BB’s Coffee Shop – Worth the Wait
By Jeannine Stafford-Jabaay
BB’s Coffee has an almost cult-like following. Driving down Old Seward between O’Malley and Huffman, a 0.9 mile distance, one can spot eight distinct coffee shops and carts, not including Kaladi Brothers, Café D’Arte or Starbucks, which are within walking distance.
There were nine different shops, but one went out of business recently. With all those caffeine options, one would think that the consumers would evenly spread their business. And yet there is always, quite genuinely always, a line at BB’s. And not just a little line – we’re talking a 15-minute plus wait just to get to the window line.
“People ask me all the time, ‘Why are you guys so busy?’” said one BB’s barista who introduced herself as Mary. “I joke and tell them that it’s what we put in the coffee.”
BB’s is a quaint, log-sided coffee cart accented with bright pink signage. It sits in a parking lot near Glacier Bowl and Poke as well as a smattering of other mobile food trucks. From the outside, there really isn’t anything particularly grand about BB’s. It looks like any number of other coffee huts in Anchorage. But they’re definitely doing some things right in the mobile coffee shop industry.
“BB’s has good consistency and good customer service,” says Emma, a gal who both works in the cart and runs BB’s social media presence. “We have a huge lot for customers to wait in comfortably, and we support a lot of local businesses. We are involved in community a lot. We’ve been around for six years, so [we’re] able to build from that.”
BB’s seems to also have cornered the market on South High School crowd. “Oh, yeah. I would go to BB’s at least once a day. Sometimes more, if my friends didn’t go at lunch or something,” says Tina Fosset, a former South student. “I loved carrying my BB’s cup around. People would always be like, ‘Ooh! You went to BB’s?’ It was kind of a badge of honor or something.”
“Every month we have a special whipped cream flavor along with our regular homemade whipped cream,” says Emma the barista slash social media guru. That rotating flavor of whipped cream, as popular as it may be, isn’t the true climax of BB’s genius. BB’s “most popular drink is a Red Bull. We are the biggest seller for Red Bull on the West Coast,” states Emma.
Red Bull smoothies, Red Bull on ice made even sweeter with syrup, blended Red Bull, double Red Bull (this one is still a mystery), and so on. Pretty much anything Red Bull. “Craziest drink, I’d say, is a peach Red Bull smoothie with a shot of espresso,” continues Emma. Yep, agreed. That sounds pretty crazy.
The busiest time of the day for BB’s is around 10 a.m., but at any given time prepare to wait “comfortably” for at least 15-20 minutes. BB’s has an average of 250 regulars stop by each day, a pretty decent following given their Instagram account has over 7,000 active followers. And don’t try to find the other BB’s location. There isn’t one. “There is only one BB’s shop,” tells Emma. “We used to be in a different lot up the street, but moved to the lot we’re in now and been [here] ever since.”
BB’s serves the Black Cup coffee brand, which touts itself as for the finest and most refined of coffee drinkers. So the BB’s baristas are well trained not only in making great coffee but in understanding simple flavors that will enhance the drinker’s experience.
“Have you tried that with our cinnamon powder?” asked the barista after a customer ordered a simple spiced chai. “It really is amazing.” And, she was right. It was amazing.
“We sell hats, multiple types of sweatshirts, hydro flasks, and stickers. We have a website to sell the sweatshirts from. Everything else is in the shop,” says Emma.
BB’s take-home merchandise only furthers the shopper’s evidence that they indeed did sit through the line, purchased an amazing drink from some of Alaska’s friendliest baristas, and are now a raging fan as well. #bbscoffeeshop is a hashtag that has gone nearly viral and is a great way to find holiday gifts for the certain someone who knows coffee and Red Bull.