Caffeinated Ape serves up coffee in Shiprock

Noel Lyn Smith

SHIPROCK — For the last few weeks, the Caffeinated Ape has been brewing coffee from a trailer parked next to one of Shiprock's busier junctions.

Roberto Lee, bottom, and Kody Jones of the Caffeinated Ape pose for a photo on Thursday Sat the intersection of U.S. highways 64 and 491 in Shiprock.

The business is owned and operated by Kody Jones, 24, and Roberto Lee, 28, who have situated their trailer since Aug. 22 near the Shiprock District Court building and the Bethel Christian Reformed Church at the junction of U.S. highways 491 and 64.

Jones and Lee, who are cousins and grew up here, said in an interview Thursday they started the small business because they wanted to bring something "new and fresh" to the community.

Jones, who now calls Kirtland home, developed the idea last year while selling burritos here. During those morning sales, he often wanted a good cup of coffee, but there was no coffee shop in the area.

"I had a small idea to open up a coffee shop and went on from there," Jones said.

Jones shared his idea with Lee, and the two worked together to purchase the trailer and equipment, including an espresso machine, refrigerator and generator.

Inside the trailer, the dollar from their first sale is taped above the large order window.

Kody Jones of the Caffeinated Ape demonstrates his espresso skills on Thursday in Shiprock.

On Thursday, the beverage menu included Americano, latte, cappuccino, hot chocolate, pumpkin spice and fresh-brewed coffee. They have added other menu items, including pastries and burritos, which are made from scratch using a recipe from their grandfather, Daniel Garcia, and sold on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Also on sale were bags of green chile and tomatoes, both grown in the garden at Bethel Christian Reformed Church, where Lee is a member.

"It was exciting to see it. It's growing into something," Jones said.

Lee said they are learning as the business grows and use the feedback from customers to develop coffee flavors.

People are also curious about what the orange trailer with a monkey logo has to offer, Jones said.

"Once they find a drink they like, they come back. …I never thought a simple idea would become reality," he said.

Although Jones and lee did not have experience operating an espresso machine, they learned by practicing before opening their business.

Kody Jones, left, of the Caffeinated Ape serves Tanishea Rico, center, and Jared Gray on Thursday in Shiprock.

Lee, a Farmington resident, said it is necessary for him or Jones to travel to Albuquerque every two weeks to buy coffee beans from Red Rock Roasters.

Fort Lewis College student Alx Lee, no relation brought a fresh-brewed coffee and iced Chai during her first visit to the coffee trailer. She said she learned about the Caffeinated Ape from her father.

"It's pretty good so far," she said after tasting the iced Chai.

The Caffeinated Ape is open from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. It is also open every other Saturday from 6 a.m. to noon.

The business has social media accounts under "Caffeinated Ape" on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.