Creativity is paramount in the coffee game. Hell, creativity is the coffee game. Now, the folks at Folger’s would have you believe it’s about ease, and the hipsters downtown would have you believe it’s all about Bunsen burners and science bottles. But at its core, all good coffee comes down to creativity.
You must create coffee, and by extension, the coffee house. Whether you’re going on safaris to Sumatra and bringing back the best bean in the world, or touring upscale estate sales for furniture pieces that fit the exact vibe of your shop, it takes time and effort to create something beautiful and unique. When you phone it in, it shows. And when you create great coffee out of nothing, that magic turns into loyal fans in a consumer relationship unlike any other, really.
The creation at Flatiron Coffee in Boulder happens in the mug. Their rotating specials are inspired — the week I visit Flatiron, the specials are inspired by The Princess Bride. Flatiron does the best it can with its location, a hidden away box in the strip mall at Arapahoe and 28th, by focusing on the drink and not trying to be a Pearl Street hang or an off-thepath chill-lodge. It’s all in the drink.
So I start with the Dread Pirate Roberts. It’s a tall, warm glass of Bakhti chai, a shot of pure liquid cacao and sprinkled with cayenne pepper. The liquid cacoa (which goes by the brand name Cholaca if you just want to buy a jug and see what happens to your life) really subdues the ginger in the Bakhti chai, and it also reduces the heat in the cayenne pepper. What’s left is a unique coffee creation that highlights the flavor of the pepper and the cinnamon in the chai, while going down in a slightly thick gulp.
Another Princess Bride inspired drink is the Iocaine Powder, which fittingly marries six shots of espresso with a breve latte and irish cream. “Never go against a barista when caffeine is on the line,” reads the drink’s tag.
Flatiron also has an extensive list of regular drinks, including the honey pot latte. I got it iced, and it tasted like horchata light. Then there’s Flatirons’ signature summer drink: the Ice Cap. It’s a beautiful mix of cold-brewed espresso, vanilla and milk, all churning in a designated slushie machine. It comes out in a smooth consistency, and the drink is made for a hot August afternoon. It’s refreshing and considerably lighter than the Frappa-Thing™, as it’s made with real espresso, real vanilla, real milk and ice and not a bunch of weird syrups and powders.
The friendly baristas were also enthusiastic to throw together an off-menu cinnamon latte, a drink that really should be on every menu. They used true cinnamon and swizzled it into a double-shot espresso and whole milk latte. The cinnamon was perfectly proportioned.
Flatiron is also a good place to set up and work for a few hours — the tables are far apart, it’s pretty quiet and there are ample outlets for your laptop. Or, judging by regular lines out the door on weekday mornings, it is also just a good place to grab a cup and go.