Episode 12: NoMi Coffee Shop Lovin’

I was back in NoMi (Northern Michigan for those who don’t know) for a wedding this weekend and I just couldn’t be back up North without stopping at a few of my favorite coffee shops and sharing them on the blog!

This post will feature three local nomi coffee shops: Brew TC, Breakaway Cafe & Coffeehouse and Ursa Major Bistro.

Brew TC

I have been a major fan of Brew TC for years. Growing up outside of Traverse City has made it pretty hard not to enjoy this downtown staple. Anyone who lives in or visits downtown TC has probably heard many things about this lovely place.

I met up with one of my best friends and college roommates, Molly at Brew for some lunch and coffee. We chatted about everything – our college friends, what’s new in our lives, our jobs, you name it – and caught up after a year away from each other.

Brew was packed – as it always is – and we found a booth in the back to enjoy ourselves in and be slightly removed from everyone else – we have a tendency to be the loudest ones in the room.

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We happened to meet up on #Plaidurday, the worldwide celebration of Plaid – and both of our favorite holidays – so it made the outing even more special!

Breakaway Cafe & Coffee Bar

After leaving Brew, Molly took me to her favorite coffee shop in the area. I had never been to Breakaway before because it is on the opposite side of TC and is pretty out of my way. I knew it existed, but just never stopped in. I am so glad that I finally did!

Breakaway has a very fun & unique theme – water, surf, bikes. It’s very outdoorsy and adventurous! I love that Breakaway has a themed link to water. Being very connected to water myself, I find myself drawn to anything lake, ocean, and river themed. Totally my scene. It reminds me of Double Shot Cyclery (read my post about Double Shot here). I also like that it’s tucked into a cute little strip mall and off the main roads.

I filled my mason jar with the house dark roast, bought a scone and a sticker and grabbed a seat by the window. We didn’t stay at Breakaway very long since I had to get back home, but it was so nice to spend my day with Molly and to explore a new coffee shop! I will have to stop by next time I am back in Michigan and write a blog post specifically for Breakaway because they deserve some attention.

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Ursa Major Bistro

Alright y’all. This one holds a special place in my heart. Located downtown Beulah – my hometown – and just three minutes from the house that I grew up in, this small cafe has been home to multiple owners, names, and venues over the years – many of them restaurants and cafes, but the oldest one that I am aware of dates back to a gas station from my grandfather’s early adulthood.

In addition to being right down the road from the place I grew up, I worked at the Ursa for a summer serving tables, running the cash register and having a great time. When I started working here, the Ursa was Blue Caribou Cafe, but shortly after I was hired, we were forced to re-brand after being sued by Caribou Coffee Company (read more here).

I stopped at Ursa Major each day that I was home. They use beans from Roaster Jack (I will write a post about Roaster Jack someday. I promise!) which is one of my favorite local Northern Michigan coffee companies so I had to get my fill. I also can’t stop eating the lemon ginger scones that my former employer bakes every few mornings.

The morning I left Michigan to fly back to Colorado, I walked down to Ursa Major, grabbed my coffee and walked home. It was the perfect end to my quick trip back to my hometown.

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I can’t wait for my next visit – I have quite a few more coffee shops to feature.

This is Episode 12 of The Flannelogues.

-JD

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Episode 11: Double Shot Cyclery

Sorry for the hiatus, y’all! I’ve been super busy opening residence halls and welcoming new students to campus. Who knew that welcoming students to college was so difficult? It’s long days and lots of work, but holy cow, have I loved every second of it!

I took the morning off because I just craved some coffee and conversation. And three hours of coffee and conversation was just what I needed.

Y’all know that I’m obsessed with creating spaces for people to feel safe and comfortable and warm, which is why I love coffee shops. I also love creating spaces in which dialogue can occur and deep, meaningful conversations happen. So that’s exactly what I did. I grabbed my dear friend and hit up Double Shot for a while.


