Luther College Chips

Impact Coffee: Local Roasts

How Sean Brown (‘13) turned his family frame shop in to a staple of the Decorah coffee scene

Sean+Brown+%28%E2%80%9813%29+and+a+barista+working+the+espresso+bar+at+Impact+Coffee.+
Sean Brown (‘13) and a barista working the espresso bar at Impact Coffee.

Sean Brown (‘13) and a barista working the espresso bar at Impact Coffee.

Cara Keith (‘21) | Chips

Cara Keith (‘21) | Chips

Sean Brown (‘13) and a barista working the espresso bar at Impact Coffee.

Cara Keith, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The warm lighting and welcoming atmosphere greet the community members entering Impact Coffee, where the vibrant green-and-black color scheme of the menu draws customers in. A sofa sits in the corner of the seating area and sets of wooden tables and chairs comprise the rest of the seating accommodations. The owner of Impact Coffee Sean Brown (‘13) often greets customers by name and works behind the counter to help make the coffee orders that come in.

Impact Coffee is located in downtown Decorah and opened in the fall of 2015. Impact Coffee was originally a frame shop run by Brown’s parents for over 30 years. The Brown family eventually became business partners with a couple from Honduras who roasted coffee beans to be sold at the frame shop. This led to the store becoming half frame shop and half coffee shop.

Eventually the couple from whom the Brown family bought the roasted coffee beans moved away which required Sean Brown to learn how to roast coffee beans himself.

“When the couple we were getting our beans from left, we had to learn how to roast kind of on the fly and we haven’t looked back since,” Brown said.

This is when he began cultivating Impact Coffee’s legacy for roasting in town.

Impact Coffee barista Megan Oliver (‘18) explained why Impact Coffee is important to the Decorah community.

“We’re the only coffee shop that actually roasts our own beans,” Oliver said. “We probably pride ourselves on the quality of our coffee compared to other coffee shops and so I’d say that we’re exposing the community to really good coffee.”

Even though the quality is high, Oliver is regretful that this experience is not always the same on Luther’s campus.

“What kind of sucks though is that Luther doesn’t really do it justice even though they have the beans,” Oliver said. “If you go into town, it’s completely different.”

Cara Keith (‘21) | Chips
Max Kemp (‘16) and Professor of Anthropology Anita Carrasco in Impact.

Impact Coffee is well-known for roasting their own beans. First, the company buys their beans from an importer out of Minneapolis. Then they take the beans and roast them in a facility two miles east of Decorah.

“We used to roast the beans in my parents’ garage,” Brown said. “We totally gutted that and built a full-on roastery.”

Once Impact Coffee started roasting their own beans they began to sell their beans wholesale to different companies in the Decorah area. Impact Coffee sells their coffee beans to Luther College, Oneota Co-op, Quillin’s, and a few other smaller companies, as well as supplying the coffee beans for their own coffee bar.

Brown described how Impact Coffee began providing coffee to Luther College.

“We started with them three years ago,” Brown said. “Luther wanted to go local and we provided that for them and it’s just been an ever-growing partnership since then. Everything at Luther is now Impact Coffee.”

Impact Coffee has become a staple location for many college students at Luther. Madeline Pope (‘21) first became acquainted with Impact Coffee on a visit day.

“I just thought it was the cutest little place ever and it’s so cozy in there,” Pope said. “The baristas there are just so cool and they make a really good chai latte, which I know isn’t technically coffee but I still really like it.”

As of now, the only major plan that Brown has for Impact Coffee is to continue expanding his wholesale coffee bean business while maintaining his current coffee bar in Decorah.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.

The student news site of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa