Monday, July 14, 2008

Economy: Local Advantage

Starbucks is closing the doors of some 600 shops in the near future because of a slowdown in business. According to this Washington Post story, however, the slowdown hasn't hit local coffee houses which are thriving in DC.

I'm not sure how Bozeman's local coffee places are doing, but we still don't have a Starbucks. A couple of places -- Wheat Montana, Barnes & Noble -- are selling Starbucks Coffee, but no actual Starbucks stores have shown up yet.

Last summer, while in Portland OR, I stopped in at a Starbucks to buy a piece of crumble cake. Starbucks baked goods are powerfully attractive to those of us who don't have regular access to them. When the barista asked if I also wanted something to drink, I said: "No, thanks. I just love the coffee cake and get it whenever I can since I don't have a Starbucks in my town."

The guy behind me in line burst out laughing, and asked: "Where do you live where there isn't a Starbucks?" That is, it turns out the response of many people in large cities: Amazement that a civilized place exists that doesn't have at least one Starbucks.

We do fine without Starbucks.

Leaf and Bean is one of our original coffee houses dating back to the seventies (and opened, the story goes, by Glenn Close's sister). They have two locations, both comfortable, friendly and local. They also have a wonderful coffee-and-circus-themed mural in their original location downtown.

Rocky Mountain Roasting in our local coffee chain, with outposts all over town. In addition to the standard coffee offerings, they do portable hot pots which I rely on for parties so I don't have to make coffee myself.

The Daily Grind has a shop up by Montana State's campus, and a new storefront on North Rouse on the way out to the 'M' trail and Bridger Bowl. They have fabulous baked goods. The absolute best.

The Coop has a coffee bar upstairs, and it too has wonderful baked goods both upstairs and downstairs in the main store. They are located at 9th and Main, across the street from Safeway.

On either end of downtown we have Rockford Coffee (at Main and N. 7th) and the Home Page (on Main near Rouse). The Home Page has free wireless access. And Wild Joe's, our newest entrant, has shops right downtown and also won the competition to open the coffee house in the new library on the east side of town.

And I have to mention our 'mud huts' -- little buildings in parking lots around town where you can get coffee. My favorite here is Mountain High Coffee, which had three huts around town at last count. They make the best tasting Chai Tea in town, and are owned by a graduate of the sociology program at Montana State University. Just goes to show that we do put out graduates with the skills to be successful!

My personal favorite, however, is the International Coffee Traders. They never have a line, they make fine drinks and they are located in a former laudry mat behind the Conoco gas station up by campus. They carry New Day donuts (as does, I believe, Rocky Mountain Roasting), and I am particularly fond of any donut that comes with chocolate frosting. They have free wireless and a couple of computers for customers. Ironically, however, they do not have a webpage!

Who needs Starbucks anyway?


will monahan said...

Starbuck's seems to have been hit by overexpansion. I bet their local competition wins out by lower prices.

Dunkin' Donuts does a good job in the Washington area and they have a tie in with Baskin & Robbins.

Your mother likes our home brand of French Market -- a cup of which greets her when she rises each morning. Myself lean toward my personal brew which I find myself using more and more non fat milk and aertificial sweetner -- reminiscent of my grandfather.

Remember he's the one who hooked me on hairy arm hot dogs -- but that's another story.

Bozomon said...

Was talking with a friend about making curry paste. No mortar and pestle handy. Use coffee grinder, perhaps? We thought that might lead to a new coffee brew next time someone ground beans!

will monahan said...

Curry?#&? How about using the coffee grinder to grind up cinnamon sticks. That would add great flavor to the coffee.