Review by Brian Bolding © 2019 Pop Art Trash Productions
“Little Bear: Fine Coffee & Stuff” is located in the northeast heights in Albuquerque, New Mexico, about a mile from my home, at 2632 Pennsylvania Avenue. This is my personal review, no one else’s, and if you have a problem with it, read it again. Because as a Gen X’er, I still love this place.
Behind the buzzing of someone’s iPhone 11 as another annoying Millennial What’s App text message comes through, you can hear the whizzing and metallic clank of an espresso machine arm pulled. If you look up, you’ll see its a bearish Millennial or a slightly aging Hipster. You know the types… those super cute younger people who look like the love children of John Lennon and Kate Moss or John Mayer and LeBron James.
Well, here I am, Martyn!
I love his choice in vinyl, too. And the decor seems to be basic liberal arts college study hall in the Southwest. A Top 10 Oasis song gently played somewhere in the distance, followed by The Chainsmokers.
Can I help you, sir? -the sweet, angelic Barista woman asked. The muscle bear beside her worked his magic on the espresso machine.
Can I get a cappuccino to go, please?
Frothy goodness and atmosphere.
This… is Little Bear.
Am I out of my league here? No? Not really. But from where I’m sitting as I write this, I do see one woman who looks to be around my age (but African American and professional), and another dude who looks to be in his mid 30’s. It’s funny to go on and on about the different people who come through here. One quick glance, and you might think it was millennial heaven. But on second glance, it’s just a cool chic place to hangout with decent prices and plenty of well-lit study spaces and wall plugs for Macs and Surface devices.
Are you doing okay, sir? – A friendly barista asks, looking like the love child of Alanis Morrissette and Jeff Buckley.
I’m great, thank you.
Well, let me know if you need anything. Welcome.
One of my most favorite things to do at a coffee shop: People watch, be alone, sit in a different space and study or chat with friends on lush beanbags and wooden booths.
This is that place.
“And we have vinyl, too,” one woman who apparently worked there said to me as she was stocking sweet looking local pastries in a paper lined basic pastry case.
I glanced over and saw Blondie’s “Eat to the Beat.” One of my favorite albums by them. And right behind that, a Charlie Puth, and behind that – Taylor Swift.
I really love this. You’ve got everything from Van Halen to The Butthole Surfers! I love how you don’t discriminate…
Music is music, man. – Some shaggy dude nearby looks up from his spec’ed out MacBook Pro grins.
I walked to the pastry case after people watching in line and selected a yummy lemon bar, and paid for that and my cappuccino on one of those floating retail iPad things.
Have a great day!
Looking around, I notice just how clean yet funky the place looks, with a minimalist condiment bar with an area to place your own dishes when leaving.
The bathrooms were nice. Super clean and classy, well-lit.
The walls of the cafe are dotted with real life potted cactuses and other Americana. I get the feeling I’m going to like it here.
Time to make it back to the bar to get my order.
The cappuccino I ordered would probably be considered a ‘medium weight cappuccino,’ and since I didn’t specify wet or dry, that’s perfect. The coffee was roasty sweet and delicious. I don’t know what ‘blend’ it was but it’s divine. The lemon tart I ordered was the perfect food pairing.. soft and moist, delicously prepared and wrapped for sale. I paid about $10 for both total, which isn’t too bad considering I’m in a chic urban haven.
Just as I took my last sip of my cappuccino, Phoenix came on somewhere in the cafe, but too low that I couldn’t sing along to ‘Lisztomania’, which I also had just realized was about 10 years old.
Do you know this song? It’s an oldie, it came out in 2009, I think. – one millennial girl said to a friend somewhere nearby.
I sighed to myself: Oh my God, I’m getting old!
I chose to sit on a plump couch in the southeast corner of the cafe, surrounded by chic Southwestern inspired Zia signs and New Mexico photography of Route 66 and more.
I did glance out on the patio but as it was too cold to sit out there, I still noticed the partition in the middle of the cafe that could be raised during the summer to create a coffee bar sitting area. Very cool. The patio itself also looked large and accommodating.
As I typed this review on my PC, I looked up and noticed how busy the cafe had gotten. It was a typical Saturday morning – no crazy bad weather, and everyone seemed to be out and about today. Little Bear was literally buzzing with business. If I had a dollar for every beanie or dude in skinny pants I saw, I’d have enough for a Lyft ride, but again, I was surprised to see more than I imagined. Everyone also seemed friendly, gender neutral and friendly as could be. If this place is a sign of what’s to come, I’m not afraid.
I’m honored to be an ancient 44 year old poet in a world of up and coming hippies.
Little Bear is a great coffee shop, by the way, with pretty decent prices, and an odd assortment of super yummy locally sourced pastries, and kickass vinyl for sale to boot. And the people here, both employees and customers, are every kind, no matter what generation they’re from. From gay bear otters to pierced bubbas to pig-tailed band girls to slinky dress wearing divas, with a jock or two thrown in occasionally for good measure. This coffee shop rocks, and I beg you to visit and taste their menu and sight-see the local millennial parade.
My Rating: 10 out of 10
Update: Because of the success of Little Bear the past 1-2 years it’s been open, there is also a new second location near UNM (University of New Mexico) that opened a month ago, and a review of that location will follow one day soon.
December 9, 2019
Photos courtesy of Little Bear’s official website and “Yelp” page. I’m uploading my own pics very soon.