WHEATLAND – The question most old timers asked entering a new town was, “where can I get a good cup of joe?”
Platte County offers some incredible and sustainable commodities, and among the specialties that this county is home to is the Cheyenne Coffee Company, a company developed by Bill and Kris Born. Although it is not a sit-down coffee shop per se, you can order directly from them.
Located on the outskirts of town in the shadows of the eastern Rocky Mountain’s Laramie Range is a mom and pop coffee shop unlike anything you’ll see within a couple of hundred miles. Their greeting is warm and steaming like a warm hug in a mug.
“Welcome to the Cheyenne Coffee Company. We believe that everyone is entitled to a fresh cup of coffee.”
The Borns both grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lived there for most of their younger lives. When Bill wanted to seek out a better job, Kris suggested Colorado where the couple relocated to in 1987. They spent two years there before moving to Wyoming where Bill hooked on with the Laramie River Station – Basic Electric Power Cooperative.
He stayed there for 17 years until back problems forced him to retire. As that door closed, an open window with the smell of freshly-brewed coffee sent him head-first into his passion and turned his hobby into a lucrative Wyoming business.
Passions are interesting and how we step into them are all wonderous stories.
“It was just something I was reading on the internet that caught my interest,” Bill said. “So, I bought some green beans because I was tired of grocery store coffee. It just didn’t suit my taste. Everything I read said that fresh roasted coffee tastes so much better. So, I wanted to try it.”
Since the first purchase of those green beans, the Borns were hooked. The company now has a supplier who finds for them some of the best Arabica beans available. Bill also started with his first roaster and those beans which he still has on a shelf today. It resembles a hand popcorn maker and the beans were roasted on the stove.
The early experimentation which amounted to be the start of the Cheyenne Coffee Company turned out better than the Borns expected. The marketing in those early days was equally as successful and unconventional.
From a popcorn popper the beans were roasted and ground, and Kris would fill Bill’s coffee thermos each day that he went to work. The coffee was so good that they began to pass the thermos around the breakroom and the orders started flooding in.
It’s perhaps a Wisconsin thing. Homemade anisette, wine and beer are made regularly in the small bergs and hollows of the Badger State. Some of it turns out pretty good. The more they drink, the better the reputation. So, instead of having the relatives and friends come over for free liquor in northern Wisconsin, many homes are turned into basement bars, they acquire liquor licenses and set up shop simply because at some point they have to start charging the relatives.
“It got to be I would bring a thermos of coffee to work and guys would be coming into the machine shop and pouring my coffee,” Bill said. “Pretty soon, I didn’t have any coffee for me. Then I would start selling it to guys at work that wanted me to do that. You can give those guys a good cup of coffee and they’ll remember it.”
As things progressed and business for coffee to the guys in the machine shop the corn-pop roaster just didn’t cut it.
“After the corn-popper roaster, then he bought a table-top roaster,” Kris said.
They started experimenting with roasting at that point as to times and heat temperatures and to become more consistent, they moved toward computerization of their mixes and eventually their blends. Especially those secret blends that Bill won’t share with anyone, but have been very addictive in a very good way.
“Our secret blends are our Cheyenne blend, breakfast blend and our espresso blend,” Bill said. “All these coffees can be purchased locally at Thrifty Foods, Simply Creative, Drube’s, Country Store, to name just a few.”
One of the outstanding organizations that the Cheyenne Coffee Company sows into is the Wheatland Volunteer Fire Department.
“When we first started the company, we wanted to do something for the community, so we went to the volunteer fire department here,” Bill said. “We set them up with a big coffee brewer and we give them all their coffee for free. We’ve been doing that for seven years.”
The Cheyenne Coffee company has a heart that is said to be Wyoming Friendly.
“We think that, as a local business, we want to give something back to the community,” Kris said. “And we do other things through donations, but we wanted one specific place that we thought needed our coffee and that we could help them save money, so we picked the volunteer fire department. We provide all their coffee and their brewing equipment.”
The process to hand roast coffee is not easy. It is more of a science and must be consistent so people are getting the same tasting coffee each time they pour a cup. The beans, which come from Rwanda, Mexico, Costa Rico, Brazil and other world coffee-growing centers are chosen carefully by their importer who makes sure the beans are coming from quality family farms where the laborers are making better money and the product that comes back doesn’t have rocks and sticks and metal.
Once an order is placed, the computer connects to the roaster and the correct amount of beans is then loaded. Time and temperature is calculated to the very second and according to Bill, the heat that causes the bean to burst is key to the flavor to release both sugars and oils from the beans.
After roasting to exact specifications, the roasted beans are then dropped into a quick cooler which prevents the beans from overcooking. Within five minutes the beans are cooled and ready to be packaged.
The duo of Bill and Kris, who actually went to school to learn how to roast and are certified roasters are the only employees of the Cheyenne Coffee Company. Bill does all the roasting and packaging and Kris handles the shipping and the business side of the operation.
They work effortlessly side by side and one would wonder if they have to have their coffee before working with their spouse all day.
According to Kris, “We are small enough to custom roast your coffee, but advanced enough to embrace the latest technology, providing consistently roasted coffee.”
More information as to the coffee, ordering and roasting, you can visit at their website: www.CheyenneCoffeeCompany.com or you can call them directly at 307-351-0247.
To see the complete interview with the Bill and Kris Born, they will appear on a future episode of HOMESPUN which is our web-based television program featuring the people of Platte County. Go to: pcrecordtimes.com for more information about Homespun.