Pups n’ Cups focuses on connection

Washington state alumni’s cafe sells locally sourced goods, encourages students and dog owners to engage with community



C.J. Robert, owner of Pups and Cups, explains the inspiration for creating a dog-friendly coffee shop on Tuesday afternoon at Pups and Cups.


Coffee shops are scattered on every corner within a five mile radius of downtown Pullman. For local business owner CJ Robert, her coffee shop Pups n’ Cups isn’t just about coffee.

“I love the people; I love meeting students,” she said. “I care about being able to provide this amazing coffee shop for people, and in whatever way I can do that, I do.”

Robert is a Washington State alumnus with a double major. She and her husband fell in love with the small-town aspect of Pullman while they were here as students.

“The spirit and the people here are amazing,” Robert said. “It was the first time I had heard my husband say, ‘This feels like home.’”

Pups n’ Cups opened in February of 2018, when CJ took over the business. For her, owning a local cafe in a small town gives her the opportunity to connect with students and give them a place to spend time. She also encourages pets and their owners to get out of the house as well.

“We wanted to really integrate the fact that dogs are becoming more and more part of everyday life,” Robert said.

There are no rules about what type of dogs are allowed in the cafe, except that they need to be trained and non-aggressive.

 Not only are the pups friendly, but the atmosphere within the cafe is as well. The decor inside of Pups n’ Cups are created from refurbished items, Robert said, and she gathers ideas and inspiration from Pinterest.

“I wanted to create this atmosphere for the chill and homey vibes,” she said.

No matter how cozy the interior, though, Robert struggles in the summertime to keep business flowing regularly because Pullman is a seasonal town, she said. However, when students return, she doesn’t want the students who come into her cafe to feel like another number in line, she said.

“I don’t want to see one of my customers as a customer — I want to see them as a friend,” she said. “It’s not about money to me. Making you guys happy is what makes me happy, and it gives me life.”

Robert supports other business owners in the area through partnership. Every item that is in the shop is locally sourced.

“I only believe in supporting other local small businesses,” she said. “We are few and far between now — everyone goes corporate.”

Pups n’ Cups cafe serves everything from coffee, tea, wine and beer to charcuterie boards, smaller pastries, paninis and baked good items that are all locally made and produced, alongside dog treats and doggy cupcakes. Each part of Robert’s wholesale foods display has some type of local touch, either from Moscow or Pullman.

One of the local businesses Pups n’ Cups partners with is Sam’s Apothecary, which is located across the street. Sam Brown is the owner of Sam’s Apothecary and has been partners with Pups n’ Cups since February of 2018.

Brown said that when the opportunity arose to partner with Robert, he was excited to not only sell his products in bulk, but in smaller sizes as well. He said wants to make sure that everyone has access to his products, and a partnership with Pups n’ Cups provided that.

For Robert, providing a place that supports all walks of life is a core value.

“There are no judgements here,” Robert said. “Two legs, four legs, we don’t care. We accept everybody, no matter what.”

Pups n’ Cups can be found on Instagram at @pupsncupspullman.