by Danny R. Phillips
I walk around the corner from my apartment and arrive at Mokaska Coffee to talk of a subject with owner Andy Montee and production manager Trevor Rowe that I know little to nothing about: coffee.
“It’s fuel for life and music,”Rowe said as the new Beach House record played in the background among the readers sitting quietly, sipping their weapon of choice; “When I worked at National Beef,” he continued, “I’d drink two pots and a 16 ounce Red Bull to keep up with work. Coffee is very important.”
I order a black coffee, ever the novice and what Rowe brings me is perhaps the best, and strongest cup I’ve ever had. It was blacker than night, more wicked than any Java I’ve had the pleasure to experienced.
Of the many coffees on the menu, Montee said,“we keep a rotating list of ten to twelve coffees, kind of stock ones; Things come and go as the harvest cycles change; so it keeps it interesting, keeps them new, mixed up.” While Mokaska didn’t start out as a coffee shop (it was initially a roaster only) Montee’s main focus being wholesale coffee production, that changed when people started asking for their coffee, a cup at a time. “We wanted to be a place where, not only could people buy roasted coffee but could sample it as well, to taste the coffee we’re working with.”
Celebrating their one-year anniversary downtown, Mokaska (named for a roaster and coffee shop that was in operation in St. Joe during the 1920s and 1930s) has become one of the city’s best places to get a cup, a place to talk with friends, a place to get a pick me up to push you through the day, a place to exchange good ideas, fostering creativity, while feeding a caffeine addiction.
One plus in the past year is Mosaic’s decision to move some of their offices downtown, adding to the amount of foot traffic that Mokaska has seen, “Lots of people work down here and that’s definitely helped our business.”Montee said. “We have a dozen or so people that come in here every single day.”
“I think the impact of us (mokaska) is more of an intangible one; it helps give downtown more credibility, letting other businesses know that it’s worth the move downtown, that there is more to St. Joe than The Belt.”
As a center of downtown’s revitalization, Mokaska (along with the Lucky Tiger, The Rendezvous and The Tiger’s Den) is on its way to becoming more than a coffee shop and roaster; it can become one of the points of gathering for the city’s growing arts and music scene, a place to compare ideas and, in the process, get a damn fine cup of coffee.
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