When Clancy Alampi first visited her older daughter, Courtney, in Middleburg, she could not believe that she had to drive 30 minutes to Leesburg for a decent cup of coffee. After living in Seattle and San Francisco, where there seem to be coffee shops on every corner, Alampi swore she would move to the Middleburg area to fix the situation.

Many other Middleburg residents apparently did not like that commute for a good latte{acute}, either. Cuppa Giddy Up has been open more than a year, the critical period that determines whether most new businesses are going to make it, and the steady stream of coffee drinkers indicates the shop is a success.

"This place changed the whole town," exclaimed Tully Rector, owner of a clothing store of the same name across the street and something of a fixture in Middleburg. Clancy remembers that Rector was one of the first locals to climb down the stairs of the small coffee shop when the women were remodeling it, to ask what was going on. Now, he's a regular. "I used to drink coffee before, but never three times a day," he said as he sipped cup No. 2 (or was it No. 3?) on a recent sunny afternoon.

Although several coffee shops have opened since Clancy came to town, Cuppa Giddy Up has retained many customers and continues to draw new ones. The shop has never advertised, she said. It really doesn't have to: It sits on East Washington Street, Middleburg's main street, among others shops and restaurants.

"I walk in the door and they know what I'm drinking," said Marisol Fernandini, a local businesswoman who comes in every day. "I love it here."

Each day has its waves of customers, said Megan Alampi, Clancy's younger daughter, who also works at the store.

In the early morning, starting at 6:30, the shop is filled with commuters, farriers, riders and veterinarians (and some dogs). Then come the groups of people who casually meet up: first, the moms who have dropped off children from the Hill School, Notre Dame, Fox Trot and other local schools. The fathers who also shuttled their children to school come separately. Finally, the Middleburg business people start shuffling in.

Clancy started to think seriously about moving to Middleburg when the economy and housing market in San Francisco began to show signs of slowing. "I knew if I was ever going to sell my house, that was the time," Clancy, 55, said. After talking with her friends about Middleburg's reputation as horse country, and what she wanted to do, one of them came up with the name for the shop.

Megan, 25, said her mother has always been lucky. Clancy left San Francisco and, although she had never run a business, the coffee shop has taken off.

Megan decided to make the move from San Francisco to join her mother and sister when the pharmaceutical company where she worked as an event planner was sold. She thought she would move to the District to find work. However, she flew in on a redeye flight on Sept. 11, 2001, just as the terrorist attacks began to unfold. "That changed me. I wanted to be close to my family," she said.

So started the Alampi women's saga. Courtney, 28, a farm manager who competes in three-day horse events, is also part owner of the shop. The sisters and their mother helped to remodel the store, a 600-square-foot space that a real estate agent did not even want to show them. The agent called it the "troll hole" because it was so dark, small and underground. The space previously housed a shop that sold Virginia knickknacks, a gourmet dog biscuit shop and a real estate office.

After the women looked elsewhere in Middleburg, and did not find much available, Clancy wanted to check out the space. She saw it and immediately thought it could be made to look cozy.

"I knew I wanted the place right here. Some people said you'll never get people to come down the stairs, and that it was too small," Clancy said. She thought of slogan from the movie "Field of Dreams": "If you build it, they will come."

The space, which dates to the 1700s and was the original Middleburg post office, features original brick floors. Pale yellow wood walls cover formerly exposed pipes. A red floral couch sits in front of a coffee table with fresh flowers and the day's newspaper. The coffee fixings are on a yellow hutch. The shop also has a rocking chair, but not room for much else.

The shop has worked its way into the hearts of locals, and vice versa. When the sisters and Mabel Walsh, who also works at the shop, decided to run the Marine Corps Marathon and raise money for the AIDS Foundation this year, customers helped bring in more than $4,000 in sponsorships. Those same customers were understanding on the day of the marathon, when the shop was closed with the sign: "Gone Running."

Before this adventure, Clancy (which is actually her maiden name -- she doesn't like to reveal her first name) was an art teacher for about eight years and "a great mom," Megan said.

Courtney got the business plan together with the help of the Sterling Small Business Association and SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives). The women checked out various coffee shops in the area to research prices and coffee tastes. The beans at Cuppa Giddy Up come from a Leesburg roaster, the Coffee Bean.

"I should have been more nervous, but I didn't know better," Clancy said. "I love coffee and thought if a few people come" the business would be a go.

Megan wasn't as calm as her mother. The night before the opening, it was clear Clancy was too nervous to run the latte{acute} machine, and the cash register seemed more than a bit confusing.

"I said: 'Great Mom, we're opening this shop tomorrow and you don't know how to make coffee or run a register.' "

But, Clancy has figured it out. "I feel really blessed. How many moms get to work with their daughters? It's given us a lot of good memories."

Megan Alampi, whose mother, Clancy, opened Cuppa Giddy Up in Middleburg a year ago, serves two cups to Tully Rector, above. The shop sits below street level in the heart of town.