Allow me to introduce you to someone I love. Brooke Christopherson is a beautiful soul with an unmatched energy. Brooke has a smile as bright as the sun. She is intelligent, bright and positive, funny and has a heart of pure gold. She has this incredible story and I am so grateful to be part of it.

I met Brooke this summer while working on campus as an intern. She was working as an Orientation Coordinator and was planning all aspects of the new student orientation experience. Being a former Orientation Leader, I connected with what she was doing and I connected with her energy immediately and I knew I needed to be friends with her.

After a long orientation and welcome week we both needed to get off campus, and being the coffee-obsessed humans that we both are, agreed on a coffee date.

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Brooke and I shared three hours of deep, meaningful conversation and multiple cups of coffee.

We shared our stories, talked about college and graduate school and dreamed up our futures. We talked about our passions for travel and adventure. We spoke about Brooke’s gap year and volunteering abroad and how I found myself here in Gunnison.

We spent a long time talking about sense of space and feeling connected to our community, where we live and our fit into that place. We both consider Gunnison home for wildly different reasons but it’s the commonality in that that brings people together. That is just how Gunnison works. It’s magical.


Since moving to Gunnison, I have met so many incredible people with so many amazing stories. I have gotten deep with my staff, students and friends like Brooke. I love that Gunnison is a place in which dialogue and “deep talks” can be created. I love Brooke and I love my team. I love coffee and the abundance of shops in the Valley. I love the energy and the vibe surrounding this beautiful community.

Thank you Brooke for chatting this morning and for always being a ray of sunshine. I can’t wait for our next coffee date – I’m sure there will be many more this year. Love ya, sister!

Find your peace, y’all. Follow the sun!

-JD

So follow, follow the sun, the direction of the bird, the direction of love” – Xavier Rudd

 

Episode 10: Midland Stop, etc.

Hello and happy Saturday!

It’s my first day off in three weeks which means I have a lot to be excited about! I slept in until 8:15 this morning and then packed a bag and drove from Gunnison to Buena Vista…just for coffee and gelato. Yes, I did in fact drive an hour and a half just to get coffee and gelato. I know…I may be slightly crazy.

I haven’t done nearly as much exploring as I have wanted to this summer, and since it’s my day off and raining I decided on coffee instead of a hike.


I arrive at Midland Stop around 11:15am. Ain’t No Man by the Avett Brothers is playing as I walk in and I am blown away because it was just playing in my car too. I walk over to a high top table in the corner by the window, set down my bag and go to the counter.

Both baristas look pretty young, but are very energetic and offer great customer experience. The young man that took my order was incredibly friendly. It was refreshing. Whenever I go into new places and there are young employees that are great at their job and have strong work ethic I get so excited about the future because sometimes working with college students I don’t get the best attitudes and behaviors.

I order a medium drip coffee and a small mint chip gelato for a total of just over five bucks! Woohoo!

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There are only two people in the small shop when I arrive. They occupy the bench along the wall and have resumes and cover letters scattered in front of them. I hear them talk about job application processes, edits that can be made to each item, and a new job opportunity in Leadville.

Two guys walk in and post up at the bar along the window. They are soon joined by a young woman. They all pull out computers and cameras. It looks from my seat like they are uploading and editing photo and video content. I wonder what they’re working on. Maybe they run a blog too?!

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A cute family walks in, goes up to the counter, places their order and take their drinks to go. I am suddenly reminded of Northern Michigan. Buena Vista gives off the same touristy vibe of the area that I grew up in. There are lots of adventurers donning Patagonia apparel, Chacos, and driving Jeeps or Subarus. I kinda like this small town. There seems to be a lot going on.

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The man and woman in the corner are still mulling over application materials and continue talking about jobs. A woman walks in by herself and sits at the single table right next to the bar along the window. She pulls out a computer and a notebook and works without distraction.

A young mother now comes in and takes the corner bench as resume guy and gal get up to leave.

Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root plays on the radio and a guy with a manbun and a dog walk past the window next to me.

It’s been just over an hour, I’ve finished both my gelato and my coffee and am now ready for lunch. There is a restaurant right across the street so I decide to give it a try. I pack up, buy a scone and a sticker as I leave, and walk across the street to the Eddyline where I order a spinach salad and an IPA.

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Buena Vista is Spanish for beautiful view and I can’t help but acknowledge the fact that everything I’ve seen today has been beautiful. I love the rain. I love the mountains. I love the BV downtown district. I love the service I received at Midland Stop. I love the river running through town. I love all of these people – beautiful, young, adventurers, each with their own story. I am happy to have a day off. I needed this.


After lunch, I head to another coffee shop that I’ve been dying to try – they have shops in both BV and Salida.

My favorite stuffed animal as a child was named Brown Dog, so when I first heard of Brown Dog Coffee Company I knew I’d love it. I stopped in and immediately fell in love. Everything about this cute little shop screamed Joel. It was so very me. I order a large dark roast to go and pick up a sticker from here as well. I take my coffee for the road, knowing that it’s a foggy and gray drive up the mountain on my way home and the warmth of a good coffee will help get me through.

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Wow! I didn’t realize how exhausted I was and how badly I needed this break until I got it. I’m so glad I took the day to focus on and reconnect with myself.

This is episode ten of The Flannelogues!

-JD

Episode 9: Double Shot Cyclery

After working all morning I needed a boost, and Hope, the other new RD was posted up at Double Shot Cyclery so I decided to join her. I arrive around 1:45pm.

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She was already in the booth by the window at the corner of the shop. Perfect! My favorite seat! 

I order a cold brew from my favorite barista in town – I should know his name, but sadly I don’t…time to step up my game – and join Hope at our booth.

The music playing today is on fire. I’m not sure if it is a playlist, Pandora, Spotify, or someone’s music library, but I am dancing from the moment I sit down – Hope is going to learn quickly how weird I am.

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We are the only people here for a few minutes. Then a middle aged couple comes in, sits down and drinks their coffees. They ask the barista about places to ski in the area, and how far we are from Crested Butte. A young woman walks in, orders an iced latte of some sort and takes it to go.

A few more people come in and order coffees to go, and then finally a young family comes in – a young couple with a double stroller and two young children, cutteee! The little boys ask what their parents are drinking and are calling the iced coffee drinks shakes. I can’t contain myself – cuteness overload. The younger of the two boys starts whining and they all get up to leave.

A police officer in uniform walks in and heads straight to the back where they work on bikes. He’s back there for a while. He walks out as I am taking a photo for this post, and we make awkward eye contact so I have to acknowledge him. I say “Hey pal, how’s it going?” at the same time that he does – great now he thinks I’m weird too. Oh well!

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Hope and I are left alone again. A Leon Bridges song plays overhead and I dance along. We both start dancing to Believer by Imagine Dragons as it comes on next. I don’t actually know this song, but Hope asks me if I can sing the “wooooo” part…I say no. We both laugh because I don’t know what’s happening.

We both listen to the music and sing along since we’re the only people here. No shame! Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked plays and we’re both jamming out.

A few more people walk in and peruse the bike gear along the wall and chat with the barista about it. Another young couple walks in behind them and order coffees and a chocolate chip cookie.

A long while goes by with no action at all at the cyclery, so I guess this concludes episode nine of The Flannelogues.

-JD

Episode 8: The Bean

I arrive at The Bean at 9:30 a.m. I walk inside and am immediately greeted by Martin and Shannon. We exchange giant hugs and smiles and they fire questions about my internship and new job at me.

It is so nice to be back in this little coffee shop my favorite coffee shop, surrounded by familiar faces, The Lumineers in the background, and the comfort and warmth of Good Folks and The Breaks coffee.

