Eating Wyoming: Eclectic Wyoming Coffee Shop All About Mocktails And Shaggy Cows

An eclectic coffee shop in Thermopolis is known for its coffee-based mocktails -- drinks that get their kick from coffee, not from liquor. They also have an obsession with their pets, Scottish Highland coos -- otherwise known as shaggy cows.

RJ
Renée Jean

June 02, 20248 min read

Audra's Copper Cool in Thermopolis, Wyoming.
Audra's Copper Cool in Thermopolis, Wyoming. (Audra's Copper Coo via Facebook)

Right out of high school, Audra Dominguez knew she wanted to own a coffee shop. She even had blueprints for her dream place.

At about that time, however, she was offered a job in Washington, D.C., and decided the coffee shop wasn’t really practical. It would have to wait.

Fast-forward 27 years and Dominguez could barely remember that coffee shop dream. Until one day her husband Rojelio asked her, “So what’s your dream, what do you want?”

She remembered the coffee shop immediately.

“But I was like, ‘I understand, you know, that’s probably not going to ever happen, and that’s OK,’” she said.

But it wasn’t OK with her husband.

“It broke his heart to think that my dream is just dead,” she said. “So, he made it a mission to find a coffee shop for me.”

That’s the sweet romantic story behind a coffee shop in Thermopolis that’s just a bit off the beaten path, where Scottish Highland coo photos abound (coo are those amazingly cute shaggy, long-haired Scottish cattle), and the coffee drinks are not limited to the usual café lattes, Americanos, and breves.

This coffee shop has realistic coffee mocktails that imitate real cocktails to a T. Like Wake-up Bloody Mary, for example, which tastes just like the vodka-infused drink but gets its kick from a shot of cold-brewed espresso.

Off The Beaten Path

At first, the Dominguez were going to place their little coffee shop dream in an unusued section of the Thermopolis movie theater.

But COVID threw a monkey wrench into all that, and that’s how they landed in a 111-year-old Thermopolis home that’s a little off the beaten path between the river and the railroad tracks at 225 Clark St.

“I am so glad that we did not get a big loan and go through that only to have them shut the movie theater down,” Dominguez said. “That would have sunk us.”

At about the same time they were shopping around for a coffee shop location, Rojelio was also working on this small fixer-upper house in his wife’s childhood neighborhood. It was the house where her grannie used to go to sip coffee with a friend named Goldie Johnson.

The home was cute with good bones, even though it was built before indoor plumbing or other modern conveniences. It was pretty run down, but it was going to make a great vacation home or Airbnb.

But, as her husband was working on the home one night at 2 a.m., he was also thinking about where he could locate his wife’s coffee shop.

That’s when a little voice in his head said, “Why are you looking for something that you already have?”

Rojelio, standing on a ladder, looked around, craning his neck. This would be a great coffeeshop, he thought.

He was so excited about the idea he ran straight home to tell his wife.

Audra was half asleep, and only half understood what her husband was telling her.

“So, I’m like OK sure,” she said, and then went right back to sleep.

Rojelio went back to work, but this time he was focused on how to turn this little 1913 home into a great coffee shop.

The next day, fully awake, Audra could also see that the place was perfect for a coffee shop.

“I started working on the business plan, and researching espresso machines and organic coffee beans,” she said.

  • Audra Dominguez, owner of the Audra's Copper Coo in Thermopolis, clears away Cowboy State Daily's Wake Up Mary and cream cheese bagel.
    Audra Dominguez, owner of the Audra's Copper Coo in Thermopolis, clears away Cowboy State Daily's Wake Up Mary and cream cheese bagel. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Audra and Rojelio Dominguez.
    Audra and Rojelio Dominguez. (Audra's Copper Coo via Facebook)
  • The Wake Up Mary is a take on a Bloody Mary, but instead of vodka, it gets its kick from a shot of cold-brewed espresso. The pepper cream cheese bagel goes well with this drink.
    The Wake Up Mary is a take on a Bloody Mary, but instead of vodka, it gets its kick from a shot of cold-brewed espresso. The pepper cream cheese bagel goes well with this drink. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Scottish Highland coo are know for their long, shaggy hair. Audra Dominguez and her husband Rojelio have a herd of 11 coo with four more on the way.
    Scottish Highland coo are know for their long, shaggy hair. Audra Dominguez and her husband Rojelio have a herd of 11 coo with four more on the way. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • A rawhide checkerboard invites a game of chess or checkers.
    A rawhide checkerboard invites a game of chess or checkers. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • It's rustic and homey at Audra's Copper Coo in Thermopolis.
    It's rustic and homey at Audra's Copper Coo in Thermopolis. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Photos and artwork of Audra Dominguez's coo abound in her coffee shop, Audra's Copper Coo.
    Photos and artwork of Audra Dominguez's coo abound in her coffee shop, Audra's Copper Coo. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • There are even stuffed Scottish Highland coo in Audra's coffee shop the Copper Coo.
    There are even stuffed Scottish Highland coo in Audra's coffee shop the Copper Coo. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • A recent addition to the coffee shop has doubled the seating area.
    A recent addition to the coffee shop has doubled the seating area. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)

About Those Coo

Rojelio takes even the smallest offhand comments Audra makes seriously, and then blows them up in a huge, fun way.

And that’s how the couple came to have a tiny herd of 11 Scottish Highland coo — shaggy long-haired cattle, whose pictures are all over the coffeeshop Rojelio built, and which Audra has named, appropriately enough, Audra’s Copper Coo.

