By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
The vitality of Spring Grove’s Main Street still shines bright and attractive, as an existing business plans to make space in the Bluff Country Artists Gallery building.
Heart Rock Coffee of Caledonia will split the space with the gallery, as Jeff and Tricia Babinski plan to remodel and move into the new space. The Babinski’s recently purchased the building.
“I just got a good feeling about this building. I love that it’s on Main Street,” Tricia Babinski said. “The partnership was available to us. That was important. The gallery will still be here in the building.”
Imagine if you will, the ESB depository will be removed to make way for a separate entrance. On the left side will be the gallery and all of its offerings.
On the right, Heart Rock Coffee, which will have a small retail space and a large picture window to watch the coffee roasting process.
Antique oak doors given to the couple by Tricia’s father will enter into the roasting space. The front space will have Heart Rock Coffee’s wide variety of roasted coffee beans and woodwork by Jeff.
Eventually, Tricia said she plans to hold coffee classes, such as tastings and the history behind coffee roasting. The gallery can also rent out the front space for art classes too.
Tricia said the retail shop will support the small coffee shops in the area. Right now, those are Free Range Exchange in Hokah, The Wired Rooster in Caledonia, the Caledonia Bakery and Red’s IGA in Spring Grove.
Before that can happen, there’s a bit of remodeling to do, including adding a bathroom on the gallery side, tiling the floor in the roasting space, adding a separating wall with a picture window, then bring in the roasting supplies and also install a chimney stack.
“It’s an opportunity to expand. We’re looking at this year, getting a bigger roaster and to reach out to more places,” Tricia said.
Heart Rock Coffee hopes to be operating in Spring Grove by March 15.
Named after the heart-shaped rocks collected by Tricia, the local roasting company started in 2018. Currently, the Babinski’s roast on a Mill City 1kg roaster at their home. Beans are sold by whole bean or ground. Since it’s a smaller operation, batches are small and delivered fresh.
Heart Rock Coffee also participates with Combat Boxes, a monthly subscription service that supports veteran-owned businesses. Jeff is an Air Force veteran.
Tricia got her start roasting coffee while they lived in Turkey, and then bought an electric roaster, roasting one pound at a time. It grew from there and the passion stuck. When they lived in Norway, Tricia hosted coffee mornings once a week.
As for the gallery’s part, board president Mary Zaffke said they were very grateful for the Babinski’s willingness to share that space.
“When you look at what the gallery brought to the region... we still feel like we’re a viable experience,” Zaffke said.
The board is excited and feels the new pairing of art and roasted coffee is a good match. While artwork will provide a visual experience, the smell of roasting coffee adds another layer to the space.
The gallery fared all right during the bulk of the pandemic in 2020, Zaffke said, with generous support of members and the community. Art sales were down, as people driving through Spring Grove and the area were usually able to stop for a while and enjoy the gallery.
“We’re looking forward to seeing our artists and art that we will bring in during this time,” she said. “What they’ve been able to do ... perhaps an opportunity to be more creative.”
Check out the gallery on Facebook and check out Heart Rock Coffee at www.heartrockcoffeeshop.com and on Facebook.