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Coffee corners

Otter caught buying out-of-state Joe

Where the governor gets his morning coffee became news when the owner of one Eighth Street coffee shop confronted him coming out of a neighboring establishment.

At about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 23, Dave Ledgard, owner of Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters, was at his keystone shop on the corner of Eighth and Bannock streets. According to an interview with Boise State Radio's George Prentice, he saw Otter emerge from the competing coffee shop across the street, Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters.

Ledgard's customers—Dawson has a distinctive group of regulars—had urged him for some time to confront Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter over his choice of Spokane-based Hammer, which has nine shops in Washington and Idaho. And last week he did, approaching the governor as he left the Hammer.

"I just wanted to engage him in the merits of buying Idaho," Ledgard told Boise State Radio's Prentice. "He is the face of Buy Idaho."

There has been scuttlebutt over where Otter takes his coffee for more than a year. Last March, Boise Weekly reported that Otter had apparently switched coffee shops, a charge that his spokesman denied at the time. When Thomas Hammer opened, its quietness and decor attracted some of downtown's Republican establishment.

Otter spokesman Jon Hanian renewed his coffee flip-flop denial again last week, saying that Otter saw a line at Dawson and went to Thomas Hammer because there was no line. Hanian also said that Otter has spent more money at Dawson over time.

Ledgard is a member of Buy Idaho, a private nonprofit set up 20 years ago with Otter's support, to promote Idaho businesses and products. Ledgard told the governor that since Otter's face appears in Buy Idaho advertising, he should be supporting Buy Idaho businesses.

Otter is quoted on the group's Web site saying, "The 'Buy Idaho' message is simple but profound: Doing business with the family helps us all. That was the idea 20 years ago when I helped found Buy Idaho, and it's still the idea today."

The Ledgard-Otter confrontation grew heated, and Ledgard acknowledges he cursed at the governor and then apologized.

"It ended with him telling his head staff member that his staff is only to go into the out-of-town shop from here on out, and that kind of lit me up a little bit more," Ledgard told Boise State Radio. "Unfortunately, I backed him into a corner. What could he say? He was caught red handed. I was a card-carrying Buy Idaho team member, so to speak."

As to how Otter takes his coffee, Hanian said he likes it black: "No saddle, no blanket ... bareback."

Thomas Hammer, owner of Thomas Hammer, suggested to the Associated Press that he welcomes Otter's mug.

"This is huge. We might have to become the official coffee of the state of Idaho," Hammer said.