Arcadia: A Custom experience
By Blair Boehm
Picture by Blair Boehm
By Blair Boehm
Arcadia Cafe in Ames, Iowa would best be described in one word; unique. They feature coffee roasted in the shop, their own blend of espresso and a plethora of pastries that almost need to be tasted to be believed. The shop itself may even be unique to many veteran Iowa State graduates considering the history of the location as the former late night snack icon Fighting Burrito.
Stepping into Arcadia, one will be greeted with many interesting sights. The usual bean roaster common in too many café’s is present, but surrounded by a full array of custom woodworked tables and coffee bar. These tables are suited well for accommodating a laptop and choice beverage, which had made the place a relatively popular study spot in the final hectic weeks of the last semester.
The beverages are the real spotlight of the establishment though as they utilize the pour over method of brewing coffee. This involves, for all you laymen out there, pouring hot water over the grounds directly into the cup for the customer. Not only does this slightly cool the coffee to drinkable levels, it also ensures that each cup is guaranteed fresh. They also make a mean espresso of their own creation that is both rich and appropriately bitter.
This type of attention to detail should be expected from the business, particularly after speaking with the co-owner, Liz Naylor. She and her partner in crime, Ryan Jeffrey, developed the idea after frequenting many coffee shops in the Ames area that may have performed admirably in some areas of the coffee experience but not all. “We are trying for the full package coffee shop,” Naylor will happily assert.
Part of this “full package” is the both curious and very tasty pastry selection offered to compliment ones beverage. All of the deserts are baked from scratch and include the usual standbys such as tiramisu and assorted cookies. They also produce their popular scones every morning in “flavor of the day” fashion. The most unique recipes though are the re-mastered family recipes that include an 8-layer cake and Mandarin orange cheese cake. The cheese cake is my personal favorite and has to be tasted to fully understand the pairing.
Since the coffee is the center of the business, Naylor recommends a Peruvian blend or even café ole for the novice coffee drinker. This could even work as a good transition drink for those who wish to branch out from the more syrup laden drinks to a more traditional coffee experience.
The baristas and the owners will seemingly accommodate whatever coffee style trips your trigger. Arcadia still has that appeal of a new business that is open to any new idea and will try any new recipe. This creative desire can be tasted in both their confections and their coffee and makes for a unique experience.
Blair Boehm is a recent graduate of Iowa State University where he received a Masters degree in Public Administration and a bachelors degree in Political Science. He was born and raised in Ankeny, Iowa and has worked as (among other things) a bartender, legal intern and research/teaching assistant for Dr. Politics.