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Food & Drink

Northern Coffeeworks Gets a Full Remodel, With a Fun Outdoor Twist

WFH dream scenario: coffee trailer with picnic tables and outdoor Wi-Fi.

A barista in a yellow beanie prepares coffee behind a counter stocked with backs of beans and coffee equipment
Northern Coffeeworks|

See ya, current NC coffee bar!

A lot has changed over the past few years for the folks behind Northern Coffeeworks and Angry Catfish Bicycle Shop.

NC's downtown Minneapolis location closed in the early days of the pandemic, not long after they started roasting their own beans. The coffee crew consolidated operations at their sibling coffee bar in south Minneapolis, which they shared with the bike shop. Then AC moved to a much larger building just across the street from its original location, leaving the coffee shop alone once again.

“To some extent we definitely miss the cafe, and the hustle and bustle, and the regulars and regular neighborhood folks … I think they’re still coming in for coffee, which is good,” Angry Catfish/Northern Coffeeworks owner Josh Klauck told us back in 2021.

But here's some fun (if temporary) news: The coffee and bike shops will share space again, for at least a few upcoming months. Northern Coffeeworks just announced a "grand portage" to Angry Catfish (2900 E. 42nd St., Minneapolis) this summer, where they'll serve drinks from the window of their classic canned ham trailer. In the meantime, Northern's building (4208 S. 28th Ave., Minneapolis) will undergo a full remodel, with a new bar buildout and expanded seating and retail space.

"That had been the plan all along, I just feel like... the travails of running a small business!" head roaster and director of operations Naomi Vaughan tells Racket. "We're really excited that it's finally happening."

Vaughan agrees that the vibes have been a little different since the coffee and bike shops separated, and that lots of folks miss dropping off their bike for maintenance or picking up cycling gear while snagging a coffee for the road. "And those people are so happy about the trailer," she laughs.

May 6 will be the last day of service at the cafe this spring. (Keep an eye out for a closing party that evening.) There'll be no Northern Coffeeworks on May 7 and 8 as they get set up at Angry Catfish, and the coffee trailer will open on May 9.

Northern Coffeeworks

The remodel will include the demolition of Northern's front bar (pictured up top), which was built into the bike shop when it opened more than a decade ago. A new bar will extend out from the former bike repair area in the back of the building, smoothing out the line flow and allowing for a more efficient use of the space overall.

Vaughan says they'll also add more seating, along with a lot more retail shelving for pantry items like tinned fish and crackers, homewares wool blankets, stationary and paper goods—an extension of the "cabin-y, rustic, Northern vibes" they've been curating on their existing shelves. Think candles and matches, field guides to trees and plants, etc. (The restaurant retail trend continues!)

"[Owner Josh Klauck] has this vision of us as sort of the place you can go and get whatever you need for your cabin weekend, or your backpacking trip, or your bike trip you're about to go on," Vaughan says.

Meanwhile, over at the Angry Catfish coffee trailer, the summer should be a dream for the work-from-home set. They'll have indoor and outdoor seating, indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi, and sun protection at the outdoor picnic tables. "I think after this winter, people are going to be really excited about being able to work outside," Vaughan says.

Having the remodel out of the way will let the NC crew work on their wholesale roasting program going forward, finding new independent groceries and shops and focusing on the coffee program itself. (Northern Coffeeworks beans are already available locally at shops including Kowalski's Markets, Eastside Food Co-op, and Midwest Mountaineering.) Vaughan says they just brought on a new director of coffee, who will help develop the roasting program that launched at their now-shuttered downtown location.

The remodeled cafe will look a lot more like the old shop, too. "When we closed our location downtown, we actually just removed all of our millwork and cabinetry, and we have these really beautiful stone countertops," Vaughan says. All of that hardware has been patiently waiting in a storage unit for its time to shine.

One thing the redesigned shop won't have in common with its predecessor? No full brunch/lunch menu. They do have plans to expand the food offerings—light afternoon fare like soups, quiches, salads, and snack boards—but it won't be like the old Northern Coffeeworks was. It was just too much to transform a bike shop into a commercial kitchen.

Vaughan says the hope is that the remodel will take around two months, with the coffee shop reopening in late July. Keep your eyes on Northern's social channels for updates; the trailer might even stay up and running as an auxiliary shop during the remaining warm months.

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