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Las Vegas and Reno offer an eclectic mix of coffee hangouts.
Photo: Charlie Johnston
New York City might be the city that never sleeps, but the 24-hour culture that permeates Nevada makes it the state that never sleeps.
If buzzing neon and casino action aren’t enough to keep you wide-eyed during your next Nevada adventure, an array of energetic espresso enclaves offers a cup—or two—for you.
Lattes in Las Vegas
BY CAROLINE HORWITZ
THE BEAT COFFEEHOUSE AND RECORDS
What happens when you combine a coffeehouse with a record store, art gallery, and bar? You get The Beat, a downtown Las Vegas hangout that sells vinyl albums, coffee, food, beer, and cocktails.
Attached to the Emergency Arts gallery, The Beat invites customers to peruse works by local artists, shop for records, and attend open mic and trivia nights. At 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, The Beat becomes a bar. The beer taps face the espresso machines, and the turntable next to the cash register adds to the eclectic atmosphere. “We don’t do a lot of super-fancy coffees, just good coffee and real food made with real ingredients, not frozen and pre-made,” managing partner Jennifer Cornthwaite says.
The interior is downtown chic, with concrete floors, wooden furniture, old couches, and groups of 20-somethings hovering over their drinks and chatting animatedly. “The Beat is really a hub,” Cornthwaite adds. “It’s a place people meet and hang out. The people are what make it; we just try and provide the best neighborhood feel that we can.”COFFEE PUB
The old-fashioned-looking exterior at Coffee Pub conceals some of the best coffee and friendliest servers in Las Vegas. More of a restaurant than a coffee shop, the Pub is close to the Strip and has been serving patrons since 1984.
It’s only open until 3 p.m. (2 p.m. on weekends) but offers full breakfast and lunch menus and a smoothie bar with a variety of coffee options, including frozen drinks made with blended espresso, non-dairy gelato, and numerous flavor options. Their spin on a caramel macchiato is frothy and satisfying, and the house blend is a rich and savory way to caffeinate as well.
The generous sizes and reasonable prices are welcome perks. Better still are the conversational and kind staff members, who are attentive and know regulars by name. One waitress even engaged me in a discussion about the book I was reading: Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace. Coincidentally, she had read another book penned by Wallace.
Those who live or work close by don’t even have to stop in—Coffee Pub delivers within a two-mile radius.THE MADHOUSE COFFEE
Part of the allure of The MadHouse is that it’s open 24 hours—a serious plus in a city that never sleeps. “If you come here at night, you’ll really see it busy,” says owner Marco Prestia.
The best word to describe this Summerlin night owl is funky, from its colorful décor and seating to a sign at the door that reads: “Please no outside food, drinks, drugs, or nuclear weapons.”
Coffee items that stand out include blended drinks, such as the Red Velvet Mocha, which combines the flavors of coffee and red velvet cake without being overly sugary. Its bright red color is a bit startling to see in a coffee cup, but it just adds to the personality of the shop.
Coffee purists needn’t worry—the menu is full of traditional caffeinated beverages, too. The MadHouse has a convenient drive-thru and also serves sandwiches and a variety of desserts and pastries that are baked and prepared in-house. Peppy music, paintings, and modern art splash the place with a little extra funk.
In addition to the original MadHouse on Desert Inn Road, a second location on Eastern Avenue ensures coffee crusaders all over the Las Vegas Valley can get their fix.SAMBALATTE TORREFAZIONE
It’s not uncommon to find every table at Sambalatte Torrefazione—and there are many—occupied, even on a weekday afternoon. In business for two-plus years, it’s become a hot spot to caffeinate. Owner Luiz Oliveira attributes the success to several factors, including high-quality products from local vendors. Its central location in the trendy Boca Park shopping area doesn’t hurt either, he says.
Sambalatte prepares coffee in a variety of ways, such as coffee extraction, which is used to make iced coffee through a cold drip that takes 12 hours. “It’s time-consuming, but the process removes all of the acidity and bitterness in the coffee and leaves a completely smooth drink,” Oliveira says.
The shop’s Nutella latte is one of its most popular drinks. Oliveira got the idea from his home country of Brazil, where Nutella is a prominent food item. The latte version is creamy and has just the right amount of chocolate and peanut butter flavors.
Aside from the delicious coffee, there are ample reasons for patrons to linger. Sambalatte offers couches, café tables, a long wooden table with electrical outlets for laptops and chargers, a balcony with a flat-screen TV and bookcases, and an outside patio that even has water bowls for canine companions.
