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Coffee of the Celts? 

by Sheri Boggs


Am I a coffee renegade? Well, am I, punk? Caife Cistin's bright yellow green ad with the lower case letters and blocky font in a recent Inlander dining guide caught my eye and I was further intrigued by the ad's challenge: "Are you a coffee renegade?"


Well, yeah, I can be a coffee renegade and so can Inlander photographer Amy Sinisterra, when called upon to do so. Thus it was one god-awful early Friday morning we found ourselves driving to sunny Post Falls in search of that which renegades presumably drink.


We found Seltice Way in Post Falls but Caife Cistin's location proved to be a little trickier. Finally we spotted it, nestled within a mint green length of strip mall. Visible from the windows was all manner of coffee gift shop ephemera - big ceramic mugs, assorted packaged sweets and floral things. Once inside, the interior - a pale North Sea green decorated with art by local students - provided a sort of visual disconnect. It didn't say "coffee renegade" so much as "come on in and get comfy."


Sidling up to the brightly lit pastry counters and point of purchase area, we had one easy, but pressing, question.


"So what's up with your name?" I asked our barista, who turned out to be Caife Cistin's owner, Patrick Hoffer.


"It's Gaelic," Hoffer explained while expertly packing a shot and fitting it into the espresso machine. Behind the counter, Hoffer's coworker cracked a joke about the spelling of the name, causing him to cut her off with a good-natured "Butt out, Mom."


Caife Cistin is very much a family-oriented joint, from the familial operations to the cozy living room feel of the caf & eacute; itself. Hoffer and his family opened the place in March of this year with hopes of offering something unique to the regional coffee landscape. While the interior is standard coffee & amp; gifts, where Caife Cistin really stands apart is that they offer not one but three different roasters (soon to be four).


"At first people didn't really understand what we were trying to do," says Hoffer. "A lot of coffee shops in the region - really good ones too, I might add - you go in and you see one brand of coffee. So at the Shop, you see Anvil. But here, we're offering Anvil, Thomas Hammer and the Portland Roasting Company. And we'll start carrying Zoka, which is owned by one of the co-founders of Starbucks, by the end of the month."


I wonder aloud if customers really care that much about having a choice between individual roasters.


"Often, people like different blends for a different time of the day. It all depends on the profile of the coffee. Anvil is at the lighter end of the coffee spectrum so it's great for lattes, whereas Portland Roasting and Zoka are a much darker roast and you get a completely different result with them."


In addition to the coffee, Caife Cistin offers Evivva Yerba Mate, Bubble Tea and a variety of specialty tea products. But with so much talk about coffee, and what makes a good cup, all we could think about was some nice, dark java. I ordered my standard double iced latte ($2.50), no flavor, while Amy opted for her usual double short Americano with room for cream ($1.50). We surveyed the goods in the case - many supplied by Spokane's Sweetwater Baking Company - and went with a red pepper/mushroom bagel pizza ($3.50). Instead of being half a bagel with tomato sauce and cheese melted on top, this was larger in diameter and thinner than most bagels. The offerings ranged from veggie, to pepperoni to sausage. The other baked goods included muffin tops, cookies, and a variety of bars, but the selection was limited and looked sort of tired. Hoffer warmed the pizza bagel for us and we settled into the caf & eacute;, which we noticed was outfitted with several games, including "Othello" and "Lord of the Rings" checkers. The flavor of the pizza bagel, we decided, was good, but we had to give it demerits for sogginess, no doubt due to being stuck inside a cellophane wrapper. Also, I was distracted by the flowery presence of "Dippers" - real teddy bears dressed in little outfits and dipped in scented wax - standing in a display several feet from our table. While I don't go in for stuffed animals dipped in wax, however, I did thoroughly enjoy my iced latte. Seriously, I hadn't had a latte this good in quite some time. The coffee flavor was clean and bright with none of the murky burned beans essence that sometimes mars even the most conscientious latte. Amy likewise declared her Americano - made from Portland Roasting Company's finest - to be an above par coffee concoction.


In addition to the coffee, Caife Cistin offers Evivva Yerba Mate, Bubble Tea and a variety of specialty tea products. But with so much talk about coffee, and what makes a good cup, all we could think about was some nice, dark java. I ordered my standard double iced latte ($2.50), no flavor, while Amy opted for her usual double short Americano with room for cream ($1.50). We surveyed the goods in the case - many supplied by Spokane's Sweetwater Baking Company - and went with a red pepper/mushroom bagel pizza ($3.50). Instead of being half a bagel with tomato sauce and cheese melted on top, this was larger in diameter and thinner than most bagels. The offerings ranged from veggie, to pepperoni to sausage. The other baked goods included muffin tops, cookies, and a variety of bars, but the selection was limited and looked sort of tired. Hoffer warmed the pizza bagel for us and we settled into the caf & eacute;, which we noticed was outfitted with several games, including "Othello" and "Lord of the Rings" checkers. The flavor of the pizza bagel, we decided, was good, but we had to give it demerits for sogginess, no doubt due to being stuck inside a cellophane wrapper. Also, I was distracted by the flowery presence of "Dippers" - real teddy bears dressed in little outfits and dipped in scented wax - standing in a display several feet from our table. While I don't go in for stuffed animals dipped in wax, however, I did thoroughly enjoy my iced latte. Seriously, I hadn't had a latte this good in quite some time. The coffee flavor was clean and bright with none of the murky burned beans essence that sometimes mars even the most conscientious latte. Amy likewise declared her Americano - made from Portland Roasting Company's finest - to be an above par coffee concoction.


Soon it was time to go and as we left, Hoffer mentioned that the caf & eacute; would be hosting a Halo2 - the latest from X-Box - release party on Saturday night. This little cafe, it turned out, was full of surprises. Still drinking from our expertly made coffee drinks, we had to agree that while Caife Cistin - with its combination of homey "mom" d & eacute;cor, cool graphic design elements in print ads and fliers, and strong gamer appeal -- isn't exactly renegade, they certainly are doing something different.

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