Hunter Hawkins can pinpoint the moment he knew he would one day open a coffee shop, though at the time, he didn’t know it was going to be in Las Vegas. The Portland, Oregon, native’s first apartment was across the street from the second location of Stumptown Coffee—the name of which alone can send coffee connoisseurs into paroxysms of caffeinated joy—and he had fond memories of the place. “For me, Stumptown is the benchmark of quality. When I tried the nitro brew for the first time, that was the deciding moment for me. I thought, ‘This is the future.’”
The future is now here, and it’s in an unassuming shop called Coffee Hunter (7425 S. Eastern Ave., 702-586-5002, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily), which Hunter co-owns with his father, Doug. A city that’s lauded more for its love affair with stronger spirits, Las Vegas hasn’t exactly achieved coffee nirvana the way Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York have, but in the last few years, it’s steadily riding the so-called third wave, starting with the pioneering Sambalatte in Boca Park and continuing with Mothership Roasters.
“We started seeing all these places open up—Makers & Finders, PublicUs, Bad Owl—and thought the timing must be right,” Doug says. “People are ready for that here, and it’s a really good time to introduce people to Stumptown.”
“We want to help [people] understand [coffee] better. It gives people an idea of why ‘I like this,’ instead of, ‘Oh, I like that. I don’t know why.’” – Hunter Hawkins
Coffee Hunter carries the full line of Stumptown coffees, including the Hair Bender espresso; cold brew with milk (in chocolate milk or non-dairy coconut milk); both original and nitro cold brew on tap; as well as a rotating line of the brand’s single origin coffees. Cold brew is hot right now, and with summer fast approaching, demand is only going up. The current customer favorite is a cold brew topped with salted cream. “When you drink from the top, it has a really nice intense flavor of the salt and cream together with the coffee,” Hunter says. The shop has 5-gallon kegs of cold brew shipped here, and while the coffee stays optimal for about three months, the demand is so great it’s long gone before then.
Along with the cold brew, Coffee Hunter specializes in pour-overs, which is as much pageantry as it is coffee. There’s something beautiful about the process, which takes patience and creates anticipation, not unlike a traditional tea ceremony. “Being an independent shop, there is a great opportunity to show it, do the whole ritual and get people into it,” Hunter says. “We want to help [people] understand [coffee] better. It gives people an idea of why ‘I like this,’ instead of, ‘Oh, I like that. I don’t know why.’ But now [they] know because it’s got hints and notes of a variety of things that they might otherwise not notice before.”
As passionate as Hunter and Doug are about coffee, what they’re equally into is creating a community, despite having a shop that’s located in a strip mall. “There’s a big market for community around here. When I was in Portland, I knew everyone’s name,” Hunter says. “I want a place where people can come in to talk with the baristas, hang out and feel comfortable and keep coming back.”
Since opening nearly three months ago, Coffee Hunter has garnered a loyal following. The store’s ambience encourages people to sit and sip, or, for those who are looking for a change of scenery from the office, to plug in. “I believe we’ve done a good job responding to people when they ask for a particular food item or beverage,” Doug says. “We’re trying to come up with new drinks that are interesting and still coffee-forward.”
True to their Portlandian ethos, Hunter and Doug strive to work with local vendors to enhance their offerings. To that point, they carry a limited selection from Cornish Pasty, bringing much joy to Hendersonians who now do not have to trek so far for the savory pastry-wrapped treats. “When I tried [Cornish Pasty], I thought it was unique. We wanted to offer an experience that was the same. When we were thinking about what kind of food we wanted, we reached out to them and they came and checked us out and said it was a good deal,” Hunter says.
They’ve also gained quite the reputation for being the place for a coffee and a cronut (as well as cronut ice cream sandwiches)—from Al’s Donuts. It’s been so popular that during one of their happy hours, from 2:30 p.m. till close, they’re offering cronuts for $2.50. (The morning happy hour, from 7-10 a.m., offers $1 off drip coffee.)
With Coffee Hunter just making itself known in the Valley, Doug and Hunter are looking into expansion in the future, possibly Downtown. For now, residents in the southeast Valley can count themselves lucky to have it in their backyard. But if you’re farther away, it’s worth skipping the familiar green-siren drive-thru for a finer caffeine jolt. As Doug says, “I would drive 17 miles for a great cup of coffee in Oregon. When people find something they like, they’re willing to drive for it.”