Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rock Creek Trading Post Organic Coffee

Rock Creek Trading Post, about 35 miles East of Osoyoos, is the first – and practically only – contemporary coffee shop you'll find "in" Osoyoos. If you're visiting or on holiday from somewhere like Vancouver or Seattle and accustomed to finding a coffee shop where you can grab a flavorful cup o'joe, a relaxing mug of hot tea, an organic pastry or gluten-free snack and check your emails, you'll have to drive to Rock Creek to do so.

And when you get there, you'll be glad you did. Follow your nose, literally, and you'll find it. The roasting coffee beans, an aromatic activity they do daily on the front porch of the Trading Post, leads you straight to the steaming cup of coffee that either Denise or Kent will brew up for you on the spot.

The Rock Creek Trading Post, sits right in the cross-hairs of this blink-and-you'll-miss-it little town that is quintessential “old hippies” B.C. Funny thing is, it's one of the best coffee shops, if not the best coffee shop, you'll find in the Okanagan. Owners Denise and Kent Blaker are former goat farmers who love to travel and have cultivated a firm belief in Fair Trade. “We were farmers. We know what it's like to be on the front lines and doing all the work and receiving the least amount for it,” explains Denise when she talks about how she and her husband Kent came to the practice of serving only Fair Trade coffee.

Fair Trade also means you get a better bean. “We saw 2-3 year old kids sorting beans. They would sort the yellow, green and red beans from a blanket harvest,” explains Kent, describing one of his and Denise's trips to Guatemala. “The Fair Trade co-ops wait and only harvest the ripe beans.” Which means that only the ripe beans are picked. This, ultimately, is what gives you the better cup of coffee.

The open patio of the Rock Creek Trading Post invites you to set yourself down at the picnic table, next to the coffee roaster, and plug in your laptop. They charge a – minimal – fee for internet use. The lunch crowd gets fairly busy, especially on a Saturday when people coming and going between Kelowna and Osoyoos stop en route for a fresh-made bowl of soup, Denise's handmade hummus and Pita plate or her guacamole, salsa and chips and fresh fruit smoothies. They use local and organic ingredients whenever possible, though they do admit that sometimes in the winter that can be a challenge.

So many of us these days are gluten-intolerant, so you'll be pleased to see that many of the Trading Post's pastries are made with gluten-free ingredients and they even sell things like coconut flour and hemp seed flour. Denise's carrot cake is a local favorite, likely because she laces the cream cheese frosting with just the right amount of fresh lemon juice, to give it that tart-and-sweet balance.

You'll see the garden just off to the side of the patio. Denise maintains it simply for the love of gardening. “If someone is off to a wedding or in a pinch to bring a loved one flowers, I may sell them some of my flowers, but really, the garden is mostly just for my own enjoyment,” she says.

They don't regret giving up farming. In fact, they've let their fields revert to their natural state, allowing nature to reclaim its land on their former goat farm. What Kent and Denise enjoy doing now is traveling to South America in the winters and during the beautiful British Columbia summers, preparing top-quality foods that are good for you and enjoyable to eat for their regular customers who come into the Rock Creek Trading Post for breakfast and lunch...And brewing the freshest, most aromatic cup of coffee you'll find that side of the Okanagan.

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