St. George, UT, USA: Affogato

One thing to know about me: I LOVE Utah.

Utah has a near monopoly on all the beautiful land in the United States . . . I think. It literally astounds me how much natural beauty is available in Utah. It’s ridiculous actually.

If you haven’t been to Utah, GO! There are so many active things to do. If you’re not active, there’s so much beautiful land to see.

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Main St., St. George: Annie’s Vintage Garden

Go. Now.

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St. George, Utah is situated about two hours away from Las Vegas. I heard from locals that it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

When I have driven to the Big 5 (Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon National Parks), St. George was always a layover. It was nice, small, clean, and a great place to stretch my legs before I continued to a park, or continued home. Recently, I decided to investigate St. George. Surely it had more to offer . . .

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When you’re near Zion National Park and Bryce National Park, two of the most visited and famous national parks in the United States, it’s easy for people to miss something smaller.

St. George is home to Snow Canyon State Park. It has a mere $6 entrance fee, it’s an easy 4 mile scenic drive from one end to the other, and it’s quite simply gorgeous.

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Snow Canyon Entrance

Snow Canyon offers a variety of trails, as I was recovering from an injury, I stuck to paved and easier trails.

I went at the beginning of March and it was the most perfect weather imaginable. As a hidden gem, there were hardly any people too, so there was a higher level of serenity and peace to enjoy during my visit.

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Snow Canyon–one of my favorite pictures and views

I loved every moment of Snow Canyon. There were beautiful rocks and budding vegetation. For me, I was stunned to learn about lava tubes on one trail and then end up at a sand dune on another trail. What a mix of life!

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Pioneer Names Trail

As an experienced hiker, I had my backpack full of water and snacks to keep my energy up and keep moving from one trail to the next. Eventually though, it was time to stop. As I stated earlier, I was recovering from an injury and didn’t want the excitement to get to me, and I was starting to crave some post-nature fuel.

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Sand Dunes

I drove away with a great sense of peace. I loved every moment of Snow Canyon, my love for Utah had somehow grown even more.

And, just when I thought this trip couldn’t get any better, I found Affogato.

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Affogato Truck

Affogato is a local gem, just like Snow Canyon.

It’s a coffee truck, so seating is limited, just a few chairs outside. It’s a locally-owned business, a woman’s pride and dream come to life, and a relatively young business, so there’s an added element of beauty and joy in patroning Affogato. I have to say that something small, something uniquely belonging to a town, and a place that is someone’s dream makes the whole experience more worthwhile and special. You are more special and so is the coffee.

When I arrived at Affogato, I spoke with the baristas and received great direction. They had an interesting array of speciality drinks that peaked my interest, and I just couldn’t decide on my own what I should order.

The Feel Love Latte intrigued me because of one ingredient: molasses. I was further intrigued by my milk options–oatly milk?

The woman helping me with my order recommended the Feel Love drink (espresso, moscovato sugar, molasses, milk) based on a few likes and flavors I mentioned enjoying.

I ended up trying two drinks: Feel Love Moscovato Latte and an Americano. I also had a vegan brownie.

The Feel Love was a perfect choice for me. A smooth drink, flavorful but not too sweet. The Americano was good–I drank that on my way back to the hotel. The brownie I saved for dessert later. The brownie was outstanding; it was moist, rich, and I wish I had bought two.

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An attempt to capture the magic –that brownie is not shown in its full glory, trust me, it was beautiful and delicious!

Affogato was an outstanding experience. I loved the kind of coffee they offered, it was truly different. I appreciated the staff–they were incredibly friendly and helpful. I liked the idea of a coffee truck, when you’re surrounded by so much beauty, you need to sit outside and enjoy the view.

Go to Utah. It is incredibly beautiful, everyone I have ever encountered has been so kind, and there is truly a tremendous amount of natural beauty everywhere you go.

Start off with St. George, Snow Canyon, and Affogato–trust me, you’re gonna fall in love too.

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Their story prominently posted in front was wonderful!

San Francisco, CA, USA: Home Cafe

Welcome to my favorite part of the world: the Bay Area.

I have a deep love, unconditional love really, for the Bay Area, specifically San Francisco and Berkeley.

I consider the Bay Area more than home, it is heaven on earth.

One day . . . when I’m a millionaire . . . I’ll live there. For now, I’ll just visit and encourage you to do so as well.

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When you visit San Francisco, and I know you will, and you really have to, I recommend a stop at Home Cafe.

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Enjoy the hills! Enjoy the outdoors! Take the Muni, get a Lyft, or walk over to Noriega St. and 20th Ave. It’s part of the experience.

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You’ve arrived.

It’s a small venue and there is no outdoor seating.

I went on a Saturday morning and had to take my food and drink to-go. It was packed–line out the door.

As the line moved, I noticed long tables, seats next to big windows, and a fun policy: no devices.

