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Conversations with Laura Wolfram and Kayla Adams

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Wolfram and Kayla Adams.

Hi Laura and Kayla, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Shortly after we (Kayla + Laura) met, we realized we both shared a dream of opening a coffee shop. We both have extensive experience in the industry, Kayla particularly with coffee and Laura with baking. We share a passion for the craft of coffee and food and wanted to bring this to our community here in St. Cloud and create a community space where all are welcome to come and enjoy high-quality, intentionally-made food and beverages. Korppi began in February 2020 as a home-based bakeshop (licensed as an MN Cottage Food Producer) under the same principles. We wanted to bring delicious treats to the community that were made with ingredients you can feel good about–whole-food ingredients, lower sugar, whole grains, and to prioritize local, organic ingredients whenever possible. Once it was clear that the community was supporting the kind of baking we were doing, we decided to take the next step to add the coffee and create the physical brick-and-mortar space that we had always envisioned. We opened our doors in October 2021.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Starting this business has not always been smooth sailing! To state the obvious, we started this business in the middle of a global pandemic, so that brought some challenges with it, of course—to name a few: supply chain issues, staffing, navigating masking and occupancy recommendations, etc, and constantly being extra cautious so that we could remain open and safe for ourselves, our staff, and our community. Beyond that, with any business in the food and beverage industry, there are many hoops to jump through for licensing and inspection, as well as industry-specific regulation on equipment and infrastructure. After working on the designing and permitting details for one location for about 6 months, we ended up having to look for another location. We were very lucky to find a wonderful building that was already set up to be a coffee shop, saving us a lot of time. Then, we had to change our name due to a trademark issue that came up unexpectedly, thankfully in the nick of time (about 24 hours before our signage was due to be finalized!). On top of these challenges, the mental and emotional energy that it takes to turn a lifelong dream into a reality is something that we couldn’t have prepared for. There are compromises that have to be made when translating that vision in your head into the physical world and we have learned to not expect everything to be *perfect* right away. It is all a work in progress, and that’s actually part of the beauty of it. The whole process is incredibly exhausting, but also incredibly rewarding. Our goal is to be able to sustain a thriving business while still respecting the limits of our physical bodies and continuing to nurture our souls. We value rest for ourselves and our staff, and have made decisions in our business model to prioritize that, including being closed two days a week and keeping our open hours limited until we get more fully staffed.

Through all of these challenges, we have learned that there are blessings in the challenges that we might not have expected when they were happening. All of these challenges actually led us to something better that we may not have seen or gotten to otherwise.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
At Korppi Coffee + Bakeshop, we believe that coffee and food transcend culture and time and bring people together. We believe in the power of kindness, and want every customer to feel welcome in the shop. We are passionate about bringing feel-good food and beverages to our community, so the quality of the ingredients that go into our products is so important to us. We source high-quality, whole-food ingredients and prioritize local and organic ingredients whenever possible. As a craft-focused coffee shop, the presentation of our food and beverages is important to us, whether it’s presenting latte art or the perfect garnish on a scone or cupcake. We have become known for our high level of customer service and the quality of the food and beverages that we create. Supporting our local economy and small business community has always been very important to us, and you can see that in what we do at the shop. We always wanted to be able to partner with local businesses and local farmers, so we source many of our food and beverage ingredients and retail items from local makers, suppliers, and farmers using sustainable agricultural practices. This means that when you spend your money at Korppi, you can see where it’s going. The money we bring in goes back into our community when we purchase from other local businesses. Supporting this and other locally-owned coffee shops keeps our local economy strong and our community thriving.

A coffee shop really can be a community hub, and we really wanted to be that for St. Cloud. Our community has been extraordinarily supportive of this business and we are forever grateful that so many people are enjoying what our team at Korppi is putting out into the world! It was also important for us to create an LGBTQ+ friendly public space in this community that, as a queer couple, we longed for ourselves. We want to be a safe space in the St. Cloud area for folks to come as they are and be who they are freely, without judgment.

What makes you happy?
There are many things that make us happy both at the shop and outside of the shop. We believe in trying to live a balanced life, even though running a business is often a chaotic and all-consuming venture. Making a difference in our customers’ day with kindness and delicious food and beverages truly brings us a lot of joy and reminds us why we do what we do, even on a tough day. When someone takes the time to let you know how much they appreciate what we’re doing, it really fills us up. Outside of the business, we love being outdoors in all seasons, hiking, camping, spending time with our two cats and dog, and (of course) making and enjoying good food and beverages. In the warmer months, Kayla is often puttering about the garage, fixing up her bicycles or her vintage Honda motorcycles, and Laura can be found in the garden.

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