On the surface, it might not sound like praise, but to the ladies at Crazy Beagle Coffee, it’s a compliment of the highest order: “I don’t even know what I order anymore.”
“There are a lot of customers who have been here since I’ve been here and they have never once changed their drink in 15 years,” Crazy Beagle Manager Jillian DeHaan said. “And there’s a few of them who every single day will show up, and we just know what we make them. They say, ‘I don’t even know what I order anymore.’”
Crazy Beagle has built its business with a dual commitment to customer service and consistency, serving beans roasted by DOMA in Post Falls since opening the Liberty Lake coffee stand in 2002.
A major part of that consistency is the team of five employees, led by Jillian, who was a 15-year-old high school student babysitting owner Julie Clark’s kids when “they came home one night and said, ‘Hey, do you want to work in our coffee shop?’”
That was 2004, and Jillian has now spent approximately half her life as an employee of Crazy Beagle, the past seven of those years as manager. For her, it’s difficult to imagine another work environment. Before moving to Liberty Lake, her family lived in Laramie, Wyo., where her parents owned — you guessed it — a coffee shop.
“I remember working in there as a child,” Jillian said. “I would clean dishes and make Italian sodas and stuff like that. It’s just in my blood.”
Jillian said she is most proud of the Crazy Beagle team. While they have been hit by seasons of turnover in the past, for the most part she and Assistant Manager Zaonna Onstott (five years on staff) have led a tight-knit and talented group.
“A lot of the coffee shops have a very high turnover rate — girl after girl after girl,” Jillian said. “I think it helps we have girls who have stuck around and formed relationships with customers that definitely bring the people back.”
She added that a consistent team translates to the reliability of the coffee being served.
“We’ve had a lot of comments on how every (barista) is consistent with what their drink tastes like,” Jillian said.
Regarding the team, Jillian deflects credit to Julie Clark, who not only owns Crazy Beagle but is the owner and lead veterinarian at Liberty Lake Veterinary Center on the same property. She said Dr. Clark invests regularly in the business, from a remodel 2.5 years ago that included a second machine for efficiency, to making sure each employee is well taken care of.
“Julie is awesome and everybody just loves the environment here,” Jillian said. “We get along really well, and it just makes everyone want to stick around. … I mean, I’ve been here 15 years for a reason.”
She said over the years, the business has grown steadily alongside the community. Country Vista Drive in 2002 might as well have been a barren wasteland compared to the plethora of nearby businesses, apartments and housing of 2020.
Even with the 2019 opening of Wake Up Call across the street, “we have stayed very steady,” Jillian said. “We’ve got a really solid base of customers that know us. … I think that having competition is a good thing, too, because it just forces you to up your game a little bit.”
Dr. Clark was pursuing her veterinary studies at Washington State University when a group of research beagles came through the school.
“I don’t want to criticize because I don’t really understand everything, but it was all a bunch of beagles, and they were doing brain surgery on them to develop a procedure for people that had brain problems like epilepsy,” Dr. Clark said.
She was able to adopt one of the beagles.
“He had one brain surgery — we called him crazy, and that’s the Crazy Beagle name,” she said. “It was after a real beagle who had brain surgery.”
Dr. Clark loves the festive and creative nature of Crazy Beagle Coffee, an attribute she credits to her team.
“This reflects their personality a lot, and I think that’s why it does so well,” she said.
The stand is always decorated for the latest theme or holiday, with a list of specials designed to keep with the spirit, inspired by everything from St. Patrick’s Day to The Office to Harry Potter and beyond.
Crazy Beagle also loves to do drawings and giveaways, partnering with fellow Liberty Lake businesses whenever possible, such as a recent Valentines promotion in partnership with Epic Hair and Barber.
“Liberty Lake is so community oriented, and I love being a part of that,” Jillian said. “I grew up out here in Liberty Lake. For me, it’s home. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in.”
THE TOP PICK
Like most coffee stands, drink orders cover the gamut, but Jillian said Americanos are probably the most common selection. Sauces — and particularly caramel — are more popular than syrups these days. As people look for increasingly dietary-based options, non-dairy milks have exploded in popularity.
For the non-coffee crowd, the Red Bull and Lotus energy drinks are a common order.
On the food front, Crazy Beagle sells a lot of breakfast sandwiches and muffins, Jillian added.
THE CULT FAVORITE
Among the items that have a smaller but loyal following, Jillian noted an increase in the number of people ordering drinks made with oat milk as well as those who add Keto-friendly MCT Oil Powders to their coffee. One that she has a harder time explaining, though, is a bit of a rabid following for the Crazy Beagle granita.
“It isn’t overly popular just because it’s a slushee drink,” she said, “but we’ve gotten comments that we have the best granitas around, and I’m not sure why. I don’t know what we do differently. We definitely sell more in the summer, but we have a couple customers that get them every single day. It’s not the most popular drink, but it does have a following.”
Of the five employees, the newest Crazy Beagle staffer is coming up on one year on the job. Jillian also listed the partnerships with DOMA and the Coffee Warehouse as critical to allowing the stand to provide a consistently excellent product.
THE TIME WHEN
Every once in a while, someone will come by not for coffee but with a certain breed of dog riding shotgun.
“They will say, ‘we actually have a crazy beagle’ and ask if they can take a picture with our sign,” said Jillian, adding several beagle owners have offered their pet as the company mascot.
22026 E. Country Vista Drive, Liberty Lake
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