Megan O'Dell, Loose Caboose
ALSO BEST COFFEE HUT, LOOSE CABOOSE
Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference for a business, and Loose Caboose does so many little things–and big–right that it's no wonder it's named Best Coffee Hut. One thing that impressed us was the very straightforward and friendly notice that explained how badly the business gets dinged by credit card fees, and how customers could pay any way they wanted, but to please consider buying a pre-paid drink card that, oh, by the way, provides you one free beverage. That's just smart. You know what's also smart? Writing your customer's name and preferred drink on the back of each loyalty card, so that regulars get personally greeted. Barista Megan O'Dell, who's worked at Loose Caboose for four years, hardly needs those cards, though. Her service has generated a loyal following, one that she says keeps coming back because she "listens to what people say and what people want." And if they're not sure what they want, O'Dell recommends The Marlowe, an espresso with white chocolate, caramel and coconut.
Finalists, Best Barista
2. Lexi Klenow, Florence Coffee Company
Jenny Fawcett, Burns St. Bistro
Lisena Brown, Le Petit Outre