At 22 years old, Jenny McDonald said she is living her dream of owning and operating her own coffee business — Crema Coffee Wagon.
“I’ve been working at coffee shops since I was 14,” McDonald said. “I love being able to drink the coffee — who doesn’t love that? I love learning the science and history behind it. It’s just something I love to do.”
After searching for a location around Laramie, McDonald opened her mobile coffee business April 5 in the parking lot of the Wagon Wheel Liquor Store, 334 S. Fillmore St. But finding the right spot took awhile, she said.
“I had to have a place where I could haul water, people could drive up easily, plug into power and have a good place with plenty of traffic, but not too close to any other shops,” McDonald said.
Each day, she fills containers with about 20 gallons of water and manually loads her coffee trailer’s water tank.
“It’s a lot of work,” McDonald said.
As her own boss, she said she likes to focus on the creative side of the coffee industry.
“I tend to do flavors that are a little more unusual but go really well together,” McDonald said. “If people can trust me to create them something, that’s great.”
One of her favorite creations is a white chocolate, lemon creme brulee latte.
“You wouldn’t really think like ‘lemon in a latte? That’s gross,’” she said. “But it’s delicious. I just love to be creative with flavors like that.”
The Crema Coffee Wagon also offers pastries from various shops around the front range as well as breakfast burritos from Bernie’s Mexican Restaurant, where McDonald waitresses during the evenings.
“I work 14 hours a day most days,” McDonald said. “But I figure I might as well do it while I’m young.”
Born in Cody, she said she got her start working at the Rawhide Coffee Company.
“My father was the manager, then my brother became manager, then I worked my way up to manager,” she said.
When she moved to Laramie two years ago, she found work at Cloud 9 Frozen Yogurt & Gourmet Coffee, but after eight years of working in someone else’s coffee shop, McDonald said she was ready for a change of pace.
“I know the industry,” McDonald said. “I love working at coffee shops, but I was just ready to do things the way I wanted to.”
A coffee trailer wasn’t exactly McDonald’s dream, but she said she’s warmed up to the possibilities mobility offers.
“I always imagined myself owning a shop,” she said. “My dad was actually the one to talk me into the trailer. He was a regular customer with the original owner, so I got to go over and see how the business went.”
After watching a continuous stream of customers roll through the trailer’s drive-up lane, McDonald said she was convinced.
“My dad told me if I didn’t buy it, he would,” she said.
On McDonald’s ankle just above her gold and black Batman-themed high-heeled shoes, a tattoo of N7, a reference to the Mass Effect video game series, reveals another of her passions — nerd culture.
“Mass Effect is probably my second favorite thing,” McDonald said. “‘Star Wars’ would be my first. I love going to comic cons, and the coffee trailer presents some real opportunities.”
Sitting beside a buzzing refrigerator, McDonald was surrounded by pairs of high-heeled shoes painted bright colors. When the coffee line is slow, she said she sets her imagination to task on creating shoes themed after her favorite comic book characters, TV shows and movies.
“That’s my other business,” she said. “I sell shoes like this on Etsy. I’ve got some Dr. Who ones, some Poison Ivy ones — it’s a fun side-thing.”
With the coffee trailer, McDonald said she won’t be tied to a shop, which could allow her to mix business and pleasure.
“I can take the coffee trailer with me when I go to conventions, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds,” McDonald said.
Crema Coffee Wagon is open from 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.