The Culture of Coffee

The Flathead Valley boasts a rich history of roasters and baristas refining how they serve the perfect cup of joe

By Beacon Staff
Coffee art by Azul Coffee Bar owner Matthew Bussard on Jan. 17, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

While the Flathead Valley may not be synonymous with the coffee meccas of Portland or Seattle, it is a growing hub bristling with baristas and specialty beans, artisanal roasters and caffeinated connoisseurs.

Local businesses have adopted socially conscious, environmentally friendly practices to ensure their coffee is certified fair trade and organic, while mavens of the macchiato have perfected the science of brewing a rich, flavorful cup.

The region’s coffee industry and its raft of cafes cater to the tourism sector while ensuring that locals have a reliable source of satisfying stimulation.

Here’s a look at the Flathead’s evolving culture of coffee.


Zach Farnes, roastmaster at Montana Coffee Traders, pours coffee for a tasting on Jan. 18, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Brewing to Perfection

Essential coffee-making tips, techniques and tools of the trade from a seasoned pro

By Tristan Scott

From his post at Azul Coffee Bar in Columbia Falls, barista Matthew Bussard is the personification of a purist — ritualistic and fastidious, simple yet refined.

Still, he’s no snob. Call his style “upscale but accessible.” Just because he owns a custom tamper and engraved cupping spoon doesn’t diminish his passion for educating all kinds of folks on the properties that make coffee special, which is what makes a visit to his coffee cart inside Uptown Hearth such a treat — well, that and the coffee.



Zach Farnes, roastmaster at Montana Coffee Traders, shows dried coffee cherries on Jan. 18, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Art of the Roast

Perfecting their own precise processes, Flathead Valley coffee roasters transform the green seeds of coffee berries grown thousands of miles away into beloved java blends

By Myers Reece

Simply put, a coffee bean is a fruit seed — a cherry pit of sorts — but it’s also clearly so much more. It’s the source of a liquid that is a morning necessity for many, an anytime treat for many others, an axis upon which business meetings and social gatherings revolve, an industry and a lifestyle, a culture unto its own.



Chris Farrell and Beth Karper, owners of Open Road Coffee Co., pictured in Columbia Falls on Jan. 19, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Cold Water, Coffee and an Old Bus

Open Road Coffee is banking on the popularity of cold brew

By Justin Franz

The moment Chris Farrell and Beth Karper first tasted nitro cold brew coffee, they knew they had found something special. Now they’re sharing that special discovery through their Open Road Coffee Company, a cold brewer that is selling its chilled “magic in a cup” across the Flathead Valley.



Shea Fast, owner of Cowgirl Coffee in Whitefish on Jan. 19, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Oases of Caffeine

Coffee huts dot the Flathead Valley, providing opportunity for business ownership and entrepreneurship

By Molly Priddy

There’s a reason the idea of oases has such a pull on the imagination, a waypoint of plenty and just what you need to get moving again amidst an environment void of anything to keep you alive.