Scarlow’s Gallery mixes art with caffeine

Claire Marlow poses in Scarlow’s Gallery, Art & Coffee on Wednesday afternoon in downtown Casper. The art gallery is adding an Italian-inspired coffee bar. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — In Italy, the cafe experience is something of a sacred tradition.

In their culture it’s not uncommon to make multiple stops at cafes throughout the day, starting in the morning and ending in the evening with dinner.

That relaxed experience, along with the smallish drink sizes, bold flavors and drink-to-drink consistency is something Claire Marlow intends establish in downtown Casper.

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The twist here is this Italian-inspired cafe is inside an art gallery.

The gallery, now renamed Scarlow’s Gallery, Art & Coffee, completes Marlow’s vision when she first bought the venerable Goedicke’s Custom Framing and Art Supply in 2013.

Marlow renovated an adjoining space that Goedicke’s used for overflow into an art gallery, expanding on the art supply store’s original mission.

“I knew I wanted to put something in this space that built community, that was all about community and art,” said Marlow.

Before moving to Casper, Marlow lived and worked in Seattle, a place with its own passionate coffee culture.

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

There she learned to barista while working in restaurants.

“I wanted consistent coffee, I wanted to go to the coffee shop and know it’s going to be good every time,” said Marlow.

When she and husband Tyrell took a trip to Italy before buying her business, she fell for that country’s coffee tradition.

Along with the streamlined coffee selections, Marlow appreciated the clean aesthetic.

“A lot of it is physical placement, like having the (espresso) machine face the customer so they can see what you’re doing,” said Marlow. A minimalistic, uncluttered counter is also key.

“It’s simple, you always feel like it’s not overly complicated.”

Italian’s traditionally drink espresso with milk only in the morning. Afternoons call for straight espresso shots. A dash of sugar is usually included. Marlow will offer various other options for American tastes, but nothing overly sweet.

The perfect espresso shot is all about dialing in precise numbers, from grind, weight, water amount and flow. Tamping the grind helps control water flow. Too fast and the flavor is weak, too slow it turns bitter.

Marlow chose to feature one of Italy’s oldest and popular coffee brands, Illy. She flew to Portland to buy her espresso machine and meet with Illy representatives for consulting and training.

She will also offer various boutique pure and matcha teas, and offer non-dairy milk options, and fresh Daylight Donuts in the morning.

The gallery is currently open after some renovations, but the coffee bar doesn’t officially open until this year’s first Downtown Casper Art Walk on May 2nd.

Gillette artist David Von Metz will have his artist’s reception on that day as well.

The new cafe makes this area of downtown into something of a “Caffeine Row,” with the new Bourgeois Pig a couple doors to the east and long-established Metro Coffee Company a block south.

Marlow believes all of the shops offer unique experiences and believes they’ll add to downtown’s overall foot traffic.

Bringing the cafe into the gallery is meant to enhance the overall experience, said Marlow.

“The focus is still the art, I don’t want to get lost in a huge menu of drinks or things for sale,” said Marlow.

“We really made sure the art gallery stays the central visual focus, but offer something that not only brings in more foot traffic but allows people to sit for a minute.”

The cafe at Scarlow’s Gallery, Art & Coffee at 122 West Second Street will operate from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday and eventually expanding into evening hours. The gallery is open until 5:30 p.m.