The Daily Coffee Bar is a classic, a staple of Bozeman life, which is exactly why I was skeptical of it. My impression of The Daily was that it had become a fixture in enough people’s lives that it was allowed to putter along in mediocrity. The Daily will be celebrating its 20th year at the College Street location this June, making it one of the oldest coffee shops around.
Prior to this week, I had ordered a few espressos there, admired their pretty pastry case and moved on — nothing amazing here. As it turns out, maple and milk are great with coffee, I love croissants with cream cheese and sometimes I’m wrong about a coffee shop.
Last Saturday I met with James Hunger and Bethany Garwood, both managers at the Rouse location. We talked about the business and Hunger generously stayed after his normal hours to fill me up with way more coffee than I needed. Speaking of coffee, let’s start with the facts.
Yellowstone Coffee, located southwest of Bozeman, is The Daily’s roaster. All of their coffee is organic and fair trade, and some of it is shade grown. The bean selection at the Daily is decent, but not expansive. Their “Cafe Femenino” is a Peruvian coffee that benefits local women and children. Femenino is a chocolatey medium roast with hints of berry, which I tried as a drip coffee but may hold potential in other brew methods.
My impression of The Daily was that it had become a fixture in enough people’s lives that it was allowed to putter along in mediocrity.
For their espresso, The Daily is currently using a mix of Ethiopian Sidamo and Sumatran beans. Mixing polar opposites in this way often yields lame espresso blends, but these two beans complement each other well. Overall it was a very clean cup (no flavor defects) with good balance.
In other articles I have mentioned The Daily’s Crio Brew and specialty Maple Latte. Crio Brew is a cocoa drink served either hot or cold. The Maple Latte is one of the best flavored drinks I’ve had, particularly because it’s not too sweet. I won’t elaborate on them in depth, but they are both unique to the Daily and worth a try.
The bakery is where it gets really interesting. Everything is made in-house at both locations, using as many local ingredients as possible. Hunger and Garwood estimated 60 to 90 percent of food ingredients are local, depending on the season. Everything in their breakfast burritos is local except the black beans. Last year they made over 16,000 breakfast burritos at the Rouse location alone, so they must be doing something right.
The Daily boasts great scones, as well as a unique treat called a “bee sting.” A bee sting is a ball of honey cream cheese wrapped in a croissant and baked in a honey-almond-orange glaze. Yes, it is as delicious as it sounds. When I showed up at 2 p.m. on Saturday, customers had already cleaned out the bee stings, but I was not to be defeated so I managed to snag one early the next day at the College Street location. Much like Granny’s Donuts, the early bird gets the worm on this one.
I feel the College Street location could do more for its atmosphere, even with its space limitations. The Rouse location is newer, and the upstairs is very comfortable. Both locations are extremely convenient for college students and skiers on their way to Bridger, respectively.
Ultimately, The Daily is not a show-stopper, but it’s not just a quaint local favorite either. The Daily is thriving by keeping an ear to the ground for customer demand. This has meant lightening their roasts, constantly increasing organic and local options, and opening a new location when no other businesses would develop that far northeast of town.
Down to every detail, such as the cups made by local potter Ryan Mitchell of Gangbusters Pottery, The Daily has put down deep roots in Bozeman and deserves a tip of the hat for staying on their game.
The Coarse Grind Espresso: four stars
Coffee Selection: three stars
Food: five stars
Convenience: five stars
Atmosphere: three stars
Must try: Maple Latte with a Bee Sting Croissant