Red Horse Coffee Traders – The Art of Coffee Roasting

Roasted coffee is the latest edition to a variety of locally created establishments on the Main Street of Joseph. One of these establishments is Red Horse Coffee Traders. The name “Red Horse” is derived from the red roan racing horse of Chief Joseph. Founded by Kathy and Mike Leo, the Red Horse Coffee Traders is a coffee shop that roasts its coffee beans sourced from across the globe and has various home-baked products.

Mike and Kathy met at Fairbanks when Mike was a construction contractor and college lecturer. The couple has always appreciated great coffee, and not just any coffee. For some time, Mike and Kathy resided, where Kathy’s mother used to live before the couple moved the kids to Idaho to improve their quality of life. For the first year, Mike worked as a draftsman for an architectural firm. Later he quit the position and ventured into the coffee business. When they started the coffee business, they used to get the coffee from Kathy’s brother, who himself owned a roasting company in Alaska. When Kathy’s brother relocated, they acquired his roasting equipment.

Before opening the Red Horse Coffee Traders, Kathy and Mike Leo roasted and traded coffee for about eight years in Hailey, Idaho, where they learned and practiced the art of roasting coffee beans and combined them with baked products.

The business became quite successful, and the couple eventually sold their company before moving to Bozeman. While in Bozeman, Mike was involved in the solar energy scene, and the couple maintained the roasting trade as a side hustle but eventually started to miss the life of a small town to which they were so accustomed.

When considering their next move, Mike stumbled upon a roasting machine on Craigslist, which was similar to the one they had been using in Hailey, and decided to try another shot at the coffee roasting business.

In the past, Kelly and Michael had made a trip to Joseph, and after extensive scouting and traveling in search of a house, Rheta Runnerstorm and the couple decided that this was the ideal settling place. A house on Main Street ideal for setting up a coffee shop was put up on the market, and the couple quickly decided that Wallowa County would be the ideal setting for their coffee venture. Joseph checked all the boxes in terms of the kind of place that the couple was looking for, in that it was a small town and offered great business promise for their coffee trade. Kathy’s sister Jackie Rosser and mother Rheta Runnerstorm moved to Main Street to help run the family business. One of the reasons why Kathy and Mike were attracted to Joseph was the community’s fantastic and engaging atmosphere. The atmosphere was so welcoming that they decided to make it their home.

In the course of three months, the couple managed to turn a small house into a coffee and bakery shop with the help of Rheta Runnerstorm, Jackie Rosser, and the kids. During the Thanksgiving weekend, with the help of the kids, a crew of friends facilitated by Terminal Gravity Pale Ale, they hand-textured the enter buildings interior walls with sheetrock mud, giving it a plaster, old fashioned look. The establishment’s fir floor was obtained from Steve Arment, who had one simple requirement: that they fetch it from his shop. Steve Arment incorporated his trademark wood carvings to the Red Horse Coffee Traders across the archway that divides the kitchen and the coffee shop.