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There are only a few people here today. A young couple and their child sit at the table against the back wall. They seem to be a pretty progressive couple, as they are explaining to their daughter that there is no such thing as boy clothes and girl clothes, and that it’s rude to call people by names that they don’t want to be called. The mom and little girl leave shortly after I sit down and the father stays seated at the back table working on something, headphones in, papers sprawled around his computer.

An older couple walks in and takes the table directly behind me. They sit in almost silence for a few moments and are both reading on their phones – I assume email. The man starts talking about Trumpcare and I can’t determine whether or not he’s in favor of our current president.

The only other people in the shop are Martin and Shannon who both sit by the counter chatting to a man who works at the university. A few people come and go, but it’s pretty slow today.


I am going to miss The Bean. I realize that The Bean offers me a sense of home, community, and place. It is the place in which I connected with most in Vermillion. The Bean is warm and comfortable. There is always good music playing and a smiling face behind the counter. I can spend hours in this little shop. Correction: I have spent hours in this little shop. I am going to miss coming here every day.

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I am going to miss my dear friends Ed and Leslie and the family they’re building. My sweet Clare, it was so great to meet you. I can’t wait to hold you again. Maybe you’ll be walking by the time I visit next. I am going to miss the meaningful conversations shared with Martin and Shannon over the past year. I am going to miss the instant connection that Shannon and I had as Michiganders. I am going to miss drinking Fast Track – if you haven’t tried this roast from Good Folks Coffee based out of Louisville, Kentucky, I suggest you try it – out of super cute mugs. I am going to miss doing loads of homework here – the only place I ever got any work done. I am going to miss everything about The Bean, but I guess that’s what makes it so special to come back to.

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The older couple leaves after about twenty minutes, and it’s back to me and the man at the back table. I listen to the Hozier song playing on the radio and I sip my coffee, taking everything in for a moment. This is what I want to remember about The Bean on days when I am missing it.

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It’s been a great year here. Until next time!

This is episode eight of The Flannelogues.

-JD

Episode 7: Burnell’s Farmhouse Eatery

I’m not at a coffee shop today…but I am writing anyway. A new local business opened and I just had to try it out. I am a huge fan of food trucks so when one came to town, I was thrilled.

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Burnell’s Farmhouse Eatery was perfect for brunch this morning. I mean, really, what beats a food truck offering outdoor seating and fresh local ingredients? Only a coffee shop can beat this!

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I perused the menu and settled on something called Sweet Potato Sunshine. It was seriously heaven. If you’re looking for a great breakfast bowl, this is one you have to try!

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A bed of fresh lettuce, sliced sweet potatoes and black beans, topped with green chile – yummmmm! Try it with eggs too!

For only being open for two weeks, there was quite the crowd when I arrived. Two older couples with dogs shared the large table against the back fence. A couple with two young children sat at the table in front of them, closest to the truck. A few others meandered in as I ate.

I couldn’t stay very long, so I didn’t bring anything to work on or intend on writing about this, but it was too cool not to share with you all. They didn’t have specialty coffee but it was local, so I settled for a cup anyway.

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I look forward to coming back and trying other items on their menu and bringing friends with me next time.

This is episode seven of The Flannelogues.

-JD

 

Episode 6: Milagros Coffee House

Tanner, Marissa, and I hit the road, drove to Alamosa, and spent the day out of town. It feels good to get away every once in a while.

I liked Alamosa more and more as we wandered the city. It is a quaint little town with historic buildings, an old downtown district, and a lot of character. It gives off an inner city vibe, but we are nowhere near a large city – I like it. It’s fascinating that there are so many homeless people here…not the case in Gunnison. I feel a draw to this little place, a need to help, a vision for a community that is rich and vibrant – or once was anyway.


We started our day at Marissa’s house. Her mom had prepared us lunch – huge shout out for the hospitality and for the handmade coffee mug! After being welcomed into this beautiful home, sharing lunch and meaningful conversation, we decided to check out the local scene. With Marissa as our tour guide, me in full-on tourist mode and Tanner as our trusty sidekick, we hit the streets of downtown with no plan in mind.

