The Sol Coffee truck has been serving Boulder County since it started rolling in September 2017, with UCHealth Longs Peak a weekly stop for almost as long. Now — and for duration of the coronavirus crisis — it will be the only stop Sol makes.
"We have a long relationship with the hospital," says Andrew Michler, the mobile coffee shop's owner. "We've been serving them for a while, so we set up a protocol with them." In order for the coffee truck to operate on the grounds since the stay-at-home order came down from Governor Jared Polis, Sol secured special permission from the hospital's management by guaranteeing a 100 percent touch-free process, from ordering through payment and pick-up. "The truck is [already] pretty self-contained; we don't even have to hook up to the building," says Michler. "We're hermetically sealed in right now."
The hospital's campus is fairly remote, so coffee options were already limited, and even more so since the coronavirus-related closures. "Their cafe/cafeteria had to close; there's no other way for people to get food besides vending machines," Michler adds. "You can't just walk across the street."
Customers can get coffee by pre-ordering and paying online; they'll receive a text when their purchase is ready and waiting outside the truck's to-go window. Michler says that most of his sales have been espresso-based drinks like lattes and Americanos, with only a handful of drip coffees. He's hoping to add food items like pastries in the near future, but for now the menu is limited to beverages.
"We were really, really tentative, just like everybody," he explains. "Our two baristas were very wary of working in the public with this virus spreading. We feel really strongly that we have a good chain of custody so we aren't bringing something to the hospital, so we aren't a part of the problem."
Sol uses Square as its online ordering platform, and Michler made sure to include a Donate button that allows customers to chip in to purchase coffee for the UCHealth Longs Peak staff. "We thought it'd be great, rather than asking for income for ourselves, per se, we could actually forward it to people on the front lines, as a way to keep us busy, keep our roaster and baristas busy, and as a thank you to everybody for putting themselves in the way of danger," the truck owner notes.
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In the first 24 hours after donations were set up, Sol raised $200 to share with hospital employees and first responders, with more coming in as the days go on. Michler is now creating a plan for how to best distribute the donations.
"[The hospital workers] are a critical resource in the community, and we just want to make sure that we're ready to support them when they need us," says Michler. "There's nothing like going through a whole shift and having a good coffee as a break to recharge." He hopes to provide comfort in the form of a caffeine boost to help staff if and when things start to get busier as a result of the pandemic.
Sol is currently serving coffee from 8 to 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday; even with the limited schedule, Michler says his business is still able to support other local businesses, like Mark's Coffee, the Longmont roaster that supplies Sol's beans, and Royal Crest Dairy, where he buys his milk.
"To be human is to have a good cup of coffee," says Michler, and he hopes Sol will help provide solace in the form of a good cup for the front-line workers when they need it most.