For a couple of years now, an idea has been brewing in Chris Raaymakers’ head.
He dreamed of opening a specialty coffee shop inside of his gym, located at 2289 E. Cedar St. in Lino Lakes, just west of the Victor Gardens neighborhood in Hugo.
The gym opened in August 2017 as Aerial Athletics. Last year, Raaymakers’ business partner decided to go a different direction, and the gym was rebranded to Evolve Fitness Company. The 6,000-square-foot gym has about 2,000 square feet of “hangout” space for members.
“I'm a big coffee connoisseur, I love coffee,” Raaymakers said. “I make espresso at home and I've always been intrigued by the process of it.”
Initially, Raaymakers wanted to purchase an espresso machine to serve gym members. The problem? An espresso machine is expensive. To get a brand new one, Raaymakers was looking at a price tag of over $20,000.
Raaymakers reached out to family friend Brad Atkinson, owner of The Anchor Coffee House in White Bear Lake, to see if he had anything he would be willing to lend to help him get the coffee shop up and running. Turns out, Atkinson had just wrapped up his trailer operation from the GLOW lights festival at the State Fairgrounds. Rather than putting the equipment in storage, he offered to support the startup.
“I try to do my best in business to be a connector, and sometimes it works out that I get to be a part of that,” Atkinson said. “They have a solid community over at Evolve, and The Anchor Coffee House is all about helping communities to connect and grow in relationships.
Chris is passionate about coffee, which made it easy for myself and business partner John Renaker of Northwoods Roasterie to help create a coffee blend and profile that matched the culture Chris has built at his gym.”
And so, Incite Brew Lab was born. “Incite is more or less learning about the process and just diving into it,” Raaymakers said. “I could have easily called it a coffee shop, but a brew lab to me speaks volumes to the process and having the attention more toward the quality of the coffee, rather than just me serving you caffeine.”
Incite Brew Lab will be a specialty coffee shop, and with that comes a higher price tag. Raaymakers explained that whereas you can find a bag of coffee at a retail store for $8-9, a bag of Incite Brew Lab coffee will be closer to $14-16.
Incite will get its beans from Northwoods Roasterie in Lindstrom, Minnesota. Raaymakers has been very involved in the process of coming up with the different blends, which include War Panda, Gorilla King, Tree in a Pot and more.
“Our main goal is to make sure that every cup of coffee that you get here is fresh roasted. It will be all about the process of making a good cup of coffee,” Raaymakers said, adding that a good cup of coffee needs to consumed three to 14 days after the beans are roasted.
“You will get your caffeine, but you will also taste the notes of berry, chocolate and hazelnut. You can put hazelnut syrup in it and it will taste like hazelnut, but this coffee is going be grown it a way where you are going to be able to taste those flavors naturally rather than artificially,” he said.
Incite Brew Lab will be far from a quiet coffee shop. In fact, it might be a bit loud. Raaymakers explained that customers should expect loud music. Crossfit classes will likely be running while the coffee shop is open.
“It is not going to be a place where you are going to be able to think and concentrate. You are going to see people lifting weights and getting their fitness on,” he said. “I want it to be a hangout place, a place where people can come and hang out and chill.”
Raaymakers is hoping to officially open the doors to the coffee side of the business within the next month or two. For more information, visit incitebrewlab.com.
Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or email@example.com.