The Coffee Tree Grinds Out New Business



Allyssa Ertz | A&L Assistant Editor

The Coffee Tree is a brand new coffee shop recently opened by mother Lana Fort and her daugher, a Buena Vista University graduate, Sosha Stevenson. Located next to Walgreens, downtown Storm Lake, they have transformed an old bank into a modern, relaxing hangout welcome to everyone.

The plan for this new coffee shop came about when Lana Fort decided she wanted to spend more time with her family. After working long hours at night, she was ready for a change. According to her, the plan for this coffee shop happened extremely quickly and with no former plans. Everything just clicked at the right time for them.

Even their name came about easily. In Fort’s country, everything is about being green and healthy. That is what people want in a business now. The Coffee Tree, which is also catchy, shows what they represent. They calculate the calories for all menu items and promote healthiness throughout everything they do.

It was an easy choice to open this new business in Storm Lake because Fort has lived and worked at many jobs here already. She has many connections which have assisted her in her adventure as an entrepreneur. The location is great because Main Street gets a lot of traffic. People are likely to stop by on their way to work or as they make a quick trip to Walgreens. They are planning on expanding this business in the future.

The marble flooring and spread out setup provide a relaxing place to hang out with friends or a getaway from life. There are separate rooms with large tables and chairs that can be used for meetings or to do homework. It has a minimalist, simplistic feel with a small town coffee shop vibe. In the summer, they plan to have tables outside for relaxing summer nights.

This new business even has a drive through so customers can stop by on their way to work or wherever they are planning on going. These two ladies plan to hire all locals, along with using local businesses for their resources. For example, they will buy items from the farmer’s market for their food, and they have already been buying their milk from Walgreens.

There are five employees working at The Coffee Tree now, not including Fort and Stevenson. They are looking for more because their business has been steady. They want their employees’ personalities to match the atmosphere of their shop. An upbeat, energetic, coffee-loving personality will likely be hired.

They plan to have a customer base of all ages. Their hours for now are Monday through Saturday from 6:30 am to 3:00 pm and closed on Sundays. However, they have been at the shop until 5:00 pm some days. If they are inside, and someone stops by, they will definitely serve the customer.

For advertising, Stevenson is currently using social media to promote the business. They have consulted with the local newspaper and radio station for future purposes, and Fort has a lot of connections throughout Storm Lake that she hopes will spread by word of mouth.

Their hope for The Coffee Tree is to make Storm Lake a better place to live. They want to get it filled with people to try their good quality coffee and satisfy their customers.

“My goal is to make people happy,” Fort says.

Fort recommends all items on their menu. Everything is fresh, and they emphasize the fact that they have extremely good quality coffee. Currently they don’t offer many food items, but are planning to offer more soon. They plan on serving cold brew coffee, which uses a unique overnight brewing method. They also specialize in green tea lattes, and are planning on creating workout shakes and selling bubble tea.

Their advice for others who are starting a business is to be patient. Even when one thinks they have everything figured out, there is always something else to consider. Another tip is to make friends with other businesses. Use your resources, but the most important thing is to have patience.

The Coffee Tree truly has an aim to please their customers. They are open to critiques, and are very positive people. These two women are excited to see where their business can go, and to serve the town of Storm Lake excellent quality coffee in their positive atmosphere.

Photo by Meredith VanZuiden