Comb Ridge Coffee is the only place I’ve ever eaten where the main item on the menu is “blue corn pancakes” and “one organic, free-range chicken egg.” I try to sit like a fly on the wall and get a sense for one of the most peculiar coffee shops in Utah.
Comb Ridge appears like a liberal oasis, everything is “organic.” The decor features a combination of Navajo Indian art and impressionist photography. While I’m eating, the owner Andrea Carpenter is on the computer and laments the off-season. She is searching for odd jobs on the computer. Carpenter then inquires if I might have any work for her. I tell her I’m a writer from Salt Lake City. “I can’t write, but I can take garbage out.”
Carpenter’s co-worker reveals that she has skills is in Paleontology research. Later I find out she has a Materials Science PhD, with a Master’s Degree in Paleontology and she would like to find a job doing something else. “I would rather flip pancakes than file reports.” Carpenter says.
Getting into Carpenter’s longer story, she reveals that she felt trapped in what she calls “the average American consumer lifestyle, or (AACL).”
After discovering Bluff on their way back to Rock Springs, Colorado, “I said to my husband, ‘I’m moving here.’ Eventually he agreed to join me.” Her husband went from doing electrical engineering to working as an attendant at the local lodge for $8 per hour. “But we were so happy!” Eventually her husband David started a business where he was able to do remote engineering consulting.
Carpenter adds, “Moving to Bluff was the best decision I ever made. By nature I am a very shy person, but I realized that people are where it’s at!” Carpenter says while she caters mostly to European tourists seeking good coffee, “My neighbors are like an extension of family,” she adds that running her coffee shop is more fulfilling than doing research with a microscope. “I get so much satisfaction from customers telling me they like my coffee.”
Carpenter says that in the winter season their is virtually no tourism and she intends to close down the shop in January and February. But she says she intends to stay in Bluff forever.