That stuff you're buying over at Starbucks -- that ain't the real thing, Patrick Walsh, the spirited owner of the Spike Coffeehouse, will tell you. He's fashioned the Spike to be everything that Starbucks isn't. It's the anti-Starbucks, the anti-corporate haven of Spokane's coffee joints, and Walsh is the surly conductor at the helm of the anti-mainstream locomotive.
Yet when all the anti-ness is said and done, the Spike is actually a pretty special place. Aside from being one of the only independent coffeeshops in downtown, the Spike opens early, closes late, hosts all-ages shows in the Spike Underground, has wireless Internet, spins crackly old records and pours drinks like the "Mad Cow Mocha" and a whole menu of fresh-squeezed juices. Poets bare their souls at open-mic nights, and knitters chit-chat once a week. While Starbucks is selling you fresh scones, ol' Pat's hawking cellophane-covered Twinkies. When Starbucks plays Etta James on CD, the Spike is bursting with Johnny Cash -- on vinyl. And when Starbucks closes for the night, Pat'll still dust you off, flip you crap and let you stay as late as you please.
501 Sherman Ave., CdA * (208) 665-0585
Honestly, if Cafe Doma owners Terry and Rebecca Patano get any cooler, we'll puke. As if being the brains behind Doma Coffee Roasting Company wasn't cool enough, the two up and opened Caf & Egrave; Doma in downtown Coeur d'Alene. The multicolored, energetic, bright Sherman Avenue java joint operates in the same fashion as any authentic Italian coffee shop -- sit down and enjoy, or stand at the bar, sip your macchiato and chat with the barista. Doma offers more than just exquisite coffee -- there's also the Shot in the Butte, a Black Butte Porter with a shot of espresso, along with wine and a menu of paninis and other yum-yums. And if all that isn't enough, the green and blue painted menu is enough to hypnotize you into submission.
924 S. Perry St. * 534-1647
There's something about hearing regulars greet a barista and say, "Hey, get me the usual," that makes me smile uncontrollably. But that's just the kind of place that the Shop is: It's the neighborhood joint where most customers usually do come in on a regular basis. At the Shop, you just feel like a regular. Whether it's when you just pop in to buy a drink, browse the fun T-shirts or check out one of the nighttime acoustic sets, you'll be greeted with a smile, a beverage and, occasionally, a freebie (if you don't have the cash).
919 E. Sprague * 838-1864
The newest member of the local coffeehouse network is a hip, happenin' joint. Tucked in the Big Easy building between the concert hall and the Bourbon Street Grill, Rock Coffee has been slinging coffee for more than two weeks now, and we're already impressed. On the coffee side, these guys offer strong versions of the basics. But this place has got atmosphere. In fact, it's huge. There are couches, armchairs, small tables, big tables and barstools. It's an all-purpose, late-night coffee shop that boasts live music, enough space for your entire class to study and enough corners to find a quiet spot.
410 Second Ave., Cheney * 235-2577
Rob Brewster made us feel all warm and fuzzy at the Catacombs, and the same goes for his Cheney creation, Kafka Coffee. It's worth the trek to check out Kafka, especially if you're trying to actually get something done -- like studying. The place is usually overflowing with students; Kafka is housed on the ground floor of Brewster Residence Hall and is only a few blocks from the EWU campus. Enjoy the wireless Internet, praline-flavored coffees and lots of comfy chairs.
Others Worth Checking Out
The Rocket; Caffe Delicio; Java on Sherman; Cabin Coffee; Lindaman's; Common Grounds; Starbucks