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Jun 1, 2013 02:23 PM

Iconik Coffee Roasters, Santa Fe: finally, the all-around coffeehouse I've been wishing for

You know it's funny, it doesn't seem like a good coffeehouse should be that difficult to synthesize. The three things I really want are: great coffee, a small assortment of sweet and savory food that isn't repugnant, and a good place to sit. And yet in the four years I've lived in Santa Fe, nowhere has seemed to nail all three. Betterday, Holy Spirit, and arguably Downtown Subscription have great coffee, but none of them nail the food, and Holy Spirit is almost literally a hole in the wall. Counter Culture and Dulce have good food and nice spots to sit, but their coffee is middling. And many, many places pretty much fail across the board.

Enter Iconik Coffee Roasters, which opened a few months ago in the old Treehouse space, a block north of 2nd Street. This place is killin' on all fronts, with great house-roasted coffee, a super cool eclectic space, and a really impressive short food menu.

The coffee, all single origin, is roasted in a behemoth 1927 Vintage Otto Swadlo coffee roaster, with roasts leaning light, all well south of Viennese. Although they have a smallish, ok-looking La Marzocco espresso machine, single cup pour-over is the specialty here, and they have the requisite assortment of Hario gear to make it happen. For my tastes, the roast was a little sharp and the brew tasted a little overextracted, but understand that I'm quibbling here on style, not competence. Yes, I still prefer the smoothness of Third Wave stalwarts Stumptown and especially Intelligentsia (those sellouts!), but Iconik's product has craft and character, and was a pleasure to drink. I'll also note that they have an excellent looking array of hot and iced teas, as well as some other tasty sounding drinks (think strawberry mint lemonade).

I liked the sunny, spacious digs when the Treehouse was in the space, but Iconik has really put a personal stamp on it with eclectic vintage and industrial accents and a nice array of small tables, counter and communal seating, and a couch or two. Staff are personable, and although they skew hipster, neither they nor the clientele are as insufferably hipper-than-thou as everyone over at Betterday.

Iconik's real differentiator, though, is the genuinely outstanding food. They appear to make one batch each of savory and sweet scones every day. The bacon, brie, fig, and walnut scone looked fantastic, but I opted for the utterly stellar apricot, pecan, and goat cheese one instead, which was served thoughtfully with a fresh strawberry garnish. Mark Bittman would love the small kitchen menu, heavy on fresh local produce, with the inclusion small amounts of protein. We're talking kale salad, a spinach, garlic potato, tomato, and goat cheese frittata, and an egg and green chile bagel sandwich with Jolly Hog bacon.

Different sources list different hours, so they're open from 7:30/8/8:30 to 4/6 depending on who you believe and what day it is. I'm so very happy this place has arrived, I have every intention of becoming a regular.

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  1. As a member of the virtual office brigade I would add two things to finlero's list of criteria - stable wifi and plenty of power outlets. I'm happy to report that Iconik gets high marks in both of these areas. On a recent visit around noon I spotted at least half a dozen laptop jockeys who looked like they were settled in for extended stays.

    One minor cautionary note - on my first visit I showed up shortly after 8:00 am and they were just in the process of mixing the batter for the daily batch of scones, so there was essentially nothing to eat except some cookies from the previous day. Arriving early with an appetite may not be the best idea, at least for now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rcurtism

      Great observations, rcurtism, totally agree. Yeah, I was there mid last week for lunch (truly excellent house-smoked brisket sandwich), and the three people they had working were absolutely clobbered by the lunch rush. Long lines, dishes piling up, etc. So they have some learning (and staffing?) left to do, but they'll get there.

    2. Have to agree overall with this assessment. They're still fine-tuning their roasting, but Todd knows his stuff and they'll get there. Pour overs are definitely their strength- their barista skills leave something to be desired. For a cappuccino I'll still go to Betterday. The fig scone is excellent. But everyone at Betterday being 'insufferably hipper than thou'? I've never had an experience remotely like that at Betterday, and I've been going regularly for a year.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mdzehnder

        Interesting. Personally I've gotten that vibe at Betterday a little from the staff and a lot from the clientele. But it's hardly stopped me from going, and I'll be the first to admit it could just be a weird bias or sensitivity on my part. Either way, not worth dwelling on, their coffee is outstanding and the digs are fun, even if I like Iconik's space better and its food drastically better.

        1. re: finlero

          Agreed. I love Iconik's space and decor. I'm not a big fan of Betterday's food (with the exception of the avocado sandwich) and Iconik's is definitely better (even with the limited menu). I'd keep going back just for the fig scone, even if that was all they served--amazing. Additionally, I've had several shots of espresso over the last two weeks as they've been adjusting their roast, and, while all different, they've all been quite good. Although I like Stumptown's coffees for pour-over cups, I'm not a fan of their Hairbender espresso as a shot (although it works relatively well in cappuccinos. I'd mostly stopped drinking shots of espresso because of this until I had Iconik's.

      2. Just a quick note that Iconik may be sharpening the pencil on their roasting craft. I dropped in yesterday and tried a pourover cup of a new offering from Central America (can't definitively remember where, maybe El Salvador?), and it was truly excellent. Balanced and earthy, with all the 3rd wave hallmarks you look for of wine-like identifiable tastes and a flavor profile that changed in interesting ways as it cooled. Not sure if it was just an unusually great varietal to begin or if they're getting better at roasting, but either way I'll be back for more.

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          1. As a side note, I had spent months (a few years ago) trying to figure out where Treehouse was because I'd heard great things.... and I kept getting it confused with the Tea House on Canyon, et ceteral. Thanks for clearing up that mystery. :)