Reviews of coffee shops and roasters in Idaho.

Bill’s Beans: Delicious Coffee from Southeast Idaho Microroaster

Bill's Logo

I stumbled onto Bill’s Beans after having a conversation with @ryHanson on Twitter. We communicate about what we’re drinking from time to time, and Ryan has made it clear that he swears by Bill’s Beans, a microroaster founded, owned, and operated by Bill Angle in Pocatello, Idaho. I’m from Idaho originally, and I’ve been to Pocatello a few times. Make no mistake, it’s a great place. But it’s not exactly known as a mecca of coffee.

I was hesitant from the get-go, but Idaho will always have a special place in my heart. BoiseCoffee started in Boise, after all, and I try to get back to my roots as often as I can. This seemed like a great opportunity, so I sent Bill a message about possibly reviewing his coffee. After a brief online exchange, my coffee was in the mail.

The Snapshot

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First, a little about Bill’s Beans. His website says,

All coffee bean orders are roasted within 1-2 days of the date the order is place.
All coffee beans are roasted at an elevation of 6014 ft and are roasted in a Diedrich IR-7, an Idaho made roaster.
All coffee beans are roasted and shipped from Pocatello, Idaho.
All coffee bean orders are a full pound (16oz), and come in a one way valve zip bag.

Bill just recently made the jump to selling his coffee online. His website isn’t perfect, but he does have fairly good descriptions of each coffee that is available to purchase. He sent me “Bill’s Blend” and “Bill’s Espresso Blend.” Let’s get started.


The Coffee

Bill’s Blend

Bill’s blend smelled delicious when I opened the bag: like a chocolate cake. The smell filled the room instantly, and I loved it. I brewed Bill’s Blend in my Clever drip brewer and received varying results depending on the coffee-water ratio that I used. The best result I got was when I used 26 grams of coffee with 380 grams of water. This cup was clear and had a solid taste full of deep, low nutty notes. Brief flashes of acidity sparked my palette throughout the cup, creating an interesting combination of low notes and high notes that was more than welcome. I could tell that this was a blend right out, but it was definitely one of the better blends I’ve tried.

The cup kept me coming back for more, and I highly recommend purchasing a bag for yourself.


Bill’s Espresso Blend

I encountered an immediate problem when I opened Bill’s Espresso Blend: I don’t have an espresso machine. However, I do have an Aeropress, and it can adequately be used to create what I like to call “fakespresso”; a highly concentrated shot of coffee, but not pulled with enough pressure to deem it true espresso. I haven’t indulged in fakespresso in a while, and I was excited to give Bill’s Espresso Blend a try. The results were incredible.

Bill’s Espresso Blend pulled some of the best shots I’ve ever had, and the best I’ve ever had using an Aeropress. Strong chocolate notes rang through with some nutty notes, akin to what I experienced with Bill’s Blend. However, they were intertwined in such a way that the best word I can use to describe the taste is “Almond Hershey’s Bar.” And it really was like a delicious candy bar in a shot. The acidity of the shot was present, but fairly even and played off the tongue nicely. There wasn’t any sour aftertaste, which was great. This would make excellent espresso to go with any desert after dinner.

Final Thoughts

Bill’s Beans was the definition of what I think of when I hear the word “microroaster”: a small, relatively unknown roaster who produces an excellent product. It was evident that Bill’s almost 20 years of roasting experience really make his coffee unique and delicious. His shipping prices vary depending on where you live in the U.S., but I would highly recommend you give him a shot. Pun totally intended.

Bill’s Beans online:

The Coffee Guy

Dutch Bros: The much anticipated review

Hello coffee fans!

First of all, I believe an apology is in order. Life has been more than busy for me as of late, and I’ve really slacked off on the blog. You can expect more frequent posts in the near future, as my schedule is beginning to wind down.

Now, on to the review!

Our commitment is to serve our customers a consistent quality product in a timely manner with a smile.

We roast all of our own coffee ensuring freshness from the farmer to the cup. We take great pride in the ingredients mixed into every cup – utilizing flavor profiles from Torani syrups, our own special blend of Dutch Chocolate milk and Kick Me Mix.

From Dutch Bros.’ wikipedia page:

Dutch Bros. was started in March 1992 by two brothers, Travis and Dane Boersma, former dairy farmers from Grants Pass, Oregon. Their first coffee stand was a temporary structure in downtown Grants Pass. Over the next few years, permanent kiosks opened in other parts of the city, including a coffeehouse a few blocks from the original stand.

