A few weeks ago on a Saturday was one of those days when I savor living in Denver. It was bright and sunny, with clear blue skies and a fresh, crisp morning breeze. The temperature was such that a light jacket was about right, and in the sun I felt a rich warmth without being hot in the least. I could honestly say that I would have not preferred any other weather in any place on earth. In fact, I said as much to my wife as I stepped out the door: "This is the perfect weather. I couldn't imagine anything better."
She, knowing my tendency to exaggerate (example 1, example 2, the list goes on...), shrugged her shoulders and smiled, but kept her sarcastic thoughts to herself. And while that is something in itself, it would only get better from there, because we were getting ready to partake in one of our favorite Saturday morning traditions: coffee and pastries on the 1700 East block of Evans Avenue, home to Kaladi Brothers coffee and Trompeau French bakery.
While other aspects of my personal life and hygiene may be considered careless, haphazard, and generally below standard by some, coffee is something that I insist is done absolutely right. I hate to use the word "snob", because that implies that I care what other people do about their coffee, and I don't. But while many are just fine with their tin can of Folgers, my function and humor are markedly worse drinking this mass-produced and bland brew.
Kaladi Brothers has been house-roasting their own coffee in Denver since before much of the coffee craze hit Denver. And while I won't pretend to know anything about roasting coffee, they certainly seem to know exactly what they are doing and are always happy to educate you on the proper way to roast, brew and enjoy their coffee. They also have been dealing with fair-trade and organic products well before these noble causes were adopted by the hipster crowd and (happily) brought to the mainstream.
The Kaladi espresso is absolute perfection. It is rich, complex, a little sweet, strong and smooth. My wife likes sugar and milk in her coffee and she drinks a Kaladi Americano straight. Again, I tend to exaggerate and have a short memory, but I don't know if I've ever had a better sip of coffee as a Kaladi espresso pulled just right.
The hardest thing about Saturday mornings on East Evans for us is getting to Le Trompeau bakery before they are out of the good stuff. Everything is good mind you, but while their sign may say they stay open until 1:30pm, on a sunny morning like this, with the line stretching out the door, it is rare to have a good selection past noon. That, and the gaggle of French-speaking expatriates that walk smiling ear-to-ear out with grocery-sized bags full of breads and pastries.
The second hardest part about these mornings is deciding what to do first: wait in line at Le Trompeau, and then cross over to Kaladi's for coffee, or vice versa? I realize that it is one of those difficult decisions that plagues only the most fortunate, but it is difficult nonetheless. This morning we avoided any tough decisions and while my wife waited in line I went for coffee.
We got plain croissants and a baguette like we always do. Both are nearly as perfect as my double-shot of espresso. The former is light, flaky, buttery and rich; the latter is just the right amount of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. We also got some croissants filled with things like ham, cheese and mushrooms. They were warm with melted cheese and delicious as always.
The apex of our morning in the sun was this sublime pastry with sliced fresh strawberries. I don't likely even need to describe it, but I will: it was like a donut hamburger but with a light, fluffy cream patty and strawberries instead of cheese. OK, it was nothing like that. Just look at it and know that like everything else this fine morning, it was perfect.
Take out the speeding cars on Evans, replace them with cobblestones, and we could have been on some rue in Paris, or a strada in Roma--only with better coffee. Days like these are why I love living in Denver. Here's to many more.
Photos: Ten Treats at the Taste of Colorado
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