On November 2, 2019, the temperature was in the low 40’s and I was in dire need of a cup of hot coffee. The heat of my van worked fairly well, but the windows didn’t insulate well at all. I scanned my notes for coffee shops in the area and The Crooked Cup sounded intriguing. It was only a few minutes away in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming. I was quickly on route for coffee.
I pulled up in front of a massive brick building and the first thing I saw was “COFFEE” across large windows that covered the front of the shop; I had to be at the right place. I made my way through the front door. Unlike the picture below, this place was booming when I first arrived. Every table and chair was taken, I ended up having to sit at the bar, which worked out perfectly as it made it easy to talk to the baristas.
The Crooked Cup is small, but clean. A few round tables with bistro-style black metal and cushion chairs are available for customers to enjoy a coffee with friends, in addition to seating along the bar. The long wooden bar wrapped around from the front of the shop all the way to the back. Different art pieces and paintings were featured throughout the shop, and a fun fire-orange color accented the cafe.
I stood in front of the TV screens and grazed the menu. Instead of the normal “How can I help you?” I was greeted with a “Hey, how is your day going?” I enjoy these the most, as it feels as though you’ve met a friend for coffee, rather than just a business transaction. This is when I met Eloy, the barista and owner of this place. He had a personality that lit up the room! He was ecstatic about my travels and Find That Coffee. He then introduced me to his son who works alongside him when he’s not in school. This is my first encounter with a father and son run coffee shop; it made me envious when I think back to all the times my dad suggested we open a coffee shop together. I’d sling the coffee and he would be a cook. But, Eloy didn’t always have this plan for him and his family; things just happened to fall into place. Keep reading and you’ll find out the whole story.
The Crooked Cup has been here for over 1.5 years but Eloy took over the operations here in July 2019. He did away with paper menus and put them on screen. This was a smart decision; he and I joked about how dirty physical menus can get. The Crooked Cup serves Cafe Richesse coffee and espresso which is roasted out of Fort Collins, CO. Cafe Richesse believes strongly in socially-conscious coffee and imports their beans from Brazil. This ultimately allows them to give back to the Brazillian farmers and community. Conscious roasters, and the cafes who utilize them like The Crooked Cup, make me happy to learn about. There are currently four locations of The Crooked Cup, between here and Colorado.
Eloy was a hilarious guy and full of positivity. I don’t know what it is, but I think all coffee people get along. I asked him what the most popular drink was at the moment and he steered me towards the Crooked Bumble Bee. I told him the name alone had me interested. This latte consists of honey, vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Wow, it tasted good, full of flavor. More sugary than the normal drip coffee I usually order, but once in a while I like to spoil myself. If you do like drip coffee they offer two types and a large variety of espresso drinks. And if you aren’t fond of coffee, they offer chai, tea, smoothies, and hot chocolate.
The Crooked Cup offers tons of breakfast options such as bagels, muffins, cinnamon rolls, oatmeal, and chocolate chip cookies. If you’d like something a little heartier, they make very affordable breakfast burritos and other sandwiches. While you’re there you have to try their specialty Kolaches. This is a freshly made puff pastry stuffed with egg, cheese, and bacon or sausage. They serve one full of ham, jalapeno, and cheddar cheese. For vegetarians, they have mushroom, spinach, tomato, and white American cheese. But if you really want to treat yourself, order a salted caramel brownie!
Now, this is a story worth repeating! Eloy had been working his butt off as the head chef in a restaurant for over 15 years. He saw a lot of potential for expanding this restaurant and bringing it to the next level. He offered to buy in on the restaurant but the owner refused. He was burning out. Not to mention he would drink almost a half-gallon of coffee every day at work; an entire tall silver canister during each shift.
The guy that would deliver coffee to the restaurant had seen Eloy almost daily for the last few years. Having a “restless leg” and tired of being stuck in this job, Eloy stopped the coffee deliverer one day and asked, “If I wanted to open a coffee shop, how would I get into it?” His response was short and quick, “Call me tomorrow.” Eloy called him the next day and told him there just so happened to be a Crooked Cup shop for sale in Cheyenne, WY. After showing Eloy the cost and running the numbers, Eloy made his decision to pursue coffee after what felt like the quickest 20-minute decision of his life. On June 4th, 2019 he turned in his two-week notice at the restaurant and bought the coffee shop. He was ready to pour his time and energy into coffee.
For the next few weeks, he was heading to The Crooked Cup in Ft. Collins at 6:30 a.m. for training on running one of their coffee shops. Then getting off at 1 PM and heading to the restaurant for the last few weeks till 2 AM and doing it daily. Although he was beyond exhausted, nervous, and scared, he knew he had made the right decision. He began running the coffee shop here and he’s loved every minute of it. His son helps and his family has supported his vision the entire way, even if it did seem crazy to his wife at first.
From as far back as he can remember he grew up drinking coffee. As a kid in Mexico, his mom would drop him off at his aunt’s for a “fun” weekend with his cousins and they would pick coffee beans for almost eight hours. He always had a feeling coffee would find his way back into his life and I’m glad it did. I had a really great time there and I’m glad I had the pleasure of meeting Eloy and his family.
“I just did it.” - Eloy Martinez
I’m going to be nice here when I say the bathroom is small. It was fully stocked with TP and soap so I’m not complaining. And it did give me quite the laugh, I peered in and saw a portrait of a lady staring back at me. I went to ask Eloy what the deal was and he couldn’t stop laughing. He found the picture in Goodwill and thought it would be absolutely hilarious for some to see while they’re using the bathroom. He wasn’t wrong, I was cracking up. The bathroom could use a little TLC but I’ll rank it a 6.5/10 for creativity.