Peace Spokes from Peace Coffee
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by Anna Canning, Peace Coffee Project Manager

We're Open!

After months of preparation, we opened the doors of our coffee shop with little fanfare early on the morning of November 8th. A week of dress rehearsal behind us, we declared that we were open for business Saturday morning. It's been a fantastic odyssey to get to the moment when our barista placed a cup of coffee into our first customer's hands, and we have been truly amazed by the outpouring of support. Behind just about each fixture, each panel, each brushstroke there's a story, often a neighbor, and a debt of gratitude for helping us craft a space whose attention to detail and craftsmanship match the care that goes into our coffee from farmer to roasting team to barista crew. Our beans have found the perfect home!

There's not space enough here to tell each story, but use this little guide as a "Treasure Hunt" around the shop. We hope you'll come in soon and see for yourself!

The Treasure Hunt

Menu Board:

When stumbling through broken glass in an unlit, abandoned factory, most people wouldn't give the old fire doors coated in crumbling green-brown paint a second glance, but that's part of why we've liked working with local metal artist/sculptor/builder /designer extraordinaire Adam Croft. His imagination and craft transformed someone else's pile of junk into the clean lines of our menu board. When contemplating the menu board, look up for another of his creations, morphing bike parts into our own little celestial sphere/chandelier.


We agreed early in the planning process that one thing we love in a coffee shop is when there's a little something on the saucer that accompanies your drink. We spent months in hot debate over what the perfect something might be until we hired Monika, our coffee shop manager. With her characteristic good sense, she didn't join the argument, just showed up one morning with a tray of pepparkakor that she'd baked from her great-grandmother's recipe. We all agreed that their gingery snap and crisp texture were the perfect accent to a frothy latte. While we've been lucky to enjoy Monika's baking prowess on several occasions, we don't have the kitchen facilities to bake or prepare food, which is where our fantastic menu partners at the Wedge Co-op Bakehouse come in. We’ve been fortunate to find in them partners who share our commitment to good food, premium ingredients, and a fanatical commitment to freshness. One of their requirements when we were initially discussing working together was that we would have to get daily delivery as they didn't want their baked goods sold less than perfectly fresh. We couldn’t agree more!

**in addition to customizing a pepparkakor to rival Monika's great-grandmother, the Wedge has also made us a special scone recipe, our own warming black bean chili, and an array of some of our favorites from their own soup and baked good line up.

Tile mosaic:

"Funk it up, let's funk it up!" became a familiar refrain for those of us down on the floor with Haley Johnson, our designer, working on the tile project. Unable to restrict herself to the staid repetition of the colorful mosaics that she designed and then hand-pieced (with the help of a cadre of incredibly dedicated volunteers), she inserted little surprises throughout the floor. See if you can find Dixie the Office Dog, a naughty little imp, a bevy of turtles, a monkey drinking espresso, Haley's own dachshund Auto Pilot, and several other characters.

Eco-Friendly Products:
While we talked to a lot of local business people and coffee shop owners about all sorts of questions from traffic patterns to menu planning to neighborhood demographics, one aspect of our location that came about utterly serendipitously was our proximity to Natural Built Home just a few blocks down the street from us. Whether tinkering to get the perfect 6 shades of  low VOC blue paint for the mountains in the back of the shop, or searching for the perfect tile to add sparkle to the floor mosaics (recycled red glass was their answer), or the perfect sheet of Richlite for the black splash in the Brew Lab walls, they were incredibly giving in the most old-fashioned, neighborly way. And, while there were plenty of exhaustion-related vocabulary failures on this project, the repetition of the word "perfect" above isn’t one of them: everything that we found there shared that combination of lovely and good for the planet that we're so fond of.
Bench Seating:

Next stop on the coffee shop treasure hunt: The long wooden benches that line the brick wall and surround the back corner. Another example of the artistry of Adam Croft, they're pieced of a variety of woods: stinky swamp oak, the odd length of reddened old spruce lumber, strips of birdseye maple salvaged from the flooring of the house behind our building. Perhaps the next step in our coffee and food pairings will be finding the spot on the bench to match: sun-dried Sidamo and a scone early in the morning by a sunrise whorl of oak grain; late afternoon, smooth Bolivian, apricot cream cheese on a bagel, the poppy seeds dotting the burls and birdseyes along a shiny stripe of maple trim…
Churned Cream:
Unlike many items on the treasure hunt, this one won’t be sitting out waiting to be found, you'll have to go looking. Try sideling up to the counter and asking for butter. Spread a little on a slice of bread; lather a bit more on a scone: creamy with just a hint of extra buttermilk tang, we buy churned cream from our dairy partners at Castle Rock Organic Farms. Carla tells us that the words "churned cream" are just semantics 'til her son gets his butter maker's license (yes, there's such a thing!), but, having tasted it, we don’t mind what it’s called as long as we can get more.

