Owning a small business has been Nikki Whitaker’s dream for most of her life, although she never imagined her business would be coffee until she became a barista herself.
“I used to work in a café, and I loved it, and I wanted cafés,” she said.
In 2020, global coffee sales fell 3.8% from the previous year, according to the National Coffee Organization. Despite this, the number of coffee shops in the US has increased by 2.4% in the past five years. There are 65,410 coffee shops in the United States as of 2022, according to the 2022 National Coffee Data Trends report.
The kiosk sells not only coffee, but tea, candy, biscuits, chocolate-covered espresso beans and other foods.
Born and raised in Butte, Whitaker has inspired many aspects of her business – from the name to the colors on the catwalk and logo – from her beloved hometown.
The once yellow stand at 605 Utah Street that houses the Copper City Coffee is now painted copper orange, keeping the theme of the platform’s name and the history of Pott’s copper mining. The logo is the shape of the state of Montana with the holder’s name inside, and a cup of coffee right next to it where the bot is on the map.
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Whitaker quickly made her vision a reality. She decided she wanted to open a coffee stand, got it, painted it, got the logo, and purchased equipment and inventory in less than two months before it opened on April 24.
She said she loves the stability a booth can provide for her and her family, and also to be a good role model for her children.
“I did it to improve my family,” she said. “It’s a good way to support them and teach them that they can own their own business someday.”
The work also provides opportunities for Whitaker to give back to the community, which she is excited to do. She hopes to sponsor school sports teams in the future, and has prepared a gift basket for a silent auction held by the Parent-Teacher Organization at Whittier Elementary School.
With a location across the street from Butte High School, as well as the power of social media and word of mouth, the business has been impressive so far. Although she gets many high school students before and after school and during lunch, she also gets college students and major corporate clients on Uptown Boat, she said.
“I had no idea Utah was this busy,” Whitaker said.
Competitive pricing and local products are important to its business model. She hasn’t had much luck finding the items she needs from Butte specifically, but she does source from other Montana companies like Lake Missoula Tea Company and Missoula-based Drum Coffee Roasting.
The stand also features freeze-dried candy, a trend that’s recently gained popularity on video app TikTok, and sources from a Montana candy maker. Offers a variety of freeze-dried candies such as Skittles, taffy, Starbursts, and Jolly Ranchers, to name a few.
She said high school students rated their freeze-dried candy and drinks on TikTok.
“I have two kids who go to Putt Hai,” Whitaker said. “And their friends are on TikTok, so they do reviews of my products and other things there… It’s so funny; they gave me stars, like nine out of 10. And I like “Keep doing it, because it’s funny.”
Whitaker said it’s almost selling candy faster than she can ship it.
It has advertised its business a lot on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, but what keeps customers coming back is the combination of the platform’s drinks quality and customer service, according to reviews on Google and Facebook on the platform. page.
Another thing that has contributed to the popularity of Copper City Coffee is Whitaker’s creative inventions for the beverage. They regularly come in a mix of different flavors of energy and fruit based drinks.
One of Whitaker’s innovations that took off is called the fish bowl. The drink is a white Monster energy drink flavored with blue cotton candy and Swedish fish. The final result? A large blue drink with a red Swedish fish floating around.
“A lot of kids are buying it,” she said. “And I did it for a special day because I needed to get rid of some Swedish fish, and now every day, that’s what they want.”
One thing that surprised Whitaker is the popularity of boba, a tea-based drink that originated in Taiwan, among its customers. Although Boba isn’t her favorite drink — her favorite is a white chocolate caramel latte — she does offer boba and boba pops in a variety of flavors.
Boba is usually accompanied by chewy balls made of tapioca, but popping Boba are Boba balls filled with fruit juice that release juice when you bite down on them.
“It just drove everyone crazy,” she said.
She doesn’t plan to slow down the business any time soon. In fact, it has plans to open a second location within the next year or two.
Copper City Coffee’s regular business hours are 7am-6pm Monday through Friday and 8am-2pm Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes her working hours change and she posts that on social media. The holder also provides punch cards, gift cards, and delivery on some days.