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SOJO Coffee Company to open Tuesday in Lakefield

Owner Brent Pavelko has spent significant time renovating the interior, using an eclectic mix of materials and decor relating to Lakefield and the surrounding region itself.

Brent Pavelko, owner and roastmaster of SOJO Coffee Company, stands behind the counter for a moment Thursday. Pavelko was hard at work making preparations for the shop to open on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.
Brent Pavelko, owner and roastmaster of SOJO Coffee Company, stands behind the counter for a moment Thursday. Pavelko was hard at work making preparations for the shop to open on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.
Kari Lucin / The Globe
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LAKEFIELD — Coffee-lovers may rejoice, as they will soon have a brand-new place to go for a great bean-based brew — SOJO Coffee Company in Lakefield, which offers nitro-brewed coffee as well as cold brew, hot coffee made with a French press or a pour-over method, and the more familiar espresso-based drinks, too.

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“It really was a hobby that got a little bit out of control,” said Brent Pavelko, SOJO’s owner and roastmaster, who started out just wanting to learn how to roast coffee. That alone took two full years, he said, and he had to throw out a lot of undrinkable coffee during that time, but eventually, he did learn.

SOJO is set to open for the first time on Tuesday.

When Brent and his wife, Danielle, purchased the building at 206 Second Avenue North, it was essentially boarded up, having served as an appliance store for around 40 years. Brent has spent significant time renovating the interior, using an eclectic mix of materials and decor relating to Lakefield and the surrounding region.

For example, Brent used wood taken from an old barn outside of town to surface the walls, and he made tables from the thin wood strips from a Heron Lake bowling alley. Every wall features some kind of Lakefield memorabilia, from old yardsticks and calendars emblazoned with the names of now-defunct local businesses to vintage jerseys from Lakefield teams of yore.

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“I wanted the ‘grandpa’s den’ kind of feeling,” Brent said, pointing out the warm colors and deep browns of the shop’s furnishings. “I like the old retro stuff.”

Though SOJO will begin with contract coffee, allowing its staff the chance to learn to make the best coffee possible, Brent plans to start roasting himself again in a couple of weeks. His daughter, Olivia Osgerby, will serve as SOJO’s manager, and he and Danielle will also work there, along with five others.

SOJO Coffee Company is located at 206 Second Avenue North in Lakefield, and as shown, the business does feature a drive-through window.
SOJO Coffee Company is located at 206 Second Avenue North in Lakefield, and as shown, the business does feature a drive-through window.
Kari Lucin / The Globe

SOJO will start out open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, though adjustments may be made if needed. A few days after the shop opens, the drive-through will be open too, and customers will be able to order at the window, grab a coffee and head out.

The decor at SOJO Coffee Company features a lot of Lakefield memorabilia, including many giveaways used to advertise local businesses.
The decor at SOJO Coffee Company features a lot of Lakefield memorabilia, including many giveaways used to advertise local businesses.
Kari Lucin / The Globe

Brent also plans to open SOJO’s full kitchen in a couple months, offering fresh deli sandwiches and soups. Eventually, he hopes to serve SOJO coffee from a mobile coffee truck, bringing it to farmers' markets and festivals across the region.

“We want to stay very healthy and wholesome,” he said, noting that SOJO will be working with Z’Bakery of Lakefield for its baked goods, including bread — keeping it local there, too.

Even the hand-thrown pottery mugs and hand-painted travel mugs emblazoned with the SOJO logo have been made in the area.

“The local community is going to love this,” Brent said, praising the way Lakefielders support local businesses.

“It’s exciting. It’s scary,” he added. “I left a 24-year career to do this.”

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He had been a health and safety manager for 25 years, including 8 years at AgCo in Jackson.

“I was ready to do something different,” he said. “... it took time.”

SOJO Coffee Company's menu features a heavy emphasis on buying local, from the names of the drinks to the origins of its ingredients and items for sale.
SOJO Coffee Company's menu features a heavy emphasis on buying local, from the names of the drinks to the origins of its ingredients and items for sale.
Kari Lucin / The Globe

The coffee is the true star of the show at SOJO. While there are bottomless cups of conventionally-brewed coffee for people who like that, there are also a dizzying array of options for true coffee aficionados, such as the nitro brew, which is poured into a pilsner glass with a tap just like a Guinness would be. Much like that Irish nitro-brew beer, nitro-brewed coffee even has a head, as the nitrogen imparts a frothy lightness to the beverage.

And there are a variety of specialty coffee drinks to try too, each given a Lakefield-centered name, and each served in an appropriate vessel, whether it’s a pilsner glass, a cappuccino cup or a sturdy glass mug.

“We want to bring that old Italian coffee-house feel,” he said.

A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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