A few weeks ago, on our trip back from Minneapolis, we took a little detour and visited the small town of Viroqua, WI.
Nestled in rolling hills of horses, cows and farmland, the trip to Viroqua was charming and a side to Wisconsin that is rooted in tradition.
In the midst of of a town steeped in Nordic heritage, we "stumbled" into Kickapoo Coffee Roasters.
We always love going to Kickapoo's cafe in Milwaukee, and we couldn't wait to check out their roastery with their lab, sourcing, and education coordinator, Alex Stoffregen.
Kickapoo (named after a local river) has been roasting coffee for over 12 years now, starting off in an old train station and are now roasting in a warehouse.
Kickapoo is highly regarded in speciality coffee circles, and multiple coffee's of theirs have won Good Food Awards, but even more cool than all of that, in summer of 2015, they became the only fully solar-powered coffee roaster. Needless to say, we knew the quality of the coffee was amazing, but it was awesome to meet with people who care so much about the impact they're leaving.
We walked around the roastery for a bit and as we got to the end of our tour Alex showed us their basketball court set up in the roastery. He shared his background with having started roasting at home and overnight becoming the only roaster at a company he was with, previous to Kickapoo. We got to try a few coffees and hear the interesting, sometimes comical, stories of those who touched the coffees along the way.
After giving us a tour of the roastery, Alex took us out to explore the town. Viroqua started off as a small tobacco town. You can still notice the faint smell of tobacco in the air, even after all of these years.
Now, the warehouses that used to house tobacco, are homes to other things like a giant, used bookstore.
As we walked into the used bookstore located in an old warehouse, we were greeted by an old jazz record filling the space. It was dimly lit and the owners were setting up the space for a violin concert later that night.
It never fails to amaze us how much of our own home-state that we don't know or haven't discovered yet. Although we're city-lovers, it's always great to go out and experience small-town life and get ground-ed (coffee pun intended).