February 24, 2012

A Gluten-Free Coffee Break at Red Rock Coffeehouse in Boulder

By Evan Sandsmark -  

There can be no doubt that Boulder has become more accommodating to those on the gluten-free diet over the last year or so, and this trend always comes into sharp relief when we visit coffee shops. In most coffee shops we visit, there are at least a few gluten-free offerings, which is great given that the snacks paired with coffee are often pastries that contain gluten (like muffins or cakes). One particularly nice place to get coffee and a gluten-free treat in Boulder is Red Rock Coffeehouse (sometimes written as “Red Rock Coffee House” online), where we found ourselves on a recent Sunday morning.

While Red Rock’s does have a decent selection of gluten-free foods, which we will list shortly, this specific coffee shop has appeal for reasons unrelated to its commendable awareness of dietary restrictions. This appeal is derived from the fact that Red Rock is simply a very cool store. It’s a fairly new shop, having opened sometime is the last couple of years (or thereabout), and so everything inside feels fresh. It’s also well decorated: nice photographs of varying subject matters (scenes of nature, urban shots, etc.) hang all over the walls, and the colors insides – hues of brown, tan and red, along with some scattered blue – are light and earthy. We thought the red marble counter tops, where you order your drink, were an especially nice touch, as are the high ceilings. More practically, there are tons of tables, probably about 20, inside the shop, and since Red Rock isn’t in the heart of Boulder, there are almost always a few places to sit. As anyone who routinely works in coffee shops knows, this is no small virtue. Moreover, Red Rock’s offers free Wi-Fi and there are numerous power outlets throughout the store, making it a good place to work on a computer, as we are doing at this very moment. It’s definitely one of the better places to get coffee in Boulder, but that matters little in the present context unless they have plenty of gluten-free options.

About those options: the gluten-free foods at Red Rock are produced by two companies, Outrageous Baking and Breeze Bars, both of which have been reviewed by us in the past. But we were at Red Rock for the sake of checking out their gluten-free offerings, so we bought an Outrageous Baking coffee cake and a chocolate Breeze Bar. Breeze Bars also has an original-flavored bar, which is available at Red Rock, and seemingly the entire line of Outrageous Baking’s products is for sale. With both Breeze Bars (chocolate and original) and six products from Outrageous Baking on display – pumpkin bread, chocolate zucchini bread, lemon poppy seed bread, orange cranberry bread, cinnamon coffee cake, and chocolate brownie – Red Rock clearly has a lot of gluten-free foods from which to choose.

We don’t have much to add to our original reaction to the Outrageous Baking coffee cake (check out the original review linked to above), although we will say that it seemed slightly drier than the last one we tried. The cake wasn’t dry to a fault or anything, but the bites tended to crumble apart, almost dissipating into a powder in our mouths, and this is actually a nice texture for a cake to have if you are eating it with coffee. The flavors of the two touch every corner of your mouth as flakes of cake swirl around your mouth with each sip of coffee. Another thing we noticed about the coffee cake, which we perhaps didn’t make clear enough in our initial review, is that the coffee cake is pleasantly reserved in its sweetness. The crust is made of crunchy clumps of cinnamon, and there is a vein of moist cinnamon that runs from one corner to another. Together, these supply the cake with most of its sweet flavor, and the distribution of cinnamon is well realized. Being coffee cake, it naturally went very well with Red Rock’s rich, flavorful coffee. (Before we were made aware of Red Rock’s gluten-free offerings, we had, at previous times, picked up coffee at the shop, and we’ve never been disappointed by the quality of the drink we ordered. You can also substitute regular milk with soy or almond milk for free, a nice service for which many other coffee shops charge.)

There isn’t a lot more to say about the chocolate Breeze Bar either (again, check out the review linked to above for a more thorough review of Breeze Bars), but we can reaffirm how much we enjoy them. Rarely is something as healthy as a Breeze Bar so delicious. It could easily pass as a candy bar and not an energy bar – it’s more NestlĂ© Crunch than PowerBar – but fundamentally it is a healthy snack, one made with all-natural ingredients that is perfect for, say, replenishing your energy after a workout.

So, having now tried the products of Outrageous Baking and Breeze Bars twice, we can give both of them a double endorsement. They were good the first time we tried them, and they continue to impress.

If you find yourself in the area of Iris and 28th, and you feel like good coffee and a gluten-free snack, there is no better place to go then Red Rock Coffeehouse. We highly recommend them.

You can check out Red Rock’s Facebook page here:

Red Rock Coffeehouse on Facebook

And here is their address:

3325 28th St
Unit 9
Boulder, CO 80301

(The store is located on the north side of the Safeway shopping complex, along Iris Avenue.)

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