Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Everyone's Favorite Post-Ride Watering Hole

Cafes in Boulder, unlike almost any other city in the US, enjoy the added niche market of the avid espresso-seeking sport enthusiast. While Boulder restaurants are able to cater to the post-14er wind-burnt and ravishingly hungry crowd with lots of stories to recount, only cafes are able to offer the ease of commitment-free stops either pre-, post- or even mid-sporting event.

I’m not exactly sure where the connection between espresso snobbery and ridiculously toned, tanned and sculpted bodies in brightly colored spandex lies exactly. But tying in a few of the other values that seem to also correlate with this breed- good food, an appreciation for nice wine and a general ease of life and seeming abundance of time- the connection seems to be a trendy euro vibe with a little bit of software entrepreneur thrown in there. Basically, a bunch of guys who are incredibly stylish, aren’t afraid to dispense some decent dough for a nice pair of fitted jeans, and who have an affinity for beautifully working appliances with a sleek this-year’s-model finish. This includes everything from the new apple iPhone 8G, to their custom carbon frames, to the simplistic stainless espresso machines that are proudly displayed at certain coffee shops.

These are the folk who, on any given sunny Boulder day (the limitations of a regular work schedule do not seem to factor in here) can be seen overflowing North Boulder’s Amante. Adrenaline-rushed, gadgeting, and highly caffeinated.

I however, francophillic and kit-wearing with campi components, am very much a part of this “scene”. I do love my mid-Left Hand canyon stops at the Jamestown general store for a sit down, a brag sesh, and a cytomax refill before descending.

The tendency to gather, whether to consociate or to compete, is no mystery. But why North Boulder Amante?

With a little bit of Amante research, that all becomes incredibly clear. Turns out Amante was started by three men after a wine tasting tour in Italy. Although wine was the focus of the trip, the morning espressos became a fixation and the incredible taste and preparation of the coffee overshadowed what they had tasted in the US. Inspired to discover whether it was the setting that was altering their taste buds or a difference in the coffee itself, the traveling crew located Ferderico Ghigo, a third generation Italian coffee roaster who supplied the beans for the espressos they had been enjoying. Shortly after returning to the states, they began importing the beans for sale in the US before opening Amante in 2005, the name and face given to the distinctly Italian coffee.

The goal behind Amante is to accurately represent Italy’s coffee and culture in an American setting, starting with the front range. This is easy to see upon stepping into an Amante coffee shop. The décor is simplistic, stark and stylish. The TV is playing soccer. Until, that is, any of the major cycling tours comes on, at which point cycling re-runs follow the 5 am live coverage. The cafe also features the American palate-friendly Italian staples of gelato, breakfast pastries and biscotti.

All leading to the not-too-surprising conclusion that bike-loving coffee hounds like to spend their time surrounded by slick, sexy machinery, somehow reminiscent of a European ideal. And of course, like to gather with each other to compare bike stats and to brainstorm business models. But who can blame the pre-ride cyclists from wanting a good clean pull on their adrenaline-ramping espressos? And the post-riders from wanting to bask in the icy-stark air conditioning and bite into the pillow of Amante’s dusted cappuccino foam? And when one has dropped the cost of a semester at CU for a gorgeous custom bike, why get anything less than a stellar espresso before riding the thing? And for this, North Boulder Amante is the perfect watering hole.

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