By Renae Counter Explorebigsky.com Contributor
Friday morning started out with a rush of unheard alarms, a loose bicycle chain and looming storm clouds. Flying out of the house, I barely had time to finish my luke-warm coffee. By one o’clock that afternoon, I was ready for the day’s second cup.
From a block away, I could already smell the aroma of fresh coffee as I rode my newly chained bike down Idaho Street to Dillon’s newest coffee shop, Montana Morning Coffee.
Most coffee shops are known for their hip vibe, cool atmosphere and of course great coffee. Montana Morning Coffee has all of that, plus one added feature. Behind the ordering counter is a steel contraption that looks like it belongs more in a laboratory than a coffee house. Inside the device, hundreds of coffee beans were being tossed around, roasted to perfection before being served as the perfect cup of coffee.
Mary Anne Wofford, owner and operator of Montana Morning Coffee, has been roasting her own coffee for nearly six years.
“It started one day when my son came home and said he had the best cup of coffee ever,” Wofford explained. “I looked into the source and found that the shop was roasting their own coffee beans. I thought, let’s give this a try and see if it’s something we want to do.”
Wofford started roasting from home, out of what she referred to as a “high-tech popcorn popper.” She would roast a bag at a time for her family and friends to enjoy.
As Wofford‘s interest in coffee roasting grew, she took her product to the streets, selling it at Dillon’s Farmer’s Market. Interest from the community also peaked, and soon Wofford was taking special orders for one pound bags of coffee from her costumers.
She also began selling coffee at Bannack Days, an event held in the nearby ghost town of Bannack, Mont.
“We roast the coffee over a campfire, wearing clothing from that era. We really get to go back in time,” she said. That sense of living history makes it one of Wofford’s favorite events.
With the help of her husband and two children, Wofford was able to open a place in Dillon to roast, brew and sell her coffee. Though the roaster that takes up a sizeable portion of the back counter is automated, she still takes pride in every batch. The beans are roasted one pound at a time and made to costumer’s order.
“My favorite thing about roasting my own coffee is when people notice the difference in the taste,” Wofford said.
I ordered one of the specials. To the eye it looks like a normal, 12 ounce cup of brewed coffee, but it’s actually the product of a much longer process. Instead of the traditional drip method, Wofford makes her coffee from a cold brew extraction. The coffee is bought in cold water and it takes up to 24 hours to brew. The result is an aromatic, thick coffee syrup. Made to order, the syrup is mixed with hot water to the costumer’s liking.
“Cold brewing takes a lot longer,” Wofford explained. “You can’t just throw on a pot, you have to plan ahead, but it’s worth it. This method eliminates the bitterness and acidity that normal coffee has.”
The difference is noticeable. My afternoon pick-me-up may have been the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. It’s smooth, flavorful and, if I dare say, perfect.
Wofford offers a full selection of shop favorites including lattes, cappuccino and mochas, which can all be ordered hot or iced. Along with coffee, Wofford also does specialty baking. Her treats include cupcakes, brownies and cinnamon rolls, often created by her daughter.
“It doesn’t matter how little or much you order,” Wofford said. “I’ve done up to 180 special order mini-cupcakes before.”
After an hour of coffee drinking and rebooting, my morning started over in the middle of the afternoon.
“When you think of a morning in Montana—the beauty, the warmth—why not have it with a cup of Montana coffee?” Wofford said. “I strive to capture that Montana morning feel in my coffee.”
Montana Morning Coffee is located at 25 S. Idaho St. in Dillon. Currently, the shop is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wofford will also be roasting in front of the Apex Mining House during Bannack Days, scheduled for the third week in July.