We are proudly serving Steep and Brew Coffee at the Forst Inn with your intermission dessert! There’s a little story behind those three ‘air-pots’ of coffee...
Thirty years ago I worked at the newest Steep and Brew café on Odana Road in Madison. The owner roasted the coffee daily in small batches. It was delivered to the stores still warm from the roaster, glistening in oils which coated our arms from scooping beans from the bins all day. It left us smelling like a rich mix of vanilla and hazelnut and French roast coffee by the end of our shifts. The owner had high roasting and serving standards which he instilled in his employees. I loved my Chemex and French press coffee makers. I always had a little fantasy of opening a Steep and Brew franchise someday.
Life took me around the country and the world, and I found myself returning to Manitowoc at a time before Starbucks was an idea in anyone’s head, and there wasn’t a single coffee shop to be found in town. Some years later, I saw that Steep and Brew coffees could now be purchased in local stores and I was thrilled.
Fast forward thirty quick years to opening the Forst Inn and deciding we really should serve coffee. By now Steep and Brew had grown and not only has the contract to serve the American Player’s Theater, but has the contract to service the entire UW-Madison system!
I searched their website to see if we could purchase coffee wholesale for resale at the Inn. There I discovered that they have moved away from owning cafes themselves, and now have licensed cafes! I reached out to them but was afraid our venue would be too small. It wasn’t – and I was off, literally, to Madison to meet their representative in the very store on Odana Road I’d worked in, and then to the warehouse to pick up our supplies and coffee beans.
We did a tasting that rivaled any wine tasting. The owner of the café and a barrista joined in as we sampled The Guatalaman, the Costa Rican, The Sumatran, etc etc.. They even have a coffee, The Nitro, specifically roasted and prepared to be served on tap! We discussed the every nuance of each one – from earthy undertones to crisp after tastes. I remembered having loved the bold, rich Sumatran, and found I still did. But was it too bold to please everyone? In the end, after much discussion the hands-down winner was – The Colombian - which sounds almost too common to be cool. It was just an all-around good, smooth cup of coffee.
It was a no-brainer to include 'Icing on the Cake' as our flavored coffee. It is a warm buttery cup frosted with a touch of cinnamon - a pleasing, without being overwhelming cup of coffee perfect with dessert.
Then I was off to their headquarters and the factory, with its small non-descript sign on the door so a passerby wouldn’t confuse it for being a café and stop in for a latte. I was able to tour the entire facility – which for me was like a kid touring Santa’s workshop. The small roasters had long been replaced with a large industrial-sized facility to accommodate the growing demand for their coffee.
I arrived back at the Inn anxious and proud to set up our extremely modest addition to the Pub – our coffee station. I put the sign on the window and stood back. We ARE proudly serving Steep and Brew coffee. And if coffee's your thing, I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy our cup. - Catherine
It’s a Wild World.. This past weekend was wildly wonderful, and next weekend is shaping up to be the same.
Last weekend we closed the four-week run of our premier show, The Glass Menagerie – a beautiful, poignant, and sometimes gut-wrenchingly honest autobiographical portrayal of playwright Tennessee Williams’ family life. Our cast, Zach Lulloff, Laker Thrasher, Vicki Svacina and Sean Stalvey put their heart and souls into their roles and gave the audiences a riveting performance every single night. Our sound and lighting genius, Jeff LaFond, made sure every moment was perfect. It is hard to adequately express our appreciation much less to say goodbye to such a cast and show.
(Also a huge thanks to Chase Dazig, Cole Egger, Jacob Williams, Justin Knapp and Threse Powell for all of your help behind the scenes!)
We had wonderful musicians come out and entertain before and after shows: Erin LaFond, Pete Honzik, and David Bowman. (Singing with Jim and Susie Miller around the piano as David Bowman played? Priceless.)
We held The Forst Inn Art’s Collective’s monthly Board of Directors meeting in the Art Gallery, where with great enthusiasm we reviewed the 2018 season (which will be announced soon!), and had a robust discussion about the mission of the Forst Inn.
(Thank you to the board members, Mary Mauer, John Brunner, Scott Dollinger, Kevin Voysey, Brian Van Ells, Chris Honzik and Connie Hendries who came out even after a Packer defeat for the meeting - some coming directly from Lambeau Field!)
We also launched our Sunday Music in the Pub series with Gary Koepke and Joe LaForce – who brought the Pub alive with an altogether new energy as people relaxed and enjoyed their soulful music.
Next weekend we will be presenting Patrick Dewane’s one-man multi-media show ‘An Accidental Hero’, the true story of his grandfather’s experiences as a WWII American Officer who helped liberate Czechoslovakia, to two nearly sold-out audiences. Then we'll be enjoying Pete Honzik’s music for our Sunday Music in the Pub.
And we’ve only been open for five weeks... Not that long ago all of these were just ideas in our heads.
As Michael and I are usually consumed in the little (endless) details from do we have enough creamer, to getting the piano tuned and the fire extinguishers serviced, to advertising deadlines, to liquor inventory, to…. (on and on - it really is endless), as well as juggling this with our other jobs and the rest of our lives, we often don’t have the time to sit back and take in what’s been created so far, and the experiences we’ve already been able to provide for our guests.
But on Sunday night, as the cast was still saying their goodbyes and hugging one another, the board meeting was complete, and Joe and Gary played to a very appreciative crowd, I took it all in and had a moment where I welled up with tears. Everything about it was beautiful. It’s definitely a wild world, and this has been a wild ride. But every minute has been worth it. And I hope we keep riding it for a long, long time.
In the summer of 2015, I had the pleasure of subletting a townhouse in the suburbs of Minneapolis with several friends who were acting and directing in various projects around the area. It became a place for friends to gather and share stories, struggles and dreams for their work in theatre. At the time, a friend quipped, "Michael, you need to get a place like this where we can gather."
That thought stayed with me as I left graduate school and started looking for the home that would house this current phase of my professional journey. What might the possibilities be to find a place that would allow artists to gather, hone their craft, present their art, and share great times together?
Tisch Mills was not, as you can imagine, a place I expected to find. And yet, here we are! The Forst Inn is the perfect place to build and develop the many elements of a performing arts retreat space that we envisioned that summer. The hidden jewel that is the arts community of northeastern Wisconsin is an amazing resource on which might rest the fulfillment of those imaginings.
At the Gala in September, I had family members gathered from distant places and cherished that opportunity to share this cool space with them. The next week, a good playwright friend of mine stopped by for the preview of The Glass Menagerie and we shared stories as he lent a hand painting the set. Tonight, as I sit here in the pub, cast members from the UW Manitowoc production of Spring Awakening are sharing the performance of The Glass Menagerie together. In November, several fabulous actress friends of mine from Des Moines and Chicago will be performing in The Smell of The Kill. These are just a few examples of the many people who have and will come and share the space with each other and with those local folks who are making this project happen.
Theatre is, at its core, a collaborative experience. It is about the gathering of dedicated souls with a desire to share the creative journey. I am looking forward to the many souls who will enter the doors here! It's a blessing and a gift for us all.
Thanks for sharing it with me.. --- Michael