The New Peace Coffee Shop Combines Fair Trade Ideals with Great Coffee and Food

Earlier this week, when I slipped through the front doors of the new Peace Coffee shop in Longfellow, I had to stop for a moment to take it all in. Despite the fact that I had come on what was only the third day of their “soft” opening, the place had that wonderful feeling of having been there for a long time. My gaze flitted from the beautiful intricate tile floor at the entrance, to the marquis lights on the rough hewn menu board, to the tree mural complete with a sweet little hidden bird nest, to the giant, and I mean GIANT, disco ball and all I could think was Man, this place is cool! Cheery sounds of whirring and clinking drifted from the big u-shaped coffee bar and sun streamed through vast windows, casting swaths of light over people chatting or sitting with their laptops, sipping coffee and looking contented as cats.

The Peace Coffee Shop is the latest manifestation of Peace Coffee’s mission of creating “a cultural, social and consumable revolution with grounds firmly fixed in a Farmer Friendly, Fair Trade Reality.” They have been importing and selling delicious, organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee since 1995 and according to “Queen Bean” and CEO, Lee Wallace, the coffee shop will allow them to connect more directly with coffee drinkers by providing a space from which to educate baristas (both home and professional) on how to best brew a cup of coffee as well as educate interested customers in the importance of Peace Coffee’s mission. If all of that sounds esoteric, it’s not. Lee breaks it down by saying: “We’re really proud of our coffee and we love sharing our knowledge. We want to demystify good coffee.”

To that end they are setting up a “brew lab” attached to the coffee shop which will serve as a classroom and community meeting room (where I imagine all sorts of crazy delicious coffee experiments will transpire). Also, as Mel Meegan, Peace Coffee’s marketing guru, points out, the u-shaped bar in the middle of the shop puts the coffee and the baristas center stage, inviting people to watch the magic. There is even a bar along one side, which allows you to sidle up and ogle, without feeling like an ogler. If there ever was a coffee shop for people who make deliberate food choices, who want to know where it comes from and how it is prepared, this is it.

Lee and her team chose the Longfellow neighborhood in part because it is underserved by retail businesses, but also because it has a fun, quirky history that jives with the Peace Coffee aesthetic. From 1905 to 1911, the neighborhood was the site of a 20-acre amusement park called Wonderland Park. As Mel points out, the people at Peace Coffee are principled about fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffee, but they also like to have fun. They are hoping to capture some of the whimsy and magic of Wonderland Park and bring that history to life in the coffee shop.

Sometimes it’s hard to define why a certain space works, but Lee put her finger on it when she explained why they had chosen the neighborhood and the building as a home for Peace Coffee. She said they were drawn to the history of the neighborhood and building and liked that the landlord was interested in creating “an intentional community of businesses.” “Intentional” is such an appropriate word for this coffee shop. Aside from their carefully sourced and expertly prepared coffee, there will be a daily soup and chili, fresh baked goods from the Wedge Coop, and bagels and cream cheese from Common Roots. By using salvaged materials, bold colors, local artists, creative lighting, intricate tile work, and smart space planning, they have created a space that seamlessly melds Peace Coffee’s philosophy and aesthetic: Principled but unpretentious. Educational but whimsical. Pragmatic but optimistic.

I wish them well. And I WILL be back!

Peace Coffee is located at:

3262 Minnehaha Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

M - Sat 6:30 am to 7 pm
Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm


Gabriela Lambert is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. You can also read more of her writing on her blog