If you’re looking for the best espresso in the Flathead Valley (if not Montana), look no further than Glacier Perks Coffee House.
They have the best espresso, which is actually best described as an “Espresso Montana.” And it’s prepared with care and attention to detail and infused with a barista’s passion for the craft.
Please allow me to qualify this distinction (for the sake of Glacier Perks and not for my pomposity). I grew up in an Italian family in New York and, as far as I knew, “coffee” was made in a stacked, silver pot packed firm with dark, rich grains and left over the slightest flame before being gently poured into a tiny cup – after a meal.
As an adult, I lived in Germany for a few years. It was my base camp for cultural sojourns all over Europe enjoying the cuisine – and espresso – along the way. When I came back to the States, I could craft a good espresso at home, but I could never find a reliably good espresso as often as I did in Europe. Sure, while living in the New York City area, I’d occasionally find a good espresso, but it was hit or miss at best.
When I moved out West, I prepared myself for many things, including the notion that a proper cup would be something I’d miss. That is, until I took a sip of an espresso at Glacier Perks Coffee House in Lakeside.
First, I noticed that Ashley, one of the owners, tightly packed the fine-ground coffee grains. Yet despite her efforts and care, I still (like a jaded New Yorker) thought I was going to have little more than yet another disappointment. After all, espresso is a drink – but also the process for making the drink.
I noticed that she turned a few knobs here and there and tested the water before putting things in place. Moments later, a concentrated, syrup-like substance began to drip into the cup below.
After Ashley gave it a careful review, she put the cup on the table. Sunlight hit the cup just right and revealed a perfect crema on top (as there should be). Finally, I took a sip. It was concentrated, thick and immensely flavorful. My taste buds quickly reminisced about a fine pull of espresso I had years ago (in Oslo, spring of ‘99).
This was a divine cup of espresso, and somehow different. Much like many things in Montana, and Montana itself, this cup of espresso had a broad, deeply rich taste. It was likely a blend of different varieties that were all together smooth – without any of the typical competing complexities of flavor.
For a while, others thought I was nuts for being so ecstatic about “just a cup of coffee.” However, I was vindicated when I heard that a visitor from Italy was also dumbstruck by Glacier Perks’ espresso. And judging by his gestures (he hardly spoke English), he too seemed to have a similar experience. He left talking with his hands and patting his heart, trying to say, “best es-PRE-sso in America.”
But cast my opinion aside and try a Glacier Perks espresso yourself. If you have already, then you know that a drive to Seattle for espresso is no longer necessary. Instead, you can just go to Glacier Perks in Lakeside and ask for an “Espresso Montana.”
Glacier Perks Coffee House is located on U.S. Highway 93, next to Volunteer Park, in Lakeside and open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
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