When you first walk into Calders, you’re greeted by a long line of people waiting in a narrow front room. The front room of the shop is full of taxidermy on the walls, sleek wooden floors and furniture, and the same Hallmark town aesthetic of Highlands’ main street. However, the charms of Calders goes beyond its aesthetic.
While the shop offers experimental coffee, such as the Ginger Latte I enjoyed, it embodies much more than a normal coffee shop. The point of any coffee shop is to be a meeting place for those working on their dreams or discussing life’s greatest questions over a cup of joe. However, the mission of Calders is to serve more than just that role; the owners of Calders wanted to embody the spirit of the town in the cafe.
According to their website, calderscoffeecafe.com, Leigh and Clay Hartman founded Calders in 2019. After running coffee shops in Seattle and Charleston, they wanted to settle down in a smaller town and enjoy a simpler life connected to nature. They decided to start a cafe in Highlands because their son said his soul was in Highlands when they visited.
The name Calders actually has its roots in the same Scottish ancestry as the town. It’s Gaelic for “stony rivers” and was chosen because of the renowned Highlands waterfalls. The owners tried to embody the same spirit of the town, with a special emphasis on Calders being a meeting place to grow friendships and a place of calm refuge from the hustling tourist shops on Highlands mainstreet.
Whether you’re just stopping by for a to-go cup or are sitting down at one of their many tables with a muffin and a latte for breakfast, it’s impossible to ignore the friendly and cozy ambience of the shop. As the town grows into a center for mountain tourism, spaces like Calders Cafe remind both locals and visitors alike of the community values of the Highlands.
Many coffee shops today focus on having a bright, Instagrammable aesthetic or mimicking the drink options at Starbucks. With their unique offerings and ambience, Calders doesn’t fall into that trap. Calders Coffee Cafe is what a coffee shop ought to be; it serves the Highlands as a place that builds and reflects the community.
Written by: Angela Myers