Cafes, training labs, bike contraptions, whatever—we don’t discriminate here at Build-Outs Of Summer. If you’re building an interesting new coffee service, we want to feature it, whether that’s a 20,000-square-foot mega brand headquarters, or something small enough to fit inside an economy car.
White Bison of Oklahoma City is firmly in the latter camp, beginning as a living room pop-up for an entertaining husband & wife duo. Owner Kelcy White has designed a fully mobile coffee bar small enough to fit inside a Toyota Matrix, but when fully deployed, “should look as nice as any permanently installed counter.” Just add power, and White Bison does the rest.
As told to Sprudge by Kelcy White.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
White Bison will be a roaming coffee pop-up and catering service appearing throughout the OKC metro with the aim of highlighting amazing spaces that are unique to our community.
Coffee and coffee shops have always played a special part in my life. I fell in love with the specialty coffee community while I was traveling full-time as a musician and realized I looked forward to discovering a unique, new coffee shop in each city even more than I looked forward to the show I’d be playing that night.
When an injury forced me to quit playing for a little while, I picked up a job at a coffeehouse in Oklahoma City and discovered a deep passion for serving people through my craft. During my three years there, I became the manager and even met my wife when she came in for a latte! Coffee became such a big part of our relationship that we even had another local coffee shop, Cafe Evoke, set up an espresso bar at our wedding. We dreamed that some day we could start our own company as well.
About a year into our marriage, I accepted a full-time position that put me back in the music industry managing a busy touring artist. However, I missed making espresso so much that when Evoke offered to sell me their La Marzocco GS/3, we jumped at the chance to buy it. Turns out, it was the same machine they used to cater our wedding.
My wife and I intended just to enjoy making our own drinks, but we soon found ourselves hosting all sorts of parties at our house and inevitably made espresso service a feature of each event. Before we knew it, we built a coffee bar, began making our own syrups, prepared food to compliment the coffee, and I even began experimenting with roasting. We were essentially running a pop-up shop out of our living room!
Now the next step is to move our living room pop-up shop out of our own space and build a mobile version that we can share with others. We plan to partner with restaurants, retailers, and other local businesses to highlight amazing places in our community. We’ll also be available to cater for private events. I’m especially excited because I think the “house guest” mentality has become part of White Bison’s DNA. Regardless of where the bar is located, I’m still making coffee for friends and family…even if we’ve never met.
Can you tell us a bit about how the pop-up will work?
Right now, I’m building a portable espresso bar that I can break down into three pieces and fit in my small Toyota Matrix. It’s definitely not as elaborate a buildout as many coffee shops, but once it’s set up, it should look as nice as any permanently installed counter. This lets us seamlessly fit into just about any setting while bringing something special to any space. All we need is access to an electrical outlet.
What’s your approach to coffee?
I’m a complete nerd when it comes to the science and craft of coffee. My wife loves to make fun of me because she’ll wake up in the morning to discover me sitting in bed taking notes in various SCAA handbooks. Still, very few friends want to talk about TDS and extraction after I make them a cappuccino or vanilla latte. They just want to enjoy something truly delicious made by someone who cares about them. I’ve really taken that idea to heart with White Bison.
We’re absolutely focused on the quality of every ingredient that goes into your cup, from the beans we use to the syrups that we make ourselves. I’ll continue to be nerd behind the scenes, but ultimately I hope to strive for excellence without pretense: continually growing in the knowledge and skills of my craft so that I can genuinely serve people better.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
I’m also incredibly excited to partner with Evocation Coffee in Amarillo, TX as our primary roaster. Aside from consistently roasting some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, Roman and Amy [Leal, of Evocation] are two of the kindest people I know.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We plan to begin serving by early August.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Yes! I’m incredibly grateful toward my friends at Wheelhouse Creative who have all of the branding work for White Bison. I feel incredibly lucky to work with a company who is completely on board with my vision and understands how to translate it into a visual concept. They’re great guys who truly care equally about the designs they create and the people they work with.