February 2019 – One of our favorite sightings in our RV travels is the cute little coffee kiosks and coffee huts we find tucked into parking lots and standing on street corners all around the West. As America’s quest for the perfect cuppa joe has become more refined and exotic over the years, these adorable little coffee pit stops have been sprouting all over the place.
When we got to Oregon a few years back they were everywhere. And no wonder. Starbucks is headquartered in Washington, and it seems that America’s demand for fancy, fluffy coffee spreads out from there!
Some of the little coffee kiosks serve more than just coffee too.
As we’ve taken our RV from one small town to another we’fve found that many of these cute coffee joints are marked by a big “Espresso” flag flying out front.
Along with bearing whimsical names, many of these coffee kiosks have all kinds of amusing displays and props too.
These coffee shacks are usually simple little buildings, just big enough for a barista or two inside, and they often have an inviting porch or patio area decorated with flowers out front.
Besides being cute and serving great coffee, what I love about these little coffee kiosks is that they are all mom-and-pop shops.
Rather than being part of an impersonal international corporate behemoth, they are locally run and the owners have often put everything they own on the line to try to make their venture a success.
When I visited one coffee kiosk a very little girl appeared at the window to take my order. Her mom was busy with another customer, and she was helping out.
I hung around a while afterwards to enjoy my coffee, and the mom told me this was the perfect enterprise for her. She could walk to work, she was with her two small children all day long, and she was building a business at the same time.
One of the first coffee kiosks we ever encountered was Wicked Brew in Moab, Utah. We discovered it before we began RVing, and it was so neat to see it was still going strong years later when we returned to visit the area with our fifth wheel.
This classy little coffee hut serves each cup with a chocolate covered coffee bean perched on the lid!
This past summer we came across a lot of little coffee kiosks in Montana. From the Beartooth Highway to the Bitterroot Valley to the towns near Glacier National Park, we tasted lots of delicious brews from these fun little drive-up coffee shacks.
Usually, these coffee kiosks are drive-thru shacks with windows on both sides of the building.
However, we often walk up to them instead. It only took two or three walk-ups for Buddy to realize that the smell of coffee, the sound of the milk being steamed, and a patient wait at a window might add up to a doggie treat!
Now he sits expectantly looking up at the window and licking his lips.
Although the frequency of coffee kiosks diminishes as you go east and south from the Pacific Northwest, they are still plentiful in Wyoming.
The lively town of Cody, Wyoming, sports several!
At Rawhide Coffee in Cody, Wyoming, Buddy decided to do the ordering for us.
He’s a smart little guy, and he knew this clever stunt could win him two doggie treats instead of just one!
On our first trip through Newcastle, Wyoming, we visited the Kaffee Klatsch several times, so we were looking forward to a return trip the next year. But the Kaffee Klatsch wasn’t there any more! After a brief hunt around town we found it in a new location.
The owner explained that they owned the building but leased the land it sat on. Happily, the new location has made their business grow exponentially. How cool is that?!
We don’t have a photo of that shop, but we do have a few others from South Dakota.
Of course some of our favorite coffee shops are in ordinary buildings. One is the Calamity Jane Coffee Shop in Custer, South Dakota, where we’ve spent many mornings sipping a latte, munching a muffin and chatting with the owners, Jim and Deb.
This enterprising couple had a camera shop in this location for many years. Deb is a photographer, and Custer is located in a popular tourist area surrounded by tons of gorgeous scenery and almost-tame wild animals to photograph.
But the rise of the internet and digital photography n eput and to film sales and retail camera sales at their shop. Rather than throw in the towel, they thought about what modern day tourists are looking for when they come to a small historic town, and they realized gourmet coffee would be the perfect thing.
The addition of a wine tasting room out back and a huge wine selection was another clever idea, and their store is as busy as can be.
East of the Dakotas the little coffee huts disappear for the most part, but that doesn’t mean great coffee can’t be found. In the small town of St. Ignace in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula of Michigan we came across Harbor Hope Coffee.
This unusual coffee shop is home to a church group that gathers to worship in the back of the shop each week, and the profits from the coffee sales go to charitable causes. We were astonished to hear the volunteer barista tell us the story behind this unique coffee shop, but what made Buddy’s ears really perk up was when she ased, “Does your puppy want a puppaccino?”
She grabbed a whipped cream dispenser from the fridge, filled a small bowl with homemade whipped cream and put it on the floor in front of Buddy.
