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SLC Tourney Journey | Coffee Destined for Trash... and Then Redemption

The coffee odyssey in Downtown SLC has been troublesome. The Coffee Shop at the Little American was a bust (see full review). And the redeemer coffee shop across from my hotel, Culpa Coffee, with its culture and dark roasts and full lineup of coffee options — was under complete construction. So further down the roster of coffee places to explore. Fire up the Apple Maps app and Three Pines Coffee is just a few blocks away. But the reviews, so far, are mixed. The one that read, "... it went right in the trash," I should have given more weight to, but in desperate times…

So enter: Three Pines Coffee, a small but trendy coffee shop at 165 South Main Street in Downtown Salt Lake City. The barista behind the counter had some espresso swagger as he explained to customers in line ahead just how potent their quadruple shot was. And how he didn't know Italian, but he knew if you ordered a "latte" in Italy, all you would get was steamed milk. Very sophisticated.

There were mid-20s hipster kids with laptops open, swilling their brew, so this seemed to have the bonafides of solid coffee culture. And I came for the drip brew. But as a first warning sign, they don’t have dark roast. Merely two versions of medium: a Honduran and a Colombian. The barista said the Honduran had a somewhat nutty flavor that would hint at the richness of a dark more than the Colombian. But neither, by any means, he said, were they bold or dark. And he was right.

As soon as I added my splash of half and half, I knew the lowly review had called it correctly. There was no boldness. Nor richness. Just watery coffee that would be an even match for the old lady fare at the Little American. So, much like that lowly review that should have read as premonition, after just a few sips, this full cup, too, was destined for one place. Namely, the garbage. Half a star, out of 5. If you like espresso, maybe give this coffee shop another try. But if rich dark coffee is your jam, skip Three Pines Coffee and save your four-bucks. As we passed by a sidewalk trash can, I recognized someone else's discarded coffee cup rolling pathetically on the concrete, as that of a cup from Three Pines. Apropos a site if I've seen one.

My caffeine backstop in near any town is Starbucks. Remorsefully. Sometimes regrettably. But something trendy about Salt Lake City told me to keep trying. So I left the line at Starbucks and wandered. Alpha Coffee rated well, but it turned out to be within an arts center — and was closed. So ambling I went, until I came across Eva’s Bakery. On the Apple Maps app, it rates well… but so did the Little American.

But two steps within the door said there was something artisan about Eva’s. The bakery was busy and the well-tatted to-go counter staff pointed me to the main counter. No dark roast per-se, but their regular brew was robust, they defended, and even offered a taster cup. Eureka! Whilst not a grand-slam homer, this coffee amid the stumbles of sidewalk wandering — and after fleeing Starbucks — was it! A solidly dark and tasty coffee that I was careful not to dilute with more than a few drops of cream.

So, amid the veritable desert of lackluster coffee, the artisan-inspired Eva’s Bakery helped redeem the morning as it bled toward noon. Salvation in sips, if you decide you won’t relent. Eva’s Bakery at 155 South Main Street in Downtown Salt Lake City earns a solid 4 stars out of 5 for its coffee, in a caffeine pinch.

For more information about Eva’s Bakery, visit its webpage at .

Jason James Barry is an award-winning essayist and journalist. His travel and restaurant reviews appear in and Great Pacific Review’s features section.


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