Need a big cup of joe to start your morning or for a break during the day? How about trying an Elephant Joe’s?

That’s the name of a new coffee truck that has been making the rounds in Cologne, Waconia and Lester Prairie the past three weeks. While many businesses have been shuttered due to the coronavirus, Cologne couples Damon and Katie Klein and Jeff ad Kelsey Hackler just opened theirs.

The pair of friends have been talking about a coffee business for a few years. They decided Cologne is the right spot and now is the right time.

They chose a coffee truck rather than a coffee shop for the flexibility with their young families and their own current jobs. Each couple has two children ranging in age from 9-13 who can help out with the business. The truck also enables them to schedule their own hours and place to be. Plus, it helps them avoid purchase or lease and maintenance costs that come with a building, notes Jeff Hackler.

Jeff is a financial planner and is the numbers guy for the business, the partners say.

Damon Klein is employed with the city of Cologne in Public Works, and he along with another friend, Andy Kerber, handled most of the work on the coffee truck.

The partners purchased their truck off of Craigslist – a 1995 vehicle that the former owner used to haul equipment to barbecue competitions. The truck needed a considerable amount of repair, Klein said, as well as a service window, which Klein and Kerber installed.

Katie Klein and Kelsey Hackler both worked in coffee shops before taking on full-time jobs, but they are still driven by a good cup of coffee. And ironically, they chose Driven Coffee out of Chaska as a supplier for their coffee truck.

“We tried a lot of coffee and found Driven Coffee to be an exceptional roast” Katie said. “They take a craft approach to roasting and we provide the love.”

You don’t have to buy a jumbo cup of coffee when you stop at Elephant Joe’s – although there is a large version on the menu. There are also a number of hot, cold and specialty drinks, including one called a Dumbo.

The elephant was Kathy’s idea because she just likes elephants.

“They’re cute,” she says.

The owners worked with another pair of friends, Jesse and Sarah Molnau, with Studio West Designs out of Norwood Young America, on the Elephant Joe’s graphic and design.

They are using their Facebook page to announce arrival times and locations for their coffee truck, and note they are taking precautions to ensure save distancing and protection against COVID-19. They expect to expand their travel to other communities and events as stay-at-home orders are eased.

Opening morning in mid-April attracted a long line of cars and more than 220 coffee orders.

The owners were surprised at the first-day turnout and said customers didn’t seem to mind the long wait.

Said Katie: “They were just happy to get out of the house and have someplace to go.”

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