Roasts of Reno
BY SAM DiSALVO
DREAMER’S COFFEE HOUSE & DELI
After Dreamer’s closed in 2009, many Renoites feared they’d lost their all-encompassing, homey coffee shop. Fortunately, the place has recently kicked back into gear in the MidTown District. Perhaps in homage to MidTown’s hip attitude, the new Dreamer’s Coffee House & Deli is pointedly more chic than its predecessor, with a bright red ceiling and bold color scheme, modern art, and subtle industrial touches.
Besides traditional coffee fare made from beans of local roasters, Dreamer’s has always catered to folks with a sweet tooth, providing options such as the Milky Way Mocha—with caramel flavoring—and the tried-and-true combination of the creamy peanut butter mocha.
Dreamer’s also offers an entire menu devoted to milkshakes, featuring the mocha milkshake that’s just the right mix of chocolate and espresso. It’s thick enough to satisfy, but thin enough to not put up a fight when sipped through a straw.
In addition to coffee, guests can choose from a wide variety of breakfast-bagel combinations, which include everything from standard eggs, ham, and cheese to nostalgic Nutella and peanut butter. The bookshelf in the den, located in the back of the shop, holds another element of home, with volumes of National Geographic and a collection of worn novels from Grisham to Bronte.JAVA JUNGLE
A haven for local artists, Java Jungle and its next-door addition, Jungle Vino, serve as environments for creators to work and perform and provide beverages to get the creative juices flowing. The décor confirms Java Jungle’s artist-hangout image with whimsical wall murals that blend into the animal-print menus, a brightly colored mosaic tile floor, and an ostentatious neon “cappuccino” sign above the counter.
Java offers concoctions like the Eye Opener—best experienced iced—made with two shots of espresso and coffee and sure to inspire even the philistine to create something of worth. The shop also offers a wide variety of sandwiches and pizzas.
Besides monthly art shows at both locations, Java Jungle holds an open mic night on Mondays. Vino holds weekly tastings, but the selection isn’t limited to wine. The bar offers beer and unique cocktails crafted from high-quality liquors.
Keeping the artist’s salary in mind, Vino offers a great value on fresh-baked pizza with up to three toppings and two glasses of sangria: $15 from 6-10 p.m. nightly. Both Jungles are open late to match the artist’s working hours and serve cups of inspiration when yours might have run dry.SWILL COFFEE & WINE
A newcomer to the Reno coffee scene, Swill Coffee & Wine is making a splash with its unique coffee concoctions and wine tastings. Swill baristas are put through rigorous training to make sure they can turn anything from a French Press order to a soy and honey Sunny Latte. The Swill Chill is a refresher that’s made from espresso, chocolate, condensed milk, and various secret ingredients that the baristas would surely be punished for leaking.
Swill’s impressive collection of bottled beers features everything from pale ales to stouts, and nightly specials—such as $15 wine tastings and food pairings every Saturday—showcase Swill’s extensive wine ensemble. The coffee shop includes a casual lounge with intimate seating and a community table that’s perfect for making new friends. Local art adorns the lounge’s walls and local musical acts make occasional appearances.
Plastered next to the menu, the definitions of the word “swill” (such as: “2. to drink greedily or in large quantity”) are a tongue-in-cheek effort to redefine coffee culture.
There is something familiar about being in Walden’s Coffeehouse, even if you’ve never been there before. An emphasis on comfort and friendliness are present in everything from the invitingly large armchairs to the handwritten daily specials. Perhaps this soothing feeling comes from the vast tea selection, as there has always been an aspect to tea that is more pacifying than commerce-paced coffee. Walden’s offers classic Earl Grey black tea, gunpowder green tea, white spiced peach tea, and plenty more worth sipping.
When it comes to coffee, Walden’s offers plenty of flavoring options that will add a kick to any morning routine, and patrons can choose from more than 300 flavors, including cheesecake and toasted marshmallow. The lunch menu has almost as many choices as the drink menu. There is an unmatched generosity in the atmosphere at Walden’s, giving the impression that you could stay all day and no one would mind.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Beat Coffeehouse and Records
520 Fremont St., Las Vegas, NV 89101
2800 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89102
The MadHouse Coffee (two locations)
8470 W. Desert Inn Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89117
8899 S. Eastern Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89123
750 S. Rampart Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89145
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dreamer’s Coffee House & Deli
701 S. Virginia St., Reno, NV 89501
246 W. 1st St., Reno, NV 89501
Swill Coffee & Wine
3366 Lakeside Ct., Reno, NV 89509
3940 Mayberry Dr., Reno, NV 89519