The outdoor thermometer reads a sizzling 105 degrees Fahrenheit as I’m strolling along Palm Canyon Drive, the main drag of the California desert city of Palm Springs. I am on a quest for a cup of coffee. As crazy as that sounds, it’s not what you think.
In this heat, I’m looking for some iced or frozen coffee, and there’s a place in Palm Springs reputed to have the best.
Summer can be hot here, with desert temperatures scorching into the mid-100s and even higher during the day. That’s why an iced or frozen caffeine treat is just the ticket for a much-needed cool-down.
In 2002, co-owners John Abner and John Strohm believed Palm Springs deserved to be a coffee destination as unique as its community, and with this vision, Koffi (pronounced like coffee) was born. As John Abner shared with me “cafes are natural community gathering places, so, we thought it would be a great idea to have one here in Palm Springs that celebrates good coffee”.
The only specialty coffee retailer with its own coffee roaster on-site in the entire Coachella Valley, Koffi now has three locations in the Palm Springs area, and I had the chance to view the roasting process in action at their Rancho Mirage cafe.
Using a Dietrich roaster manufactured in Idaho, Koffi’s roastmasters were finishing up an aromatic Mexican blend that smelled absolutely divine.
Three years ago, the owners made the decision to roast their own coffee beans. John said though they worked with quality roasters, they felt too removed from the process and thought it was “time to take full control of our own product”. Almost immediately, they noticed the increase in quality. “It’s about the pride that goes into roasting our own beans for our own coffees,” John continued with a smile.
Cold brew beans roasting at the time of my visit, come from Mexico’s Oaxaca region. The low, slow steady roast produces a stout, big flavor with fruity, sweet tones. Perfect over ice, the coffee was smooth and a tad sweet, even with no sugar added.
The Latte Freeze is made from a Cloudburst Blend of coffee beans from Peru, and Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, using the coffee bistro’s “secret recipe”. The finished product is one incredible, richly flavored, frozen coffee that tastes heavenly in the Palm Desert heat seemingly imported from Hades. The Latte Freeze along with the bistro’s hot latte are, according to John, probably Koffi’s number one sellers.
The menu is extensive for a coffee bistro, and two seasonal blends are added to the already impressive menu each year. The winter selection will be named First Frost, a slightly smoky, dark fruited, chocolaty coffee, and next spring’s offering is currently being planned.
In addition to a large array of coffees, the bistro offers a delightful selection of cookies, muffins, and sandwiches. But, on this warm day, most patrons are opting for a gourmet cold cup of brew.
Future planning for Koffi includes moving to wholesale, although many of the Palm Springs area restaurants already carry the Koffi line. Local businesses also sell bagged Koffi blends – some are private labeled – a tribute to the quality of the Koffi brand.
A single cup coffee line (think K-cup or Keurig style) will be launched in July. Online purchases, as well as a coffee club membership are available. According to John, most of their online members are patrons who have visited one of Koffi’s shops, loved the product, and then signed up so they could receive quality Koffi coffee on a monthly basis.
Benjamin Franklin once stated that “Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.”
There is no doubt on this very hot day in the middle of the desert, that a strong, cold cup of coffee is exactly the pleasing excitability I was looking for, and, delighted to find.
Want to know more about Koffi? Check out their website.
Article and photos Noreen L Kompanik