WEST YELLOWSTONE – Millions of people pass through West Yellowstone to see our first national park.
It turns out thousands each year also visit West Yellowstone for a great cup of coffee.
Morning Glory Coffee and Tea in West Yellowstone is a business that thanks to technology not only has Yellowstone in its backyard but also the rest of the planet.
The West Yellowstone entrance to Yellowstone National Park is the most popular entrance to the park in the summer and winter.
Right now, in the shoulder season, it is not an entrance to the park, as it is completely gated off. That’s a challenge for businesses in the town of West Yellowstone that have to sit back and wait until the tourists come back – when the roads reopen for over-snow for winter or for the cars in summer.
But Chris Burke, the founder of Morning Glory Coffee and Tea, roasts the coffee and sell it elsewhere.
“We wanted to be able to a manufacturer and create a product in an area that we love living and we wanted to be able to share that with the world,” said Burke. “In West Yellowstone, that was an easy thing.”
What isn’t easy was convincing customers that a good coffee can be roasted in a place known for bears and bison – not beverages.
“In a traditional marking (sense) we’re not in the best place for that type of focus,” Burke said. “But social media and the internet have opened that up and made again a larger world more local. We were early adopters to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin. Over time, we’ve built an audience of about 56,000 followers and a reach of about 1.5 million impressions a week. We’ve created a conversation with people that either want to come to Montana or who have been here and enjoyed their experience. We’ve got the product that kind of goes between that. I’ve always said that our brand, Morning Glory, is not traditional. Morning Glory’s brand is Montana and we promote Montana as such, and our coffee, our product is part of that brand, part of that experience. People come to Montana and enjoy both, hopefully.”
“I’ve always been of the belief that the only wrong way to drink coffee is not to drink it at all,” said Burke. “That it should be quality, comfort and good taste and that’s what our focus is. To create a quality product we start with an ethical and sustainable buying practice. And then we go from there to create products people are going to actually enjoy on a lot of different levels.”
Morning glory coffee started out as a traditional coffee shop. Burke soon discovered roasting and selling the coffee over the internet meant he and his wife and two sons could do all the work without having to hire additional staff to sell and brew coffee out of the shop.
Thanks to the internet, Morning Glory Coffee is technically open 24-7 – it may just take a few hours for Burke and his family to get an order ready to ship.
Reporting by Chet Layman for MTN News