SK Coffee is not your typical coffee shop. SK’s co-founder and roaster Sam Kjellberg, a Twin Cities native with a passionate entrepreneurial spirit, makes that very intentional: “I am adamant about pushing consumers to not think of coffee shops as interchangeable.” Element recently sat down with Sam at his lively location at St. Paul’s Vandalia Tower to discuss the business, his process, and what makes SK Coffee so unique.
Sam’s coffee journey began years ago when he was pursuing a career in music. “It wasn’t scratching the itch of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” Sam says. “Because of my curiosity with creative outlets, I had a slightly keener interest and intrigue in the coffee industry.” Merging his business acumen with his entrepreneurial energy, Sam purchased a drum roaster, began roasting his own coffee at home, and selling to friends. Shortly thereafter, a business plan was created with his co-founding partner Nate, and SK Coffee was born (initially in an apartment in 2017), and opened in Vandalia Tower April 2021.
SK Coffee is unwavering in their process and it’s the heart and soul of the business and product. They are farmer-focused, and Sam combines a historical, sociological, and philosophical perspective when approaching his work. “Our whole mission is single-origin microlots. We don’t blend, we don’t have frivolous flavors.” The result is high quality coffee with unique flavors from around the world. In fact, Sam recently returned from a successful “origin trip” to Guatemala, where he met with a farming partner.
The Vandalia Tower location is bright, even on a cloudy day. Plants line the coffee bar and surrounding seating areas in Vandalia Tower’s spacious, clean, and welcoming main lobby. Sam is typically serving customers or operating the roastery in the back, while many scattered patrons work on laptops or chat with a friend. There’s a sense of community not only in this eccentric space, but in each cup of coffee poured here. The result of SK Coffee’s success and Sam and Nate's efforts is a second location, which recently opened at 24th and Lyndale in the Whittier neighborhood.
In addition to their Vandalia Tower and Whittier locations, you can purchase SK Coffee at Kowalski’s, Linden Hills Co-Op, The Wedge Co-Op, and Tare Markets. SK Coffee also offers fresh baked goods from local favorites Vikings and Goddesses Pie Company, Laune Bread, Mojo Monkey Donuts, and Bogart's Doughnut Co.
Follow SK Coffee on Instagram @skcoffee and online at www.skcoffeeplease.com. For more information about Vandalia Tower and leasing opportunities, please see our properties page.