FULDA ― After months of careful planning and anticipation, two Fulda women opened the doors to SheBrews Coffee House on May 18.
SheBrews, located at 114 N. St. Paul Ave. in Fulda, is the culmination of a longtime dream for co-owners Danette VanderBeek and Shaina Leinen.
VanderBeek is a lifelong coffee lover and self-proclaimed “coffee snob.” Her love for the art of brewing has motivated her desire to open a coffee shop for years.
Leinen explained that while she didn’t always love coffee itself, what originally drew her in was the atmosphere of coffee shops.
When she began college at Winona State University, Leinen wanted to find a job that would help her meet people and get to know the community. She found work in a coffee shop, and says to this day that job is the best one she’s ever had. While working as a barista, Leinen not only got her fill of social interaction, but also developed her coffee palate.
Both women ended up in Fulda after meeting their husbands. They met each other just last year at Fulda’s Wood Duck Festival, and the course of their conversation turned to coffee. They each discovered that the other longed to open a coffee house, and decided right then and there to do it together.
Although running into a stranger with the same dream may seem like a random coincidence to some, VanderBeek and Leinen say their meeting was providential.
“It was God that brought us together,” Leinen said.
Both women already have independent careers ― VanderBeek owns her own acupuncture practice and Leinen is a school and family mental health counselor with Greater Minnesota Family Services ― so it took some juggling to continue working and raising families while also planning their new venture.
The first step was to find a space. The first property they were interested in didn’t work out, but the women were approached later by contractor Randy Dierks of Randy Dierks Construction, who said he had an idea if they were interested.
Dierks explained that he was looking for another business to fill the other half of the storefront occupied by The Store, which opened in February. Leinen and VanderBeek loved the idea, and Dierks began remodeling the space, customizing it for the needs of the coffee shop. The space includes a built-in play house, and everything on the walls or on display is available for purchase.
Another major decision was what to name their business. They wanted it to have a distinct, memorable name that made a reference to coffee. VanderBeek and Leinen eventually landed on SheBrews, a reference to the biblical book of Hebrews and to the fact that they are women.
Leinen and VanderBeek have a twofold vision for their coffee shop: first, to share Christian love, and second, to teach people about coffee.
“Our whole purpose is sharing the love of Jesus,” Leinen said. “We want customers to feel different when they come here.” The two greet every person with a smile and want to get to know their patrons.
The women also want people to feel comfortable asking questions about the menu items. Not everyone understands the difference between an americano, a latte and a cappuccino, and that’s OK. They’d like to teach people exactly what they mean by each method of coffee preparation.
Due to caution necessary because of COVID-19, SheBrews is not yet offering all that's planned. For now, the coffee shop hours are 6 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to noon Saturday. Menu items are mostly beverages, including coffee drinks, hot chocolate, smoothies and Italian sodas, as well as a limited breakfast food menu. The store only allows five customers inside at once to allow for social distancing.
Despite these limitations, VanderBeek and Leinen said their first week of business has been great, and the community has shown up to support them.
“It’s been way busier than we thought we were going to be,” VanderBeek said.
In the coming months, hours will expand to 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the lunch menu will include sandwiches, salads and wraps, with soups offered seasonally.
“We want to bring a space to Fulda that really promotes community,” Leinen added.
Eventually, the women would like to make SheBrews available to rent out for special meetings or events, with the option of having them on site to prepare coffee.