The concept of “Up North” holds a special place in the hearts of the Minnesota / Wisconsin American microstate, and with it, thoughts of fish fries, lake activities (both hot and cold), and “getting away from it all”—those surging megalopolis super-cities of Minneapolis and Milwaukee can just be too much to bear sometimes, donchaknow?
But “Up North” hasn't always meant good coffee, unless you're the sort who packs it in from back in town. That's changing, you betcha, thanks to folks like Fika Coffee of Lutsen, Minnesota, a charming new coffee bar located “two and a half hours away from a town of any consequence.” Sounds pretty nice, yah? It just goes to show that from Sweden to Minnesota, the global north is home to some great coffee companies.
As told to Sprudge by Joshua Lindstrom, Founder of Fika Coffee.
For those who aren't familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We’re a small, family-run coffee shop and roaster on the shores of Lake Superior’s North Shore. Our name is from the Swedish word for “coffee break.” To us, a fika is a moment of respite in an otherwise hectic day, a time to gather with good friends for great conversation, the start of adventure. In other words, coffee brings people together. That’s why we like it so much. Up until about a month ago, we were roasting coffee in a converted shed and selling bagged coffee to our wholesale accounts and via the Internet to our customers. We’re still selling wholesale and online but we’re stoked to finally have a place to set up shop so we can offer our customers the experience we think makes coffee worth drinking.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We’re renting a space in the Clearview Building in Lutsen, Minnesota. We share the building with a gas station, a general store, a post office, a gift shop, and a heavy-duty sewing business. Our space is about 900 square feet. In its past life, it was a liquor store. We’ve done a total remodel, everything from the light switch plates to the reused decking which is the ceiling now.
What's your approach to coffee?
We try to keep it simple. We live and work in a very rural area, two and a half hours from a town of any consequent size so we kind of see ourselves as a bridge to the present progressive coffee scene.
Bottom line for us, though, is people first, coffee second. Our customers, the farmers who grow our coffee, the harvesters, and the importers, these folks are our priority. Coffee, to us, is a catalyst for meaningful relationships.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We use a Wilbur Curtis G4 ThermoPro batch brewer (it's great and allows us to custom-build recipes). Our brewed coffee grinder is a Mahlkönig EK 43 and our espresso machine is a La Marzocco GS3 with a Mahlkönig Peak grinder.
What's your hopeful target opening date/month?
The first day of summer, June 20, was the first official day of Fika. We are set to host our grand opening in late-August 2016.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
Woody Seim of Arktikos Builders and Joe Hall did our espresso bar and our custom countertops. All of our baked goods come from Elfvin's Bakery, the local bakery in town. Our ice cream is handcrafted by Love Creamery in Duluth, Minnesota. Johanna Kindvall designed our wallpaper pattern. Our coffee bag labels are also designed by her. Jeff Niesen, local artist, curates all the art on our walls.
Photos courtesy of Jacob McCormick.