In 2015 Fika Coffee Shop opened in Lutsen, Minnesota. Since its opening it has become a destination that people from all over the country flock to, not only because of the delicious coffee served, but because the owner, Josh, has big dreams for the company. Find a video and our interview with him below.
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: I have three children: Claire 9, Sophia 8, and Leif 5. My wife Stephanie is a kindergarten teacher at Sawtooth. I was born in Grand Marais and my family moved away when I was 8. We moved away for reasons that are still very common now: affordable housing & sustainable employment.
Q: When did you start roasting coffee and how did you learn how?
A: My first coffee shop job was during college at the Dunn Bros in the Roseville Library. I would watch and talk with the roasters there. Shortly after that, I got a job roasting coffee for the Dunn Bros in Stillwater. In 2009, after taking a break from coffee employment, my wife and I moved our two girls to Muncie, IN where I did a two-year internship at a church that owned a coffee roasting company and a coffee shop. For two years I took ministry classes in the morning and worked in the roastery in the afternoon. It was there that I learned most. I got to work with some great people who are still doing awesome work within the specialty coffee culture.
Q: When did you come up with the idea of Fika Coffee?
A: When I was in Muncie I was thought about names for a coffee roaster/shop. One day I did a google search for Scandinavian words that mean coffee and came across the word fika. It’s like I already knew what it meant but I did not have a word for it.
Q. What does Fika mean?
A: It’s the Swedish word for “coffee break”. The word can be used as a noun for the name of the coffee break but it’s also a verb – it’s what you do when you pause from life and share a coffee/drink, and maybe something to eat, with someone.
Q: Tell us about your coffee?
A: We currently offer an organic dark roast from Mexico, a seasonal blend (a medium roast – it’s what we use for our espresso-based drinks too), and a few single origin coffees (light to medium roast).
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: The people, all the people I meet. Whether it’s a retail customer, a wholesale customer, the delivery man, or the people growing and processing the coffee. We are all different but share a love of coffee.
Q: What has been the best surprise about running your business?
A: Things move fast! We opened the shop right after we passed our inspection. It was June 20th, 2015 and people were knocking at the door, so we opened up because we had to…we had bills to pay! Things also don’t always go as I have planned or played out in my mind, so there is a lot of adjusting “on the fly”.
Q: How do you choose the beans you roast?
A: I work with several different imports. How I work with each one is a little different. For example, here in Minnesota is Cafe Imports, which is one of the best green bean importers in the states. They are located in Minneapolis. They have anywhere from 3.5 to 5 million pounds of green beans at any given time. I have a sales rep there, Joe. He knows what kind of coffee I like so he can either point me in the direction of a coffee to purchase or he can send me samples. If he sends me five little samples of Colombian coffee, I sample roast them, cup them and decide which one I would like to buy.
Q: If I remember correctly, you went on a trip in the past year to learn more about the beans you use. Tell us about that trip.
A: Yes, I went to Guatemala in March of 2015. I went down there with one of my importers, Onyx Coffee. Onyx Coffee only imports coffees from Guatemala. They actually own a coffee farm there too. When I was there I was able to meet the farmer who grew my beans. I visited a couple of other farms as well and learned a lot about the process that coffee goes through before it arrives at our roaster. There was a handful of different roasters down there from all over the world, from Cali to Denmark. While I was there, I cupped (tasted) about 90 different coffees and chose two to purchase.
I took a similar trip to Mexico in the spring of 2017. It was an incredible experience!
Q: What inspires you?
A: People. Doing something different. I have big dreams, I don’t just want to roast coffee, have a coffee shop and have people work for me. I want to create a business that is sustainable and create jobs for people that allow them to support their family and buy a house. I want them to love to come to work, take employees on coffee origin trips, offer paid vacation, etc. Crazy things like that inspire me. They are all awesome things and can be done. But, how? That’s what inspires me: the “how”, and the surprises along in this adventure.
Q: Tell us something about Fika Coffee that most people don’t know.
A: In Sweden fika, for the most part, is not optional!
Q: How can people get their hands on your coffee?
A: Our shop 5327 W. Highway 61, Lutsen MN 55612. Stop in and say hi!
We also have a website, a blog and an online store where you can buy all of our coffees! Visit it at fikacoffee.com. People can even sign up for personal subscriptions too!