Cortez’s newest coffee bar is in a somewhat unusual location: a bicycle shop.
Kokopelli Bike and Board added coffee and espresso drinks to its product inventory at the beginning of March. The shop serves coffee from the Durango-based roasting company 81301 and pastries from Lazy T Orchard in Dolores. So far, the espresso bar is a small operation with only one barista, but eventually the owners hope to make it a major part of their business.
The shop’s owners, Pete Eschallier and Scott Darling, said they decided to start serving coffee partly as a way to draw customers to their store, even as it becomes easier to shop for bikes and other sporting goods online.
“You can’t buy hot coffee on Amazon,” Darling said.
Eschallier also said that customers who come in for repairs often ask about the nearest coffee shop where they can wait for their bikes to be fixed. That made him and Darling think there might be a market for a coffee shop inside the store.
“We had the space, and we thought there was a need,” he said.
The timing has also worked out in their favor, Darling said. One of Main Street’s most popular coffee shops, San Juan Coffee, closed recently, which could drive up the demand for caffeine in town.
Unlike most other coffee shops in the Cortez area, Kokopelli will serve mostly espresso and plain brewed coffee, rather than what Darling calls “dessert drinks.” They also plan to focus more on quality than quickness when it comes to their brewing methods. Instead of drip machines, they use pour-overs, a French press and the “vacuum pot” or siphon method, which uses water pressure and an elaborate filtration system to create a smooth–but slow–cup of coffee.
The barista, Arlina O’Camb, said that’s her favorite type of coffee because the process is so much fun to watch.
“If you’re in a rush, it’s not the coffee you want to grab,” she said. “It’s really more about the aesthetic.”
As summer approaches, Darling wants to add cold brews and iced drinks to the menu. He also hopes to install seating and a lounge area near the bar, to encourage customers to stay in the store longer.
The coffee bar got its health certification on March 1, and Kokopelli held a sparsely attended “soft opening” the following Friday. Darling said he hopes to collaborate with the Chamber of Commerce to hold a bigger opening event soon, but he isn’t sure of the date yet.
So far, most of the people who have bought Kokopelli’s coffee are regular customers who heard about it through word of mouth, since the store hasn’t widely advertised its new feature. But Darling said the response has been positive, and he feels the store is ready to handle a crowd of coffee drinkers, if need be.
“We’re all coffee drinkers, but have never really run a coffee shop, so we’re trying to keep it slow,” he said. “But ... now we have all of our coffee where at least we think it’s tasting good.”