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While no one is going to kick you out, I saw someone on a laptop, this establishment encourages conversation. I appreciate that, and it plays well into this idea of “home.”

Food.

Well, it’s not pictured because I took it to-go, and I opened it up, and I tasted it, and then I devoured it. I’m not sure how I breathed I ate so fast.

What did I get? Condensed milk toast.

I feel like San Francisco is the only place where toast could be marketed and purchased as a meal. I would say I fell for it (I bought toast?), but honestly it was an amazing dessert, or large pastry. So amazing, when I opened my container I couldn’t stop to take a picture or consider anything but shoving it into my mouth.

Now, this trip was made possible by one of my best friends who lives in San Francisco. She got some toast as well, but hers was the special of the day. We both shared some of our toast with her baby. Her baby loved every bite–every bite we managed to share with her. So that’s three great reviews on the toast–that means get some toast!

And what goes with toast?

Coffee.

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If you look at reviews online, one thing people keep saying is: drinks are great for Instagram!

Well, as important as pictures may be to some, and I understand presentation is crucial, let’s face it: it needs to taste good.

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And this is where Home Cafe won my heart all over again. I ordered their famous birthday cake latte. Presentation and Instagram worthiness: A+. Then, the first sip.

It was sweet, but not overdone. It had a creamy feel to it. It wasn’t exceptionally strong, but from what I gather it’s not meant to be a strong elixir of coffee or caffeine. It was just delicious.

I’m not a chugger of coffee, I usually allow it to cool for about 5 minutes and then I sip for a good 30 minutes. That did not happen. I drank this quickly. It was simply a perfectly balanced drink. Truly delicious. I craved it every day after our visit.

My friend? She got a coconut almond latte. She enjoyed her drink as well, but I think birthday cake latte wins. We did not share any coffee with her baby. We did however drink our coffee and eat our toast at the San Francisco Zoo. That’s right: the zoo!

Home Cafe has an intimate venue, Instagram worthy coffee, delicious coffee, insane toast options, and a great location–just four miles from the zoo.

So, with all of that in mind, the next time you’re in San Francisco: get some coffee, and toast, at Home Cafe–and if there’s nowhere to sit, or if you want to drink and eat with a pretty neat view, head over to the zoo! And when you’re done at the zoo, go back to Home Cafe–let me know about the rest of the toast!

What do you mean by “coffee shop”?

When I refer to a “coffee shop,” I have a specific image and understanding.

For me, a coffee shop:

  • serves coffee (duh!)
  • serves breakfast items, specifically small items like pastries, cookies, croissants, and/or bagels
  • exudes coffee–as its main item served, I immediately see coffee, smell coffee, and hear the sounds of coffee

For me, a coffee shop is NOT:

  • serving a wide variety of drinks–it may have tea or chai or lemonade, but the overwhelming focus is coffee
  • serving meals–it may have a couple of food items, but there is no waiter/waitress taking my order

I have recently received a slew of recommendations for great coffee and future coffee shop posts. I will definitely try them, I can’t resist a good cup of coffee. I will consider all visits a possible post item too.

However, for the most part, when I research or consider coffee shops to travel to, partake, and share with you, I have a very specific set of criteria that I keep in mind and prioritize for my ventures.

Now you know my focus, but perhaps I should expand my definition. So, I ask: what do you define as a “coffee shop”?

 

Las Vegas, NV, USA: Sunrise Coffee House

We’re back in Sin City!

As you know, I am the biggest fan of Mothership. That love is deep. That love is also very closely connected to Sunrise Coffee House.

Why? Well, they’re owned by the same people!

Yes, down the street from Mothership, is actually the mother (brilliant word choice I know).

Now, is it a duplicate? No. Each coffee establishment—here, connected, or otherwise–always has its own standouts, its own merits, its own vibes.

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What differentiates Sunrise?

First, Sunrise has a drive-thru, so if you’re in a rush, you don’t need to get out of your car.

Secondly, it’s bigger. It has ample space on the inside and the most wonderful outdoor seating area. It is one of my favorite places to sit on a sunny day–and there’s lots of those in Vegas. The inside, due to spacing, has more options for seating as well. There are tall tables for standing or high-sitting. There are normal tables. There are a couple of couches, and even a little nook right when you walk in.

I appreciate the varied seating, sometimes you need to put your feet up and sometimes you need to stand. Sometimes you want to sit indoors, sometimes you want to go outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Sunrise has it all.

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The size of Sunrise allows for more plug options. In fact, they have set up a few powerstrips to make it even more work/ device friendly. It’s a simple touch that makes for a more conducive work visit.

In addition to these added features, like Mothership, they have outstanding pastries–because Mothership makes them! I don’t need to tell you how much I love their baking. Just remember, it’s the best. And, everything is made fresh daily so come early, once it’s gone, it’s gone for the day.

