The term "cuppa Joe" sounds so average -- like it's a drink meant for just any Schmo. So describing a cup of Terry and Rebecca Patano's specialty roasted coffee as "Joe" is hardly accurate -- a cup of Doma tastes more like a "cup of Dominic" or a "cup of Marco." The Patanos' Doma Coffee Roasting Company is more than average -- it's a product made, roasted and delivered by human hands. In a way, you can practically see the face of your barista in your Doma latte -- or maybe that's just the intricate picture they just drew in your foam.
It's that human touch that makes the Coeur d'Alene-based gourmet coffee roaster and wholesale seller unique. Not only can the Patanos can tell you exactly where all of their beans were grown, but they can also draw a direct line from those farms to their own backyard. That's where the Doma roaster sits, and where each bean is roasted.
Since Terry and Rebecca met 18 years ago, coffee has always been a part of their relationship. At the time, Terry managed the coffee bar at Paparazzi -- which was located then where Takara stands today in downtown Coeur d'Alene. From there, they opened the Mondo Caf & eacute; in Moab, Utah, where they became known for their quality coffees.
"We were known in the Colorado Plateau for our Italian-style coffee. So, it was a natural progression when we moved [to North Idaho] for us to get behind the scenes," Rebecca says.
Having worked closely with their roaster and supplier in Moab, Terry and Rebecca wanted to provide that same care for other cafes in this area.
So they started Doma -- named after their two sons, Dominic and Marco -- and quickly adopted the slogan "coffee, culture, meaning." The motto embraced the couple's key values: a love for good coffee, a respect for the world's long-time coffee culture and a way of providing people with a expressive, quality artisan product.
After Terry personally roasts the beans in his small roaster (which holds a mere 26 pounds of coffee at a time), the coffee is distributed to places like Lindaman's, Java on Sherman and a handful of other locations throughout the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area. Zac Aschenbrener, Doma's delivery guy, says that his job doesn't stop at dropping off bags of coffee. He'll make sure that the baristas understand how to prepare Doma -- he'll even help them pull a few shots through the espresso machine before leaving. Sometimes, he'll even drop a few bags off at the House of Charity before heading back to the North Idaho headquarters.
Rebecca says that having Zac go above and beyond the call of duty is just another way of showing what serving Doma means.
"We are teaching these people that they should have a pride in the craft that they do -- there's an art to it," she says, adding that Doma has tried to model their coffee in such a way that hails back to the original European traditions of espresso.
Doma likens its attitude toward coffee to the microbrewed beer industry, and the customers that those small beer companies cater to.
"There's a quality product out there -- so let's make it ourselves," Paul Moynihan, Doma's office manager says. "What the consumer ends up with is that they don't have to buy Anheuser-Busch and Starbucks."
After living, working and traveling with his European friends, Terry gained a respect for the European coffee craft. So when starting Doma, he and Rebecca hired Aschenbrener and award-winning barista Jon Lewis as their own personal Doma baristas. Each has extensive experience in the industry and they show potential clients the care and craft that the Patanos want to see behind each cup of their specialty coffee.
As we talk, Aschenbrener and Lewis saddle up behind the company's Corvette-sized espresso machine, hands carefully combining the right amounts of coffee and milk, topping each with an intricate design. A leggy fern leaf decorates the caramel-colored foam at the surface of my latte. But aside from the intricate pictures and exact measurements, I notice that these espresso drinks are great cups of coffee -- not too strong, but a nice, medium-bodied taste that jolts me awake without leaving the taste of coffee grounds in my mouth. It's specialty coffee that doesn't have an elite flavor or attitude.
"We're not for everyone," Terry says. " But everyone here is really passionate about what we're doing. We're obsessed with coffee. That's who Doma is -- we're not driving vans and wearing matching shirts."
And he means it. The five-person Doma crew spends their time experimenting with which kind of cup flaunts each coffee blend's flavor, and what kind of milk and sugar can enhance that in the tastiest way possible.
"The whole staff is driving each other to find the best coffee that [we] can."
Clients of Doma tend to care about those little details that the Patanos obsess over. And they seem not to mind that young Dominic and Marco may take a seat at the espresso machine to pull their own shots.
"They are a part of this company -- and they know how to roast coffee, too," Rebecca says.
Visit www.domacoffee.com or call (208) 773-0066.
The Word on Wingate -- He defined strip-mall fine dining with Moxie in Liberty Lake. He wowed North Idaho with the Sand Creek Grill in Sandpoint. He attracted thousands to the Davenport Hotel's Palm Court. And now chef Ian Wingate plans to re-open Moxie in the old Great Harvest spot in downtown Spokane. We'll keep you posted.
Barry Serves Up -- After working for 18 months as a sous chef in the Steam Plant Grill's kitchen, Barry Matthews has moved up to fill the executive chef position -- and he's bringing some new recipes with him.
The downtown Spokane restaurant plans to add new items, such as New Orleans Pepper Pods, lunchtime Panini sandwiches and grilled eggplant lasagna to its already popular menu.
Matthews is also trying to integrate more of the Steam Plant's house beers into the new recipes. The updated menu will boast a Honey Porter Salmon and a Honeymoon Sirloin Salad -- both made with the restaurant's own Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company micros.
After seeing 25-30 percent of its lunchtime customers struggling to find Atkins-friendly dishes, Matthews says the Steam Plant's new menu will have many more selections for those on the diet, too.
"We are being really conscious about the kind of vegetables that we use -- and, of course, no starches," he says.
The Steam Plant Grill is located at 159 S. Lincoln St. Visit www.steamplantgrill.com or call 777-3900.
Jumpin', Jivin' Thursdays -- Making his restaurant fun to customers of all ages is essential, says Dale Fruin, owner of Sam's on Regal.
Fruin will hold jazz nights on the first Thursday of each month, featuring special dishes and featured wines from the downtown Lone Canary winery.
During the May 6 jazz night, Lone Canary will release a brand-new rouge wine -- a French Bordeaux-style combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Winemaker Mike Scott will be there to serve the new Lone Canary to customers, and to sell bottles of the wine. Chris Moyer and Nick Schauer will provide the live jazz.
Fruin says dinner and a glass of wine on these special jazz nights will only cost you around 16 bucks -- so reservations are essential.
"It's just something we're doing to make the place fun. We're always trying to do something for guests to look forward to."
Sam's on Regal is located on Regal St. at 57th Ave. Call 443-1881.
Peanut Gallery -- Grilled cheese sandwiches and Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese got me through the majority of my childhood, but there was nothing that compared to my mom's great peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
With thousands of families patronizing the Second Harvest Food Bank every year, the supply of peanut butter can quickly become dry. So the food bank is asking for large donations of peanut butter from businesses and individuals before the start of summer.
Donations can be made to the Second Harvest Food Bank at 1234 E. Front Ave., or cases of peanut butter can be donated online at www.shfoodbank.org.