Casper, Wyo.: Judging a town by its coffee

Road Journals Blog—I judge a town by its coffee shops—and Starbucks doesn’t count. Neither do Peet’s, Caribou, or Seattle’s Best.

The coffee shop I want to find is local. It doesn’t need to roast its own beans, but I keep my fingers crossed that they were roasted within a half-day’s drive. Maybe it doubles as a bakery. (No matter how good a coffee drive-thru is, it doesn’t count. I need something on which to sit and drink in some local flavor with my double espresso.)

Coffee | David Joyce?Flickr

I found a winner my first morning in Casper: Metro Coffee. A block off 2nd Street on the main downtown drag—with windows looking over the brick Casper Fire Department Station 1—Metro serves DazBog coffee, roasted about four hours down I-25, in Denver. It also has house-made cinnamon rolls the size of my face. Americanos and espressos are the same price ($2 for a double), and the Wi-Fi is free.

Walls are bright green, and the artwork is local and for sale. The furniture is an eclectic mix of oak and Formica tables, and thrift-shop couches that practically beg you to spend a few hours sitting in them reading a book or newspaper. Nothing matches.

One thing that won me over was the lack of impulse-buy items so frequently found crowded around coffee-shop cash registers. There’s little here besides coffee, tea, and fresh baked goods.

My friends are all aware of my obsession with coffee shops—or at least with a certain type of coffee shop. When I’m asked what makes a coffee shop perfect, I have no ready answer. Perfect coffee shops—and I believe there can be many types of perfect coffee shop—aren’t described as much as discovered.

And Metro is one.

What do you look for in a great coffee shop? Any suggestions for local places of note around the West?

Dina Mishev wrote about Casper, Wyo., for the September/October 2011 issue of VIA.

Metro Coffee | Dina Mishev

This blog post was first published in September 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.


I could not agree more with the author. A town or City is, more times than naught, judged by it's particular brand of local coffee house. I am at the crux of this discussion in my town.
In June , of 2010, I opened my own coffee bar in Modesto, California. I had, previously, been working as the wholesale director for one of the Nation's most award winning micro-roasters previously, but was tired of my commute. My local friends & family always complained about the lack of a quality cup, so I found the demand perfect for my type of supply.
I was fortunate in securing a storefront, in downtown Modesto, that had been an independent cafe since the 70's, so the Serrano Social Club was born.
I do not roast, but bring a variety of amazing World class roasters to the cups, counters and homes of a community that would otherwise not find available.

Our dedication to quality has garnered mention in Imbibe Magazine, 2010's epicurean mag of the year, As 'Where to go now' for best prepared coffee & tea. Barista Magazine's June/July 2011 issue interviewed me for the cover story and said that I was, "changing the rural specialty landscape". July 2011 left our town with a rare economic example, when a Starbucks closwithhold an independent thrived...they were two blocks away. And recently, Recording artist, LeAnn Rimes posted on Twitter after a visit and the flood gates opened with local folks who didn't know we existed, so there is always room for more exposure and research to find an indie coffee house.

This was fun. I, too, am a coffee enthusiast and am walking distance from both a Peet's and a Starbucks. That's one reason it's fun to live in San Francisco. Glad to see coffee and art happenings in Casper. I was born a few miles up the road in Buffalo, Wyoming, even cosier than Casper.

There is a coffee house in which opened two years ago in downtown Pittsburg California you should try, it shares a building with a bank, one side bank and other coffee house with local artists artwork displayed, local pastries and wonderful coffee and teas. Steeltown Coffee & Tea is a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy a great cup of coffee made correct, no automatic machine to think for the baristas they have to do it all one their own expertise. Stop by if you're ever in the neighborhood as many people from Pittsburg do daily. Steeltown Coffee & Tea 695 Railroad Ave Pittsburg CA.

Come check out the Tea Room Cafe in Petaluma, California!

Santa Cruz CA has several good coffee shops, but my favorite is Abbey. Located in a wing of a church, It has the eclectic mix of furniture arranged in a way that promotes conversation or a small meeting if you like, privacy if you don't, wi-fi with a good supply of students hanging out with laptops (some of us much older types like this perc as well), a reasonable selection of local baked goods and really good coffee that is roasted in town. Good place to go whether you are alone or with a group of friends.

Try Alley Cat in Fort Collins.

Or Cafe Besalu in Seattle.

Both are almost worth the drive from SF... ;)

Serrano Social Club in Modesto, CA at 1030 J St. downtown will meet (and beat) your criteria by a mile. Best coffee and conversation ever (and local baked flavor by Pure Love Bakery).