The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into Maple. Bar, in Bellingham’s Cordata neighborhood, is the color palette. It’s decidedly groovy, with muted taupes and browns swirling around mellow yellows and pinks, offering a notably different feel from the usual PNW coffee shop. Owner Adam Foy says that’s intentional.

“I wanted to be just really different. Different than Woods, different than Starbucks, different than even a downtown vibe coffee shop,” says Foy. Maple.Bar achieves that goal, with a unique brand identity that’s immediately recognizable (and Instagrammable).

Foy has spent most of his career in construction and real estate, with an eight-year stint building local brands and sales platforms in the food and beverage industry— all of those experiences came together to help him build, both literally and figuratively, his dream coffee shop.

Foy has long been a coffeehouse aficionado, following businesses whose aesthetic he likes on social media and always prioritizing finding unique coffee shops during his travels. That mild obsession has paid off with Maple.Bar, where Foy’s attention to detail has manifested in a cozy-yetcool atmosphere and one of the most delicious flavored lattes I’ve ever had (and I’m picky). The Maple.Bar Signature ($5 for a 12-ounce), a maple latte with a deep, authentic flavor and no hint of sickly sweetness, took around a month to perfect.

“We were trying to create a signature drink that didn’t taste like maple syrup,” Foy says, “and that took some research.”

The eponymous Maple Bar Donuts ($1.80 each, four for $6, or six for $9) also took some time to nail down. It wasn’t just the flavor and texture that mattered, either— Foy felt strongly about the size and shape as well.

“At first we were doing regular maple bars,” Foy says, “and I would watch parents hesitating, or [they’d] ask me for  knife to cut it.” Finding someone to wholesale the exact donut he wanted was a challenge, but it was worth it. Since they started selling the small, fluffy squares— almost beignet-sized— nobody has balked at letting their kid eat a whole one.

Maple.Bar is a labor of love, very much Foy’s creative vision, but he’s quick to point out that it’s a family affair. His partner, Kelly, and daughter, Meg, help out with shifts and contribute ideas (the other kids will work shifts when they’re old enough) and his mom makes the greeting cards sold up at the front.

And the family-friendliness doesn’t stop there, either: the first thing I noticed, when I stopped in at the bathroom, was a real, sturdy changing table stocked with diapers as well as feminine products. When I ask about it, Foy says, “I have five kids. […] So it’s a no-brainer.”

It’s these little touches— the bathroom amenities, the thought-out seating areas designed to invite conversation, the
perfectionist donut size— that make it so clear what kind of business Maple.Bar is. Foy’s goal is to create an inclusive space for gathering, where all are welcome and feel supported. Yes, the food and drinks have to be fantastic as well, but Foy’s main focus is the vibe.

And the vibe checks out.