H.P.’s Provisions

Posted in The Wired West with tags , , , , on October 4, 2011 by plungingforward


The La Brea Tar Pit of business ventures, Eagle Ranch, has snagged another victim. At a glance, H.P.’s Provisions might seem like a depressingly common recipe for disaster – just the sort of slightly upscale deli and coffee shop that Eagle Ranch has failed to support since Zach’s Eagle Ranch withered up and died oh-so-many moons ago. Like some hungry Pleistocene saber-cat, H.P.’s Provisions apparently looked at the suspicious corpses all around and sensed nothing but opportunity. Those of us with access to the fossil record have reason to be slightly more pessimistic.

Built atop the resting place of the Eagle Ranch Starbucks – that’s right, Eagle Ranch even killed a Starbucks – H.P.’s Provisions looks like a cautionary tale in the making. Cheery, bright-eyed staff? Check. Spotless floors and tables with inside and outside seating? Check. Recklessly optimistic closing time of 9 p.m.? Check.

Ah, the 9 p.m. closing time. The Eagle Ranch Starbucks tried this, as did Zach’s Eagle Ranch and Yeti’s Grind, downtown. When Smoothie King (remember Smoothie King, late of Eagle Ranch?) offered French Pressed coffee for the after-movie crowd, I was among those who thought it might be a good idea – and it SHOULD be a good idea, except that the “after-movie crowd” doesn’t seem to materialize here in Eagle outside of Brush Creek Saloon or the Dusty Boot.

All that aside, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about H.P.’s Provisions. Of all the coffee shops that have stood in Eagle Ranch, H.P.’s has the best espresso drinks by far. What H.P.’s beverages lack in style and latte art they make up in an enviable consistency for a local shop. H.P.’s also sports some solid, if pricey, deli and dessert offerings – as well as an attached boutique grocery. Considering the closest gallon of milk for sale was until now across Route Six, this could be a big deal for folks living within walking distance.

This ambitious coffee shop / deli / grocery boutique business plan might just be robust enough to keep H.P.’s Provision from sinking into the tar. It isn’t impossible – the Dusty Boot has managed to not only thrive in Eagle Ranch, but actually spin off Luigi’s Pasta House across the street – it’s just really, really hard. Here’s hoping H.P.’s Provisions has what it takes.

2013 Update: I am happy to report that H.P.’s Provisions is alive and well in 2013! The 9 p.m. closing time proved too ambitious, and the shop now shuts down at a respectable 7:30 most summer evenings. I am very glad the shop has managed to survive – it adds a lot to Eagle Ranch. Here’s hoping for several more successful years!

Latte Art

Posted in The Wired West with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2008 by plungingforward

Latte art does nothing to directly improve the flavor of your drink. What it does is indicate a quality barista – or at least a keen hobbyist who enjoys his or her work. Latte art is a quality seal. It is your barista telling you, “It’s alright. I’m paying attention.” Odds are, the Latte Artist has worked out the “rhythm” of the shop’s espresso machine, unconsciously keeping time until the perfect shot is achieved. The Latte Artist doesn’t burn the steamed milk – and if she ever did, she’d realize it right away, dump the mess, and start over. The Latte Artist can talk your ear off about how he’s tweaked his espresso roast, and holds strong opinions on consistency, froth and aroma. In short, the Latte Artist is the person you want crafting your mocha. If you’re standing in line for a double espresso and the person in front of you comes away with latte art, it’s worth considering upgrading your purchase.

The latte art above was provided by Travis at Yeti’s Grind, who was so dissatisfied with my first round of photos he made another mocha – the first had cooled to an unacceptable level, according to him – and had me shoot it again under better lighting conditions. Latte Artists are like that.

From the Archives: Yeti’s Grind

Posted in From the Archives, The Wired West with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2008 by plungingforward

We’ll be getting back to Yeti’s – and othe Eagle Shops – in the days to come. For now, here’s a flashback to 2008.

A replica of an old-timey sign hanging on the counter at Yeti’s Grind proclaims “Best Coffee in Town.” It’s cute, but they should probably take it down – it’s selling the coffee short.

The Shop: Located in downtown Eagle, the Yeti is small but not cramped, with big windows adding not only a good deal of imaginary space but keeping the space brightly lit in daylight. Seating options include couches, leather relaxing chairs, raised tables with equally raised chairs, and similar raised chairs at the bar. Two huge flatscreen TVs hang one apiece on the walls perpendicular to the door and windows, and are usually on but mute – the 2008 equivalent of wall art. Paintings and/or photographs by local artists are also on display, and some of these are for sale. Nate, “The Yeti” himself, and his wife Tara are the shop’s owners, and you’re likely to see one of both of them during your visit. Both are militant about the quality of their coffee, espresso and steamed milk, employing Travis as a part-time barista as well as a sort of “quality control officer” to assist in the training of new staff.

The Coffee: As indicated above, the Yeti has the best cup of coffee I have found so far outside of New England. The shop has a vast inventory of roasts, choosing a few to brew each day. To date, I haven’t tried one I haven’t enjoyed. If you do have a particular favorite, you can always request them to French press it special for you if it’s not on today’s menu. (This costs slightly more, but is well worth it.)

Espresso: The Yeti’s Espresso is a custom blend, and it’s just as good as the coffee. Try a double. Note that what others (myself included) refer to as a Red Eye (coffee with espresso shots) is here called a “Baylor Brew.” The coffee and espresso both stand alone just fine, though, so I have yet to mix the two.

Specialty Drinks: Mostly a typical selection of flavored Lattes, the Yeti’s specialty drink menu is almost irrelevant given that drowning Yeti’s Grind espresso in milk and flavor syrups seems like a crime. That said, the menu is extensive, and the Lone Star Latte (cinnamon, chocolate and cayenne pepper) is quite good.

WiFi Hotspot: Free Wireless Internet is available at Yeti’s Grind.

Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: 6:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sat: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sun: Closed.

Why to Go: Great coffee, wireless Internet and comfortable surroundings.