Hot Shots Java celebrates 10 years in business

Manager A.J. Stokes and owners LeAnne and David Musgrove at Hot Shots.  - Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald
Manager A.J. Stokes and owners LeAnne and David Musgrove at Hot Shots.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

POULSBO — Poulsbo’s Hot Shots Java Coffeehouse is many things to many people. In its 10 years on Front Street, it's become a study spot, an office away from the office, a place to watch Seahawks games, and a morning meet and greet.

“Honestly, it’s like ‘Cheers,’ the TV show,” said Hot Shots manager AJ Stokes. “You walk in and everybody knows who you are.”

But beyond recognition, Stokes notes that the coffee shop has become very family oriented.

“My wife and I had our first kid three weeks ago, and when I would come in (to the shop) to check on things, I would find a box of diapers or a present left by customers,” Stokes said.

In fact, customers have become so loyal to Hot Shots, holidays can’t go by without them.

“We come down here on Christmas morning, our whole family in our pajamas, because we have 15 customers that want us here,” co-owner LeAnne Musgrove said.

“So I’m like, ‘You have one hour.’ I brew up a cup of coffee and we have coffee with them. They bring Christmas bread or whatever and we have the morning with them.”

It’s because of the family that has grown out of Hot Shots that the owners want to recognize the business’s 10th anniversary this month.

Hot Shots will focus its celebration on Oct. 22. It will run 99-cent latte specials, and drawings for prizes. Included in the drawing will be one free cup of coffee each day of varying sizes for a month, and a gift basket prepared by Hot Shots’ roaster, Ootopia Coffee Roasters.

The Bremerton-based roaster has been part of the decade-long journey, as well as Puget Sound Dairy which has repeatedly proven its worth in a pinch when the shop has run low on supplies.

Musgrove said she has valued the suppliers ever since the beginning, when she and her husband David decided to start up a coffee house of their own.

“I worked for the ‘big company,’ ” LeAnne said. “Then I blew out my back … when you’re flat on your back for three months you got a lot of time to think.”

That big company was Starbucks. LeAnne recalled that her husband kept saying she was making her company millions of dollars each year and they should give it a try on their own.

They knew starting out that they wanted a personal feel for their coffee shop. Now, customers have their own mugs hanging on the wall and will often come behind the counter to pour their own refill. Some even send postcards to the shop while traveling out of town.

The Musgroves initially intended to start with a drive-thru window, but when the opportunity to take on the downtown location came around, they jumped at it.

“It didn’t look like how it stands now,” said David, a member of the Poulsbo City Council since 2011. “It used to be Ye Olde Copper Kettle British Tea Room.”

LeAnne added, “It had carpeting, it had big lacy curtains — royal blue — and it was a maze of walls to get to the back door.”

The family business began with tearing down the old shop, taking two-ton loads to the dump, and then starting from a blank canvas.

Even back then, Stokes  — LeAnne’s son — was an integral part of the coffee house. He did most of the construction work.

In-house creative work has become somewhat of a business tradition at Hot Shots. From their coffee bag chair covers to wall decorations, it’s mostly made by the Musgroves and employees.

Looking over the past 10 years, the Musgroves can chart the course that their business has taken as downtown Poulsbo changed with them.

“It’s been a lot of work. It’s more work than I’ve ever done,” LeAnne said. “When I think back to what we had and what we have now, it went really fast.”

She laughed. “I didn’t have all this gray hair. I’m not kidding, I can’t blame it all on my kids.”

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