Happy Bean is a dream come true
Caffeine-deprived art and nursing students will soon get their fix. Thanks to former MVNU student Cassie Johnson’s aspirations, Happy Bean Coffee will come to Hunter Hall this February.
Johnson says she visualized opening a local coffee shop named Happy Bean that would accomplish two goals, “one being a stinkin’ good cup of coffee in a comfortable space, the second being a voice of hope for the area.”
After much prayer and discussion, Johnson and her husband Nate, an MVNU alumnus, set up shop in October of 2015 at Troyer’s Market, located in Apple Valley. There they served various espresso drinks, loose leaf teas and hot chocolate.
The Johnsons say the Apple Valley location was limited to liquid sales and not as successful as they hoped, but they still strived to provide a quality product and unique customer experience. At the new location, Happy Bean will add baked goods, bagged whole bean coffee and home brewing equipment to the menu.
“We have learned a lot, and I believe we are ready to expand in this way,” Cassie Johnson said.
The downtown space Happy Bean will move into was formerly occupied by Baker Bros., a coffee and sandwich shop which opened in the fall of 2011. Baker Bros., which was operated by the university, announced it was closing at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester.
MVNU senior Jenesis Torralba began working with Happy Bean at Troyer’s Market in October as a barista and will continue at the new downtown location. She is one of several students who have been hired to work at the shop. Torralba is excited about the opportunities the move to Hunter Hall will bring for local students.
Since Baker Bros. closed, she has noticed a lack of space for students to study and get work done downtown. Torralba also is passionate about using the coffee shop to serve local people. She hopes Happy Bean “creates a space for people to interact with each other and have some good conversations, build community and experience a break.”
Cassie and Nate’s families met for the first time at Baker Bros., so they know firsthand how important local coffee shops can be to communities.
“It’s so fascinating to me how coffee shops can make people relax and allow them to comfortably interact with each other,” Cassie Johnson said. “That’s something I definitely want to focus on in this location.”
The staff ’s hope is that Happy Bean will be a place that inspires growth both academically and socially.
Bar tops, rustic furniture and latté art will make for a nice treat in a comfortable space, but cozy décor and an inviting atmosphere are only a small part of what they plan to bring to Hunter Hall.
One day they hope to offer students a pastry, espresso and a job once Happy Bean is well established downtown. They hope to expand their influence in the downtown area by eventually contributing funds to local shelters, food banks and rehabilitation programs.
Former Baker Bros. director Austin Swallow said he would be “glad to help in any way they need me.”
Happy Bean is expected to open for business in one to two weeks and will be open year-round.