As the 7-day journey came to a close, it was fitting to end it at the final Coffeehouse destination for THIS tour. The Lantern Coffeehouse & Roastery, in Sibley, Iowa. Just a stone throw away from Minnesota and sandwiched between highway 18 and highway 9 sits the rural town of Sibley, Iowa, and downtown on 9th street sits the Lantern Coffeehouse, full of stories that tie the entire tour together.
In 2016, the Food Network listed The Lantern Coffeehouse & Roastery as one of the “Best Coffee Shops in America”
And that’s simply where the story begins…Brenda and Gene Hoyer came on the scene and purchased the shop from Beth & Adam Grimm who passed the torch to the Hoyer’s, and the story continues because this is where being a “roastery” highlights the unique part of this shop. Someone once told me that smelling freshly roasted coffee as you walk down the main street, has the same effect as smelling freshly baked bread. The aroma of freshly roasted beans draws you in, and when you enter the doors of their shop, this is what you see:
Again this is only part of the story…Meet Brenda Hoyer (Gene isn’t pictured below)
Brenda sat down with me and we sat drinking coffee together and telling stories and listening to each other’s journey, and during this time, their “barista” joined in the conversation…meet Chrissy (and to her right meet the shops Master Roaster, Gerald or better known as “Ger”).
Chrissy made me a Creme Brulee Latte and it was delicious, she went on to serve me this Keto Lasagna pictured below and with the mixture of zucchini, noodle, and tomato sauce, it was not only tasty but filling! Following the meeting with both Brenda and Chrissy, I had the opportunity to meet their master roaster “Ger” – retired teacher and artist, and along the front walls, you could browse the art he made and possibly buy a few pieces for sale. Mixing good drink, good food, with good company and top-notch service is what drives this faith-driven coffee shop., and if you check their website, it’s more than JUST a coffeeshop and roastery. Clearly, there’s something deeper at the root of what makes this place light up.
Listed as a non-profit ministry their mission statement reads:
We are here to be a Light to our neighborhoods and communities by providing a safe place where everyone is welcome. The Lantern desires to be a place of intentionality, grace, & genuine love for our neighbors.
And…for me…this is where the true story starts to take shape at the Lantern. One of my favorite parts of the entire 7-day tour was getting to know the owners, baristas, locals who would join in a conversation with me. It was never about the coffee, tea, latte, cheesecake, panini, or waffle sandwiches (though they were certainly tasty!). It was about the people, their stories, and their lives. Each and every small business that I stopped at along the way had their own flair, style, pizzazz, originality, and uniqueness, and it was marvelous! How marvelous you ask? Here’s what you DON’T know…that through this whole process I have been working on my Master’s of Psychology in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and during the process of talking to each of the 7 owners and small-town workers, I literally changed my research thesis to encompass growth-mindset for small-town and rural American organizations and communities.
But there is something else…
You see, a tragedy, a loss, could have brought the Hoyer family dream crashing to the ground. A little over a year ago, their 17-year-old son Bailey took his own life.
“He had a very bad day,” Brenda said, as we sat at the table drinking coffee, and myself trying to swallow my own heart and fight back my own tears, trying to empathize what that would be like to lose a son, with my own two teenage sons sitting back at home? Brenda quickly took me to see the backroom and explained on the way back, “Let me show you something because God has a plan in all of this…and it starts with this back room.”
That’s when she opened the room of possibility and I had the honor to come face to face with Bailey’s legacy. It’s called Bailey’s Lodge, named for his passion for outdoor recreation and fishing. “I guess the underlying theme here is that we are fishers of men,” Brenda said as she showed me the rest of the space which included some game tables, and comfortable furniture for small groups to gather and meet.
The entire backroom space (Bailey’s Lodge) is serving as a safe space for teens and families, they are creating synergy with the local school and bringing the students so they can engage and educate them to live healthy and positive empowered lives for both themselves and others, and to be a great asset to the community. They are forging ahead with the dream as they begin to develop the idea of an outreach director, therapy opportunities with art and other activities and on and on and on…..because of Bailey’s legacy.
Brenda is quoted saying…
“He loved people. He loved to laugh and he made people laugh. I love saying his name I love seeing his picture, and I don’t ever want to forget him”
So, you see, this is bigger than just some small-town coffee tour in NW Iowa, its bigger than me writing this blog, and it’s certainly bigger than a cup of coffee. It’s about the lives of others….and I for one, am thankful. I’m thankful for the gentle reminders of everyday living, the stories of excitement and happiness, and the stories of grief because somewhere it has been quoted:
Living and learning and embracing everything beautiful, which is LIFE! Bailey’s entire legacy doesn’t have to be just a place in Sibley Iowa either…Bailey’s Lodge can go viral! It can go big and large and deep and wide!
So, I’m getting this message out. I’m going to post it and hope someone looks further, and gets a vision, or a dream, or finds inspiration, passion or desire to take this further! Because it’s the journey…everything in between, and that’s what the entire NW Iowa Coffeehouse Tour ended up being…so let’s keep it going.
You can find the Lantern Coffeehouse on their website –