Eclectic coffee shop opens in downtown Rifle

Ryan Hoffman
Manager Ashton Wilcox, left, and Natalie Wilson, owner, show off the espresso machine at Olive Ridley’s Coffee Tea and Travel in downtown Rifle. The coffee shop/travel agency opened for business May 1.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

Rifle resident Natalie Wilson first had the idea of opening a coffee shop 15 years ago when living in California. For various reasons — family, work and money — she never acted on the thought, even as it occasionally crossed her mind for 15 years.

That changed last Friday when Olive Ridley’s Coffee Tea and Travel quietly opened its doors for business in downtown Rifle. Tucked cozily in a basement in the 200 block of Railroad Avenue, the business serves as both a place to grab a cup of coffee and plan your next trip to Costa Rica. Costa Rica, Wilson explained, was the final push she needed to finally take action. While on a three-month vacation in Costa Rica this past summer, Wilson and her husband took a day trip to Nicaragua, where the two ended up at a coffee shop.

“It was like the 10th time the universe gave me this signal that this is what I should be doing,” Wilson said as she described the “warm and inviting” atmosphere of the coffee shop in Nicaragua. “It was the perfect opportunity. There was nothing like that (in Rifle).”

The experience served as the basis for what Wilson hoped to create here in Rifle. She viewed several properties in downtown, but nothing felt as inviting as the coffee shop in Nicaragua. That was until she viewed the basement unit at 228 Railroad Ave.

“It was falling apart, but when I came down here it had that vibe I was looking for, and I saw the potential in the space,” she said.

The coffee shop has had steady business since its opening, despite the fact that it was not promoted or advertised. Wilson and manager Ashton Wilcox, neither of whom had any direct experience in the coffee business prior to this venture, said they wanted to make sure they had the coffee perfected prior to doing a big grand opening.

“We have to get a routine and make sure it’s perfect,” Wilcox said. “You only get to make a first impression once.”

So far the business appears to be making a few good impressions.

“This is the place I’ve been waiting for,” said Stephen Tafoya, Rifle resident. Tafoya happened upon Olive Ridley’s on opening day and has returned several times since. It was hard, he said, adjusting to Rifle after moving here from Denver, where there was a lot more options for enjoying a cup of coffee. “This feels more at home.”

With an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and crafted, not mass-produced, coffee, in addition to the atmosphere, Wilson said she hopes the business proves popular with Rifle residents. She said the business is her opportunity to give back. Wilson integrated the travel agency aspect into the business as a way to help her friends and fellow business owners in Costa Rica, and if Olive Ridley’s becomes profitable, Wilson said she would like to use the money to help local nonprofit organizations that she supports.

“I really feel I’m doing something here that’s bigger than myself,” she said.

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