Although it’s a resortish kinda town, the collars of Cloudcroft’s clientele bleed blue (the elites mostly congregate in northern New Mexico). Many of Cloudcroft’s visitors hail from Alamogordo, Holloman Air Force Base, El Paso, and Midland-Odessa. As a consequence, many urban luxuries have not yet wandered up the mountain. Thankfully (at least for this urban visitor), Cloudcroft now has a microbrewery (Cloudcroft Brewing Company) and a legit espresso shop. The place is starting to feel downright civilized!
Located on the very west end of Burro Avenue, the Black Bear Coffee Company rests in the cozily remodeled old stone post office from the 1800s. The owners, Nathan and Crystal Tompkins, traveled Texas before settling in at Cloudcroft with Nessie, their Synesso espresso machine, to pursue a life-long dream of opening a coffee shop. Crystal is an artist and keeps a studio on the second floor, which is open for additional seating.
The bride and I prefer our espresso bevs the way we prefer our brisket and architecture: unadorned. Nathan expertly grinds out good-uns using New Mexican artisan roasters, turning the Bear into a morning mountain must-stop. If added flavors are your thing, Nathan can spike your pleasure with the usual additions as well as some more unique choices such as blackberry mocha, oak barrel (?), and peppermint. The Bear also has a Bear Slap: brew coffee with a shot of ever-loving espresso.
The Black Bear is so much about coffee, that’s pretty much all you can get there (including beans to go). There’s a bakery down the boardwalk that you can visit beforehand if you’re looking for something to complement the caffeine. Otherwise, prepare to get caffeinated before heading out to the pines. Remember: if a bear decaffeinates in the woods and no one sees it, it didn’t happen. So you better make it a double!
web&where: interwebs; 200 burro avenue, cloudcroft, new mexico; (575) 682-1239
what’s the deal? legit espresso at 9,000 feet; counter service
overall: *** (food-; drink***; atmosphere***; service****; instagrammability***)
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best]