By Cole Swanson
Still feeling the effects of the shift to Daylight Savings Time, I order my iced white chocolate latte with an extra shot of espresso. Jeremy Aldrich, manager at Kaffein, 1725 Boyson Road in Hiawatha, starts mixing and measuring for the drink, while passing along my sandwich order (a half Hunter S. Thompson) to owner, Nick Bata, in the kitchen.
While the duo are working, I get to walk around the coffee shop and get a closer look at the art lining the walls. There are painted portraits, abstract pieces, photography and more — all done by local artists. The decor and comfortable seating options create a laid-back atmosphere, while still keeping the space contemporary.
I’m visiting the shop after the noon hour, but a few patrons in polos and khakis drop by during my visit for a late sandwich or early afternoon caffeine rush. With a number of businesses nearby, the four members of Kaffein’s staff don’t have any problems staying busy during the six or seven hours they’re open every day. Add the fact that they’re now open on Saturdays, and I realize the passion these individuals have for what they do.
If the hours weren’t already an indicator, Jeremy and Nick pitch me some of their future plans for the shop with the same energy and excitement I’ve seen over and over in proud small business owners.
It’s inspiring and infectious as they talk about potential collaborations with new restaurants nearby or their existing partnership with places like Kettel House in Marion, which bakes the cinnamon rolls and scones that are sold at Kaffein.
I find it hard to leave the story-telling and brainstorming behind when it’s time to go, but I look forward to seeing how this new shop (barely two months old) grows and finds its niche in one of Hiawatha’s busiest areas.