Crave Coffee adds a jolt of love to the radiology wing of St. Joseph

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Maggi Kelly needed a change. The single mom of four was working as a sales rep for Skirt Sports, but that job had her traveling around six states from her home in Longmont. Then a friend told the self-described health nut and marathon runner about a coffee kiosk at Saint Joseph Hospital, just beside radiology, that was opening up in November 2010. "Want to learn about the coffee business?" he asked. Kelly jumped at the opportunity immediately, even though she knew nothing about java joints.

And after a few renovations -- granite countertops, a new copper sign, refinished cabinets -- Crave Coffee opened in April. "We wanted to be the Anthropologie of coffee shops," explains Kelly. And so Crave features Coda Coffee, baked goods from Bluepoint Bakery, Wild Times sandwiches, Evol burritos, Cocomels, Wystones tea and other specialty items, all local, mostly organic, and some gluten-, dairy- and/or sugar-free.

Although Kelly couldn't see herself eating the big, gooey cinnamon roll offered at Crave, at least it's organic, she says. And she doesn't serve soda at all, except the Monster, because the hospital's medical staff sometimes demands it for their seven-hour-long shifts. As an alternative, she's also invented the "ER superblast," a mix of Naked fruit juice, Guarana for energy, and protein. "I didn't want this to be a vending machine," she notes.

And Crave certainly goes far beyond merely feeding the staff. "They call it the 'water cooler' or Cheers of the hospital," employee Cheryl Greenland says, joking with one employee who hasn't been around much -- he changed offices -- as she fixes him a latte, gratis.

Some of the women undergoing treatment for eating disorders drop by the kiosk not just for healthy treats or drinks, but conversation. Kelly knows most of them by name, and knows almost all of their drinks by heart. After a couple of nurses told Kelly they were on diets, she wouldn't let them have baked goods no matter how hard they begged. Instead, they get Cocomels and Earl Grey tea with a dash of almond milk.

On the far side of a refrigerator, out of customers' view, is a calendar with names and dates scrawled on it: The days that chemo and radiation patients will complete treatment. On those days, which Kelly calls "graduation," she offers them the treat of their choice and either flowers or balloons.

"Maggi has been a godsend to this place," says Jackie Esquibel, a security officer in the hospital who sits near Crave and co-coordinates with Kelly on treatment-completion celebrations. "We call that the crying corner."

Crave is open from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

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