The fascination with coffee started at an early age for Bob Carlson, the owner of Loon’s Nest Coffee on the Gunflint Trail.
“I think I’ve drank coffee since I was a little kid,” Carlson said.
His introduction to the world of coffee began with his father. Carlson would frequently go to work with his father at this machine shop on Saturdays, typically with a coffee in hand.
Carlson’s enjoyment of coffee continued into his college years. It ultimately led him to start Carlson Roasting Co., a coffee roasting business in Houston, Minn., and more recently, Loon’s Nest Coffee, a coffee shop on the Gunflint Trail.
In 2020, Carlson purchased Loon’s Nest Gift Shop near the mid-trail of the Gunflint. Following the purchase of the long-established business, he knew he wanted to open a coffee shop. However, the building needed quite a bit of remodeling and elbow grease to make it operational.
As construction on the interior began, Carlson bought a food truck and started operating his coffee business on four wheels. After running Loon’s Nest Coffee out of the food truck for over a year, Carlson announced on Aug. 4 they have officially moved into the newly remodeled space.
“It’s been a long road to get everything figured out,” he said. “We had two of our big projects – a new well and a new septic.”
Now that a few weeks have passed since the transition, Carlson said, “The staff is extremely happy to be in the indoor space.”
The larger and more efficient indoor space will allow Loon’s Nest Coffee to expand on bakery and lunch items. In addition to their current menu items of cardamom rolls, blueberry cream cheese croissants, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and tomato basil soup, Carlson said Loon’s Nest Coffee intends to add “quite a bit more lunch items” in the near future.
Since purchasing Loon’s Nest and opening a coffee food truck at mid-trail, Carlson said the response from the community has been “wonderful.”
The most rewarding part of starting Loon’s Nest Coffee is interacting with people, whether local mid-trail residents or visitors traveling through on a day trip. “We just really enjoy the interactions and the stories,” Carlson said. He said many long-time Gunflint Trail residents have stopped to grab a cup of joe and share history about the building and prior owners.
“We’ve really enjoyed collecting those stories,” Carlson said. He intends to include and highlight the history of the building and its owners on their website.
WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Bob Carlson, the owner of Loon’s Nest Coffee, in the latest edition of the Local Business Spotlight. Audio below.
The Local Business Spotlight highlights our local business community’s economic strength and innovation. This feature is brought to you in partnership with Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce.