Before heading off for an overnight stay in Farmington, I scoured the internet for suggestions on where to have breakfast. My criteria was simple: preferably a Navajo owned-and-operated eatery; restaurants who spell New Mexico’s official state vegetable “chili” wouldn’t be considered. Yelp came through on its listing of the ten best restaurants for breakfast in Farmington. At the very top of that list was Juniper Coffee and Eatery on College Blvd. Little did i know how enthusiastically and overwhelmingly that choice would be endorsed later by people with whom I shared a dinner table and many laughs. Serendipity certainly played a role in my breakfast venue of choice.
Serendipity also played a role in that the address for the LorAmy’s Valentine’s Dining Experience presented by James Beard Award Semi-Finalist Justin Pioche and the address of Juniper Coffee and Eatery were one and the same. Justin had borrowed the venue from his friends at Juniper for the exclusive one night Valentine’s Day extravaganza. As the only unaccompanied diner at the event, I had the great privilege and blessing of being seated next to the great chef’s three aunts and one uncle. When I asked them what Farmington restaurant served the best breakfast, they gushed about Juniper. They were also unanimous in recommending the SPAM burrito and the blue corn plate.
Both Justin and his business partner and beautiful sister Tia were similarly enthusiastic about Juniper. That sealed it. No more contemplating any other Farmington restaurant or waiting until Cuba to fuel up with breakfast. Better still, I already knew how to get to Juniper. Juniper was launched by Hamilton and Tina Cadman right after the autumnal equinox in September, 2019. They chose the name Juniper because the high desert landscape surrounding the area in which the coffee shop is located is replete with juniper trees and because juniper ash is used to give their blue corn items on their menu the bluish hue they have. They also believed the name Juniper would resonate as a Native owned-and-operated restaurant.
Hamilton himself greeted me at the front counter. He couldn’t have been prouder at how his loyal friends and customers so eagerly recommended his eatery. He told me that initially the venue was used exclusively for its kitchen facilities to support a catering company he and Tina had operated for nearly ten years. Previous tenants left an espresso machine which he and his wife decided to incorporate into the eatery’s operation. 2020 and the Cabrona virus hit Juniper hard with several very trying months–including shutting down for a period–and increased reliance on delivery companies. They also collaborated with the Pioche Food Group on events that helped keep them on their feet. Recovery was slow, but with persistence the small eatery continues to thrive.
Juniper is ensconced in a Lilliputian space with limited indoor seating. Weather permitting, additional seating is also available on a patio from where you might even be able to smell the juniper (both the tree and the restaurant’s fare). Befitting the restaurant’s size, the menu is rather on the small size, offering breakfast, lunch, coffee and “non-coffee.” The size of the menu certainly does not speak to the deliciousness of the food. Getting to Juniper when it first opens in the morning may reap additional benefits–such as fresh muffins and scones just out of the oven. There’s nothing like warm scones just out of the oven, especially when they’re blueberry scones with blueberries a plenty. Tender, flaky, light, and golden brown on top, the scones are punctuated generously with juicy, tangy blueberries. What a wonderful treat!
The wonderful Pioche family would not be very happy with me if I hadn’t ordered the blue corn bowl (blue corn mush, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, chi seeds, honey, toasted almonds). In my childhood, blue corn mush was one of those foods I avoided like it was made with stinging nettles. My mom loved the stuff. She would certainly love how Juniper prepares it. In my defense, mush is one of those foods that gets a bad rap. When people refer to food as “mush,” it is usually an insult meaning it has an off-putting texture most efficiently eaten by people wearing dentures. My first taste of the blue corn mush almost validated why I hadn’t liked it then I remembered my mom would add sugar. Sweet mush is much better, especially when your spoon shares space with the berries and nuts. This is a mush dish that made a convert out of me!
Hawaiians aren’t the only people who love SPAM. It’s long been a favorite of Native Americans, too. Increasingly, SPAM is also being used in fine-dining and gourmet restaurants. Still, it’s a surprise to find it on any restaurant’s menu. Juniper’s breakfast burritos are offered with your choice of protein: bacon, sausage, Black Forest ham, veggies or SPAM. Guess which one is Juniper’s best seller? Breakfast burritos are of the hand-held variety and arrive at your table sliced in half so you can ogle the ingredients (potatoes, egg, Cheddar, green chile, house tortilla, salsa). A side of salsa–for those of us who believe pain is a flavor–is served with the burritos.
Add my voice to those of the Pioche family who recommended Juniper Coffee & Eatery with such alacrity. For me, Juniper was a wonderful surprise, but don’t be surprised when I return next time we’re in Farmington.
Juniper Coffee & Eatery
5150 College Blvd., Suite 206
Farmington, New Mexico
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LATEST VISIT: 11 February 2023
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Blueberry Scone, Breakfast Burrito with SPAM, Blue Corn Plate