My favorite place in Bozeman

It's no secret that I love coffee (and coffee loves me) and that a wireless Internet connection is key to survival in this day and age, not to mention utterly essential for this writing gig. So when we first pulled into Bozeman, riding in the tow truck, I immediately noticed a little place called the Rockford Coffee.

The next morning, as the Truckster sit motionless at the repair shop, I rode my bike to the Rockford for my morning joe and some internet surfing. Now I must admit that I'm a huge fan of Starbucks, but every now and then I happen on a local coffee house with so much charm that not even publicly traded corporate java joints can compete. The Rockford was such a coffee house and I fell in love with its atmosphere instantly. Over the next few days I whiled away many hours and threw back countless cups of the black nectar at this quaint little cafe. In fact, it's where I penned all of the posts for Expedition4am while in Bozeman.

Part coffee stop, part internet cafe, part living room, the Rockford offers something for all coffee drinkers and cafe types. The front area, where folks order food and beverage, has standard wood tables and booths. Along the front window a counter with stools provides a malt shop feel and a view outside. In the back, however, another counter complete with actual 50's style vinyl and chrome stools divides the cafe. The backroom atmosphere is more casual with dim lighting, couches and computer terminals. Neon outlined construction signs provide an orange hue --I made a point of sitting below the "men at work" sign when I was writing-- providing an arty sort of mod feel.

The Rockford is a relatively new fixture in Bozeman, opened only last December by husband and wife team, Ryan and Kristin Wilson. Both quit their respective jobs in Tacoma, Washington, uprooted and moved to Bozeman after finding this prime location and quaint old building while on a ski trip. "We were back out for a ski trip in early 2004 and noticed the building was still for lease," notes Ryan. "That's when we decided to get the wheels rolling.

According to Ryan, the name Rockford comes from Rockford, Illinois, where his grand parents originally lived before moving to the Seattle area. Way back in the day, Grams and Gramps moved to Seattle, completely uprooting their lives, and opened a couple of successful restaurants. Ryan and Kristin saw similarities in their decision to raise the tent stakes, relocate and open a business. They felt the name Rockford Cafe would bring everything full circle. Or as Ryan puts it, "My grandparents took a huge risk and did very well for themselves-- Since our move was similar, we wanted something to connect us to them."

After a total revamp of the interior and a couple of free computer terminals for bleary-eyed morning customers, the Rockford has been up and running for more than half a year. It sits at 7th and main, which is also the junction of two state highways and one of the busiest intersections in the area. Ryan says that, despite plenty of local competition, business is good and he and Kristin are very happy with their new direction in life.

Prior to being a cafe, the Rockford had been a 1950's service station, a pawn shop, a check cashing place, and a rug store. I found the typical morning crowd was as diverse as the Rockford's past. Local families with their children, students from the nearby campus, people on their way to work, tourists, and even a guy using the internet to trade stocks. Oh, and of course-- for a few days, a writer pecking away at his lap top, spinning tales of adventure and woe for you kids.

So if you're passing through Bozeman and need of a cup of joe, a soy latte a scone, or a internet link, the Rockford Coffee cafe has my seal of approval. I guarantee that a friendly crowd and friendly owners await-- just tell them the Expedition4am Crew sent you.