If You Go
• Di Tazza Drive-Thru, 2004 S.E. 192nd Ave., Camas. Hours: 4:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
• Di Tazza Gourmet Coffee and Cafe, 2011 S.E. 192nd Ave., Suite 101, Camas. 360-210-7087. Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
When the owner of the building housing Dana Carpenter’s di Tazza Bakery & Cafe gave her first right of refusal to open a drive-thru across the street, she promptly accepted the offer.
“For a long time,” she said, “people had been requesting a drive-thru.”
And Carpenter is all about pleasing her customers.
The entrance to the drive-thru can be tricky to figure out on your first visit. Look for a small sign that reads “Coffee Drive Thru Open” and follow the arrow next to the Candlewood Suites.
Recently, I paid di Tazza and Carpenter a visit on a crisp autumn day when I was needing some caffeine.
To go with it, Carpenter recommended the sausage and egg breakfast sandwich, noting that the biscuit and the sausage are housemade. I admit being reluctant because breakfast sandwiches are often sad, microwaved rubbery hockey pucks. I’m glad I followed her advice. Di Tazza’s breakfast sandwich is extraordinary — a fluffy egg, melted cheddar cheese and a luscious housemade sausage patty sandwiched in a creamy housemade biscuit.
When I bit into the sausage, my tongue tingled with the licoriciness of fennel and the spiciness of red pepper flakes. It is possible to drive while eating this egg and sausage sandwich, but there is a risk that its deliciousness may lead to recklessness.
It was so tasty my focus got diverted as I backed out of my parking spot, and I almost got into an accident.
For safer eating, there are spaces to sit inside the drive-thru.
In addition to the breakfast sandwiches, there are scoops of gelato, gelato cookie sandwiches, a few different types of pastry, and a long menu of espresso drinks made with beans from Vancouver roaster Nine Bar Coffee Roasters that you can flavor with high-quality Monin syrups and Guittard chocolate.
One of the more unusual offerings is the white coffee. White coffee is made from coffee beans that are roasted for a shorter period than regular coffee beans. The shorter roasting time give the beans a lighter color, a nutty flavor, and a slightly higher caffeine content.
I tried the Honey Bee latte with white coffee. The Honey Bee is a latte flavored with honey and lavender. The lavender and honey subtly swirled around the rich, nutty coffee, complementing it but not overpowering it. White coffee is not listed on the menu, but is available by request.
If you are interested in a more extensive menu and a larger space to hang out, di Tazza Bakery & Cafe (across the street) has a glass case bursting with freshly baked pastries (including many gluten-free options), soup, and drinks.
During my time at the drive-thru, I quickly noticed that many of the customers also seemed to come to di Tazza because they love Carpenter. She is friendly and welcoming, treating everyone as if they were a best friend she hadn’t seen in years. Her enthusiasm for her customers is heartfelt, and she only hires people who share her love of customers. She told me, “I am really picky about the people that I hire. I am all about the customer, so I pick people that acknowledge the customer. I say come as a customer, leave as a friend.”
This customer focus is something that Carpenter believes coffee shops have lost.
She explained, “It is getting to a point where you go into these coffee shops and they think they know everything. If I go to a coffee shop and I ask for a specific drink, I feel that you should get that. Some of these newer coffee shops that are coming out are so particular and do it a specific way, and I think it’s condescending to the customer. I don’t like it when a customer comes in and they are kind of rude.”
In the past, I have accepted a certain level of snarkiness from a barista for food and drink this scrumptious; fortunately, at di Tazza I don’t have to and neither do you.
Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at email@example.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @couveeats.