Park City’s Java Cow Creamery

A couple weeks ago, I stepped foot in Utah for the first time! I heard stories about its incredible topography during college geography classes, and I’ve wanted to visit Utah ever since. My opportunity arose when the boyfriend and his parents chose Park City for their skiing weekend this year. The boyfriend comes from a family of big skiers. Me, on the other hand? I’ve strapped on skis once in my entire life. And let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty. But I wasn’t about to sit this vacation out and miss the chance to see Utah.

I understood what all the hype was about before our plane even landed in Salt Lake City. The views from the air were breathtaking: the arid Great Basin, the rugged Rocky Mountains, and the Great Salt Lake. The drive We stayed at a beautiful hotel right on the slopes of Deer Valley, which allowed me to enjoy the slopes without actually skiing on them. The weather was beautiful all weekend, so I spent most of my days working and reading outside. My lunch view looked something like this:

After the slopes closed, we’d take the hotel shuttle to downtown Park City. I didn’t know much about Park City – other than that it hosts the Sundance Film Festival every year. But I found it to be a quaint yet lively mountain town. We tried a couple different bars and restaurants, but my favorite spot was Purple Sage – a cozy restaurant with an eclectic menu and impeccable service. Even after stuffing myself with homemade potato chips and roasted pork tenderloin, I decided that I still had a little room for ice cream. So I kept my eye out while we strolled down Main Street.

For a tourist mecca, there are very few ice cream parlors in Park City. And when we spotted Java Cow Creamery, Cafe & Bakery right on Main Street, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical at first. How could a family-owned business juggle making good coffee, baked goods and ice cream? But when you step into well-lit store (over the cow door mat, of course), you’ll soon see that Java Cow really does focus on all three – while also doing a hefty business selling hundreds of different cow-themed goods. The store is loosely divided in two; the right-hand side is dedicated to coffee, tea, and a wide variety of sweet baked goods (from biscotti to cupcakes). But I made a quick beeline to the left, where Java Cow has a full-fledged ice cream parlor. The overarching theme throughout the store is, of course, cows. If you know anyone who’s into cow-themed anything, send them to Java Cow. There you’ll find the cow apron, cow eraser, cow water bottle, and the cow piggy bank you never knew you had to have. 
I love cows. But I’m more interested in their milk than a cow-patterned baseball cap. So I headed straight to Java Cow’s ice cream counter to investigate their selection.

Java Cow makes about two dozen of its own flavors, making it difficult to choose just one. There are a few normal (read “boring”) flavors, like Strawberry or Vanilla Bean, but most are funky versions of kid’s favorites, like Brownie Explosion, Chocolate Monster, or Peanut Toffee Twist. None of the flavors were incredibly exotic, but they were all fun. I knew I wanted to try Java Cow’s signature flavor: Wowie Cowie. According to the helpful descriptions posted on the ice cream counter, this crowd-favorite was vanilla ice cream, toffee bits, dark chocolate pieces and “our special caramel sauce.” In an effort to get some fruit into my day, I also wanted some Moonana Cup – banana ice cream from “lots of real ripe bananas” with broken peanut-butter cups. I ordered a two-scoop cup, which cost me about $5. Java Cow’s prices were what you’d expect for a touristy area, but was the ice cream? Was Java Cow just another example of a touristy shop focusing on customer “experience” instead of their product? Were the over-the-top flavors and eclectic atmosphere compensating for lackluster ice cream? I was about to find out…

The verdict? Wow. This ice cream thoroughly exceeded my expectations. The servings are generous, and cups come with a cute waffle-cone garnish. And unlike some of my recent experiences, Java Cow serves its ice cream at the perfect temperature – frozen firm, but without any sign of freezer burn. My favorite had to be the Moonana Cup… in spite of the peanut-butter cups. The banana ice cream was one of the best I’ve ever had. Real banana ice cream often has a soft, subtle flavor – but Java Cow’s was strong and vibrant. I found that the peanut-butter cups were totally unnecessary; they seemed like an afterthought or an attempt to attract kids’ attention. The candy was a distraction from this amazing ice cream. This wasn’t the case, however in the Wowie Cowie, where the mix-ins turned a simple vanilla ice cream into a mini-sundae in each bite. Java Cow’s rich, cream vanilla ice cream was perfectly contrasted by crunchy bits of toffee and dark chocolate. I’m not sure what made Java Cow’s caramel sauce “special,” but it had a robust, buttery flavor that held its own against the toffee and dark chocolate. The ratio of mix-ins to ice cream was spot-on in both ice creams, and each spoonful had texture and little bursts of fun flavors. And on second though – I need that cow-patterned baseball cap, after all. Because I’d like to tip it to Java Cow for executing serious ice cream in a fun and heartwarming atmosphere.

Star-struck in Park City

The Stats:
Java Cow Creamery, Cafe & Bakery
402 Main Street
Park City, UT 84060
(435) 647-7711