Having made a name for itself in the Northfield community with its home-roasted beans, Groundwire Coffee Roasters is ready to set up shop in the downtown.
At the Jan. 24 Northfield Economic Development Authority meeting, Groundwire was awarded a $5,000 micro-grant, which will help the roasters open their planned bar at 300 Division St. The bar, potentially named Townfolk, is expected to feature the business’s roasted coffee and some locally made pastries from Martha’s Eats and Treats and Brick Oven Bakery.
The team hopes to open the bar before spring’s end.
The micro-grant will specifically help with equipment and rent costs, though the leadership team indicated they also plan to heavily invest in employee training.
“We sort of view coffee shops and the industry as a great gateway point for career-tract positions that don’t require degrees,” said Tim Hollinger, a Groundwire manager. “A cornerstone of that is training on the front end — anyone who comes in, we really believe in investing in them. We’d like to bring people on early, well before we open (the coffee bar), to give them a great understanding of all the interacting systems behind coffee — from the seed to the cup to the farmer to the importer/exporter to shops, and just how to make great coffee.”
Cody Larson is the owner of Groundwire, starting it at the end of 2014. He works side-by-side with Hollonger and roaster Carrissa Glarner.
“I wanted to start a business, and my passion was coffee,” Larson told the EDA. “I looked at Loon Liquors starting the distillery, the talks (at the time) of Imminent and Tanzenwald starting, and I thought, ‘Wow, we don’t really have anything like that for coffee in Northfield.’ There is no roaster in southern Minnesota really anywhere. I went up to Bemidji and bought a roaster one day, and just started in a friend’s garage, selling coffee to family and stuff. Then Brick Oven called me up and Just Food Co-op, and I got my coffee in there. It just went from there.”
He added, “Northfield supports businesses like this. There are a lot of different coffee options people can buy, but in this community, people pay a little more for my product.”
Certainly, the Economic Development Authority was feeling support. The present members voted unanimously to provide the micro-grant. Member Rachel Leatham encouraged the Groundwire leaders to work as collaboratively as possible.
“I’m so excited about you all coming and adding this element of sort of ‘Food is art, and coffee is a high art,’” she said. “I’m excited about collaborations and conversations you might have with, like, the Arts and Culture Commission. Thinking about how we elevate these things; are there ways to think about presentation?; are there things unique about Northfield and your coffee?”
EDA member Andrew Ehrmann also pitched in.
“I’m glad you’re going to keep the collaborations with Brick Oven and Martha’s Eats and Treats, because I think the more Northfield businesses are working together and selling each others products, it lifts us all up,” he said.
The Groundwire team indicated it plans to be highly collaborative now and in the future, as the coffee bar opens. Larson noted that, while there are several local coffee shops in Northfield, “I do feel like the fact we do roast our coffee and the way we approach coffee, it will be unique enough to provide an asset to the community.”