In terms of charm, the main thing Old Colorado City has always had going for it is the bounty of businesses located inside converted Victorian homes. People love the warmth of quiet, tall-ceilinged bedrooms turned dining rooms, often adorned with lace tablecloths to match fine carved-wood adornments.
In the case of the four-month-old Deb's Coffee House, located just off Colorado Avenue, this charm is amplified by a picket fence-enclosed stone patio area. Deb Wallbaum, a former Broadmoor employee of 13 years, also helps the quaint image, as she and her small family staff provide friendly service and frequent check-ins.
The ambience lends well to an uncomplicated menu of standard caf items: sandwiches not unlike ones you might pack yourself for lunch; basic salads with serviceable dressings; tasty, locally made pastry and dessert items from Alpine Chef and Colorado Bread Co.; and, of course, a wide range of drinks in which locally roasted mpire Estate coffee stars.
Just before our first visit, two tourist buses unloaded at Deb's. That rush probably was behind our water request issued twice and never answered, and unwanted whipped cream atop a banana chocolate shake. Both of my dining mates liked their sandwiches: the classic roast beef with cheddar and a very mild horseradish sauce on a French roll, and the spicy turkey with pepperjack and jalapeo mayo on sliced whole grain (both $6.75).
The half sandwich and side salad (also $6.75), however, left me hungry enough to order a veggie breakfast burrito ($3.75 and bearing a respectable pork green chile). The roast beef French dip with house-made au jus rivaled the size of a small deck of cards and disappeared in three bites, while a raspberry vinaigrette barely enlivened a small green mix with a few tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.
Dessert arrived in the form of a nice, flaky-crusted, gooey caramel apple pie topped in vanilla ice cream and a "perfectly adequate" (so said my friend) Boston cream pie (each $3.85). The generous slices proved a stark contrast to my meal.
As for drinks, the "Debbieato" of espresso and steamed milk with caramel syrup ($4.50) topped the borderline too-sweet chai latte ($2.50) and average, aforementioned shake ($3.50). On a follow-up visit, the tropical fruit smoothie ($4), a base of Dr. Smoothie pure emulsified by Deb's addition of milk, tasted like a fresh virgin pia colada yummy. But a mocha and cappuccino (each $3.50) outperformed the lot, the superior, smooth flavor of the coffee shining through.
Deb's Orange Delight salad ($6.50), with generous dried cranberries, walnuts, mandarin slices and croutons, wooed my coworker. It's definitely the dish to go for, best paired with toasted sesame dressing (of nine choices). A decent antipasta salad ($6.75), ordered with balsamic vinaigrette, also arrived stacked, with green and black olives and thin slices of salami. Thankfully, my full-order pastrami sandwich ($6.75) came weighted this time, with folded deli slices and provolone.
A taste of pumpkin pie ($2.85) and a mini cheesecake and clair sampler ($2.25) reconfirmed my impression of the caf as a whole: a good place for a smattering of fine sugar options, edible and drinkable. But as with many places with "coffee" in the name, much of the savory food bows to the foam.