We stopped at The Roast, a local coffee shop that shares space with the San Luis Brewing Company. Unfortunately they were just closing so we couldn’t stay…another visit and another blog post will be in store because I absolutely have to go back here. It’s so cute!

Instead we jumped across the street and perused the little bookstore. I finally have friends who are readers! We all talked books, shared some of our favorites, and then walked down to Milagros Coffee House, where we now sit so I could write this post.

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I was curious what Milagros meant, but being in a city rich with Latino culture, I knew it was a Spanish word. I googled it and found this. I love that it is a religious folk charm, and that it translates to miracle or surprise. It fits the vibe that the shop gives off.

It’s quiet here. There are quite a few people but none of them talk. They’re all working on things individually. There are two girls sitting by themselves at tables along the window. One man sits alone by the front door. A young man on the couch has headphones in and appears to be watching a movie on his laptop. Behind him are the only two people in the cafe sitting at the same table. They both have plates in front of them, but I can’t tell what they’re eating.


The three of us sit in the back corner at the most wobbly table I think I’ve ever sat at – Thanks T and M for resting your elbows on the table so I can type this. A Mumford and Sons song is playing on the radio and I am at ease. The atmosphere surrounding this shop is lighthearted and peaceful. Their WiFi password is loveothers. If that doesn’t paint you a picture of the vibe that this place gives off, look at the pictures below. It’s very spiritual and uplifting and positive. The shop is owned and operated by a local nonprofit that helps feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and give back to the community.

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Taylor Swift’s Trouble is now playing and Tanner and Marissa ignore me as I sing along. They’re both on their phones, as I type this. Shame on me for dragging them here just so I can write a blog post, right? Nahhhhhh!

I look at the empty table next to us and I find out that Milagros hosts a trivia night on Wednesdays. I am becoming a big fan of trivia. Bar trivia is something I look forward to every Tuesday in Gunnison, but coffee shop trivia is definitely something I can get on board with – I will keep this in mind for my future shop.

The two across the shop from us that were eating get up and leave and they struggle with the door as they walk out. It’s a push, y’all…doors are hard sometimes.

Cooler Than Me by Mike Posner plays and I laugh as Tanner and Marissa argue about something next to me. The two of them are so competitive and this song is defining our relationship right now. As the only noncompetitive one in the group I am often the mediator of conflicts and games. It’s all in good fun, though!

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One of the ladies by the window gets up and leaves. I never seem to pick a time to write when the coffee shop is busy. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not.

Marissa is now telling Tanner how girls in coffee shops are better than girls in the gym. She points out the girl sitting by the window. She’s an athlete and a bookworm. She sits at the coffee shop alone and does her work meaning that she is dedicated and focused. I am beginning to realize how much Marissa picks up on cues that people give her. Being the daughter of counselors, she’s really good at reading people. Tanner laughs at this and goes back to his phone.

The barista draws the blinds as the late afternoon sun shines in on us. He wipes the empty tables around us as Marry Me by Train plays on the radio. The late afternoon settles in around us and I feel very comfortable here in this moment, with this company. I’m thankful that I have these great friends, and the ability to escape campus and work for a day. I am excited to continue exploring Colorado and the local coffee shops here. Alamosa, I’ll be back!

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Way Down We Go by Kaleo is now playing on the radio. This is one of my favorite songs. Yessss! Tanner and Marissa are playing Would You Rather next to me and I am laughing at some of their scenarios..aka…”would you rather eat crab legs every day for the rest of your life or wake up and take a shot of tequila every day for the rest of your life”. I think we’ve been here for too long…they’re starting to get restless.

I wrap up this post as Move Your Body by Sia plays. It is fitting that this song is my exit song because everyone knows how much I adore Sia!

This is episode six of The Flannelogues.

-JD