Story and photos by Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – When visitors enter Opie Jahn’s new Big Sky coffeehouse, they are greeted by a wave of energy that emanates from the business owner himself. Jahn and his wife Annie Burd run Caliber Coffee’s storefront in the West Fork Meadow shopping center.
Jahn greets his customers with enthusiasm and familiarity, either from behind the counter as he prepares coffee from his own roasted beans, or from the comfort of his eclectic array of couches and chairs. With Ozzy Osbourne playing in the background, Jahn waves his fingers madly at the espresso machine, with a wide smile on his face.
“The coffee costs money,” he said. “The shows and my opinion are free.”
His décor also serves as a greeting, with chalkboard menu signs, burlap coffee bags, a vintage moustache couch and a couple of animal wall mounts, all welcoming customers to a space of comfort and energy.
Jahn began his roasting business in 2014, in response to his obsession with a good cup of coffee, after having used it to help him quit drinking alcohol. First thing in the morning, he would pull out the scales and the thermometer and get to work roasting his own coffee at home.
“It developed into a monster,” Jahn said.
With encouragement from his friends, Jahn took a course on roasting and started his business, Caliber Coffee, Inc. Two years later, on Feb. 1 of this year, he expanded the business by opening the new coffeehouse, located near Gallatin Alpine Sports on Snowy Mountain Circle. And Jahn knew going into the endeavor, he would be spending a lot of time at the new location.
“My dad has a saying,” he said. “‘The best part about owning your own business is you only work half days. It doesn’t matter which 12-hour shift.’”
With this in mind, he set about decorating Caliber Coffee based on his own tastes and interests. He wants to feel comfortable, as if he’s in his own living room, he said.
Customers have responded well to the new space. Vito Valentinetti is a Caliber Coffee regular, and he’s stopped in nearly every day since it opened.
“I’d been waiting for a dedicated coffeeshop to open here at this location,” Valentinetti said. A website designer, he enjoys having a space he can work at outside of his home.
“They built a cozy, cool place to hang out,” Valentinetti said.
“We’re not done yet,” Jahn said. He pointed to an expanse of maps pinned to the wall. “I want to be more than a coffeehouse. I know I look like a tattooed hippie, but really I’m a redneck.”
An active member of Big Sky Search and Rescue, as well as a former ski and hunting guide, Jahn hopes to create an environment of adventure and community.
“Before you go on your adventure, I want you to be able to get a sandwich for your pack, coffee to fuel your day and all the information on area conditions,” Jahn said. He already prints and hangs the regional avalanche and Gallatin River fishing reports. Eventually, he would like to have a logbook for customers to share their experiences and tell stories about their adventures, including details about conditions.
In addition to providing backcountry knowledge, Jahn would like to see a sense of community grow at his shop. Referring to our screen-connected society, he said he wants a real social network at Caliber Coffee, where people get off their phones and communicate face to face.
Currently, Caliber Coffee is the meeting place for a local knit and crochet group, and if other area groups need a meeting place, or just a space to hang out, Jahn is open to the idea.
“Come in and talk to me,” he said.
Caliber Coffee is located at 80 Snowy Mountain Circle in Big Sky and is open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.