Driving along Highway 71 (Headed North or South or if you are headed to Lake Okoboji region) you’ll drive through a Spencer, Iowa. While driving through town on 71 it will take you right downtown on Grand Avenue, and on the edge of downtown Spencer (on the West Side), you’ll come across one of the most unique coffee houses in the area. It’s how I would like to imagine coffee houses done in the old days, where the building matches old-style stories of the past, and the rugged layout tells a story of its own uniqueness.
When you walk through the rickety door the smokey rich smell of roasted coffee beans fill the air, and you look around and notice used books, and wood carvings, and of all things a piano, all packaged together living in a space that most bookies and coffee fanatics would easily call home. I call it the ‘Cheers’ effect. Remember the old comedy show featuring the underground Bostonian bar? It’s the song that everyone remembers most though, “Sometimes you wanna go…where everybody knows your name” and that’s the true beauty of this place, and why I easily put this on the 7 Day NW Iowa “Coffee House’ Tour. It’s because it’s a place where you feel at home, and that really has a lot to do with the owner Jim Schooly.
I was talking with a random person about an hour away from Spencer, Iowa and somehow the topic shifted to coffee, and naturally, I asked if they had ever been to Toad’s Coffee & Tea, and to my amazement, they smiled and started defining Jim as a “Renaissance Man”. A guy with many talents and vast knowledge on different subjects, including books, music, writing, woodworking, furniture repair and making, and if you ever care to know anything about the Spirit Lake Massecure or Inkpaduta the guy is walking history book. Long story short, Jim will welcome you, make you feel at home and weave a few stories for you. Not to mention…the entire style and experience of his coffee shop is pure raggedy joy. Sit back, relax, have a storytelling session with Jim and enjoy his talented barista abilities with his own roasted beans!
Don’t forget to check out the used books along the front of his shop!
And I saved the best for last! He can make any requested coffee specialty drink! Mine is a Butterscotch Macchiato that Jim has down to perfection, and if you aren’t in the mood for coffee or tea, his smoothies are rumored to be out of this world! If you are traveling NW Iowa, and if you are close enough to Spencer, Iowa, stop in and tell Jim you know me and let the “Cheers effect” take over. We all could use a place where everybody knows our name!