Support Your Local Cafe: A list of shops still serving great coffee

UPDATED – June 2, 2020

Things have gotten complicated for cafes lately. With customers not allowed to sit down or hang out, shop owners are changing the ways they do business.  Just because you can’t sit down inside of one now, doesn’t mean you can’t support your local coffee shop by ordering online or picking up from their location.


Big Creek Coffee Roasters – Hamilton, MT


As Montana prepares to enter Phase 2 of reopening the economy, cafes and restaurants are able to increase their capacity, while maintaining social distancing. One of those cafes is Big Creek Coffee Roasters in Hamilton, Montana. Big Creek is a Sweet Maria’s customer for over 15 years, and a Shrub customer since 2010.


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We are getting ready to open the doors on Monday!

A post shared by Big Creek Coffee Roasters (@bigcreekcoffeeroasters) on

When Covid-19 made coffee shops restrict their customers from entering their front doors, Big Creek served coffee, pastries and beans to go, through their streetside pickup window, and continued to roast and ship beans nationwide.

Facebook: @bigcreekcoffee
Instagram: @bigcreekcoffeeroasters
Twitter: @bigcreekcoffee

Big Creek Coffee Roasters
301 Main Street
Hamilton MT 59840


Duck-Rabbit coffee- Cleveland, OH

This one hits close to home. Starting back in 2012 we were lucky enough to call the Duck-Rabbit owner, Cal Verga, a co-worker. He came into the Sweet Maria’s fold with a minor interest in coffee and major focus on his college studies, only to leave a few years later with plans in hand to open a cafe/roastery and Philosophy degree in his back pocket! In the few years Cal worked for us, his interest in coffee, and coffee roasting specifically, grew into something much more meaningful and he eventually took over production roasting for the Sweet Maria’s subscription service. In 2016, shortly after moving back to his hometown of Cleveland, OH, Duck-Rabbit Coffee was born.

In just a few years since opening their doors, Duck-Rabbit Coffee have grown quite a bit, jumping from a single-person operation to employing half-dozen people. But in the last few months, the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic have not only halted growth, but have made it a challenge to make ends meet.

Cal, of course, had to close the inside of the shop, but they are still taking orders through it all. Duck-Rabbit maintains curbside service for to-go coffees and pastries, as well as bags of roasted beans. They usually have at least 4 single origin coffees available with options from Latin America and Africa being the norm.

Lucky us, Duck-Rabbit just launched their new lineup which includes Burundi Monge Murambi Hill and Guatemala Xinabajul Familia Villatoro, two coffees currently on our offer list as well. We thought this presents a unique opportunity for home roasters to compare their own roasted coffee with that of Duck-Rabbits – a chance to taste someone else’s roasting “take” on a coffee that you may already be familiar with.

We caught up with Cal earlier in the week in preparation for this blog post feature. I’ve always enjoyed Cal’s relaxed personality and calming demeanor, which I think comes through in his answers to our questions. Because of this, I decided to include the full text of the interview. Give it a read below.

Do yourself a favor and order a bag from Duck-Rabbit here. They ship fresh-roasted coffee several times each week. And if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and grab a cup. Say ‘hi’ for us too, will ya?


Facebook: Duck-Rabbit Coffee

Instagram: @duckrabbitcoffee

(Sweet Maria’s) When and how did you start roasting coffee?

