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Get your Mo-Joe on at the new Latter-Day Cafe, serving faux coffee minus caffeine

By Genelle Pugmire - | Sep 30, 2021

Courtesy Michael Draper

Michael Draper, co-owner of the new Latter-Day Cafe, stands at the counter of his establishment Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

Even the old folks know a new “vibe” in town when they see it, and the new Latter-Day Café in Provo is a vibe you won’t want to miss; especially those who love the flavor of coffee.

The story starts with entrepreneur and café co-owner Michael Draper, who was a convert to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was 17.

Draper, originally from Washington, D.C., said he studied physics in college. But at $5,000 a semester, he said, he didn’t see an end or need to it.

His two brothers also converted to the LDS Church and went on missions. One loved the Book of Mormon so much he changed his name to Ether, a prophet in the book, according to Draper.

“They gave me the scriptures and I had a ‘Joseph Smith’ experience,” Draper said. “After reading it, I knew the Book of Mormon was true.”

Courtesy Michael Draper

The caramel cappuccino served at the Latter-Day Cafe in Provo.

Later, Draper was called to serve in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission and then ended up at the Ogden Mission when it was created.

The whole time, Draper said he missed drinking his twice-a-week caramel cappuccinos and his McDonald’s coffee.

After his mission, Draper didn’t go back to college; he started flipping houses. It was great for a while, he said, and then COVID-19 hit and his tenants weren’t paying the rent. So he sold his investments and went home to Raleigh, North Carolina, where his parents now live.

“I never stopped missing coffee,” Draper said. He tried the coffee substitutes they gave investigators to help them quit the coffee habit like Barley Cup.

In fact, he tried 31 different versions of coffee substitute drinks, 25 made from barley. He tried everything from Pero to Postum.

Courtesy Michael Draper

Micheal Draper, co-owner of the Latter-Day Cafe, poses with two LDS missionaries from the Provo Utah Mission.

“They all tasted like hot garbage,” Draper admitted. “All but one.”

That one could be the salvation for many folks who love their frappuccinos, lattes, cappuccinos and just plain coffee but choose to live the Word of Wisdom or just have better health.

The Word of Wisdom is a law of health for the physical and spiritual benefit of God’s children, according to topical information from the LDS Church.

“It includes instruction about what foods are good for us and those substances to avoid,” according to church information. Coffee is one of those substances, and recently the church added any drink with coffee as a base like a cappuccino or Frappuccino or latte.

Draper said he started extracting, refining and testing the inner part of the capomo, or the Maya nut, which is the center of a peach-like fruit. It is healthier and less acidic than regular coffee, he said.

Courtesy Michael Draper

The Latter-Day Cafe logo depicts a Moroni-styled figure drinking from a cup.

Traditional coffee is highly acidic, environmentally harmful, increases cortisol production and has diuretics as well as caffeine, Draper said.

Draper’s coffee replacement is caffeine free, gluten free, is pH balanced, has a low glycemic index and has several antioxidants, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, calcium, potassium, folate, iron, zinc, fiber and other vitamins and minerals that are healthy for the body.

The capomo seed grows in Guatemala and throughout the rain forests of Central America. Draper said that pregnant women in that area eat from the capomo plant to give them strength and healthier babies.

When he was finished, Draper said he had found the answer to his cravings.

“I had invented the best fake coffee in the world,” Draper said. “When I give my drink to someone, they sip it and have the coffee aftertastes; they love it.”

Courtesy Michael Draper

Inside the Latter-Day Cafe in Provo. The business serves up faux coffee that tastes like the real deal.

With Utah County being about 82% LDS, there isn’t a better place to give Draper’s new brew a try but in the heartland of “Mormondom.”

“I moved to Utah, bought a food truck, and two days before I was to open I was hit by a dump truck and it totaled the food truck.”

Draper said he took the insurance money from the accident and opened up the Latter-Day Café. That was Sept. 1. He has been doubling his patronage each week it has been open.

It helps that this week was National and International Coffee week and LDS General Conference is this weekend. Draper says he’s not sure what he might call his various drinks but one certainly must be Mo-Joe, he said.

Draper’s logo was inspired by Starbucks and features a figure akin to the Angel Moroni, as seen on older LDS temple spires and a former logo of the church. Rather than have a trumpet or horn in his had, the figure is drinking from a cup.

“I was worried at first that someone would take offense, but the reaction has been great,” Draper said.

So if you don’t do Starbucks or Dutch Brothers coffee shops, the Latter-Day Café may just be your flavor.

Draper says if you do need a caffeine boost, it is available in four levels. He uses pure caffeine. A level one boost is like adding 12 ounces of Mountain Dew. Level two is the same caffeine as an 8-ounce cup of traditional coffee. Level three is the same caffeine as a 20-ounce 5-hour Energy drink. And the level four caffeine boost is like adding 16 ounces of a Bang Energy drink.

The café offers several flavorings to add to your faux coffee, from white chocolate raspberry to Irish cream. Drinks are served hot or cold. They also sell cookies and croissant sandwiches.

The Latter-Day Café offers monthly specials. October’s will be croissants or cookies with a drink purchased before 10 a.m. LDS missionaries get $1 off the drinks, but if they bring in an investigator all of them get the drink free.

“We even invite them to sit in the corner and teach about the Word of Wisdom,” Draper said.

This Saturday, Draper is planning an LDS General Conference launch party in the morning prior to the 10 a.m. start. There will be a TV on hand to watch conference at the café.

The Latter-Day Café is located at 600 N. 495 East in The Hut collective eatery. The business is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is closed Sundays.

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