It’s full-service coffee-on-the-go

Published 5:00 pm Sunday, February 26, 2023

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New mobile coffee company is making its rounds in first 6 months

Between Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Scooter’s Coffee and Mocha & Mini there are plenty of coffee shops in the area. And now there’s a mobile one: Carpenter Coffee.

The pop-up coffee shop is owned by husband-and-wife team Jonathan and Briana Back. Jonathan Back is a carpenter by trade.

The name actually came about because as he put it, furniture and creation went hand-in-hand.

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To that effect, there’s a wood plane in the logo. He described the hand tool as something that wasn’t used often but was used in fine woodworking.

“We are a mobile, pop-up coffee shop serving fair-trade, organic, freshly roasted coffee,” Jonathan Back said. “We try to be a full-service coffee-on-the-go, and we strive to be consistent and provide quality in all of our products,” he said.

The business started after he and his wife purchased the equipment in 2019 after moving to the area from Iowa.

“We started looking forward to what type of business we want to start, and coffee was one of our front runners,” he said. “We actually talked to the owners of The Interchange before COVID and everything happened. They had a ‘For Sale’ sign on the building.”

But then the pandemic started, meaning the Back’s plans were put on hold. Since then, they’ve changed their plans to a mobile stand to adapt to the situation while still bringing what Back described as “quality” coffee to the area.

After being licensed in July, Carpenter Coffee was at the Albert Lea Farmers Market on Saturdays through October, but they also popped up at different events, including a Wind Down Wednesday in Albert Lea and Kernel Days in Wells.

“It’s taken off a lot faster than we anticipated, which is a good thing,” he said.

Their work began a year ago with sourcing, finding a distributor and getting an equipment supplier. They also bought a trailer, which he converted to a food trailer.

Carpenter Coffee now serves a full coffee shop menu, including fresh-squeezed lemonade, drip coffee, espresso-based drinks, fruit smoothies and teas.

“It’s kind of a full-beverage mobile coffee shop and smoothies,” he said.

So far, the experience has taught Back to prepare for anything.

“Even if the weather is poor, you may anticipate lower numbers, but that’s not always the case,” he said.

Running a company has also taught him to be more flexible. And there was more work done behind the scenes.

But his favorite part of the experience is getting to interact with customers while providing what he called quality service.

For anyone interested in getting coffee from the Backs, the couple also offers fair-trade, organic, whole bean coffee in retail bags. Contact them through their Facebook page, Carpenter Coffee Co. As Carpenter Coffee grows, they’re thinking about adding mobile ordering for pick-up. The duo also plans to offer more events in the future and they plan to do more catered events. He’d also like to establish more of circuit.

“In addition to Albert Lea, farmers markets and surrounding towns,” he said.

He also wanted to thank everyone who came out to support them.

“We’ve only been open six months, but it’s been great to see familiar faces and new faces come out whenever we pop up,” he said.
Currently, Back does not plan to give up woodworking.