434 W. Fillmore St., 373-9230, roocoffee.com
This drive-thru with super-friendly baristas just celebrated its first anniversary, and in January plans to expand with a slightly larger spot across from the Eighth Street Wal-Mart. Co-owner D.J. Lyon says he's already shopping for a third location, too.
Much of the menu is organic; the coffee is via Oregon's Mellelo Coffee Roasters; and Dr. Smoothie's 100-percent fruit base informs the smoothies. Lyon says he labored over products and test batches that would keep his drinks ideally textured and not grossly sweet. It shows in our delightful pineapple smoothie ($3.95/16-ounce), blended with coconut milk (75 cents extra) and whipped-cream-topped, and even more so in the chocolate peanut butter blended coffee ($4.95/20-ounce). It sends a whole-milk vanilla base through a soft-serve machine before all-natural chocolate powder is added with five espresso shots (I got decaf) and Stirling peanut butter syrup (which boasts non-processed sugars). — Matthew Schniper
Spice Island Grill
10 N. Sierra Madre St., 473-8280, spiceislandgrill.com
It is hard to imagine that Jamaicans would reach for a stout in a hot island climate, but they often do — even at breakfast, making stout shakes with inputs like peanuts, egg, oatmeal and condensed or coconut milk, says Spice Island owner Claudette Hutchinson. So pass on the fanboy Red Stripe if you want the real beer of Jamaica. Instead, grab a 7.5 percent ABV Dragon Stout or the 4.9 percent ABV, Trinidad-based Mackeson XXX Milk Stout (each a pricey $8, due to costly importing via New York).
Spice Island had run out of the Kingston-brewed Jamaica Stout we originally set out to try during our visit, so we happily sampled these other two. Both are dark as a moonless night, and each showcases its own irie. Dragon comes off crisp but with a delicate, almost plum, taste backing the heavy malt body. Mackeson is a light and creamy sipping beer that balances a slight acidity with the flavor that's reminiscent of chaff from a freshly roasted coffee bean. — Steve Hitchcock
Dogtooth Coffee Company
505 E. Columbia St., 632-0125, dogtoothcoffee.com
At seven years old, Dogtooth isn't yet long in the tooth, but it's entrenched in the community and particularly its Casa Verde Commons cohousing neighborhood. Though there are soups, sandwiches, pastries, and "European-style smoked coffees" from a Minnesota roaster, it's the homemade gelato that many go for ($2.95/5-ounce; $3.75/8-ounce; $5.25/12-ounce). It's made on Italian equipment and differs from ice cream because of its lower fat and sugar content and airier texture; it's also stored at a warmer temperature and melts fairly quickly.
We tasted: a "paste"-based Triple Berry Explosion (black-, rasp- and blue-) with great flavor and a little seed crunch; a natural peach made with Palisade fruit puréed on site; a guilty Butterfinger, essentially the candy bar ground up into the base milk-and-cream gelato; and the Leadville Latte, made with house espresso and ground espresso bean garnish for texture (and more potency than your average coffee ice cream). — Matthew Schniper