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GoodBean Cafe

While building a thriving wholesale business over the past 20 years for his GoodBean Coffee, Michael Kell thought he'd never have another cafe.

That was before Medford developer Mike Mahar courted Kell last year to move into his new office complex off Hillcrest and North Phoenix Roads. The resulting GoodBean Cafe, which opened about a month ago, improves on his original Jacksonville location to offer the higher-end experience that East Medford residents and customers of the professional park were craving, says Kell.

A two-time Oregon State Fair coffee-roasting champion for his "dark mountain" blend, Kell is fond of saying "the proof is in the cup." I'd say the proof of GoodBean's mealtime appeal is in its quiche.

Chef Keith Herrick serves ones of the best restaurant quiches I've ever had, certainly the best coming from a coffeehouse. He's smart to feature two types daily, giving customers reason to eat it for breakfast, then again at lunch. And believe me, if my office was located next door, I'd be doing exactly that.

Much of what makes "Keith's keesh" so remarkable is the impeccable crust, which isn't the typical American pie dough but more like French "pate brisee," chock-full of butter and baked to a texture that crumbles away and melts in the mouth. After all the quiche is gone, you feel compelled to salvage all these delicate crumbs from the plate with a moistened fingertip.

The ratio of crust to filling is maximized by Herrick's practice of making individual quiches, rather than cutting slices from a large pie. Baking smaller quiches also keeps their eggy filling from getting dried out or rubbery. Even reheated to a blistering temperature, my quiche boasted a creamy, custardy interior with an ideal amount of perfectly sauteed spinach and a hint of feta cheese.

The day's other quiche, chicken, ginger and garlic, was stronger on the former seasoning, delivering a twist that I enjoyed. My co-worker said it contained an appropriate portion of chicken, even if it was diced small.

Side salads on both plates were generously sized and included fresh, baby greens lightly dressed with an oniony vinaigrette. At $9, the quiche-and-salad plate represents the most expensive item, along with the house salad topped with goat cheese, dried cranberries and candied walnuts and served with bread.

All breads, pastries and other desserts are baked on site, says Kell. An array of bagels, muffins, cakes, cookies and tarts were displayed during a recent weekday afternoon.

The front counter also plays host to cold sandwiches and wraps packaged for takeout. Hot panini cost $8.50 and usually come in two versions: tuna melted with sharp cheddar or bacon and cheddar the day I dropped in for lunch.

Half panini with a cup of soup costs $7.50. Because Herrick had just switched the soup from potato-cheese to Hungarian mushroom, I decided to tack on a cup for $2.50, which also purchased a hunk of bread.

The soup would have been better if served as hot as the quiche. Although the cream base was a bit thin, a variety of mushrooms, including shiitake, and thyme imparted plenty of flavor.

Individual pizzas served with a side salad constitute the other menu option for $8.50. My co-worker chose the barbecue-chicken version over the BLT. With an extremely thin, crunchy crust more like pita bread, the pizza combined caramelized onions, green onions, black olives, barbecue sauce and a sour-cream drizzle with the grilled chicken. Herrick's BLT pizza adds blue cheese to the classic format for summer sandwiches.

Umbrella-shaded patio tables were popular on the sunny day we tried GoodBean. Now that the weather is turning cooler, the expansive, high-ceilinged space will have no problem accommodating crowds at the numerous indoor tables, bar-height counter or deep, cushioned bench near the entry.

Staff should make a point, however, of wiping off tables between customers, even if they have to assemble their own flatware, napkins and water glasses. A self-serve industrial toaster and coffee-bean grinder are some thoughtful additions at the new cafe. Take home a bag of "dark mountain," and you're drinking the state's best coffee — among mid-sized roasters — for evening or dessert.

— Sarah Lemon