Outsiders might know Albuquerque as the memorable setting for both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, modern westerns fixated on the moral downfalls of ordinary people. The city is also home to a thriving modern food and beverage scene, and some really great coffee. Today we’re taking a closer look at Little Bear Coffee, a coffee bar with three locations across the ABQ metro and a major focus on coffee as a conduit for arts and culture. These are gorgeous cafes with a distinctly New Mexico point of view and aesthetic, playing with a color palette of sand and sky.
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As told to Sprudge by Sarah Gonzalez de Fox.
Introduce yourself to our readers—tell us about your cafe!
Little Bear Coffee is a specialty coffee company and roastery serving fully-traceable, ethically-sourced, specialty-grade coffee in Albuquerque, since 2017. With the slogan, Love People Use Coffee, Little Bear works to be an inclusive, supportive space for the community and provide an experience as great as their coffee. Little Bear has three cafes in the city, the most recent is the bright and airy Little Bear at Civic Plaza location in Downtown Albuquerque. This cafe’s interior draws inspiration from New Mexico’s big, vast skies. The space is filled with natural light, muted earth tones, walled with leafy, green plants and features two custom art pieces made by local artists.
What equipment do you use in your shop?
What is the neighborhood like where you’re located? What’s some other cool stuff nearby?
We are thrilled to be located in the heart of downtown Albuquerque. This location is walking distance from the city’s convention center, offices and historic Civic Plaza. Downtown ABQ is home to some of our best venues, bars, and restaurants. Sister Bar and Anodyne are two iconic watering holes that often host amazing shows and bands. Founders Speakeasy is also a cool bar with a killer cocktail program that is accessed through a hidden door in a nearby convenience store.
What’s something cool or unique about your cafe you want folks to know?
A very cool feature of the cafe is our custom artwork on the main wall and behind the back bar. Both pieces are mixed media works designed by local artist Marquez Torres.
When you enter the cafe, you will see a custom art piece; the work of Marquez Torres in collaboration with NEO THREAD. The piece is one part paint, one part textile. Marquez Torres‘ design takes inspiration from the cloudscape paintings of Maynard Dixon and New Mexico’s big, vast skies. NEO THREAD’s textile clouds are made from vintage deadstock fabric in a dusky pink that mimics the sky’s movement into pastels as the day comes to a close.
When you turn to order, you will find a complementary work along the backbar; it is an incredible mixed media work of paint and gold leaf on reed glass panels, backlit by a warm glow. The three panels complete a cloudscape and golden sun with our logo in a handmade script. It was a true labor of love; Torres hand-painted and laid all three pounds of gold leaf on the piece.
Is there a community organization or charity you’d like to shout-out as part of this feature?
ABQ Art Walk is an independent arts organization and community of artists working to elevate New Mexico’s emerging creative economy. Their purpose is to spark the vibrancy of the arts by organizing experiences at the neighborhood-level.
Supporting our local art community is very important to us; we support local artists by offering free art shows and rotating the artwork in our cafes. We are incredibly grateful for the impact ABQ Art Walk has had on downtown’s creative businesses and local artists in NM.
Photos by Elizabeth Wells, used with permission