"Forget about San Francisco, Portland or Seattle. Boise is the king of independent coffee shops," said Kurt Zwolfer.
The education specialist at The Idaho State Historical Museum nominated the Flying M as a classic Boise icon. He loves the coffee, baristas who read his mind and the availability of one of the best people-watching spots in Boise: 500 W. Idaho St.
But Flying M's real fame may be its philanthropy. Original owners Lisa and Kevin Myers started the Valentines for AIDS silent auction 20 years ago. Hundreds of artists donate their work. Proceeds go to S.N.A.P., an organization that supports men and women living with AIDS and HIV. Kent Collins bought the shop from the Myerses in 2011. He continues the annual event. This year, the auction raised $20,202 for S.N.A.P.
The long view is even more remarkable: In its 20-year run, Valentines for AIDS has raised $373,765 for the cause.
Kirk Montgomery, who, with the Myerses got the shop going those many years ago, shed some light on Flying M's name and logo.
It comes from Kevin Myers' dad's cattle brand. When the shop moved from its original location (where Guido's is now), Montgomery and Myers hung a board above the menu with the cattle brand burned in.
"I find that ironic, since Flying M caters to quite a few vegetarians," Montgomery quipped.
If you ever meet Montgomery around town, ask to see the tattoo on his arm: the Flying M logo.
Anna Webb: 377-6431