Alpendough cookie dough had me at step number one in their directions for baking: “Eat raw cookie dough.” If you say so! After all, who am I to argue with directions?

For those of you giving raw cookie dough consumption the salmonella-side-eye, rest assured that indulging straight from the spoon is a worry-free endeavor. Sarah Spence and Andy Mcklean, founders of the Durango-based take-and-bake cookie dough company, are believers in a plant-based diet, meaning no eggs, butter or other animal product culprits.

Launched by Spence and Mcklean (partners in both business and life) in May 2015, Alpendough cookie doughs are gluten-free, vegan, and organic and come in three classic flavors: Snickerdoodle, Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate.

A self-described “cookie monster,” Spence wanted to be a baker since she was a kid, baking with her sister after school. Though there’s been a huge influx of pre-packaged gluten-free and vegan cookies on the market, she found there was still a niche for the take-and-bake doughs. Why gluten-free and vegan? “Well, I’m not actually gluten-free,” Spence admits, “but we didn’t want to have to worry about cross contamination, and I believe greatly in the positive environmental impact a vegan diet can have on the planet.”

Speaking of environmental impact, Alpendough strives to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The company packages the dough in recyclable containers and regularly reuses materials such as boxes and bubble wrap from local grocery stores to ship their product.
Environmentally and dietary-restriction friendly? Most people can back that up, but…how does it taste? I baked all three flavors to take to a work meeting – a decidedly non-vegan, gluten-loving crowd. Some of the comments I received? ‘This is the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve had in a long time.’ ‘Did you make these from scratch?’ ‘Wow, that is one tasty snickerdoodle.’

Alpendough’s Double Chocolate flavor is rich and deeply chocolaty with just enough chocolate chips studded throughout to raise it to the next level. Their Chocolate Chip flavor is classically delicious; the dough’s not so sweet to overpower the melted chocolate chips and they are equally good fresh out of the oven as they are the next day. The Snickerdoodle flavor has great balance between spicy cinnamon and sweet sugar cookie, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The cookies are soft and chewy fresh out of the oven, becoming crunchier as time passes. They’ll keep their softness if stored in an airtight container, though.

“The most exciting thing to happen to coffee since the espresso machine,” is how The Pie Maker co-founder and coffee guru Tim Stubbs describes the nitro cold brew coffee offered at his bakery in Cortez, Colorado. Nitro cold brew is coffee that is cold brewed – the coffee beans are left for up to 16 hours in cold rather than hot water – and then served from a nitrogen-gas-pressurized keg, much like Guinness or Boddington beer. Cold brewing is said to reduce acidity and bitterness, and serving it stout-style gives it a frothy head and creaminess not found in regularly served cold brew.

Nitro Coffee from the Pie Maker in Cortez Colorado. Photo by Tim Stubbs.

Nitro Coffee from the Pie Maker in Cortez Colorado. Photo by Tim Stubbs.

The Pie Maker, founded in 2012 by Shani Winer and Stubbs, joined the nitro coffee craze and began offering the refreshing beverage to the public in June of 2015 – peak cold coffee season. This was after months of experimenting with cold brew recipes and “reverse-engineering” the keg system via Internet research and some brewer friends of Stubbs. “The process was fun and exciting – lots of taste-testing, figuring out the nitro process, trial and error,” Stubbs says. “We’re the first in the area to offer this product and it was great to create it all in the shop from scratch.”

The brew has been “extremely popular,” according to Stubbs, especially in the summer months when people are looking for a cool pick-me-up on a hot day. There was concern that popularity would die down in the cooler winter months, but then Stubbs had the thought, “Plenty of people still drink beer in the winter, so why not nitro brew?” And he was right. There is still a loyal, dedicated following that comes in daily for their nitro fix, even in grey and chilly weather.

So, what’s it all about? To begin with, the brew waterfalls from a stout-style tap into a clear glass so you can better appreciate the frothy, foamy head that forms. Immediately after pouring, the brew has very little scent, but after sipping for just a few minutes, a deep and clean coffee aroma becomes more apparent.

Because the coffee is cold brewed, there is no bitter aftertaste that usually accompanies black coffee. The velvetiness from the nitro almost gives the illusion of having added cream and sugar to the cup and the lack of acidity is immediately obvious. The brew itself is smooth and silky, with a luscious, creamy mouth feel. The perfect accompaniment to a sweet slice of homemade pie.