The coo were a 40th birthday present. Not long before, Audra had mentioned how adorable she thinks Scottish Highland cattle are.

They’re so shaggy with the hair hanging down in their eyes, and they are such characters.

“I want one!” she said, laughing.

So, when Rojelio happened across a half breed at the Worland sale barn, there was no question he was buying it for her birthday. Done deal.

“Hey, I got you one of those shaggy cows you always wanted,” he said, calling her from the sale barn.

Audra couldn’t believe it. But there was a mighty shaggy cow alongside her husband, and it was all hers.

But it wasn’t as shaggy as a real Highland Scottish coo, she pointed out, because it was a half breed, she teased him.

“I think we should just keep her and then get a pure-bred bull,” Audra told him. “Then we don’t have to buy beef anymore, they can just make beef.”

And that is exactly what the Dominguezes did.

Their small herd is mostly just pets, Audra told Cowboy State Daily, though at a certain age the steers do go off to “freezer camp.”

“We named our first coo Agnes, and then we got Jameson our bull, and now we’ve got Persimmon and Goldie Hawn and Sunshine and Boss Cow,” Audra said. “We call her that because she’s very bossy. So we’ve got a nice menagerie of the coos.”

There’s also a llama named Renzo, otherwise known as the centurion of the coos.

“He watches over them,” Audra said. “They don’t really need it, but he takes his job very seriously.”

Like Renzo the watchful, the cattle are all real characters, Audra said. She takes them to petting zoos and places like that, and they always draw a crowd.

She’s even got a particular bull named Gerard, patient and not too excitable, who she believes is probably perfect for people to sit on, so they can take a cool selfie with a coo.

  • Even the coffee art reflects the Copper Coo's love for the shaggy Scottish Highland cows.
    Even the coffee art reflects the Copper Coo's love for the shaggy Scottish Highland cows. (Audra's Copper Coo via Facebook)
  • The copper colored coo that inspired naming Audra's Copper Coo in Thermopolis.
    The copper colored coo that inspired naming Audra's Copper Coo in Thermopolis. (Audra's Copper Coo via Facebook)
  • Valentine's Day treats go great with the coffee and mocktails.
    Valentine's Day treats go great with the coffee and mocktails. (Audra's Copper Coo via Facebook)
  • A band plays outside at Audra's Copper Coo in Thermopolis, Wyoming.
    A band plays outside at Audra's Copper Coo in Thermopolis, Wyoming. (Audra's Copper Coo via Facebook)
  • Persimmon packs plenty of personality.
    Persimmon packs plenty of personality. (Audra's Copper Coo via Facebook)
  • The counter has been inlaid with pennies, each one individually glued down. There are more than 5,000 pennies.
    The counter has been inlaid with pennies, each one individually glued down. There are more than 5,000 pennies. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • In addition to organic coffee beans, Copper Coo has a wide selection of organic loose-leaf teas.
    In addition to organic coffee beans, Copper Coo has a wide selection of organic loose-leaf teas. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Workers prepare drinks on a recent afternoon at the Copper Coo.
    Workers prepare drinks on a recent afternoon at the Copper Coo. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Scottish Highland coo are all over the walls, and all over the T-shirts and other items for sale at Audra Dominguez's coffee shop.
    Scottish Highland coo are all over the walls, and all over the T-shirts and other items for sale at Audra Dominguez's coffee shop. (Renee Jean, Cowboy State Daily)

Coffee Mocktails Unlike Any Other

There are a lot of things to like inside the Copper Coo besides just coffee. There are bagels from a South Dakota bakery that are to die for. They’re tender and flaky inside, with just the right amount of bite when toasted.

There are creative low-carb treats that don’t sound low-carb at all — Snickers donuts, mint cream cheese brownies and pineapple upside-down cake.

They’re made with almond flour and sweetened with monk fruit, so despite their decadent sounding names, even people on a low-carb diet can still enjoy one now and again.

But the real showstopper that keeps a lot of people coming back for more is the unique set of coffee mocktails Audra has designed.

They’re all her own recipes, dreamed up on her days off, and taste-tested and approved by her dad.

The Cold Fashioned, for example, is a take on the whiskey Old Fashioned, but gets its kick not from liquor, but from cold-brewed coffee.

There’s also the Hot Springs Honey, Bananas Foster, espresso Mocktini and the Wy Ya Rushin’, to name a few.

Her most popular mocktail is the Wake Up Mary. It’s a take on a bloody mary, complete with vegetable juice and hot sauce. But the kick is from cold-brewed coffee instead of vodka.

The coffee can’t even be tasted in this mocktail, though, so it feels just like drinking a real bloody mary for breakfast. And it goes well with a bagel spread with cheddar-pepper cream cheese.

There will undoubtedly be more mocktails at the coffee shop soon, because dreaming up new recipes is what Audra likes to do.

“That’s the fun part of the job is just the creativity and the recipes for all the drinks,” Audra said. “And so, I just come in on Sunday when we’re closed and start working through the ingredients and the ideas, figuring out what would be good.”

Her dad lives across the street and he’s always up for a taste test or two. That makes coming up with new drinks a fun family affair.

Mocktails aren’t the only thing Audra’s dreaming up for the coffee shop, though. She’s got big plans for a garden and new patio out back.

“My husband is going to build an elevated deck on the other side for extra seating,” she said. “And then we can bring in food trucks and do small events and stuff, where you can really see the surrounding hills and canyon.”

Garden tea parties anyone?

Renée Jean can be reached at renee@cowboystatedaily.com.

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RJ

Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter