TALKEETNA — Serving beverages in the downtown area of Talkeetna is nothing new. In fact, it’s something the town is known for.
Serving hot beverages however, is a new twist to those who drink beverages in downtown Talkeetna. After starting Leroy’s Coffee Bus in 2015 as a pop-up shop, Leroy’s owner, Austin Schwartz, handed the steering wheel over to Madison Mcenaney, who has been running a small coffee shop out of the bus in Talkeetna behind the post office this summer.
“I spend a lot of time daydreaming. Creating a mobile coffee bar where people can step on and walk towards the counter captivated my mind,” wrote Schwartz on the Leroy’s website.
Leroy’s Coffee was named the best coffee in Alaska by foodandwine.com. The website lists the brief history of the bus. It was rumored to have been owned by an outlaw preacher in Big Lake. Legend has it that Uncle Leroy was a miner in Hope and roasted coffee beans over his campfire each morning. The small production in the back of the refurbished school bus allows the service of hot coffee to be done wherever the road takes you. In Talkeetna, the quirky coffee shop fits right in.
“It feels like this bus should be here. I mean, you look at Talkeetna and it makes sense for it to be here,” said Mcenaney.
Schwartz repurposed the back seats of the bus to house the equipment necessary for roasting coffee. Leroy’s Coffee’s brick and mortar location in Anchorage opened over a year ago, but Mcenaney felt that the people of Talkeetna could be served by the beans on the bus.
“The idea of him creating good coffee on his own and creating a community and a really safe space for a lot of people expanded to a cafe,” Mcenaney said.
Mcenaney said that the city of Talkeetna itself provides much of the atmosphere around where Leroy’s Coffee Bus sits now. In a parking lot just off of a walking trail and in between Talkeetna Spur Road and the Talkeetna River, it’s hard to walk through downtown Talkeetna without seeing the bus in the gravel parking lot poking through the clearing. Walking on the bus takes the coffee drinker back before early morning brews to a simpler time on the school bus. The interior is decorated with photos sparsely, but allows the coffee drinker to see what surrounds them as they stand at the counter. Patrons of Leroy’s are just as varied as the people of Talkeetna.
“It’s such a hotbed of diversity in Talkeetna in terms of climbers from every country you could imagine, pilots from every state and country you could imagine, seasonal workers, locals, it’s such a melting pot and it’s out here where there’s still so much wilderness,” said Leroy’s employee Mac Holtan.
Mcenaney sees a feast or famine mentality among her fellow seasonal workers and residents of Talkeetna. During the summer, many of the Leroy’s patrons in Talkeetna choose to feast on the energy of the summertime, staying up late and enjoying all that Alaska has to offer. For those lacking in sleep, Leroy’s provides a gathering place for the distribution of caffeinated black gold with a unique style that fits right at home in Talkeetna.