Coffee Shop Talk
Most Missoulians are loyal to their favorite shops and seldom branch off to other places. But if you were to ask a stranger, it’s likely they would quickly spout off the name of one of the many options Missoula has to offer: Black Coffee Roasting Company, The Break, Liquid Planet, Zootown Brew, or Clyde Coffee.
No matter what your favorite coffee shop vibe is in Missoula, chances are that you’ve been to one of the 39 shops at least once. And favorite coffee shops mean loyal customers.
“I’ve worked at a few different coffee shops in Seattle and Portland and honestly, our customers treat us really well and are respectful,” said a Zootown Brew employee. “Even if it’s crazy busy, they are really understanding of the time it takes to get out a nice drink.”
Many college students frequent coffee shop who use the space to work on homework, exams, and group projects, providing consistent business for coffee shops. Most are proud “campers.” They sprawl out their notebooks, pens, pencils and other homework essentials across the table next to the closest power outlet.
Once the “camper” settles, they mosey up to the counter and order whatever meets the minimum requirement for using a credit/debit card. After they post their latte art on Instagram, they put in their headphones, make themselves comfortable and spend the first 30 minutes surfing around social media websites , pausing every once in awhile to take a Snapchat selfie captioned “studying photo” which displays the area their crap has taken over.
After all, nothing ever happens unless it’s posted on social media.
According to Statistic Brain, 54 percent of Americans drink coffee. There are 100 million coffee drinkers across the country. Coffee drinkers spend an average of $164.71 per year to quench their addiction.
Some broke college students feel torn about how much they should spend. Three dollars for a piece of (insert favorite topping here) toast may seem a little ridiculous to some college students, whereas others love the “Pacific Northwestern vibe” that seems to include high prices for good quality.
University of Montana student Alex Baadsgaard will often ask this question in coffee shops, “why are your treats so expensive?”
“I don’t want to pay five dollars for a muffin,” Baadsgaard adds.
Missoulians rely on coffee shops for a few reasons. Many go looking for a peaceful, relaxing environment to study in. Some customers meet for interviews, business, or to catch up with old friends.
Although coffee shops are productive places for some, however for others the customers can be a problem. UM senior Berkley Svingen enjoys studying at coffee shops but sometimes has problems focusing when other customers are obnoxious.
“When people play music or a video without headphones on is distracting,” Svingen said. “I also don’t like when people take a table with an outlet when they don’t need one.
Cameron Best, a barista at The Break Espresso, said that customers at The Break are mostly college students or professionals. Dennis Curtis, an aspiring filmmaker, uses The Break as his place of work almost every day and added that one of his favorite things about the coffee shop is their customer service. Curtis feels that the Break’s customer service is better compared to other coffee shops in Missoula, particularly corporate-owned stores.
Tracy Sullivan, general manager at The Liquid Planet-Higgins Street location, described her shops clientele as a “cross-section of humanity.” Sullivan said that Liquid Planet’s clientele is a mix ranging from tattoo artists to lawyers. Sullivan said the five Liquid Planet locations across Missoula each have a different environment. She described the Higgins location as more “hippy” compared to its counterparts.
But then again, one of the strangest requests Sullivan has ever had came from the business’ airport location when a customer asked her if they could steam their breast milk.
Liquid Planet regulars like the atmosphere as well. Greg “The Octopus” Nowak, a chess instructor who spends most evenings at the Higgins location, said that he likes the range of seating offered at Liquid Planet compared to other coffee shops in Missoula. Nowak is often seen teaching and playing chess at the coffee shop.
“Liquid Planet is my home away from home,” Nowak said.
Another Missoula hotspot is City Brew on Broadway. The baristas described their clientele similarly to how Liquid Planet did: a blend of college students, working professionals and some people who are passing through Missoula, looking for time to kill.
In Missoula, coffee shops are a plentiful, and there is one for every scene. Whether you enjoy traditional commercialized non-fat soy latte, or an indie environment, Missoula has something for you.