Red or Green?
All You Can Enjoy
The Mimbres' new 3 Questions Coffee House has the answer
for delicious breakfasts and lunches.
by Peggy Platonos
For the past 17 years, the Coffey family's Living Harvest Bakery ("Our Daily Bread," April 2008) has been known for its success in using freshly ground whole-wheat flour to produce tasty, nutritious breads and muffins that are considerably lighter in texture than most whole-wheat products. From the beginning, the bakery that Travis and Amy established to support their growing family soon after arriving in the Mimbres Valley has represented not just a way of making a living, but a way of life that seamlessly integrates family, religion, education, service, community, health, nutrition, creativity and reflection.
The Coffey family’s buffet crew: (l-r) Bethany, Elizabeth,Travis, Benjamin. (Photo by Peggy Platonos)
The same can be said of the family's newest venture, the 3 Questions Coffee House, which offers a breakfast buffet Tuesday through Saturday from 7 to 11 a.m. and a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both buffets offer a selection of tasty, wholesome, unpretentious food. Both cost $6.50. And both are offered on an "All you can enjoy" basis.
"With 'all-you-can-eat' buffets, people tend to stuff themselves to the point of misery," Travis says, explaining the choice of words. "We just want to encourage our customers to stop eating before they reach the misery stage."
Included in the price of the buffet is a choice of four different kinds of coffee (Columbiana, Hazelnut, Chocolate Piñon and Decaf), a large assortment of tea varieties for hot tea, milk, orange juice, and several flavors of half-and-half created in-house (caramel, vanilla, as well as plain). At lunchtime, iced tea and iced coffee are also available.
The 3 Questions Coffee House opened for business on Oct. 8, the Tuesday after the Mimbres Valley Harvest Festival.
"We used the Harvest Festival to spread the word about the opening of the coffee house. That was our only advertisement — word of mouth," says 17-year-old Bethany Coffey, who is clearly delighted to be part of the crew at the new eatery.
"And word of mouth did it," states Travis, with gratitude. "The Mimbres Valley community responded immediately. People came from day one."
It is entirely appropriate that the Coffey family's new venture is located in the building known locally for many years as the Rock Church, but constructed originally as the Mimbres Valley Christian Fellowship by the Mennonite group whose lifestyle and religious commitment attracted Travis and Amy Coffey to the Mimbres Valley 17 years ago.
"It wasn't the climate or the food or the culture that brought us here," Travis says. "Our reasons were entirely religious. We were looking for something that was better spiritually."
"We were looking for down-to-earth real Christianity," Amy explains. The original brochure for the Coffeys' Living Harvest Bakery spelled out the kind of Christianity they were looking for: "Pure and simple, no taint, no denominations, just tried and true life-giving hope."
The Mennonite group moved on quite a few years ago, but the Coffey family remains rooted in the valley. And their 3 Questions Coffee House shows every sign of growing and flourishing, as the bakery has.
The décor in the coffee house is simple, tasteful, restful, thought-provoking and unabashedly reverent without a shred of stuffiness. And the open-kitchen design allows customers to see the entire baking operation in action.
"The open-kitchen design was pretty much a collective idea. We all love seeing kitchens in action at restaurants," says 19-year-old Benjamin Coffey. He designed and constructed the custom-made tables that are scattered through a small warren of spacious but cozy partially walled compartments.
The entire Living Harvest Bakery operation was moved into the Rock Church building back in April, and the baking is done in such a low-key, efficient, low-tech way that it's easy to miss it. "It's surprising how many people walk up to the counter and have no idea they're looking at the kitchen where all the baking is actually done," Benjamin comments.
All the bakery's breads, muffins, cookies, granola and other products are on display and available for purchase at the coffee house counter.
A crew of four family members operates the coffee house and takes care of all the baking chores. That crew includes Travis and the three oldest children still at home — Benjamin, Bethany and Elizabeth. The enthusiasm that radiates from each is unmistakable.
"It's just fun," says Elizabeth, with a shy but radiant grin.
"It is fun," Bethany agrees. "We like it a lot. I particularly like it when there are lots of people here. When it's jumping — with lots of conversation. And when everything's running smoothly, of course."
"The kids work wherever needed. Bethany, being older, is more confident working with the public," says Travis. "So Elizabeth moved into what's left — cooking."
"Which is the part that's really important," Bethany chimes in, staunchly.
"Well, we've all done cooking around the house," Elizabeth says, heading off the notion that she has special talent in that direction.
What cannot be denied is that the food on both the breakfast and lunch buffets is good. Consistently good.
The sausage gravy deserves special mention on the breakfast buffet, along with the Fiesta Eggs (scrambled with bits of sausage, diced tomatoes, just a hint of green chiles and Monterey Jack cheese). The pancakes are also exceptional, made with 100% fresh-ground whole-wheat flour but light and almost crepe-like in texture and served with a choice of real maple syrup or homemade blueberry or strawberry syrups.
The lunch buffet includes a wonderfully nippy jalapeño-laced quesadilla, along with two notable soups — cream of potato and a cumin-enhanced Conestoga Stew that reminds me of the East Coast version of beef chili that was all I knew until I came to New Mexico. And one mustn't forget the chicken salad sandwiches or the hand-formed hamburger patties, all served on Living Harvest rolls. A tasty chicken-based green chile stew appears on both the breakfast and lunch buffets.
If you're wondering about the name of this new eatery, Benjamin explains, "We believe there are three basic questions everyone needs to consider: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going when I die? So we chose the name 3 Questions Coffee House to make people think about those questions. We aren't providing answers, just the questions."
"The answers are every person's responsibility," Travis agrees. "No one else can answer them for you."
The three questions are printed in several places in the coffee house, in case you feel like contemplating them while enjoying a tasty, wholesome meal in peaceful surroundings.
The 3 Questions Coffee House is closed on Sundays and Mondays. It is located on Hwy. 35 in the Mimbres Valley, about two miles in from the Hwy. 152 intersection. For more information, call (575) 536-3267.
Send Mimbres freelance writer Peggy Platonos tips for
restaurant reviews at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (575) 536-2997.