Get hooked at Colorado Drifters Coffee and Fly Shop
New Castle’s newest cafe offers hot joe, cool fly fishing lifestyle
There’s a new buzz to catch in Old Town New Castle.
Combining the Western Slope’s love for trout fishing and strong elixirs, Colorado Drifters Coffee and Fly Shop truly reflects high-country culture at its finest.
As the great Colorado River rushes just hundreds of feet away from its back porch, New Castle’s freshest cup of coffee in town offers both full coffee bar and, yes, an entire section devoted to fly fishing.
“Who doesn’t like coffee and fly fishing, seriously?” wonders part owner Kyla Hemelt, 36, standing behind the rustic cafe’s caramel-colored wooden bar adorned with a school of fish on its side. “Or, who doesn’t like coffee in the river?”
Housed in a high-ceiling, historical landmark in the heart of New Castle’s quintessentially western main drag, patrons can sip locally brewed coffee as they sink into the welcoming furniture greeting the front door. Palates get to enjoy coffee from Carbondale-based craft coffee roaster Bonfire. Hemelt said Drifters will soon sell two in-house blends using this main supplier.
With every bag sold, 3% of the revenue will be allocated toward Fish For Change, a Denver-based non-profit that promotes international fly-fishing programs. Specifically, the funds will help sponsor a Coal Ridge High School fly fishing club member.
Beyond its roasted perks, Drifters offers so much, like sweet treats, breakfast burritos and in-house tea, called “Here, Fishy, Fishy.” The source: Moving Mountains Tea Company in Steamboat Springs.
But uniquely accommodating this ambrosia of organic coffee harvested from small-batch farms in the Roaring Fork Valley and high-mountain tea comes recreational expertise. Run into fellow co-owner Beckie Clarke, 40, chances are she’ll serve you a hot cup of joe before talking trout pretty quickly.
Clarke hails from Fernie, British Columbia, Canada. There, she operated a fly-fishing guide outfit for 17 years.
“My heart runs through the waters of those mountains and I know them very intimately,” she said. “Unlike these waters, it’s all new and big. It’s just a completely different fishery. It’s pretty epic.”
To no one’s surprise, Colorado Drifters provides recreational opportunities harmonious with the landscape. Available are stand up paddle board rentals, fly-fishing lessons and qualified fly-fishing guides for excursions up and down the Colorado River Valley, a world-renowned artery sometimes jumping with 16-inch trout.
To catch these behemoths, the next patron is one sip of fresh coffee away from checking out Colorado Drifters’ vast collection of flies toward the back of the cafe.
“We probably have the most flies up and down the valley,” Clarke said. “We have a minimal space back there, but we’ve concentrated on flies. You should pick two things you’re really good at when you start a business.”
Though fly fishing can be an expensive habit, the selection at Colorado Drifters gears toward modesty. All fly rods are priced anywhere from $80 to $150.
“Everything that we picked to go in this shop was specifically picked for our community,” Clarke said. “We definitely want tourists, but we want to support the locals and local families and make things affordable, because rivers are our passion.”
“We are not fancy,” she added. “We are family.”
Clarke and Hemelt first met during the height of COVID-19. Hemelt, a mother of two, grew up “living the river life” as a Gunnison native. She started hanging out with Clarke, a mother of three and gung-ho on the topic of trout.
One day the two new friends noticed that New Castle’s strip of Old Town restaurants was missing something: a cafe.
“There was no coffee and there was no fly shop,” Clarke said.
After spending many late nights texting each other and finally developing a business plan, Clarke and Hemelt acquired the storefront and started working on the building in May. By the time they opened the doors, “New Castle showed up,” the owners said.
Now locals have a place to sip coffee on early mountain mornings and bask in Colorado Drifters’ mantra.
“The river provides life to everything, but it’s also what brought us together,” Hemelt said. “It brings people together.”
Where: 331 Main St, New Castle
Hours of operation: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact: Call them at 970-984-7013. Folks can also place orders at their website ColoradoDrifters.com.
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or email@example.com
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