He went crazy!! I have never seen him lap up a bowl of anything so quickly. He got it on his whiskers and all over his muzzle.
The next day, the moment we parked in front of Harbor Hope Coffee Buddy just about jumped through the window to get inside. I knew I was addicted to hazlenut lattes, but Buddy was absolutely bonkers over puppaccinos!
Unfortunately, although dogs are warmly welcomed at most coffee kiosks and they are usually offered a treat to boot, some coffee shops with inside seating have strict rules for dogs relating to food service and unexpected visits from the Health Inspector.
So, Buddy has learned that not every “Open” sign at a coffee shop is actually an invitation for his four paws to head in.
In Wisconsin he had to wait outside several coffee shops. Fortunately, he is a patient pup.
At one coffee shop there was a bucket of chalk outside, so we marked his special waiting spot.
In Hot Springs, South Dakota, before Buddy joined us, we found another shop with a bucket of chalk outside, so we added a bit of sidewalk art there too!
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How to start a day:
-Rise early and get your fix of coffee.
-Read the Word and meditate on it.
-Check e-mail for “Roads Less Traveled” messages.
-Enjoy your joe while traveling the West with friends seeking the perfect cuppa joe!
Yep, that’s how to do it! How does Buddy take his joe?
Another great story complete with excellent scenery! Thanks again for sharing your adventures!
I love it, Jeff! Words to live by, and a great recipe for happiness! Buddy’s usual cuppa joe is warm broth from the meat juices of a dinner we’ve made poured over some kibble. He slurps that up with relish and is ready for a day of running around!
Love the small coffee shops and would rather stop at one than the chains. Since we live in Montana, we have them all over. I was a shock when we traveled East that they don’t have them. Was glad to get back West. My dogs too know what a drive in window is!!! They are totally disappointed when sometimes they don’t get a treat back. They will have to try a “puppaccino” when we travel to Michigan this summer. Plan on taking your route, since you did such a nice job of letting us see what was there. Thanks for a nice article.
You’ll have a great time on that route to the U.P. and back this summer. Even though there won’t be any coffee kiosks after the first few hundred miles, you’ll still find plenty of great coffee and so much beauty too!! Definitely stop in at Harbor Hope Coffee in St. Ignace if you get that way and make sure your pup gets a puppaccino, and most of all, have a blast!!
Puppaccino! An instant classic. If I were you, I would reach out to Nestle, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, etc. to have them sponsor Buddy in his own television commercials. Soon, every dog in America will be barking for a puppaccino. 😉
Very funny, Bob! The young girl who came up with the idea is very sweet and the commercials would definitely have to have her in a starring role. She’d be making puppaccinos for lots of grateful pups!
Such fun – just missing a shot of you both sipping a favorite cuppa joe….at the pick-up window !!!!
That would be cute. Next time!!
Hey, Emily! Whenever you and Mark need another creative outlet, try book publishing. Your collection of coffee kiosk pics would make an amazing coffee table book. So colorful and each with a personality of its own. Buddy could write the intro and place a paw stamp next to his favorites. By the way, Alaskans must love their coffee, too – these kiosks are all over Anchorage.
What a cute idea, Mary, especially the paw print next to Buddy’s favorites!! We haven’t been to Alaska yet, but when we go we’ll be looking forward to lots of pit stops for great coffee. I had no idea these kiosks were popular in Anchorage!!
I can’t tell you how many of these we have visited. You got pics of 4 of them! LOL. Love the puppachino!
You’ve been to four of them, Annie? Amazing!!! We love ’em and look forward to them each summer!!
You can tell just by looking which ones of these are former Fotomat booths.
Very funny. Great repurposing for the digital age!
Great photos! We aren’t big on coffee but we do enjoy a bowl of frozen yogurt on occasion. We always have to buy a small bowl of vanilla for our dog, Rufus. Oh, and yes, he knows when we go to our local shop 🙂
Rufus is a smart pup! Who can resist a bowl of vanilla frozen yogurt?
I love your blog, it’s one of the ones my husband and I read as we prepare to go full-time ourselves. This one in particular, struck a chord, as I used to live in the Pacific Northwest and absolutely loved having all these little coffee kiosks everywhere I went, even in really remote areas. This post brought a big smile to my face, and has made me even more impatient to hit the road! Four more months to go!
You are going to have a blast when you hit the road, Patricia. There is so much to see and do in our beautiful country and in Canada and Mexico too. Thank you for following our blog and think of us when you stop at that first coffee kiosk when you get back to the Pacific Northwest!