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Wake Up Iowa City leaving current location

BY ROBERT CROZIER | JUNE 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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Downtown Iowa City will have one fewer coffee shop at the end of June, but Wake Up Iowa City owner Jarrett Mitchell will continue roasting beans and bottling beverages even after his café packs up its espresso machine.

“What we are doing is focusing on the wholesale aspect of things, which has really taken off in the past two years,” he said.

Despite the growing wholesale demand, Mitchell said a new Wake Up Iowa City will open in a new location outside of downtown by mid-August, vacating its current space in the White Rabbit, 112 S. Linn St. on June 29.

To date, his coffee-roasting business, Constellation Coffee, features light-roasted, medium-roasted, dark-roasted, and espresso-roasted beans.

In addition to roasting coffee beans, Mitchell recently introduced a new bottled green coffee and citrus fruit juice beverage called Cobra Verde. He said the proprietary process to extract the caffeine and antioxidants from unroasted coffee is a trade secret about which he is being tight-lipped.

“It doesn’t taste like coffee, because all of the flavor that people associate with coffee comes from the roasting process,” he said. “There’s not a product like it on the market.”

Cobra Verde is being bottled at the Trumpet Blossom Café, 310 E. Prentiss St.

Currently, New Pioneer Food Co-op, 22 S. Van Buren St., is the only place Cobra Verde is sold, but that could soon change. Mitchell said he is in talks with a number of local restaurants about offering the drink. 

Noah Koester, a senior buyer at New Pioneer, said the natural and organic food store started selling Mitchell’s coffee beans just under a year ago, and Cobra Verde became available roughly two months ago. Koester, who is also a frequent customer at Wake Up Iowa City, said he will miss the South Linn Street location.

“Every week [Mitchell] will bring in maybe a box or two of [coffee beans], but then he will always bring in two or three boxes of the Cobra,” he said.

Koester said each Cobra Verde box contains 24 bottles, which New Pioneer turns around and sells for $3.99 per bottle.

“It’s flying off the shelves,” he said.

And although he could not confirm a location, Mitchell said, he is considering space in the Riverfront Crossings District, as rent prices downtown have become too expensive. He noted that the downtown customer base is a seasonal one.

The new storefront will be primarily a production space with a tasting room, he said. It will be less about providing space for customers and more about producing quality coffee. The new location will not include wireless Internet access.

Cortnie Widen, a co-owner of White Rabbit, said her establishment will likely turn the coffee shop area into additional retail space.

With the new departure of Wake Up Iowa City, White Rabbit will also make a change itself.

Widen said the store will transition into being open from11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, a change from its current 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours.

While Widen said she and other White Rabbit staff members will miss Mitchell and his presence in the store, the loss of an in-house coffee shop won’t damage her bottom line.

When the coffee shop initially moved into White Rabbit, Widen said, she anticipated she and Mitchell would share a common customer base.

“There was a little bit of crossover, but, honestly, not as much as we expected,” she said.

For Koester, that couldn’t be more true. In the time Wake Up Iowa City shared the space, he has not bought anything from White Rabbit.


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