A tiny coffee hub in Hundred keeps locals and commuters fueled.


In a sleepy hamlet of about 280 people, a refurbished trailer off the side of a highway seems an unlikely place for a thriving business. But that’s where you’ll find Lori’s Cup of Joe, off route 250 in Hundred, keeping this tiny community caffeinated.

This coffee shop on wheels was a birthday gift to Lori Allen from her husband, Joe (get it?). After purchasing the trailer from a local police officer, Joe, an excavator by trade, tore into the old frame and rebuilt it completely. The resulting structure has the feel of a rustic log cabin—albeit a tiny one.

“I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘Those little tiny houses, you ought to start building them!’” Joe says. He helps Lori during the morning rush, before heading out to do his own independent contracting work. Many of those opportunities have come from customers impressed by the coffee shop.

The Allens came to the area in 2014 from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to be closer to family. At the time, Lori worked in life insurance, but she noticed the dearth of coffee shops right away. “There was nothing here and, to get a good cup of coffee—it was kind of hard,” she says. She began dreaming of a place that might fill the gap. “I was just kind of getting feedback from people, like, ‘What would you think about a coffee drive-through?’ ‘Oh, I love that idea!’”

Lori started with just four drinks, but demand quickly grew. Though she’d never been trained as a barista, she was undaunted. She taught herself to make fancy, Starbucks-caliber drinks, a few at a time. “I had no idea how to make a frappe. They’re like ‘Are you gonna have frappes?’ And I said, ‘Yep, it’s coming.’”

Lori’s hunch about a coffee deficit proved to be right. Despite the small size of the community, thousands of commuters make the drive through Hundred daily. The busiest hours are from 7 to 9 in the morning, when Lori sees a variety of regulars—from oil and gas workers on their way to Ohio to the teachers who work at Hundred High School, just across the highway.

As of now, the business only accommodates drive- and walk-through traffic. But the Allens are looking for ways to foster the unlikely social scene Lori’s Cup of Joe has created. Lori and Joe dream of expanding the structure to include a walk-in lounge area, a deck, and even a stage to accommodate music nights.

Though the business has grown quickly in the two years since it opened, the Allens’ journey hasn’t been without setbacks. After floods raged through the area in July 2017, they found the cabin partially submerged.

“It actually just looked like a little boat out on the water,” Joe says. They were surprised to find it hadn’t moved. Lori took it is a sign.

“God has his hands on this baby—it’s not going anywhere,” she says. “It’s a beacon here, so we’re gonna have to stay.”

57 Four Seasons Drive, 304.775.4059, @loriscupofjoe

 

written by Emilie Shumway