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Crazy coffee and unusual cookies

Side Dish

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Crazy craft

Since its soft opening in the former Premier Coffee spot in early June, Loco Bean Coffee (4797 Barnes Road, locobeancoffee.com) has had a clear best-seller, says owner John Reinecke: the Salty Caramel Hipster — locally roasted Serranos espresso shots laced with white chocolate, caramel and sea salt. Other coffee items include more modern inputs like agave nectar and fun garnishes such as chipotle dust, while the Loco Green smoothie incorporates wheatgrass juice with lime, banana, spinach and soy milk.

Reinecke, 33, with a fine dining food-and-beverage background that started with banquet service at the Broadmoor and led him to some of Las Vegas' finest hotels, talks about customer service and "building a rapport with people" as being equally key to success, beyond quality products.

"I left my suit and tie in the closet," he says. "I'm here in a Polo getting down with my staff ... I have to see hands-on what we can do to better streamline our processes."

He wants his drive-thru (with a side patio offering S'mores, pourover and French-press service) to be a "hip, trendy" place inspired by the "energy level" of Vegas. And like Sin City, he wants his outfit to grow, and to "catapult our brand," potentially starting with a Sky Sox stadium kiosk and looking at strategic regional locations.

The name, by the way, is because "my family is loco," says Reinecke. "The time was right for us to do something ... showing that small business can be innovative and compete with Starbucks and Dutch Bros."

A cookie apart

Visit Salt + Butter Co. (428-8904) on Facebook and you'll learn that local cookie maker Mundi Ross considers herself "the Bonnie and Clyde of cookie making.

"I bake UNIQUELY flavored cookies using organic and locally sourced ingredients," the 30-year-old writes in her bio.

Cookies like: cucumber mint with lemon; chocolate anise with gingered pears; and avocado grapefruit.

Ross currently only sells at the Colorado Farm & Art Market, with most cookies going for $2 each, three for $5, six for $10 or a dozen for $20. Special-ingredient cookies such as the whiskey-cherry-chocolate flavor, which uses Leopold Bros. hooch, cost a little more.

"I dressed Batman for a living," she says, by way of explaining her most recent career of five years inside the touring theater industry — that gig of course being Batman Live.

Culinary school was Ross' initial transition out of that, but she instead opted to launch this creative cookie business after realizing that nobody, even in big-city markets, appeared to be doing anything similar.

"I'm incorporating inspirations from menus, even cocktail menus," she says, also citing an "ingredient bible" she consults to dial in ideal pairings. As early as this fall, she anticipates selling to local retailers such as STIR, and she also mentions the possibility of opening up her own brick-and-mortar.

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