Today for “Sunday fun day” we wanted to try out several local downtown coffee shops to make our decision as to who has the best coffee in Boise. We decided to review on three criteria: 1.Taste 2.Service 3.Ambiance. Since we usually go to the same places and order the same things, we instead asked the barista at each location to recommend a drink for us. We are by no means experts (although we do have a combined experience of 12 years in the service industry, so that has to count for something, right?) but just wanted to get out and experience what coffee in downtown Boise is all about!
Stop #1-Big City Coffee
What was suggested: Bit O’ Honey ($3.70)
- Taste: We couldn’t really taste the honey, but we could definitely taste the cinnamon. The amazing homemade whipped cream added a buttery taste as well. This would be the perfect Christmas Eve drink. Best pastry selection ever, but sadly we were only there for coffee today.
- Service-The young girl at the cash register was very friendly and helpful when we asked for her suggestion.
- Ambiance-Big City is quite casual, family friendly, and obviously where people go to be social with each other. The furniture is set up so you may even share a table with strangers! There was country music playing and the coffee was brought out in a large, rustic mug, which is fitting with the rest of the rustic decor. Think Lumberjack’s scraps of wood meets an interior designer and you get Big City!
Stop #2-Flying M
What was suggested: Chai latte ($7 for two)
- Taste-This latte tasted of all things fall; very pumpkin spice-ish, frothy and sweet.
- Service-The trendy barista was also friendly and helpful.
- Ambiance-Flying M is more than just a coffee shop, they also have a mini gift shop! As a whole it is very eclectic and seemed to have a more narrow audience (college crowd). Our chai lattes were served in the tiniest of paper cups as techno music played quietly enough for the college kids to study their flash cards. And for one guy to focus on his knitting.
What was suggested: Hazelnut latte ($2.75)
- Taste-Very hazelnut-y, lots of foam but not as sweet as the chai latte from Flying M.
- Service-The nonchalant barista was friendly but less enthusiastic. We are still confused why she didn’t suggest their signature mocha, Bowl of Soul. They even have “bowl of soul” in their official website name (www.javabowlofsoul.com).
- Ambiance-There was a good mix of patrons there for social reasons as well as those being studious. There were even some business casual people, possibly conducting meetings or interviews. We saw several backwards hats and beanies, listened to contemporary/reggae music, while looking at Andy Warhol paintings and pretty chandeliers.
Stop #4-Dawson Taylor
What was suggested: Cinnamon latte ($3.71)
- Taste-This latte was also frothy (not as frothy as Java), sweet, and tasted like a cinnamon hot chocolate. This would also make a very good holiday drink.
- Service-The free spirited young barista was very happy and helpful (obviously a trend in Boise), and was the only one who asked what we liked before making a recommendation.
- Ambiance-The vibe at Dawson Taylor was more serious, seemingly independent studiers; we are guessing everyone was doing homework for their masters or writing novels. Our last stop seemed less social and probably the most mellow of the four. One half of the shop was full of one person-per table students and/or novelists with track lighting for artwork on the wall. We enjoyed the smooth funk music, the gorgeous tile art on the counter and the (literally) front row seats to people watch on 8th street.
Below are today’s winners in each criteria:
Best Taste (from what was recommended to us) – Flying M’s Chai Latte
Best Service – Dawson Taylor (the barista was happy and engaged with our likes/dislikes)
Best Ambiance – Big City Coffee
Do you have a favorite downtown Boise coffee shop? What is your favorite drink to sip on?