Small businesses foster unique communities. Employees take on multidisciplinary roles. Customers directly impact the company’s direction. Specialty products, services, and methods attract people with hyper-specific interests. Ames Farm proudly operates this way, and we love working with a wide variety of small vendors.
One local partner, Bob’s Java Hut, opened in 1994 as a motorcycle haven and welcomes bicyclists, too. “The culture’s shifting,” said owner Liz Moser. “Most people in their 20s now ride bicycles.” Moser still makes a point to show up for local motorcycle events and maintains long-term friendships with her long-term customers, but her cafe is now also equipped with a bicycle repair station and a bicycle-of-the-month hangs in the window (courtesy of Flanders Brothers Cycle).
The shop’s menu is evolving alongside its neighborhood locale. Moser visits all of her suppliers to attach stories and faces to each drink and baked good. She even visited the recycling center (“It was this crazy Willy Wonka thing inside with all these conveyor belts.”) and compost site (“It didn’t really smell.”) that the shop uses to manage their waste sustainably.
I sat down with Moser at Bob’s Java Hut to learn more about these transitions and to taste a couple of their delicious drinks. I highly recommend the Miel and the rhubarb oolong iced tea.
How do you use Ames Honey at Bob’s Java Hut?
[We use it in] our Miels. We actually have you guys up on the [menu] board! People have been really thrilled. Darn near everybody is familiar with your product.
Why did you decide to use Ames Raw Local Honey in your shop?
Months ago, one of my employees [suggested that we] get some really good honey for our Miels. We were making all of our homemade this and homemade that and we were still using our ‘eh’ honey, so I Googled ‘local honey’ and up you guys popped. And I actually live in Maple Plain, like 5 minutes away [from Ames Farm]. I emailed Josh and he literally got back to me within 24 hours. He was so on top of it. That’s not always the case [with other vendors].
I read in a recent City Pages article that you are making some updates to the menu. What changes have you made so far?
I’ve been, in the last couple months, updating all of our products: local milk from Stony Creek [Dairy], [Ames] for our Miels, we’re making all of our Chai in house, our syrups are in house. We’re switching over the baked goods to Patisserie 46 (that will be another fun site visit).
So just getting more fresh, local, in-house. The more I can make in house makes [the menu] more unique to us. Our housemade Chai is fabulous and since we’ve started making it our sales have really increased.
How do you develop your new recipes?
One of my employees, Bee, did some research. I did some research. Then it was just trial and error. First thing we dialed in was the Chai. It was literally like six different recipes until we figured it out. It’s been really fun. The days that we’re making the Chai it smells so good in here.
What do the regulars think about the new menu?
Everybody likes a tasty drink. Nobody’s complained about having whipped cream [made] in house.
Change is hard, too. I have one regular whose favorite thing was the white chocolate sauce, and we’re not making a house made white chocolate sauce. I saw him in here the other day just sitting and drinking water and I was like, “You’re killing me, I will buy you a drink.”
How do you use honey at home?
I love honey. I’m a big tea drinker, I have it in tea. I love it on toast, I love it with peanut butter. Brian sent us home with the different samples of seasonal honeys and I tried every single one.
Did you have a favorite Ames Single Source Raw Honey?
Buckwheat. It almost [makes] me think of a dark beer.
What was one of your favorite things to learn when you visited Ames Farm?
I thought it was really interesting [that] you guys have your own orchards and that some [hives] are on your own property and then you work in cooperation with different farmers. And [that sometimes] farmers reach out to you guys.*
*Pollinators and farmers have a mutually beneficial relationship. Read one explanation here.