By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor
BIG SKY – As of June 12, Caliber Coffee is back open for business, serving house-roasted coffee and sweet and savory food items from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. New owner Stephanie Alexander decided to keep the name but give the interior of the establishment a make-over.
“You can tell that a couple of girls took over,” said Alexander, who replaced the sofa with more tables and stools to better accommodate impromptu meetings, and pulled out the hanging partitions between the booths, giving the place a more spacious, airy feel. She’s also replacing the ammunition-themed mural with a gentler one by the same artist, Heather Rapp, and has hung a communal guitar and ukulele on the wall along with some uplifting art.
The menu has changed as well. Alexander has added smoothies and wheatgrass shots to the bar menu, and specialty drinks whose names—“caramel macchiato” comes to mind—one never would have dared utter under former owner Opie Jahn’s playfully cantankerous reign. Alexander’s mother Pam, will bring back the popular “Mama Bear breakfast burrito,” a local favorite from the Exxon drive-through days, and serve up biscuits and gravy, and quiche. Baked goods will be provided by Liz Michaelis, pastry chef at Rainbow Ranch. A lunch menu is in the works.
Alexander has been a barista since 1999 and attended the same roasting school as Jahn, at Idaho’s Diedrich Roasters, although at a different time. She worked at the Mud Hut in Bozeman before starting Big Sky Coffee & Tea, a drive-through coffee stand that shared the Exxon Mobile parking lot on Highway 191 for five years. Since selling that operation two years ago, she’s been the owner-operator of Yellowstone Tea Company in Livingston.
Alexander has long had plans to open a coffee shop in Big Sky—and had even purchased a roaster—but only when she learned that Jahn and his partner Annie Burd wanted to sell in May, did the timing feel right.
“I had plans to open up a roastery around the same time [as Jahn] but knew the community could only support one in town so I started a loose leaf tea company,” Alexander said. She also said she was wary of competing with as expert of a roaster as Jahn.
“I just hope we can keep roasting as good as Opie did,” Alexander said. After trying one of her unadulterated lattes, from this customer’s point of view, she’s right on track.
Although Alexander thought her Big Sky days were over, she’s excited to be back. “It’s a great community to be in—to be in the mountains and to make money. That’s pretty cool.”
It’s also pretty cool that Big Sky has a coffee shop again.