In May 2020, after having their college experiences turned upside down, Meredith Ratke and Kenlea Barnes, childhood best friends from Farwell, TX, turned their longtime interest in local coffee shops into their livelihood and opened a coffee trailer, Caffeination Station, hopping on the trend of food trucks and novelty coffee shops amid a changing world. While it began as a side hustle, upon graduating, Meredith set up shop full-time in Lubbock in February 2022. As Kenlea has taken a step back to complete her education, Meredith has taken the Lubbock coffee scene by storm.

With the idea of grab-and-go coffee as the initial intent, today, nearly two years later, Meredith is proud to share the expansion into a brick-and-mortar (with a drive-thru window!) located at 5217 82nd Street Suite 215, on the southwest corner of 82nd and Slide. 

Photo courtesy of Lubbock Economic Development Alliance

In a city that thrives on connection and community, Meredith attributes her success to the collaborative nature of Lubbock’s coffee scene among the local shop owners and the support of the community.

“Lubbock’s coffee scene is unlike any other,” she said. “Entering into the community of so many well-established shops was daunting, but it was incredibly humbling having all the shop owners graciously welcoming me and supporting me. It was heartwarming when Lubbock accepted me so quickly.”

The juxtaposition of Lubbock’s big city/small-town feel is what Meredith names as one of the reasons the Hub City is pro-business. Not only does Lubbock offer the resources and connection of a larger metro, but the small-town mentality affords businesses relationships with loyal customers, and other business owners offer support to help each other succeed. “A rising tide lifts all boats, and when one shop has success, it only offers opportunities for others to as well,” she said. 

When looking to bring her coffee trailer to the Hub City, what stood out to Meredith was Lubbock’s rapid growth. With more people moving to West Texas and the consistent stream of new businesses opening, Meredith found a niche market that was yet to be filled. Seizing on the opportunity, she hooked up her trailer and parked it in South Lubbock.

As the daughter of business owners, Meredith’s entrepreneurial spirit is in her DNA. Having studied hospitality and business, and claiming to be more right-brained, she uses her experience, training and natural creativity to curate an experience unique to her shop.“Research shows that 70% of millennials would rather buy an experience than a product,” she said. Because of this, Meredith aims to blend product and experience through monthly rotating menus, pop-culture references like her Taylor Swift-inspired drinks, and stylish merch. 

Photo courtesy of Lubbock Economic Development Alliance
Photo courtesy of Lubbock Economic Development Alliance

The addition of her online boutique to the business model was what she called a natural progression. As Lubbock’s first premier sip-and-shop, loyal customers of the coffee trailer and new visitors alike are offered a place to meet and connect through coffee and local products.

Beyond the rich aroma and delicious flavors, Caffeination Station’s impact reaches far beyond its doors. The team at Caffeination Station has mastered the art of brewing coffee in both passion and craft, offering flavors for each palate. Creativity flows through competing flavors that blend naturally and change monthly. Their dedication to making each visit unforgettable is what sets Caffeination Station apart and has named them as the official coffee shop of KLLL, a local radio station in Lubbock.

Photo courtesy of Lubbock Economic Development Alliance

As you savor specialty brewed coffee surrounded by the buzz of conversation, an undeniable sense of belonging fills the air. Caffeination Station embodies the essence of our inclusive community, where support and collaboration not only thrive but flourish one sip at a time.