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Cups of joe for those on the go

Published March 31, 2007

[Times photo: Edmund D. Fountain]
Jim Stalter pours steamed milk into a cup at his Coffee Workshop one morning last week. He had opened his business a week before.

SPRING HILL - On Shady Hills Road, there's a tiny log cabin with a green tin roof where espresso is served - drive-through style.

It's Jim Stalter's dream.

He wanted such a place ever since he saw a similar 8-foot-by-12-foot stand while on vacation at Yellowstone National Park.

Cruising past the shack in the RV he had rented that summer, he was delighted to see the cars wrapped around the tiny building, everyone in line for a cup of morning goodness.

Five years later, back in his hometown of Spring Hill, he has finally opened his own coffee shop. The Coffee Workshop is just over County Line Road from the Hernando side of Spring Hill.

During those five years, the 40-year-old father of three figured out how to piece his dream together.

At the time he saw the coffee shack in Yellowstone, he was living in Las Vegas with the kids, now ages 13, 11, and 4. He and the kids would move around large pieces of cardboard to replicate the coffee shop for some family fun. He eventually had a building constructed there, but he ended up leaving it as a shed.

Not long after that, Stalter came back home to Spring Hill after his mother, Anna, died. Divorced, he figured that he and his father, John, could be alone together. He left his job as a supervisor for the Transportation Security Administration.

In Florida, Stalter started on stand No. 2 in his Spring Hill back yard. This time around, he had Hitch King in Clearwater build him a mobile unit, just like the kind set up at fairs.

Since then, he has added the log siding for the cabin effect and the green tin on the roof. Inside, he installed cabinets, counter tops, a couple of sinks and some shelves to hold all of the coffee-making equipment. The shop, which has its own license plate on the back, can hold three people comfortably, four max.

Longtime friend Kelly Drady admits to some eye-rolling when Stalter first began jazzing up the stand in his yard. She now works with him on weekdays.

"When he first asked me if I wanted to work in his coffee shop, I was like, 'Yeah, right,' " she said. "But he surprised me."

Stalter uses only a special Italian espresso bean - Lavazza Super Crema - that he has shipped to Spring Hill. It has a chocolatey taste he prefers to the burnt hues some leave behind on the tongue.

For regular and decaffeinated drinks, he uses a local roast made by Jaguar Coffee. He also offers muffins, pastries and bagels.

Those who pull around the circular drive to place their order on one side and pick up on the other will also find frozen concoctions called granitas ready to be slurped. A few lunch items are also being served.

Stalter has parked his stand along Shady Hills Road to cater to the commuters heading south to the Veterans Expressway or north into Spring Hill.

He wanted to be in a place where Starbucks wouldn't be - two Starbucks shops are coming to Spring Hill and another to Brooksville.

Depending on the Shady Hills Road response, Stalter might move the Coffee Workshop elsewhere. That is the beauty of being on wheels.

But his ultimate goal is to take his drive-through coffee all over the county. He envisions tiny log cabins with green tin roofs surrounded by cars.

And espresso for everyone.

Chandra Broadwater can be reached at or 352 848-1432.

If you go

The Coffee Workshop

16944 Shady Hills Road, Spring Hill.

Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Phone: (727) 267-3741

[Last modified March 30, 2007, 21:42:01]

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