It’s been five years since I last dropped by Black Bear, which holds more than 20 years’ history under several owners. I recall it being more popular for fine in-house pastries and sweet espresso drinks than straightforward coffee drinks for the third wave snobs.

The immediate area hosts a mix of soldiers, their families and luxury neighborhood dwellers from up the mountainside. I grab a light roasted Guatemalan drip coffee (I’m told from a roastery in Monument, which I presume to be Serranos) as more my style of smooth, no frills batch brew, black and good. And because I’m a coconut slut, I go for a special blended frozen coconut chai, hoping for island nuttiness atop the staple Indian spices.

But this drink is not that, tasting strongly synthetic and cloying beyond my expectations (even ordered half-sweet) with the spice notes buried under an aroma that’s like a Yankee Candle shop in the mall. I’m sure it’s somebody’s cup of tea, but far from mine.

Better for balanced sugar is my order of French toast casserole — yeah, basically bread pudding by another name — made with hunks of sourdough and cinnamon rolls sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar. It could use some nuts for texture, but still, it’s a sticky treat.

Food & Drink Editor

Matthew Schniper is the Food and Drink Editor at the Colorado Springs Indy. He began freelancing with the Indy in mid-2004 and joined full-time in early 2006, contributing arts, food, environmental and feature writing.