(First published in the June 6, 2019 issue of City Pages)
Ruby Coffee Roasters is based in a small town in central Wisconsin, but acclaimed nationally. Now it has its own café in Stevens Point
Deanna and Jared Linzmeier opened Ruby Coffee Shop in late May in the former Water Street Grille building
It’s a lot to say for a coffee shop these days, because there’s already a lot of them. But Ruby Coffee is like no other in central Wisconsin. Maybe it’s the earthy art deco interior, inspired by owner Jared Linzmeier and his wife Deanna’s time in the Pacific Northwest and West Coast, living in places like L.A. (where Deanna is from), Seattle and Portland before they returned to Portage County, where Jared grew up. Opening the café two weeks ago in downtown Stevens Point is the latest in a whirlwind for this young couple and their acclaimed coffee roasting business.
Their venture was first inspired from Jared’s time working with coffee roasters on the West Coast. Linzmeier traveled extensively to countries such as Colombia and Guatemala, and was never happy having to pass up the great beans he found. His employers were more interested in the blend approach. Linzmeier was more interested in the individual flavors he discovered.
Starting his own roasting business in Wisconsin made more sense, Linzmeier says. The operation could launch for much less money than in Seattle, which already had a high saturation of coffee roasters.
So they moved into his family’s farmhouse in Amherst Junction and in 2014 launched Ruby Coffee (named after Jared’s grandmother) in a barn. A tasting room was added in Nelsonville (open limited hours), where the coffee is now roasted.
The large majority of their roasting business has been online and outside of Wisconsin. Ruby’s coffee has a unique consistency— almost like a distinct wine in coffee form. That’s led to a number of awards: Ruby was named best coffee roaster in Wisconsin in 2018 and 2019 by Fine Wine Magazine; one of Gear Patrol’s 25 best coffee roasters in the USA; and one of GQ’s best bags of coffee you can buy online. GQ said Ruby is “the Bon Iver of the coffee world,” in reference to the acclaimed band from Wisconsin.
“I like the landscape here,” Linzmeier says of central Wisconsin. “There is a large population of people living in cities, but their hearts are in the countryside.”
On May 18, they opened Ruby Coffee Shop in downtown Stevens Point on 1410 Third St. (in the former Water Street Grille). In its setting that seems created to be Instagrammed, Ruby also features kombucha, local food and crepes. Emphasizing local food was an important aspect of setting up in Stevens Point, Linzmeier says. As for the decor, a lot of that credit goes to Deanna, who spent hours planning every detail. That’s evident. Everything from the entrance to the seating design and coffee bar appear meticulously thoughtful.
Customers are loving it. On the café’s first day open Saturday, May 18, Ruby was slammed with business, and even during my visit on a midweek day after that, the place never quieted down the entire afternoon.