If you’re looking for a place where you can study, work or have a conversation with friends while sipping a cappuccino or a good ol’ fashioned cup of joe, Matthew Haynes of Oro Fino Coffee says he’s got you covered.
Recently the Butte native opened the Uptown coffee shop on the first floor of the Phoenix Building, 68 W. Park, home of the arts organization Imagine Butte Resource Center and its Foreground art gallery, among other organizations.
Haynes is serving java from Revel Coffee Billings, which he said he chose because the company doesn’t over roast the beans and offers a complexity of flavor.
It seems fitting that Haynes decided to open his business in what some would call a hub of cultural activity in Butte.
With a bachelor’s in English, a master’s in fiction writing and master’s of fine arts in creative non-fiction, Haynes himself is an artist.
Despite an impressive resume, the Butte native said he comes from a humble background.
“We were a large family, working class,” said Haynes, describing his childhood. “My dad was employed at the Pit, through the Anaconda Company, and when he was laid off that was kind of it ... We weren’t raised necessarily thinking about higher education.”
Despite having an affinity for Montana, after high school Haynes found himself wanting something more. He wanted new experiences and to live in a place where he could take part in the arts. He applied for and was awarded a full-ride scholarship, which took him to Boise State University for his undergraduate degree.
Haynes said it was an essay about his mother, a Hawaiian native, that landed him the scholarship.
“(The essay) was just about the racism (in Hawaii) at the time and how no one in my family had really gone to school,” said Haynes. “It became important to me to have this education and to see what I could with myself."
Haynes — who went on to teach at Boise State, the College of Western Idaho and Montana Tech — said working and studying at coffee shops is part of the inspiration behind Oro Fino.
He described coffee shops as a place where “you read, you highlighted,” a social centerpiece where people make connections, have conversations and generate ideas.
“It's just building community,” say Haynes, adding that he hopes Oro Fino will introduce people to the IBRC — where now, thanks to the coffee shop, passersby can come in off the street and drink coffee as they look at art.
The Montana Standard pointed out that coffee shops have a long history of functioning as social spaces. Incidentally some of the first recorded mentions of coffee houses go back to the 1400s in Turkey.
“Conversation promotes thought — it’s what we do in classrooms,” the Butte native said. “Coffee furthers that. It becomes conversation.”