(Cal) Actually, I got my start at Sweet Maria’s! I was studying philosophy at Berkeley and getting really interested in coffee, so I reached out to some coffee places that seemed cool. Sweet Maria’s hired me for a warehouse position. I began borrowing home roasting machines and tinkering around at home and eventually I started roasting for Sweet Maria’s subscription program.
Did you see it as a viable business opportunity right away, or was that something that came down the road?
To be honest, I was and am driven more by interest and passion than anything. Making it work as a viable business endeavor followed.
So what exactly is a “Duck Rabbit”?
Ludwig Wittgenstein was a prominent and highly influential 20th century philosopher. In his ‘Philosophical Investigations” Wittgenstein brings his readers’ attention to an image that can be seen as either a duck or a rabbit. For Wittgenstein this image helps illustrate how we see the world is dependent on how we’ve learned it to be. For example, we can imagine a people total ignorant of rabbits but quite familiar ducks being shown the duck-rabbit image and being able to see a duck but unable to see a rabbit because they have no idea what a rabbit is. We can further imagine those people being taught about rabbits and then shown the image again and we would expect them to be able to see a rabbit where they could not before. The physical data has remained unchanged but the arena from which they see the world has altered and led them to see things differently. At duck-rabbit coffee we see coffee as an object of refined taste. We treat it as such and try to present it as such so that others can see it and appreciate it as we do.
When did you open Duck Rabbit and with what roaster? Are you still using the same roaster?
Our cafe opened in May of 2016, but Duck-Rabbit coffee has been a roasting entity since April of 2014. Our first roast was roasted on Sweet Maria’s Probat L-12 and then sent to Cleveland to distribute and hopefully stir up some fervor. From there we roasted once on another L-12 in Indianapolis owned by Tinker Coffee who were just getting started at the time, and then I was roasting on Brioso’s Toper roaster for awhile and ferrying coffee back up to Cleveland to maintain a couple wholesale accounts and farmers markets we had going at the time while our vintage Probat G-12 was being refurbished in Germany. I am super grateful to Sweet Maria’s, Tinker, and Brioso for helping us out. So the G-12 was our company’s first roaster. It’s a beauty. It has a square face which is pretty rare. I believe Probat only made roasters with those square faces for a couple years. And with the refurbishing, it is a one of a kind roaster. We roast on a 2019 Probat P-12/2 now. It has all the bells and whistles with variable drum and fan speed. It is a pleasure to roast on. We are looking to modify our G-12 so that is functions more like the P-12/2.
I see you have two of our Rwandas on tap – do you roast both on roughly the same curve and would you mind sharing a general overview of your approach?
We have two wonderful Rwandas that we got from Coffee Shrub, Gitesi and Kageyo. Gitesi is a coffee we always look forward to and is a coffee we’ve offered every year since Duck-Rabbit’s inception, and Kageyo is also an awesome coffee that we’ve offered at least the last couple years. We approach these coffees a bit differently. Kageyo we’re looking to push sweetness and body more and develop some deeper fruited and spice flavors whereas with Gitesi we are looking to push acidity more.
We approach Gitesi more aggressively, giving it more heat early, a shorter roast, lower final temp. The Kageyo profile is more drawn out relative to Gitesi, less heat at the beginning, with more development at the end and a higher final temp. Either coffee would do well on either profile. Gitesi is super clean and sparkle-ee so we set out to make the cup more about those attributes whereas we feel Kageyo’s more covetable attributes are its sweetness, body, fruit and spice notes so we set out to make the cup more about those. At our cafe Gitesi is one of our pour-over options and Kageyo is our light, bright, adventurous espresso option. Both are tasting super fire.
How have you grown employee-wise since starting?
We have. Started with 1 and got to 6.
Have you been able to keep your employees given the new guidelines?
We’ve gone from 6 to 3 employees since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are a few of the biggest ways the lockdown has affected the way you operate?
At the cafe we have shortened our hours, gone to curbside service only, and have gone down to one barista working at a time. We are selling more retail bags of coffee at the shop. People are doing a lot more home brewing. The wholesale side of our business took a big hit, but we have been making up for it some with online sales. We’d been working on revamping our website leading up to the COVID crisis, so we scrambled to get some sort of store up at the onset and since we’ve gotten our new revamped website up, or it’s at least 85% there.
Is there something you miss about being open to the public that you’d like to mention, or that someone who works for you has mentioned?
We miss the interactions with our customers/friends and I know that goes both ways. Talking through the plastic sneeze guard isn’t the same as talking over the bar. We miss our tribe! But we are happy that we can still provide a service to the community in these strange times. Talking through face masks and sneeze guards is better than nothing.


Junction Coffee Tiny House – Bethany, Oklahoma

Junction Coffee Tiny House is a unique, fun, top quality shop serving up a full menu of brewed coffee, espresso drinks, bags of roasted coffee and tasty treats from “Tess” an actual tiny house.

Junction Coffee Tiny House

They are exclusively serving Kllr coffee via drive thru, their walk up window and mobile ordering on the Joe Coffee app.  If you are anywhere near Bethany, safely head over to Junction Coffee Tiny House and fix your coffee fix.

Check their Instagram and Facebook for location and hours updates.

Facebook: @junctioncoffeetinyhouse

Instagram: @junctioncoffeetinyhouse

Junction Coffee Tiny House

6800 NW 39th Expy

Bethany, OK  73008

(Bethany is a suburb of OKC)

Open Daily

7-5 weekdays

9-5 weekends


















Java Central Coffee – Westerville, OH

Located about half an hour from the original Sweet Maria’s location in Ohio, Java Central Cafe and Roaster offers fresh roasted coffee, brewed coffee, espresso drinks, tea, grab-and-go lunches, baked goods, dairy, meat, bread staples. Toilet paper and sanitizer are available too!


They are currently offering curbside pick-up, walk-up orders and local home delivery. You can order ahead on their website.

Java Central’s “Pay it forward” benefits their local health professionals, police, fire, and first responders. It’s a way to donate to the local folks on the front lines of the current epidemic.

Andy, Megan, and Ralph, Java Central’s owners. photo: Java Central

Before COVID-19, Java Central hosted a lot of concerts and art shows. You can expect the fun to continue once we all get through these times together. If you are in or around Westerville, we hope you will place an order with Java Central.

Java Central Cafe and Roaster

20 S. State St., Suite B

Westerville, OH 43081

(614) 839-0698

Ig: @javacentral1

Fb: @javacentralcaferoaster

Tw: @javacentral1

[email protected]

CLICK HERE to read our our previous cafe spotlight featuring ModCup in Jersey City, NJ.


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