When it comes to good coffee, ski towns never disappoint. And how could they? With communities rooted in pastimes like logging 4,000 foot tram laps and heeding pre-dawn wake-up calls to boot up and get out into the mountains, good coffee is a must. Here's our list of the best ski vacation destinations for great coffee, and where to find the best roasts around.
Photo: Yeti's Grind
In Whistler's expansive village area – which boasts over 300 shops and restaurants – knowing where to go for the best cup of joe is essential. The Whistler community's affinity for coffee has deep roots, and while plenty of main chains have popped up over the past years, locals know that family-run mainstays are the best places for strong roasts and quirky specialties. Enjoy funky local artwork with your mocha and giant cookie at Moguls – it's also a hot spot for an après pick-me-up. Originally from Pemberton, Mount Currie Coffee Company opened a location in Whistler in late 2012, and has since won over the affection of locals and tourists alike. Order the Canadiano – latte with a shot of maple syrup -- for a taste of BC bliss.
You won't find many skiers in Jackson Hole waiting in the early morning tram line without their thermoses of hot coffee. While the first Starbucks did open up on the town square a few years ago, Jackson still revolves around the independent coffee houses that have fueled the community for decades. Be sure to bring your reusable cup – this is quite the eco-conscious ski town. Head to Pearl Street Bagels in either Wilson or Jackson for a dirty chai or Wild Tribe (and note they don't toast the bagels – so don't bother asking!) Elevated Grounds on the Village Road is the perfect hideaway for relaxing with a crossword on a lazy morning. Pair a gluten-free Florentina cookie with a coffee ground from locally roasted, organic beans.
With its irresistible New England charm, Stowe is one of the most frequented ski town destinations in the East – and for those frigid February mornings, you can bet the community has grown a few excellent cafes for warming up before a day on the slopes. A leader in the farm-to-table movement for ski resorts, Stowe emphasizes fresh, organic, sustainable ingredients – you'll certainly be sipping the best quality coffee around. Family-owned PK Coffee uses sustainably sourced beans and local milk for its funky drinks: try The Mason, PK's creative take on the traditional cortado served in a mini mason jar. For a coffee fix on the mountain, visit The Beanery at the resort base for freshly baked sweets and a take-away latte.
Park City is an international destination for world-class ski vacationers, foodies, and lovers of artistic culture. With its elegant hipster vibes mingling with historic roots, the town business owners pride themselves on creating beautiful spaces, products, menus, and – yes – coffee. In Park City you'll find modern cafes on historic Main Street that put plenty of TLC into each tasty caffeinated beverage. Don't believe us? Stop by Pink Elephant Coffee Roasters, which uses single-source, locally roasted beans for each brewed-to-order cup. Don't miss a casual espresso and croissant at Hugo Coffee Bar (they also offer tasting appointments by request at their roasting location).
Classic and classy, Vail boasts its fair share of glitz and glamour in the base area's expansive villages. And yet when it comes to simple, strong coffee, this world-class resort delivers for all tastes. You'll find half a dozen or so favorite cafes between Vail and Lionshead Villages, and we encourage you to keep it local with the coffee shops that have stood the test of time in this ever-expanding ski town. The interior of Yeti's Grind, owned by local couple Nate and Tara Picklo, is comfy and urban – head here for a white mocha and small town comfort eats. Loaded Joe's offers an alternative atmosphere, morphing from a mellow café in the day to a popular party spot at night (but hey – the coffee's great!)