Beans Coffee Company goes mobile | Local News

It all started with two fresh college graduates, newly married young men who were bored enough to experiment with different ways of making great coffee in their garage.

It has since turned into a coffee shop on wheels.

For about a year now and nearly a decade since the two started brewing and selling their own coffee, the founders of Beans Coffee Company have been serving fresh coffee to the Mankato area from their coffee trailer.

“In 2021, when everything came to a standstill due to the pandemic, we wanted to find a way to get things done,” said Beans Coffee co-founder Eric Poppler. “So we decided to buy a trailer and completely refurbish the thing.”

The renovations transformed a trailer typically used to transport and move large pieces of furniture into something resembling a food truck, equipped with all the tools needed to make their coffee.

Poppler and his Beans Coffee co-founder Clay Sharkey park their trailer outside Best Buy every Saturday to attend the Mankato Farmers’ Market, which Poppler considers the roots of their business.

“That’s where we saw the most local support,” he said. “We have people we’ve known for 10 years who stop every time.”

This is also where Poppler and Sharkey started distributing their coffee. But, in 2014, Poppler said they were broke graduates who could barely afford to hang a small canopy over their table.

“At first we only sold bags of coffee,” he said. “We didn’t have espresso machines or anything. So any profit we made from selling bags of coffee was reinvested into our business. »

Their first big purchase was an airpot coffee machine.

This allowed them to start serving samples at the Farmer’s Market in hopes that after tasting the quality of their coffee, customers would buy more bags in order to brew their own.

It worked.

“With that money, we were able to buy a few big coffee machines so we could make coffee and take it with us to market,” Poppler said.

They then started selling brewed coffee, and with more money made at the farmers market, more equipment was purchased to further their business.

What was really a game-changer for them was buying a commercial-grade roaster.

What’s special about theirs is that rather than moving the coffee beans over an open flame – leaving with it a smoky taste regardless of the beans used – their roaster uses the same elements heated than a washer and dryer.

“It’s called a fluid bed roaster,” Poppler said. “There is no open flame. Instead, it pulls air around 800 F and acts like a gigantic air-blown popcorn machine. This way you get the bean flavor as opposed to that fire flavor. »

Beans Coffee Company is now operating with three fluid bed roasters to meet demand.

Their choice of roaster is – quite literally – an advanced version of what they started experimenting with in 2012 after being inspired to make great coffee after tasting a bad batch from their church.

“I didn’t even know how to make coffee back then,” Poppler said. “We googled it and found you can use an air-blast popcorn maker, so we gave it a try.”

Both were pleasantly surprised when it worked, but were disappointed that they could only make half a cup of roasted coffee beans at a time.

They also tripped circuit breakers, set objects on fire and caused smoke alarms to go off. But Poppler and Sharkey persevered.

“We ended up making a couple great cups of coffee,” Poppler said. “Then our friend wanted to buy us a bag and it took us four hours to make a 16 ounce bag.”

They knew then that they had to find a faster way to make their coffee if they really wanted to sell it.

“We went online and saw that someone was able to convert a gas grill into a roaster,” Poppler said. “We bought him for $400. This allowed us to make 6 pounds at that time. We went from there, but it was fun to have a little mad scientist lab in our garage. ”

The two self-proclaimed mad scientists have brewed enough coffee over the years to keep customers coming back.

Co-founder of Beans Coffee

Co-founder of Beans Coffee Company, Eric Poppler likes to take his black coffee with an espresso.

Brandon Knudsvig and his wife have been buying from Beans Coffee since Poppler and Sharkey started selling at the Farmer’s Market.

“It’s just really good coffee,” he said. “It’s so fresh, being locally roasted and ground and all.”

When Knudsvig worked at Scheels, he said they even brought some into the break room for their employees as a special treat.

“We had that for quite a while,” he said. “Scheels also launched their own brand of coffee, so I think they switched to that instead.”

Either way, the loyalty of Beans Coffee customers remains intact.

Poppler shared that a woman — who hates the taste of coffee but loves the scent — buys a bag from them every month just to throw it in her car and use as an air freshener.

“I think our coffee is great, that’s why it sells,” he said. “But I also think people would buy it even if it was terrible just to support us, which is great. Mankato has local pride. It’s so cool that people here care about the local aspect things.

Community members continue to support Beans Coffee outside the Farmer’s Market by stopping by their trailer parked in front of the Downtown Children’s Museum. Their hours are from 7 p.m. to 12 p.m. Monday to Friday.

They also deliver free bags of coffee grounds to Mankato locations if orders are placed through their website:

The bags are also available for purchase at Hy-Vee stores around town, Neutral Groundz, Mom & Pops and Wooden Spoon, among others.

Beans Coffee now also serves fresh teas, lemonades and other beverages for non-coffee drinkers.

“We like to do things organically,” Sharkey said. “It was fun to be able to do that.”

About Glenda Wait

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