Our Story

Mara’s dream of owning a coffee shop is deeply rooted in the experiences of her childhood.  She enjoyed food, cooking, and the sense of community that she shared with her family when she would make her mom’s recipe for coffee cake. It’s that kind of passion that provided the vision for Mara’s dream of someday owning her own coffee shop.  Mara will tell you that her life experiences have shaped the person she is today.  Every small, executable step that she took in her life resulted in the path that led her to Ox and Crow Coffeehouse.

Graduating from college with a degree in Food Science from the University of Minnesota where she performed market analysis on Honeycrisp apples, volunteering in the Peace Corp in the Dominican Republic, and living abroad in Ireland have contributed in a unique way of bringing her to this point today.

Mara’s love of coffee started because of how it made her feel to sit down a share a conversation over a good cup of coffee. She realized that her best ideas started with a good cup of coffee. When Mara met her husband Bruce, she learned of his passion for science. She appreciated his curiosity of why things work. One day, as Bruce and Mara sat on the couch and shared a great cup of coffee, Bruce began to wonder how coffee is roasted.  Like many things in Bruce’s life, he turned this curiosity into a study of science.  He had a vision of turning a single origin Guatemala green coffee from Huehuetenango into a sweet, aromatic, roasted cup of goodness. He studied the Maillard reactions and learned the science of how reducing sugars react with amino acids and forms molecules that give coffee its flavor.  He put his study of coffee roasting science to the test with a discarded popcorn popper purchased from a thrift shop. He bought his first pound of green coffee, implemented his process, and as the beans were falling from the popcorn popper…failure. The coffee was awful.  The second thing to know about Bruce is that he is tenacious and has a willingness to persevere.  Soon, the coffee started to fall from the popcorn popper with the aromas of goodness.  Bruce and Mara were enjoying single origin coffees from Guatemala, Sumatra, and Kenya.  They were learning how to make coffee blends for a delicious espresso.

So as Mara’s path to Ox and Crow Coffeehouse was established, it made sense that they would roast their own coffee.  They wanted to specialize in medium roasted, single origin coffees from around the world.  They wanted to bring a sense of community to a St. Paul coffeeshop where it feels like its your coffeeshop. Most of all, they wanted to share what they learned together on the couch some time ago…

Small batch coffee roaster located in Lake Elmo, MN