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On top of pastry options, Sunrise serves actual food. It’s not a restaurant, but the menu has a few basic breakfast and lunch items.

Not only has everything I’ve tried been delicious–simple things like a bagel to more complicated items like the hot mess bowl–but there are vegan and gluten-free options. Healthy and delicious: that’s a winning combination.

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And the coffee? Well, it’s exceptional. My favorite is a hot Hazelnut Latte, and since I have the option of a large, it’s always large. It’s the best Hazelnut Latte I have ever tried–anywhere. I’ve also had their Nutella Latte, Butterbeer Latte, and Vanilla Latte. Everything is tasty. However, the most ridiculously important find: iced coffee.

When I order an iced Hazelnut anywhere else, I’m not a fan. Unless it’s just regular iced coffee, flavors seem to ruin my drink. And, to be honest, iced coffee was just okay.

I used to think that I didn’t really care for iced coffee, and certainly didn’t like it in flavors, which is incredibly unfortunate when it’s 115 degrees outside–for four months. I could drink it, but it wasn’t anything I ever craved or devoured. Then, a friend met me at Sunrise and ordered one. They encouraged me to try it, they said it was great, and to just trust them.

Curiosity peaked. I had faith. I took the plunge.

Sunrise Coffee House makes the best iced coffee I have ever tasted–specifically, the best iced Hazelnut on the planet. I have never come across an iced coffee I could chug, drool over, crave . . . until Sunrise. All of their drinks are great, everything I have had has been delightful, but the greatest find for me: an utterly outstanding iced coffee.

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Sunrise is a great coffee shop. It is top-notch. It’s in Las Vegas, it’s family-owned, by a Las Vegas native. It has a┬álarge drink menu full of delicious options, appetizing food options, a gorgeous outdoor seating area, plenty of plugs, varied seating for whatever your mood, mouth-watering pastries . . . and plenty of parking. And if it that’s not enough to convince you, then read this: The Best Places for Coffee in Every State–that’s right, in Nevada, it’s Sunrise.

. . . Time for some Hazelnut coffee y’all . . .

Las Vegas, NV, USA: MOTHERSHIP

So you’re in Las Vegas and wondering where to get the best coffee?

There’s really only one response: Mothership.

I will always vote Mothership.

I have other recommendations, but if you can only go to one place, it’s Mothership.

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Let’s start with some basics: it’s a bit small and hidden. It’s in a Trader Joe’s parking lot and had a friend not heard of it, and told me to meet them there, I would have continued walking by it as I had done for some time.

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It’s relatively new, I believe it opened about 3 years ago, so it’s quite the find and many locals are still in the throws of discovery. If you ask someone and they don’t say Mothership, they just don’t know, otherwise they would have recommended it.

The plug situation is not great. For those of you interested in typing away, make sure you’re fully charged–seats next to the powerstrip are limited. For those of you who don’t care, this is probably the best place. I actually appreciate that I see more people sitting and actually talking to one another, or reading an actual book, than plugged into a device. It adds to the experience.

Mothership is owned by a local, like someone who actually grew up in Vegas. For those of you who don’t understand the emphasis–no one is ‘from’ Vegas. Vegas is home to transplants from all over the world, so when someone is from Vegas, that’s noteworthy. It’s some place local, owned by a true local and thats makes going here extra special.

Now, on to the shop itself!

Mothership has a small menu for coffee. It’s not about options, it’s about quality. Not to mention there’s always the ability to tailor any drink to your palette. My forever drink: hot almond milk latte.

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I have had the Peruvian pour over, it’s excellent. I had their short-lived lemonade, which was outstanding. I’m actually pretty surprised it didn’t do well. Their hot chocolate is incredible–not overly sweet, just a smooth chocolate that melts in your mouth and travels to your soul.

Locally owned, great coffee, an environment built around the coffee experience, but it doesn’t stop there. Pastries.

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The baking is unbelievable. There are sweet and savory options–and vegan options. And everything, literally everything, is delicious.

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Recently, they have had these pumpkin pop-tarts that are heaven. The pop-tart breading is just a tad bit crispy around the edges. The filling is creamy–pumpkin joy. The drizzle of chocolate on top offers an added touch of sweetness. It’s flaky and a little messy, but the perfect companion to any coffee drink.

For a year, yes a year, every Sunday, I had a chocolate croissant. Croissant: delicious. Chocolate: delicious. Combining croissant and chocolate? Genius.

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As though this weren’t enough, I have never had a bad experience at Mothership. Every barista, on any given day, has been helpful, kind, and ready to explain or offer up something new–should you ask. They know their stuff.

If you’re in Vegas and you want a local gem, it’s Mothership. If you’re driving through Vegas, stop at Mothership. If you live nearby, go now. Whatever the question, the answer is Mothership . . . and if there’s no pumpkin pop-tarts left, I ate them. I apologize in advance.

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