Posted by Caitlin Rifkin

My Coffee Beginnings

In the chilled mornings of Wisconsin, where winter's breath fogs up the window panes, the aroma of coffee was a comforting constant in my childhood home. The scent of my dad's favorite blend wafted through the air, a fragrant promise of warmth against the cold. These early memories rooted my love for coffee as more than just a beverage; it became a symbol of comfort, of family.

I set out on a life path directed by empathy and the wish to bring goodness into the world. I pursued a degree in social work and spent my 20s advocating for those with anxiety disorders. Between professional milestones, yoga practices, and hikes through Wisconsin’s woods, coffee punctuated my journey. It was the drink I shared with my best friend along Lake Michigan’s shores, the background note to college study sessions, celebrations, and stress relief. Each cup became a vivid highlighter, emphasizing moments that would turn into cherished memories.

From the Midwest to the Mountains

Five years ago, my heart pulled me west to Jackson Hole. It was not just a change in geography but a transformation of my aspirations. I sensed the need for a career pivot, a feeling I expressed simply to my now husband as "something with coffee."

I enrolled in a barista training course at Snake River Roasting Company. What I found there transcended my initial love for the drink; I discovered a cause, a community, a connection to the global journey of every bean. The company’s Café Femenino initiative resonated with me deeply, tying into my lifelong commitment to empowering others, particularly women.

In Every Cup, A Memory

A trip to meet coffee farmers in Guatemala provided me with invaluable perspective on the nuanced struggles and triumphs of coffee cultivation. Now, every sip of my morning ELLA blend brings me closer not just to the person who brewed it, but to the extensive chain of passionate individuals who bring each cup to life—from the farmers to the importers and our very own roasters at Snake River. It’s this connection, this intimacy with the coffee process, that makes my role at Snake River Roasting Company a dream fulfilled.

Each brew holds its own story and significance for me and my family. Roam, the coffee of my wedding weekend. Bluebird, a ritual before skiing adventures. Ethiopia, our trusted companion on backpacking journeys. Every cup grounds me in the moment, an embodiment of my gratitude for the simple yet profoundly meaningful day-to-day experiences.

sipping through my week

Weekends for me are special, starting with a pour-over from my husband, Dustin, usually an Ethiopian blend. This is chased by a White Spider cortado, my weekend treat.

Weekdays offer variety. If I'm in the café for a meeting, I sample a random menu item, both for the joy of discovery and for quality assurance. Post-first cup, my day features two or three decaf or half-caff lattes.

Team tastings and surprise cups of brewed coffee are sprinkled throughout my week, serving as little checkpoints of quality and passion.