CHEYENNE – Snowy Elk Coffee Co. has only been around for a little less than two years, but becoming recent national award recipients is further proof they’re here to give a quality coffee-fueled jolt to the community.

The roastery, which was opened by married couple Scott and Julie Gondzar in January 2018, began after Scott Gondzar decided to put his microbiology degree to a different use.

He’d spent years in Colorado, working as a craft brewer and having a lot of success. His understanding of the science that goes into brewing a perfect beer on a molecular level helped him stand out. However, he developed a gluten intolerance.

That kind of brings up an issue when you’ve made a career out of creating beer. It wasn’t a setback, though. It was just the chance to create a new opportunity, he said.

Instead of creating a depressant, Scott Gondzar decided to do a complete 180 and make the exact opposite beverage: coffee. He realized there was an enormous complexity to roasting coffee, so he and his wife decided to create a new coffee brand, Snowy Elk.

“We’ve always had an interest in being entrepreneurs and business owners,” Julie Gondzar said. “With Scott’s degrees in microbiology, business and tourism, and his experience in the beer brewing industry, coffee roasting came as a natural and exciting business opportunity.”

The couple spent a good chunk of 2017 writing the business plan and getting Snowy Elk off the ground. By the beginning of last year, they had officially begun selling their coffee online through their website, www.snowyelk.com, and at various events around the Capital City.

While some businesses take some time to get off the ground, Snowy Elk wasn’t one of them. They’ve been growing at a rapid rate, going from selling coffee through their website to having their blends sold in stores all around Cheyenne, nationally and even internationally. Some of the locations that carry Snowy Elk’s coffee include Natural Grocers, Wyoming Home and Rail Yard Coffee Haus.

Last month, Snowy Elk brought home three bronze medals from the 2019 North America Golden Bean Coffee Roasting Competition, which took place in Nashville. It is the world’s largest coffee roasting competition, one that places focus on specialty-grade coffee roasters like Scott Gondzar.

They received bronze medals in milk-based latte for both their BaseCamp house blend and Morning Bugle, and in decaf for Corpse Pose, the company’s Swiss water decaf blend.

“One of the main reasons we entered some of our coffee roasts into the competition was to have professional judges assess our roast profiles,” Julie Gondzar said. “We are always looking to improve our coffee, improve as a business and excel at what we do. We were honored and humbled to have won in multiple categories.”

She added that by winning these awards, it assures the couple they are providing the community with the best and freshest coffee they can.

The couple plans to keep growing Snowy Elk. While their roastery is currently on private property, their hope is to open a roastery and coffee bar in town at some point in the future. They will also be selling their coffee at the Riverbend Nursery Fall Festival on Saturday.

“Our vision of Snowy Elk is much bigger than coffee,” Julie Gondzar said. “We strive to represent the infinite value of the outdoor adventures Wyoming has to offer. We want our customers to associate our coffee with adventure, balance, conservation and experience a feeling of wild freedom that is Wyoming.”

Ellen Fike is a freelance writer living in Cheyenne. She can be reached at elfylucille@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenLFike.

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