Superior’s Empire Coffee to open this month

Evan Meyer and Aryana Buck of Empire Coffee - Photo by Lissa Maki

Evan Meyer and Aryana Buck – Photo by Lissa Maki

A new caffeination hub is set to open in Superior later this month. Empire Coffee will distinguish itself with its sheer variety of brews.

Unlike most area coffee shops, the new venture at 1204 Tower Avenue isn’t sourcing from a single roaster. “Superior’s Only Coffee Taphouse” will feature coffee from several local and regional companies.

Owners Evan Meyer and Aryana Buck have been busy putting the final touches on their shop, located in the renovated Empire Building. They hope to hold a grand opening in the latter half of April. In keeping with the historic building’s Victorian Romanesque style, Buck says the business is aiming for an aesthetic that is “simple, classy and bold.”

Three types of drip coffee will be available “on tap” each day for people who want a quick cup of coffee that’s ready to go. To start, customers can expect to expect local staples like Alakef and Duluth Coffee Company along with a rotating guest brew from Backroads Coffee of Hayward. More than a dozen additional roasts will be available for pour-over coffee and espresso drinks.

Meyer and Buck have been in touch with other roasters in the region and beyond and intend to gradually increase their array of offerings. “We’ll have lots of options, a high-end experience and reasonable prices,” says Meyer, noting the shop might be the only one around to offer a $2 cup of coffee.

Empire Coffee will also have a small kitchen area for made-to-order sandwiches and paninis. The nearby Wednesday Bakery will provide baked goods for the shop.

Buck says the shop will have high-speed wifi and a comfortable atmosphere that’s welcoming to students. The initial plans are to be open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. but the shop may stay open late during finals weeks to accommodate students looking for study space.

Meyer, who’s from Evansville, Wis. has always wanted to own a business; he just wasn’t sure what type of enterprise he wanted to start. The couple met while attending the University of Wisconsin-Superior, he for business administration and she for transportation and logistics.

Buck is a Duluth native who says she grew up playing “restaurant,” having tea parties and running lemonade stands. She’s worked in customer service and in the restaurant industry since she was 16 and has dreamed of owning her own coffee shop.

The pair combined their aspirations to come up with the coffee taphouse concept about two and a half years ago. Meyer says they did their homework. A market analysis showed a coffee shop could do well in Superior.

Buck says it’s time for the underappreciated Twin Port to shine. “We want to help bring Superior into the spotlight and out of the shadow of Duluth,” she says.

Since several businesses have recently opened nearby, such as 7 West Taphouse, Meyer says the north end of Tower Avenue’s commercial district will be a great location. “In my opinion it’s about to have another Golden Age,” he says.

Buck and Meyer say they’ve faced challenges in starting their business due to their age —she’s 23 and he’s 26. There were times when people didn’t take them seriously and were quick to dismiss the entrepreneurial Millenials.

“There were five or six times when we should have given up,” admits Meyer. “But we believe in this dream.”

Watch for news of Empire Coffee’s grand opening on the shop’s Facebook page.

The Empire Building - Photo by Lissa Maki

The Empire Building – Photo by Lissa Maki

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