Dorothy M. Johnson’s book “The Bloody Bozeman” shows that there were three things that defined a civilized Montana man in the 1860s: bread, sugar and most importantly, coffee. Coffee remains arguably the quintessential beverage for the world today. Whether consumed while making small talk in a Parisian café, wandering with it through the public market in Seattle or having your fortune told through the grounds of a strong Turkish coffee in Istanbul, there is as much importance in the experience as in the taste. It is a powerful force in many of our lives. It starts our day, pushes us through all-nighters and even brings couples together on first dates.
With that in mind, I went downtown to check out a few of my friends’ recommendations to see how they measured up.
Wild Joe’s Coffeespot
Famous for live music and a wide variety of beverages, Wild Joe’s is a piece of the beating heart of downtown Bozeman. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the many food options, as well as coffee alternatives. Although sometimes the coffee can be slightly stale and bitter, the folks at Wild Joe’s definitely know how to make a good brew. The Breve is a fantastic choice for a rainy day, or to comfort the soul during dead week.
The atmosphere is often noisy and busy which is a drawback for some and a highlight for others. Since drinks come in all forms and sizes, and the food is a delicious option, Wild Joe’s is great for groups but might not be the best for the introverted among us.
Leaf & Bean
Girl Scout cookie latte? Welcome to Leaf & Bean.
Almost blending in to its surroundings, this coffeehouse is quiet and tucked into Bozeman like a calm prairie. One Leaf and Bean frequenter, MSU student Kyrie Bitterman, was studying for a midterm and enjoying a well-deserved brew. “I have been to every coffee shop and this one is my favorite, I really can focus here,” she said.
There was limited seating for comfort, but there were many places to take out the book and get to work. As far as coffee quality goes, the regular drip coffee seemed a bit watered down, not to mention the menu was hard to read in the first place. Overall, a great place to study and get a nice drink, but not the best coffee in town.
Zocalo Coffee House
In the hustle and bustle on Main street, an oasis sits, just waiting to be explored. With a unique vibe and great music many adore Zocalo for its comfortable and inviting ambiance. Lolo Thornton, a regular who favors Zocalo cappuccinos and loose-leaf tea, enjoys the plants and decorations found in the quaint building. “It is a good space to hangout and enjoy the music. I prefer the atmosphere and quality of the coffee,” she said.
With an interesting second level, the space is warm, inviting, comfortable and friendly. The coffee was fresh with a rich, smooth savor. Although the menu is limited compared with the other shops, Zocalos has the best coffee of the three and the most comfortable setting.