Specialty coffee is spreading rapidly around Duluth, Minnesota, and it’s spreading by bike. Yellow Bike Coffee, which opened its 3,500-square-foot flagship cafe in Hermantown after taking over the Vanilla Bean Coffeehouse space in 2017, has opened its second and third shops within the span of a month.
The first opened in October at the historic Fitger’s Complex for dining and shopping on the shores of Lake Superior. Yellow Bike Co-Founder Shannon Cornelius told Daily Coffee News that to match the established vibe of the historic local landmark, which also houses a hotel and brewery, the new shop features a modern industrial aesthetic with materials sourced and salvaged from the area. A prime example is the shop’s black partition walls, made from Richlite sourced through Duluth-based distributor Intectural.
“The front bar area is wrapped in salvaged tin from the grain elevators,” said Cornelius. “Add some live greenery, and it feels like its always been here, yet fresh and inviting.”
While coffee for each of Yellow Bike’s locations comes from its trusted provider, roaster Duluth Coffee Company, the Fitger’s location differs from the Hermantown flagship through the food menu, which Cornelius described as having smaller portions of “nutrient-dense” items tailored more to the downtown, business-dense community.
Occupying roughly 1,000 square feet in an open corridor area of the building, the new shop also broke new ground technologically for the company, with a Mavam Mach 2 machine for espresso.
“This thing is amazing,” Cornelius said of the Mavam. “We will most likely be upgrading to this machine at the flagship within the year.
The same week Yellow Bike opened in Fitger’s, a third Yellow Bike shop went live inside the Essentia/YMCA Wellness Center in Hermantown. That location, owned by Cornelius’ managing partners Doug and Kim Olsen, features a similar bar setup found at the Fitger’s shop, while also staking space in an open area.
All Yellow Bike shops are sticking with roasts from Duluth Coffee Company, and Cornelius said Yellow Bike has no intention of roasting its own.
“[Roasting is] not our vision or mission,” said Cornelius. “We are currently partner with Duluth Coffee Company [and] they are seriously the most elite in the country, no joke. I want to aggregate the people who produce the best product, and we will create the best space for them all to live, along with our own custom products.”