Oh brother does Kaladi Brothers Coffee serve a good morning mug of fresh brew. Now to begin, let me make it clear that I’m one of those people that can’t even roll out of bed if I don’t smell a fresh pot brewing in the morning, but even the high test grounds I brew at home are only a stepping stone until I can get a real cup of coffee at Kaladi’s. I could barely open my eyes or stand up straight, much less write a story at work, if it weren’t for the caffeine surging through my veins after downing one of their lattes with four shots of espresso. I take coffee seriously and Kaladi’s takes coffee just as seriously.
That is why what began as an espresso cart on Anchorage’s 4th Avenue in the spring of 1986, is now Alaska’s largest coffee roaster and the cafe located off of Kobuk Street in Soldotna is one of 10 Kaladi Brothers locations in Southcentral Alaska. Walking into Kaladi Brothers Coffee Company in Soldotna is a full sensory experience. From the minute you walk through the door you’re enveloped in the thick aroma of coffee, the sound of beans being freshly ground intermittently interrupted by the strong hiss of an espresso machine, and almost everyone has in hand a cup frothing with creamy, white foam.
Kaladi’s begins by selecting the finest beans available, using a stringent process of tasting and comparing. They purport to buy only high-grade, shade grown, washed mild, Arabica green coffee from the best coffee-growing regions in the world. Complementing their thorough bean section, Kaladi’s also utilizes a Sivetz Fluid Bed Roaster - one of the most advanced pieces of technology in coffee roasting to date. This roaster uses fresh, hot air to roast coffee rather than a heated surface used by traditional barrel roasters. The result is a clean, uniform roast, that’s free of the bitter-tasting tars left behind in traditional roasters.
To further preserve the superior properties their roaster creates, Kaladi’s also claims to freeze all coffee not used within 18 hours of roasting. This process ensures their coffee is absolutely roaster fresh when you purchase it, since freezing coffee in an airtight container is the only scientifically proven method for extending the life of roasted coffee beyond a few days.
Kaladi’s features a wide spectrum of coffees from light to dark, such as Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a very light coffee from the Sidamo region in Southern Ethiopia which is said to represent some of the finest washed coffee on the African continent. Another fine option is the Guatemala San Juan Utapa, a coffee from the western part of Guatemala with a bright acidity, medium body and chocolate spice aroma. Despite how delicious these two coffees are, I have always found Kaladi’s Red Goat Blend - their every day coffee of the day - to be a fantastic espresso blend.
For those new to the gourmet coffee world or unfamiliar with espresso-based drinks, Kaladi’s has a highly informative board hanging over the counter that in detail explains most, if not all, of their drinks. Whatever the board doesn’t answer, Kaladi’s baristas (espresso bartenders) seem to be able to handle the rest. They always appear to be very knowledgeable, as well as hardworking and friendly despite how difficult their job gets when they get slammed every day during the morning rush from roughly 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
For those looking for something besides coffee, Kaladi’s also offers hot chocolate, several teas, fruit smoothies, yogurt and granola, and a wide selection of bottled juice beverages. They also have a small selection of muffins, bagels and other baked goods to choose from.
Also, while I’m always in a hurry to get to work, Kaladi’s offers a relaxed atmosphere for those that have time to sit down and enjoy their morning beverage while reading the newspaper. Kaladi’s features monthly art shows by local artists and don’t forget to look up and check out the unique ceiling tiles that makes this cafe so special. Also, from time to time, musicians may appear on a given Friday and weekend evenings. All of this, from delicious drinks to the warm, friendly atmosphere, comes together to make Kaladi’s a place that will leave you thirsty for more.
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