SK Coffee roasting at Salty Tart bakery

Nate Broadbridge (l) and Sam Kjellberg roast at the Salty Tart’s commissary kitchen.
Nate Broadbridge (l) and Sam Kjellberg roast at the Salty Tart’s commissary kitchen.

Whittier has a new coffee roastery, and it’s based at Salty Tart’s new bakery opening Oct. 4 at 2940 Harriet Ave.

It’s an ideal location for SK Coffee, as the roaster was previously crowded into the kitchen of an apartment Sam Kjellberg shared with three other roommates.

“Thank God they loved coffee,” he said.

Launched by Kjellberg, “the coffee guy,” and Nate Broadbridge, “the spreadsheet guy,” SK Coffee formed a limited liability company last fall. By December, a Guatemala company offered to buy them out. As they considered the offer and worked the numbers, they decided to invest in new equipment and keep control of the business.

“It’s not worth it. We want to do this thing ourselves,” Broadbridge said.

After living in Boston with a career focused on music and teaching, Kjellberg decided to move back to Minnesota, closer to Whittier where Broadbridge lives with his wife, and closer to his hometown in White Bear Lake.

SK Coffee appears at farmers markets in Linden Hills, East Isles, the Oracle Centre and Bloomington and they’ve got about 40 regular subscribers who receive between one and four bags each month.

“We’ve only lost one subscriber since we started,” Broadbridge said.

Now they’re ready to serve direct-trade coffee at Salty Tart’s new bakery, featuring Guatemala co-ops like Asociación Unión de Pequeños Caficultores, which includes a 62-member co-op led by women.

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SK Coffee is also working at the Whittier Farmers Market to help coach other startup businesses. Although they’re new, in some ways they’re in a perfect position to help, Kjellberg said. An older business might not remember how to set up a Squarespace account, while they’ve recently rebuilt their website several times over.

“We’re doing what we can in the neighborhood, even though we are a small business,” Broadbridge said.

And they’re exploring the possibility of becoming a Certified B Corporation, striving for a balance between purpose and profit.

“Our mission statement is meeting you where you are,” Kjellberg said.

At the markets, they offer taste tests of two different coffees, and explain the process to create the different flavors.

“I think we’ve converted a couple people into being coffee nerds,” Broadbridge said.

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