Bird Friendly:
We're used to being dazzled by Haley Johnson's inventions for our packaging design — tiny details, rich color, little surprises that reveal themselves unexpectedly: the coffee shop project however has brought new dimensions to our collaboration. From concept to hours on the floor laying tile or perched high on a ladder, paintbrush in hand, she's been involved every step of the way. A few of her sneak surprises: a nest of baby birds (come find them!) and a few design treats behind the service counter (they're for the baristas only. Quiz them next time you order...).


Kidney Bean Table:

If you've ever been in our roastery, one of the things that will strike you (after the bikes hanging from the ceiling) is all the pallets storing row upon row of sacks of green coffee. You might not know it, but pallets have made their way into the coffee shop too: our giant community table, the handiwork of Adam Croft is made of cast-off pallets, sawn across the grain of the giant growth rings of what were once ridiculously fast-growing trees. Start hoarding pallets now and maybe he'll make you one of your own!


Midwest Does Bagels Too:

While we try to stay out of non-coffee and trade-related debates, we got pulled into a slightly controversial topic as we finalized our menu: bagels. There's a cross-continental debate on the topic, and we know that those of us in the Midwest are scorned when we weigh in, but we'll say it anyway: We love Common Roots Cafe’s bagels! Tasty, delivered warm at dawn daily, and made with local ingredients, they're all 'round fabulous. The only thing that could make them better? Spreading a thick layer of one of the various fresh cream cheese spreads that the Common Roots crew mixes up every day (chives, apricots, mixed veg — they've all been delicious!).


Red Box:

Our funny angled corner building has a long history in our neighborhood having spent time as a corner market, a jewelry store, and various other small businesses over the decades. Over time, its personality got dulled a bit, coated in beige-y grey paint and made to frown a little under stern black awnings. We wanted its facelift to compliment its neighbors and that's where yet another local artist came in. Joe Gilbertson crafted our little red awning in a cheerful nod to the one on the Danko Dairy building across the street. His version is a little brighter but on dark nights, they’ve been seen waving at each other…


Disco Dancing:

Several years ago while traveling together in Colombia, Mel & Jody walked into the coolest coffee warehouse ever: packed to the ceiling with bags of coffee, its glitter, flashing lights, bumping speakers, and multi-colored disco ball made clear that this was the place to be (and, we might add, a great use of space — who has time for dancing during the harvest season?). While a checkerboard ceiling wasn't able to fit into the exposed rafters of our building, we're still contemplating adding one in the back service area to add some disco fun to dishwashing.

When we spotted the disco ball from the Medina Ballroom on one of our salvage expeditions, we knew we had to have it. Easily twice the size of your average disco ball, ours is doing its job as a dance magnet: Office baby Mikaela can't be stopped from dancing under its sparkles and our barista Adam's mother took him for a slow waltz, reliving dancing with his father under the same ball decades ago. If the dance party bug gets the better of you once you've finished your espresso, we won't hold it against you.


Blue Mountains:

When Haley first started imagining what a place to brew coffee might look like, sketches of mountains were the images of coffeelands that stuck with us. Haley's outlines were brought to life on the back wall by local painter Desiree Fernandez. Working on a completely different scale than her usual glowing portraits, Desi rendered the looming mountains in layers of meticulous brushstrokes. The numbers? We're enjoying the proliferation of stories about them: Are they the Pantone numbers of each paint can for a true color-by-numbers experience? Or are the elevations of each spot on these mythical mountains? Or maybe they're the lot numbers off the bags of coffee harvested from these same hillsides… We'll let you choose your own adventure on that one.


A Team Effort:

The final thing hiding in our shop is the touches of all the volunteers who helped us to bring this vision to life. From spiffing up old tables to laminating casework, installing a sound system (twice, actually), piecing and laying tile 'round the clock, cleaning decades of grime, sanding, painting, and innumerable other labors of love, the handiwork (and sweat, and occasional spot of blood) of scores of friends, family and one-time strangers has made this place possible.

The Peace Coffee shop is located in the Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis, at 3262 Minnehaha Avenue South. Hours are Monday – Saturday from 6:30am – 7:00pm and Sunday from 8:00am – 2:00pm. Check out the new coffee shop website for menu, events, photo links and more. Please note we will be closed Thursday 11/25 for Thanksgiving.

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