-half years since then, but the Cerro Grande fire remains searned into the consciousness of all who were impacted.

On a previous visit to Los Alamos, we visited the Bradbury Science Museum and the Los Alamos Ranch School, where the Manattan Project was hatched. My husband loves surplus stores, and this trip had the goal of visiting the Black Hole Sales Company, a legendary surplus store established by the late “Atomic Ed” Grothus. I took a few snapshots (below), but if this interests you, I urge you to click here for photos and text by Dave Bullock, a California programmer, photographer and blogger who is for more competent at conveying the spirit of the place than I am.

I couldn’t begin to identify most of the objects in this 19,000-square-foot boneyard for surplus from the nuclear labs.

If you needed some cords to connect this to that, you might just be able to find it here. My husband, a connoisseur of surplus stores, praised the Black Hole for its organization.

I got a kick out of such whimsies as a barrel labeled “Empty” but clearly full of pipe couplings.

My husband remarked that I was “lucky” that the Black Hole was not in Denver, and I suppose I am. His eyes lit up at many of the objects that I couldn’t identify, but if it were closer, I suppose I might be living with some of them. The Black Hole is at 4015 Arkansas, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544; 505-662-5053. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturdays (except major holidays).

Wireless Access Bait and Switch?

I am in New York at back-to-back conferences. I’ve had a weird couple of days, Internet-wise. I’ve been able to get on the Net and usually to receive E-mails — but not to send them. With more than a dozen messages stacked in my Outbox (including a couple or urgent ones), in desperation I went to Starbuck’s at 75th & Broadway in Manhattan. Starbuck’s boasts of its wireless access called t-Mobile Hotspots. A counter card offered 60 minutes for $6 or a 24-hour day pass for $9.99. I only needed to send and receive a day’s worth of messages, and perhaps answer a few of them, so 60 minutes was ample. When I connected to t-Mobile however, the cheaper option was not on the menu. It was urgent for me to get on-line today, so I was ready to pay more for the service I didn’t need. The crisis-level problem was that I could not get t-Mobile to take my credit card and connect me. I went to Kinko’s, used their high-speed cable connection at 10 cents a minute. The charge was $2.40. No atmosphere. No coffee at hand. But fast and hassle-free.

Caffeine-Loading on the Road

ToGoCoffeeCupMy husband and I spent four days skiing and snowshoeing in and around Snowmass, but because we wanted to slot our return drive after crews had scraped the remains of a blizzard off the highways but before day-skier traffic picked up, we left before 6:00 a.m. That put us in Glenwood Springs before 7:00, which meant that our customary cafe wasn’t open yet.

Instead, we stopped at the Kum & Go gas station and convenience store. Against my better judgment, I stuck a styrofoam cup under the “espresso” machine and pushed the button for “French vanilla.” Out came a stream of something coffee-ish, followed by stream of something dairy-ish. The taste was so artificial and chemical that I took three sips and poured the rest out. An hour and change later, we stopped again, this timeat the marvelous Columbine Bakery in Avon for excellent espresso drinks and first-rate pastries. The whole experience reminded me of why I have zeroed in on quality coffee stops in much of Colorado whenever I need a caffeine fix. This list is not comprehensive, but just includes some of my favorites for coffee to go. Some are mainly cafes, while others have fresh baked goods and even deli offerings to fuel travelers with fare that is fab rather than foul:

  • Avon: Columbine Bakery, 51 East Beaver Creek Boulevard (near I-70 Exit 167, across from City Market); 970-949-1400.
  • Buena Vista: Bongo Billy’s Buena Vista Cafe, 713 South U.S. Hwy 24; 719-395-2634.
  • Colorado Springs: The Coffee Exchange, 526 South Tejon Street (downtown); 719-227-8639.
  • Dillon: Blue Moon Bakery, 253 Summit Place Shopping Center (just off I-70 Exit 205); 970-513-0669.
  • Durango: Steaming Bean Coffee Company, 915 Main Avenue; 970-385-9516.
  • Frisco: Butterhorn Bakery, 408 Main Street (between I-70 Exits 201 and 203); 970-668-3997.
  • Glenwood Springs: Summit Canyon Mountaineering & Coffee House, 732 Grand Avenue (main street); 970-945-6994.
  • Golden: Noa-Noa Espresso & News, 109 Rubey Drive (just off Route 93, north of the interesection with U.S. 6); 303-277-0303.
  • Idaho Springs: Exit 240 Ski & Bike Rental (and espresso bar), 1319 Miner Street (just of I-70); 877-567-2220 and 303-567-2220.
  • Leadville: Cloud City Coffee House 711 Harrison Avenue (main street); 719-486-1317.
  • Montrose: Coffee Trader, 845 East Main Street; 970-249-6295.
  • Pagosa Springs: Victoria’s Parlor, 274 Pagosa Street (main street); 970-264-0204.
  • Salida: Bongo Billy’s Salida Cafe, 300 West Sackett Avenue; 719-539-4261.
  • Silverton: Avalanche Coffee House & Bakery, 1067 Empire Street (off US 550 in downtown Silverton, between the Durango & Silverton Railroad Depot and Greene Street, the main street); 970-387-5282.