Note:–I am writing a story about scones on Whidbey Island for an upcoming edition of “Whidbey Life Magazine.” This week Bill and I visited a number of places that serve scones. Bill–The ‘Lord of the Scones’ as our son Raymo has dubbed him–is my discerning taster for this fun assignment. For Bill, a scone must be moist, have good crumb, be generous with its fruit or savory ingredients, and have just enough sugar to give it flavor. Given that I am über sensitive to gluten ever since March of 2020, it’s usually Bill who enjoys baked goods while I vicariously enjoy his reactions. Fortunately, there’s a place that serves delicious regular and GF scones–Jupiter Coffee. We visited last Thursday and were impressed by the taste and texture of the scones, the fresh organic Caffe Vita coffee, and especially, the generosity and heart of its owner Laura Wills. Photos by Kate Poss, unless otherwise noted.
Laura sent an email on a cold Saturday Feb. 3. Business is good for the Freeland-based bakery tucked away on Cameron Road: “It has been incredibly busy,” she wrote. “Today was almost a record breaking day. It was nonstop which is great, especially for February!”
As to the origin of her bakery’s name: “I was looking for something that correlates with energetic expansion, and the idea of Jupiter popped in,” Laura explained.
Jupiter Coffee’s interior walls are painted marine-blue, and a rendition of the planet Jupiter fills one wall, nearly from floor to ceiling. If we tune in, we might imagine feeling the planet’s qualities.
According to Wikipedia, “Jupiter is associated with the principles of growth, expansion, healing, prosperity, good fortune, and miracles.”
Observing the sense of bonhomie among regulars in the Freeland location, it looks like Laura found what she was looking for.
“It’s a gem of a place,” said Emily Bell, who stopped by with her seven-month-old daughter Flora, enjoying the warmth of the fireplace in the bakery’s back room.
Our neighbor Lisa Blessing is a scone aficionado, as well as a friend of Laura’s. “Laura is such a lovely person, she really is,” Lisa wrote in a text. “And she keeps coming up with new ideas for scones. I think my favorite is a raspberry almond and fresh orange, with or without icing. One unique thing that she offers is a freezer full of uncooked scones that you can order in advance and bake yourself. She usually has some in the freezer when you walk in, but lots of bags are spoken for. I actually suggested she do this back when she was next door to the (Freeland Chevron) Quick Stop, and it really took off.”
Bags of ready to bake scones filled the freezer on the morning we were there. We learned that a couple of James Beard-award-winning bakers complimented Laura on her frozen scones. She found that high praise, coming from the pros.
“I encourage people to make special orders,” Laura said of the frozen take and bakes, which is a big part of her business. “People grab them by the armfuls. I do the prep the day before. Scones bake better when frozen.”
Laura Wills grew up on Whidbey Island and worked at the Island Bakery in the 1980s, which occupied the building where the Fare Market serves southeast Asian, and comfort food nowadays in Freeland. Afterward Laura worked in the medical field in the Seattle area, and married her husband Bryce. He helps on the weekends.
“I thought it would be good to get back to baking after I left my work in medicine,” Laura recalled. “I started before COVID in February, 2020, baking everything under the sun. People asked me to make scones to take and bake. I perfected the recipes. At one point I just knew I had to bake mainly scones and biscuits.”
In a way, COVID worked to Laura’s advantage. She worked solo, 12-14 hours a day, even though she was open only four hours a day. The former Jupiter Coffee was located near the Chevron station on Hwy. 520 in Freeland, before she moved to her current location in a former distillery.
Typically if you ask folks what they think of scones, they might say, ‘They’re too dry.’ Ask them about Jupiter Coffee’s scones, and you’ll get a different response.
Laura Wills said her scones are made with “…lots of love, butter and cream–all the good stuff.”
Jamie Whitaker–a MacDonald before she married her husband Larry–commented that scones ought to be a part of her DNA, but hadn’t found that to be true, until she tried Jupiter’s scones.
“I’m Scottish,” Jamie wrote in a text. “I’m supposedly genetically predisposed to like scones, but I have never been partial to them UNTIL I had one from Jupiter Coffee. They are the best scones I have ever tasted. Okay, now I want one of those cinnamon swirl scones right now!”
Check out the cinnamon swirls in this blog’s feature photo and you may get what she means.
Popular streaming series, The Great British Bakeoff notes in this recipe that: “The key to light scones with a crisp exterior is to work quickly, handling the dough as little as possible and baking in a hot oven.”
Typically scones are wedge-shaped, but Laura’s scones are formed in circles, squares, wedges and spirals.
“I do not follow any recipes,” I use my own,” Laura said. “A lot of my scones are swirled. I make different shapes, whatever the fancy suits me.”
Baked daily at Jupiter Coffee are six to eight varieties of scones, along with fruit galettes, cookies, and breakfast biscuits. And if not in the fresh deli case, look for the unclaimed take and bake bags in the freezer. On the morning we were there, we noticed a package of cinnamon swirl scones in the freezer and I thought of Jamie and how much she likes them.
Laura offered me a warm GF lemon blueberry scone, whose flour base was made with Bob’s Red Mill 1to1 GF flour mix. Moist crumb, lemon zest, and blueberries with a genuine flavor rarely tasted, greeted my tastebuds.
“Mutiny Bay Blues provides the blueberries,” Laura said, adding that the blueberry farm is her landlord as well. According to the farm’s webpage, “Mutiny Bay Blues is an organic blueberry farm in Freeland on Whidbey Island, WA. We have been growing Duke, Draper, Last Call and other mouthwatering varieties since 2011. The farm has 25,000 bushes planted across 20 acres.”
Bill chose a blueberry galette, and an egg, bacon and chipotle breakfast biscuit. This photo shows his response to the biscuit breakfast
“I want to bring people comfort,” Laura said, noting Bill’s look of satisfaction. “I wanted my place to have the nostalgia I felt for Island Bakery 35 years ago. I remember the people, the smells, more than anything about my childhood. To have a place you feel the love, and it stays with you, that is what I want.”
Now with business expanding, Laura has hired three staff. The bakery/coffee shop has a stage in its back room for future entertainers. In warmer weather the room will open to an outdoor patio.
As we were getting ready to leave, a father of young children walked in, wearing his plaid pajama pants. He lives nearby. “The kids smell the bakery,” said Cary Haynie. “Oreo scones are their jam.”
As Laura Wills feels the nostalgia of working in a bakery years ago, now she is creating the same memories for a new generation who considers scones their ‘jam.’