I’ve always liked Dutch Bros. In the winter, I pick up a cup of Dutch on the way to snowboarding, and in the summer I enjoy their iced drinks on a hot day. If you’ve ever visited Dutch Bros., you know that they’re all about quality: both in product and in service. They prize themselves in their well-trained, friendly baristas. It also doesn’t hurt that they typically hire college-aged men and women who are pleasant on the eyes: Dutch baristas are all about using sex appeal to get a better tip.

Dutch Bros. has a great company structure, and friendly staff, but what about their coffee? Well, that is a little more tricky to do a review on, and here’s why:
Dutch Bros. coffee is heavy on the sugar. Every single one of the featured drinks on their menu (which was updated recently, by the way) is loaded with syrup and sauce, not to mention some of their best drinks are breve’s, or close. I’m not saying any of this to diss on Dutch Bros. In fact, this emphasis on sugar is perfect for their target customers:  high school and college-aged young men and women. Dutch Bros. has found their audience, and they are working that angle perfectly.

So, what about their actual espresso? Dutch Bros. isn’t just about sugar, although they put emphasis on that. You can order any drink you desire, just as you would at Starbucks (just please, for the love of God, don’t say “venti”. Any baristas that don’t work at Starbucks hate it when people use Starbucks’ sizes to order drinks.) I’ve had many classic drinks, such as their latte and brewed coffee. I’ve gone a little more complex a few times, asking for a doppio with cubano shots. And, to be honest, I’ve never been let down. I’m pleased to say that Dutch Bros. isn’t trying to cover up anything by using sugar: their coffee really is good. Although they won’t tell you what kind of roast they use (it’s a “Dutch secret”) I’ll give my best impression: they brew a medium roast coffee, probably using mixed beans, and their shots are pulled fast, which tend to make them far less acidic and bitter-tasting.

Go to Dutch Bros. if you haven’t yet. It’s an experience worth having, and a taste worth trying. Despite their emphasis on trendy clothing and sugar in coffee, they hold a special place in my heart as being a coffee franchise that really cares about their customers, product, and staff. That alone is enough for me to give Dutch Bros. a positive review.

What’s been your experience?

The Coffee Guy

Part coffeehouse, part gift shop, part art gallery, part hangout: Flying M.

Flying M Coffeehouse!

If you were to ask residents of downtown Boise what the top 10 popular hang out places are, Flying M would make all of their lists.
Flying M has been around since 1992, and brewing their own coffee since ’95. They have two locations: the Flying M Coffeehouse located on West Idaho St. downtown, and the Flying M Coffee Garage located on 2nd Street South in Nampa. I can’t vouch for their Nampa site, as I haven’t made the trek out there yet, but reviews speak for themselves.

This review is based primarily on what I’ve experienced at their downtown location.

When I was but a wee lad I remember Flying M being the “cool place” for my older sister and her friends to hang out. Not much has changed – Flying M remains one of Boise’s most centralized meeting places. The chances of you running into someone you know at Flying M are pretty dang good. Not to mention pre-scheduled meetings: many people spend a couple hours just chatting it up with friends they haven’t seen in a while, or grabbing a quick business meeting with colleagues.

Flying M’s coffee, self described:

Flying M Coffee produces one espresso blend – a full-bodied, medium roasted blend rich with crema.  Flying M Espresso Blend has been served since 1995 at the Boise location and several other locally owned coffee shops and restaurants.  Flying M also roasts a House Blend, consisting of a French roast paired with a medium roast Indonesian producing a powerful, bittersweet cup.

In more descriptive terms, their coffee-art laden brew is smooth and light on the acidity. The mocha I grabbed on my last visit was great; just remember that they’re not big on their shots. While some coffee shops, such as Dawson’s and Dutch Bros. boast as many as three shots to a 16oz – with four if you’re in for the extra kick – Flying M seems to focus more on taste. Their menu is interesting if not a little unusual, their sizes being 8oz, 12oz, 16oz (with one, one, and two shots included, respectively.) Most coffee shops these days have a 12oz, 16oz, 20oz menu while still others go higher. I’m inclined to think, however, that Flying M is inherently not a follower of trends. Rather, they seem to be home to the very people who start trends.

Besides coffee, Flying M hosts a gift shop, an art gallery (see pics), free wi-fi, music events, their own bakery, and an atmosphere that makes your extrovert come out.

If you haven’t tried Flying M yet, come see what you’re missing. It’s 100% Boise, and 100% worth it.

The Coffee Guy