Kickapoo Coffee Roasters – Viroqua, WI
Organic Fair Trade Artisan Roasted
TJ Semanchin + Caleb Nicholes – co-owners
Kickapoo Coffee Roasters is a family-scale enterprise situated near the scenic Kickapoo River in the Driftless region of southwest Wisconsin. The foundation of their business is their shared values: connection to the land, consideration for the local and global community, and commitment to their families and those of their trading partners. And yes, there are a lot of coffee roasters out there but seriously, these guys are some of the best. They were named Micro-Roaster of the Year in 2010, they have been awarded the gold seal from Good Food two years in a row, as well as having many top-rated roasts.
These images were taken by Ray at the Depot, over the course of a few days. Nothing was set up for a photo shoot, they just let me enter their doors (multiple times) and photograph their everyday processes. Though the environment requires a lot of detailed work, the atmosphere is very relaxed. And I’m pretty sure Caleb or TJ made me at least one cappuccino every time.
> Why Viroqua?
We have families with little kids and they are the ones who brought us to this little town.
> Best thing about living in this area?
Access to organic foods from our friends and neighbors. Great people.
> If you didn’t live here, where would you want to live?
Pacific Northwest probably. I hear they have some good coffee there, too.
> How do you make your morning cup?
Pour-over, handcrafted all the way!
> Tell us how you stay connected to your growers/farmers?
We travel and hang out with the farmers as much as possible, which has been slowed down a bit with parenting. I can’t wait ’til we start taking our kids with us! I’ve been able to revisit the same farmer cooperatives over the last 10 years; there have been ups and downs with their development, but the dedication and commitment of the farmers always inspires me.
> What brought you into this line of work?
I lived in Central America for a couple years focusing on sustainable development. When I found myself back in the states fair trade coffee was the perfect outlet to continue my passion for supporting rural communities, maintain a connection to Latin America and delicious food.
> What’s your favorite part of Kickapoo Coffee’s work environment?
Our amazing crew – Viroqua attracts great people and I feel like we have the cream of the crop working here at the depot.
> Current creative outlet?
Getting into the workshop with my six year old son, Cedar – he comes up with an idea and we build it out of wood.
> List the steps of your process.
More details can be found here.
Find out more about Kickapoo coffee on their website, follow their updates on Facebook and – if you’re ever in the area and want your very own tour of the place – public cuppings happen the last Friday of every month at 10:00am at the Depot.
This post is part of our Artist Stories series – to find out more about why and what we’re doing, head here.
Follow along on Facebook to watch for more Artist Stories like this!