Kream | Coffee

My espresso at Kream Coffee in Phoenix, from my visit in 2018. It was served in a gorgeous, earthenware cup with little plugs for handles on the sides.Kream Coffee is part of the small, but growing, speciality coffee scene in and around Phoenix. It’s another of those places which I came across during my second visit to Phoenix last year, prompting me to make an excursion outside of my usual Scottsdale haunts. In this case I went just north of downtown Phoenix, where Kream is somewhat incongruously located inside a design shop on North Central Avenue.

However, don’t let that put you off. If anything, it’s a bonus, since it makes for some very pleasant surroundings, while when it comes to the coffee, Kream is top-notch. A multi-roaster, it draws on a cast of five roasters, some of the best in the US, to bring you awesome espresso and batch-brew, where there’s a different single-origin every day. The espresso, meanwhile, changes once or twice a week. You can also buy retail bags to take home with you.

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Bolt Coffee at the Dean Hotel

The words "Bolt Coffee Co" written in a circular wooden sign.Slowly but surely, hotel coffee is improving, particularly in the USA, where speciality coffee shops in hotel lobbies seems to be increasingly a thing. Now, joining the likes of Stumptown in the Ace Hotel and Intelligentsia in the High Line Hotel in New York City, we have Bolt Coffee in the lobby of Providence’s Dean Hotel. It was on my list during my first visit to Providence in the summer of 2015, but I ran out of time and it was only on my return earlier this year that I finally made it.

As coffee shops go, Bolt is fairly small, set back behind the lobby and with its own entrance direct from the car park. There’s a small counter at the back, a communal table in front of that, and then a square of seating consisting of a pair of sofas, a bench and a couple of armchairs, all arranged around a large coffee table.

What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in coffee, with Seattle’s Kuma Coffee providing the beans. There’s a blend on espresso, joined by a single-origin on bulk-brew and two more on pour-over, through either the Kalita Wave or Clever Dripper.

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Milstead & Co.

A model of a biplane sitting above the door at Milstead & Co. in Seattle.Milstead & Co., in Seattle’s Fremont district, is tucked away almost directly under the Aurora Bridge, which vaults far overhead across the Fremont Cut. It was recommended to me by several people, including no lesser an authority than Slate. Fortunately I was staying, completely coincidently, about a 15-minute walk away along Highway 99. Having bemoaned the fact that I hadn’t found many multi-roaster coffee shops in America (Boston’s Render Coffee being a rare exception to this rule), I suddenly seemed to be falling over them in Portland (Either/Or) and Seattle (Street Bean), with Milstead being the latest example.

Milstead & Co. offers two options on espresso (while I was there, a single-origin and a blend) and three single-origins on Aeropress (no bulk-brew filter here!). The drink types/sizes are fairly standard, although no-one was phased when I ordered a decaf cortado (which wasn’t on the menu). Like Portland’s Either/Or, Milstead rotates the coffee as and when it runs out, usually putting on two 5lb bags at a time. To give you an example, while I was there, one of two espresso options (the one I had!) ran out and was replaced by a single-origin Guatemalan that was also on the filter menu.

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The sign hanging outside Either/Or in Portland. The words EITHER/Or on a wooden board.

One of the many things I like about Portland’s coffee scene is that it’s not just confined to the centre. There seems to be good coffee all over the city, especially east of the Willamette River. Such is the case with Either/Or, which was not on my original list. However, it was independently recommended to me by baristas from both Case Study Coffee Roasters and Coava Coffee Roasters as the place to go in Portland. Although quite a way south of the centre, it’s not the sort of recommendation you can ignore, so I hopped on the Number 70 bus down to the Sellwood-Moreland neighbourhood.

What I found was a delightful little place that was well worth the trip. Either/Or is something of a rarity in an American market where café/roasters seem to be the established model. It’s a genuine multi-roaster establishment, regularly rotating beans from local roasters Roseline and Heart, plus Seattle’s Kuma Coffee.  Denver’s Huckleberry Roasters and Oregon’s Bespoken Coffee Roasters occasionally make appearances too. While coffee’s clearly the primary focus, with two tasting flights (see Slate Coffee Roasters) on offer, it also helps that Either/Or is one of the nicest spots I’ve been to in a while.

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