The power of cheesy bits

MECO Coffee Collective crafts new community with caffeine, crackers and chai whoopie pies

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MECO Coffee Collective offers Cheez-It inspired, locally made Cheesy Bits—taking a delicious snack to a whole new level.
John Lehndorff

Necessity can be a mother, and it helped birth crackers so outrageously tasty you can immerse yourself in them at Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station in Denver.

“We had started an Italian food truck in 2017 and wanted everything to be made from scratch,” says Isaac Olson, co-owner of Longmont’s MECO Coffee Collective with his life and business partner Shane Stinn. 

“We needed something to sell with our panini sandwiches. I had started making these cheese crackers in 2012 at a Boulder restaurant that everyone loved. Once we started selling them, we couldn’t keep them in stock.” 

When the pandemic eventually forced the duo to close down the food truck in July 2020, they took the popular Cheesy Bits and formed a company they named MECO for their two points of origin—Maine and Colorado. 

Isaac Olson and Shane Stinn, owners of Longmont’s MECO Coffee Collective

“We had been through a lot, and Shane had always wanted a community-focused cafe,” Olson says. “When this space opened up on Main Street, we decided to launch the MECO Coffee Collective in August 2021.”   

Cheesy Bits were inspired by a favorite childhood snack, Cheez-It, which brings in more than $1 billion annually for Kellogg’s. The secret to Olson’s crackers’ huge flavor and true irresistibility is the fact that they are mainly cheese—real sharp Wisconsin Cheddar, plus flour, salt and spices. That’s it. MECO’s Bacon Cheesy Bits also include smoky bacon. The jalapeño version is truly hot, but even the plain and bacon varieties have some background heat. 

That intensity of flavor and the product’s local story landed it on the shelf in the cafe at Meow Wolf’s immersive Convergence Station in Denver. MECO Cheesy Bits can also be found at Cheese Importer’s Warehouse and Simply Bulk in Longmont.

The MECO Coffee Collective is a comfy space packed with art and crafts from local artists and a curated selection of other locally produced items including Westminster-made Quantum Cream dairy-free, freeze-dried ice cream; Beyond Microgreens organic teas including Broccoli Booster; and Moose Meals snacks. 

If the pastries you sample in many local coffee stops seem alike, it’s because the baked goods are largely supplied by a handful of local bakeries. “We wanted to serve treats you couldn’t get elsewhere that drew on my culinary background. If we produced them ourself, we could hire more people from the neighborhood,” Olson says. 

A large counter offers coffee drinks made using beans from Longmont’s Nimbus Coffee Roasters. A glass case holds house-baked goodies ranging from Maine wild blueberry muffins and raspberry scones to banana chocolate chip bread and cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.

In the don’t-miss category are the decadent double chocolate raspberry cream cheese swirl brownies and the genuinely spicy Sherpa Chai Maine whoopie pie. With Boulder-made chai concentrate in the two big cake halves and in the creamy filling, you get bright hits of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne and chocolate throughout. The effect can be doubled by pairing it with a mug of Boulder-made Sherpa Chai. 

“We always wanted to be on Main Street in Longmont—it still has that small town vibe,” Olson says.

Double chocolate raspberry cream cheese swirl brownies are made in-house at MECO Coffee Collective.

Ask a Dining Critic: Late Night Eats

Question: “Is there a late-night food truck scene in Boulder County or close by? During the pandemic I drove Lyft and came across some amazing late night food trucks on Alameda, Colfax and Wadsworth in Denver. I don’t see that many here.”

Answer: It’s complicated because of local restrictions on where food trucks can stop or gather. That’s why you see them at brewery and distillery tastings rooms and in fixed locations in parking lots, and usually not near restaurants. 

The pandemic’s supply, labor and safety issues also limited the hours that food establishments were serving including late night, but that is changing. 

What are your favorite late-night weekend food trucks and eateries in Boulder County? Are any of them open all night? Send location details (and other questions) to: nibbles@boulderweekly.com. 

Sandwiching the Denver Omelet

Gunbarrel’s Raglin Market recently started serving breakfast, and the a.m. menu features an entrée with a long history that has little to do with Colorado. However, its name may be spot on. 

Raglin Market’s Foo Young breakfast sandwich includes ham, roasted bell pepper, pickled red onion, scrambled egg and melted sharp Cheddar on toast. 

Sounds tasty and a lot like a Denver omelet, doesn’t it? 

There are two competing origin stories for the Denver omelet, formerly known as the Western. One legend insists that the easy-to-make scramble was concocted by long-haul wagon train cooks. The other says that it is a variation on egg foo young made in woks and served on bread to Chinese migrant workers on the transcontinental railroad.

References to the so-called Western lunch sandwich started appearing in newspapers in the early 1900s. Some experts suggest that as the railroad expanded, the Western was renamed the Denver because it was the biggest and best-known city in the region at the time.  

By the way, traditional egg foo young is on the menu at Hao Way Chinese Cafe, Golden Sun and other Boulder County Chinese eateries.

Local Food News

In a month, when the 2022 Best of Boulder issue is published, don’t cry to me about who won the various food and beverage categories. Now is the time to support all those cool eateries that you’ve discovered. You have until Saturday to vote at boulderweekly.com. …
After a recent ownership change, Cured, 1825 Pearl St., is now Dedalus Wine Shop and Market. … Opening soon: The Local, 2731 Iris Ave., Boulder. 

Words to Chew On

“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too.” —Kurt Vonnegut 

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, kgnu.org).

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