One of my favorite Montana coffee houses is a little Basque joint that roasts its beans fresh every morning…uses all organic, fair-trade, shade-grown Arabica beans of single origin…and, get this: it’s in MILES CITY.
“I get a lot of, ‘Gee, I didn’t expect to find a coffee shop like this in Miles City,’ when people walk in,” laughs owner Kara Stewart, a Custer County girl who graduated from MSU in Bozeman before opening her shop in 2005. Unless your GPS brings up KAFE UTZA, which means “black coffee” in Basque, you’re going to have to do a little work to find it. Tucked off of Main Street on 9th next to a health food store, it’s worth a trip off of I-90 just to sip one of their strong cups of coffee or sample a Lemon Blueberry Tart with Lemon Curd and Fresh Blueberries or a Grand Marnier Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache.
The Kafe serves all the usual coffee drinks and a good selection of teas and seasonal fruit drinks. “I guess my menu has more of a Basque influence,” says Kara, whose maternal side is Basque. “I really love French cuisine and baking.” Everything, including the flavored syrups for the coffees, is hand-made in a sunny kitchen—about the size of a camper kitchen—in back of the shop. Kara turns out a variety of scones, breads and sweet rolls. She flavors them with exotic things like rose water and Sicilian orange blossom water. “Every day, the menu is different and subject to the cook’s mood,” she laughs.
But her best-sellers are good, old-fashioned common pastries like your grandmother used to make “The ones that make you feel good, “ says Kara, who serves a large contingent of old cowboys and rancher-types. “They walk in and say, ‘What the heck am I doin’ in here?! I would have never dreamed of coming into a place like this, and now you got me hooked!’” Kara likes to sneak things like Mediterranean Quiche into the dessert case. Her meat-and-potato guys will point and say, “I’ll take one of those pizza things,” and discover they like quiche. “A lot of my local customers just appreciate having something different.” But EVERYONE appreciates food made with love.
Kafe Utza 19 South Ninth Street, Miles City(406) 234-9821You can order coffee off their website. They roast it fresh to order when you place your order!
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