The Midland Stop: A Delicious Respite on Any Adventure

Photography: Beth Grimes   Words: Meagan Thomas

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The Midland Stop in Buena Vista is called a stop for a reason. It’s not meant to be a place where people sit and read or work for hours. The quaint but modern espresso and gelato bar is meant for people who are out enjoying the mountains to quickly stop in and then get going to their next adventure.

 “Our aim is to provide a really warm and welcoming atmosphere so people can enjoy the outdoors,” Business Manager Jacob Mueller said. “People come here, grab their breakfast burritos and then hit the river, go kayaking for the day, or climb a fourteener.”

 That’s part of the appeal that brought Jacob from working in software in Colorado Springs to moving to the mountain town and managing the espresso bar. Jacob had dabbled
in coffee and had managed his own company previously, but his transition to business manager in July 2016 was an enjoyable but unexpected one.

 The Start of the Midland Stop

 Mike and Francie Allen opened The Midland Stop in June 2015 with their son, Tim. They’d always wanted their own small business, and with the growth of Buena Vista, it seemed like a great time to turn the vision into a reality. Mike had always wanted to make gelato, and Tim had years of experience in the coffee realm, so the idea of an espresso and gelato bar was born.

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 Tim was nearing his college graduation in Michigan and was living with Jacob. Jacob watched as Tim worked from far away to help bring to life this vision he and his parents shared. “One of the funny coincidences about all of this is that I didn’t drink coffee until my sophomore year of college, and Tim is the one who got me hooked,” Jacob recalled.

 Both Jacob and Tim moved back to Colorado, and Jacob began spending his weekends and free time coming to Buena Vista to visit Tim and help out when he could. Eventually, Jacob came to a point in his career where it was time to make some changes, and Tim announced he was leaving The Midland Stop. It was the perfect opportunity at the right time, and in July 2016 Jacob left the software realm and Colorado Springs to be a part of The Midland Stop full time.

 “It was a great opportunity to do what I love which is be in the mountains and make coffee,” Jacob said. “I haven’t looked back since.”

 Gelato, Espresso, and Local Coffee

 One of the draws of The Midland Stop is that it doesn’t matter if you’re on your way to ski during the snowy winter months or just want to cool down after a long day of hiking—the option of espresso or gelato makes it possible for you to do both. The Midland Stop carries coffee, tea, gelato, breakfast burritos and a variety of pastries, all made fresh by its baker, Lexy Chapman.

 Lexy is able to be as creative or simple as she wants when it comes to the flavors of baked goods and gelato she prepares for the shop. The Midland Stop purchases high-quality ingredients like vanilla paste from Madagascar and cocoa powder from Switzerland, making for some extremely delicious concoctions—especially when it comes to the gelato. Sometimes she’ll use an idea the staff comes up with, and other times she’ll take a suggestion from customers and give it a shot. “A customer requested the hazelnut and it turned out really good,” she said.

 The Midland Stop is using ingredients from around the world, but is also a big supporter of local coffee roasters. The shop features a guest espresso every week to go along with its exclusive blends: the Roundhouse Espresso Blend and Midland Blend, both roasted by the Buena Vista Roastery. A majority of the featured roasters are local coffee companies, but if the Allens or Jacob travel and find a great espresso, they’ll try to feature it at the stop.

 Business Growth in Buena Vista

 When The Midland Stop opened almost two years ago, the South Main area of Buena Vista wasn’t as developed as it currently is. There was a restaurant and a few houses, but now the area is beginning to boom. A hotel is being built across the park that sits outside of The Midland Stop, and houses continue to pop up in the area. The more growth there is, the busier the espresso and gelato stop will get. As the area is developing, Jacob has growth ideas for The Midland Stop, too. He wants to help employees progress into bigger roles and help them to build careers in what they love.

 “I want to provide people an opportunity to grow into a strong career rather than stay a barista their whole life,” Jacob said. “Lexy is a good example in that. She came in and was almost a part-time baker; now she’s running the entire kitchen, and she’ll have an assistant by summer.”

 The Midland Stop plans to stick to what they’re good at—gelato and espresso—but is still working on some fun featured menu items like a homemade chai poured over gelato. They’ll continue to work out the kinks they run across as they get busier—especially during the summer months when tourists are bringing in extra business.

 “There’s no how-to guide,” Jacob said. “You kind of have to it feel out, learn from mistakes, and be humble but confident that you’re moving in the right direction even if you don’t see results immediately.”

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Originally published in Vol. 4 of Colorado Collective, June 17'