Food & Drink

Thou Mayest Brings Its Coffee to the Crossroads

The coffee company is opening its first shop with the hopes you’ll enjoy a cup and a conversation.

The story behind how Thou Mayest Coffee Roasting Company got its start reads like a modern-day, entrepreneurial fairy tale.

Co-owners Bo Nelson and Bill Holzhueter were working at Family Tree Nursery, run by Nelson’s family, and pondering life’s big questions during downtime. The conversations continued at home, where they began a social experiment to see if they could produce more than they bought, which led to making potato chips, soap and eventually coffee via popcorn roaster.

Photo by David Allison.

They started giving their coffee away and found out that it wasn’t just something they were enthusiastic about doing—people were also excited about the quality of what they were making. After upgrading their roasting equipment, the two started selling their beans to retailers, restaurants and coffee shops. Now the coffee will be taking center stage at Thou Mayest’s very own shop.

It’s still all a little surprising to Nelson, who was searching for a sense of passion and direction when coffee came into his life.

“That’s kind of where it all started, being completely left in a kind of raw place in life,” Nelson says. “Actually, it gets me kind of emotional to remember because it was just such a weird time in life. It wasn’t supposed to work, it wasn’t supposed to happen…. I still get up out of bed every day and go, ‘How is this working? What makes this thing tick?’”

Photo by David Allison.

To a certain degree, it seems to be luck (Nelson says Thou Mayest has never made much of an effort to get people to carry their coffee; the company is fortunate enough to have sellers reach out on their own), but there has also been a lot of hard work and commitment put into producing the highest-quality coffee possible.

While the coffee is certainly important at Thou Mayest, creating an environment where people can come together is just as essential.

“Coffee is just a facilitator,” Nelson says. “It’s a conduit that has the potential to create these beautiful moments.”

To make sure those moments can happen, the Utilitarian Workshop-designed space aims to feel welcoming and comfortable rather than intimidating, perfect for a long conversation or study session using the shop’s Google Fiber internet. Food items and syrups are generally housemade or locally sourced, and the shop will offer opportunities for other local businesses to come in and show what they do. Drinks are generally straightforward, but Nelson says the team is always happy to dig deeper into coffee with customers, who can also enjoy cocktails.

“We want to roast and then get out of the way so that people can have that same experience with the coffee that we had,” Nelson says. “When I had great coffee—and I didn’t need creamer and I didn’t need chocolate or syrups or anything like that—when I had coffee as it’s supposed to be, it kind of spoke for itself. It’s a beautiful, raw thing.”