backroads coffee shop

Coffee shops aren’t generally portable. But Es, a project of the Eckel family of Eagle Bend, Minn., is.

Right now, the attractive “coffee shop in a box” is located on U.S. Highway 71 in Eagle Bend. But Stephanie Eckel says there is talk about moving it south to Browerville where she is a high school English teacher during the holidays.

“My Mom has always dreamed of having her own coffee shop,” says Madeline, who is home from Bemidji State University for the weekend to help her mom and younger sister, Adrianna, run the bustling shop.

“My husband suggested using a shipping container for a coffee shop,” Stephanie said.

They bought the shipping container on-line at Craig's List. It was one of those green and white Evergreen containers that you see piled on top of each other on trains. 

Madeline and Adriana agree that it looked like it had travelled a lot of miles before it landed at their house. They also agree that their dad did a super job putting big windows, a glass door, and a snug kitchen and coffee bar in it. He also painted it and the Eckel women put in interior finishing touches and voila! A pop up coffee shop.  

In August, the Eckels put their remade shipping container on a trailer and hauled it to town.

“It was a little heavier than we expected, so my husband had to use extra jacks,” Stephanie said.

They leveled it, plugged into electricity at a neighbor’s building, set up a grey water system, had it inspected, and opened their doors by mid-month. 

“My husband didn’t think we’d have a lot of business in little Eagle Bend,” Stephanie said. “But we served 150 cups of coffee that first day.”

Weeks later, Es is still bustling. It’s because of the unique setting and the excellent coffee and other drinks, of course; but it’s also because Stephanie has roots in the community.

“She was my teacher and has a special place in my heart,” says Devin Perish, as he comes out holding an iced drink. 

As Perish leaves, a silver-haired woman parks, gets out of her car, exclaims “Oh! Cute!” upon seeing the shop, and heads in for her caffeinated beverage.

 Stephanie’s name is associated with coffee, as well as education, in the community. With support from school administration, she’s had in-school coffee clubs for years. Now that school has started again, she’s back to teaching and serving good coffee at school. Es will remain open weekends, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., through MEA weekend.

Then, it might pop up in Browerville in December.    

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