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Fairwave Acquires Minneapolis-Based Spyhouse Coffee Roasters

spyhouse coffee minneapolis st paul

The Spyhouse Coffee St. Paul cafe, which opened in 2017. 2017 file photo, courtesy of Spyhouse Coffee.

Kansas City, Missouri-based Fairwave Coffee Collective (styled by the brand as FairWave) has acquired influential Minneapolis-based roasting and retail company Spyhouse Coffee Roasters.

Spyhouse, which was founded by Christian Johnson in 2000 and now operates five Twin Cities cafes plus its Northeast Minneapolis production roastery and cafe, will continue to be led by president Kevin Wencel.

Fairwave Holdings CEO Dan Trott declined to provide details on the terms of the transaction, although he told DCN via an email request that Spyhouse will maintain its operations and branding, while now tapping into Fairwave’s existing network for best practices and business growth.

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The Fairwave Coffee Collective made its public debut last year with the commingling of two Kansas City specialty coffee businesses, The Roasterie and Messenger Coffee, plus Messenger’s small family of specialty brands. The majority owner of Fairwave Coffee Collective is the Kansas City area-based private equity firm Great Range Capital.

Fairwave’s Trott told DCN the collective was in conversations with Spyhouse founder Johnson prior to a series of events that unfolded last summer and autumn surrounding Spyhouse workers’ unionization efforts.

In September 2020, a number of Spyhouse workers went on strike, demanding union recognition and claiming unsafe working conditions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. On Oct. 2, Spyhouse ownership issued a statement to numerous media outlets offering to negotiate the sale of Spyhouse locations to Spyhouse employees. In November 2020, a majority (14 of 25) Spyhouse employees formally voted against unionization.

“We were in conversations with Christian prior to the major events that occurred in Minneapolis last summer,” Trott told DCN via email. “I know that Christian is very proud of Spyhouse as well he should be — one of the best brands and quality coffee in the Midwest. Christian decided to sell the business and felt that FairWave fulfilled everything he was looking for in terms of the next generation of growth for the brand, Spyhouse team members, and the loyal Spyhouse guests in the Twin Cities.”

Trott said that he hopes Spyhouse will be “one of many brands” to eventually join the Fairwave fold. He also suggested there may be some expansion of Spyhouse’s core coffee operations.

“We have plans to expand the number of cafes and the general availability of Spyhouse’s great coffee,” said Trott. “In-home brewing has become more important and we want to meet specialty coffee drinkers where they are in their journey. We will expand the coffee assortment and breadth of single origins that Spyhouse offers to their customers.”

[Editor’s note: An original version of this story included a typo stating that Spyhouse was founded in 2020. The business was founded in 2000.]