Coffee in Brainerd, Minnesota

posted by Mike on March 6th, 2006

Pie and Coffee is pleased to present another interview with Bruce, in which he discusses the coffee shops of Brainerd, Minnesota, with the occasional digression.

BrucePie and Coffee: The master is back.

Bruce: I just came back from Brainerd, Minnesota, visiting a former house volunteer, who moved back out to Minnesota because he was hoping that his brother was going to move back to Brainerd. But that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon.

Did you guys have any coffee out in Brainerd?

Yes, we did. Two places in Brainerd, one in Wadena, and another in Duluth. So the first one that Dave took me to was the one where he used to hang out a lot. The Eclectic Cafe, which is at 717 Laurel Street, downtown Brainerd.

You remember the address off the top of your head?

I do!

You have a pretty good memory.

Conjure up one for Satan!

Dave Maciewski at Eclectic Cafe, Brainerd, Minnesota
(Pictured: Dave Maciewski outside the Eclectic Cafe, Brainerd, Minnesota.)

Tell me about the Eclectic Cafe.

Usually they have three different flavors of coffee. One’s like your really heavy bold, one’s like your medium bold, and they have a white-flavored. One’s from Mexico, one’s from Peru. They have big, glass containers, because they make it right there.

There’s actually two sizes that you can get. There’s a regular mug size, and then if you want a large one, they come in this big tall glass cup something like a huge beer mug. That’s like $1.75. The small one is a dollar. The medium is like $1.25.

That’s a quart of coffee!


That’s a lot of coffee.

They got paper cups that you can take with you if you want it to go.

It’s not just a cafe. They actually have some kind of karate thing there on Friday and Saturday nights.

They have a karate thing?

It’s a movie, they have a big screen that is put in. It’s like a cartoon kind of thing. And then Friday and Saturday nights, from 5-7 they have a sushi bar.

They have sushi at the coffee shop?


They’re very advanced in Brainerd.


I don’t know if we have sushi in the coffee shops around here.

Plus, also Saturday nights they have live music.

So on Saturday nights they have sushi?


And they have karate movies?


And they have live music?


All in the same coffee shop?


It’s a folk place. And we saw a band there one weekend called “The Rolling Bubble.” It’s pretty much a local band. There were a couple other performers that came from St. Cloud. And after the Rolling Bubble played, they had a woman who did a few songs. They were all pretty good. I got one of the CDs.

Do you have any photos of the Eclectic Cafe?

I do. I do indeed.

That’s the owner, Matt Taylor:
And his wife Jess is the co-owner of it. They used to have punk shows when it first started.

If anybody goes through Brainerd, ask ’em for their toasted cheese sandwich, because the bread is a good couple inches thick. And there’s like three kinds of cheeses in it: Swiss, Provolone, and American cheese. Plus you get a pickle.

They also got a pinball machine there, a pool table, a dart machine. They got a computer, you can look at the website for a half hour, check out your e-mails.

Kevin Ksen [barging in]: Sorry, guys, didn’t mean to barge in.

Did you know that Bruce remembers the address of every coffee shop in Brainerd off the top of his head? He has a memory like a steel trap.

Kevin: Is that a tribute to his memory or his addiction to coffee?

Bruce: That’s an addiction to my memory.

[Exit Kevin.]

Bruce: All the pictures here are of the one in Duluth.


Called “Alakef.”

Yes. This is the woman who worked there:

Woman at Alakef, Duluth

She had a lot of different coffees there.

I said, “Is it alright if I take a picture?”

She said, “Of what?”

Dave said, “Him and a friend of his back in Worcester’s doing a interview on the internet about all the local coffee places.”

She said, “Fine.”

Bruce at Eclectic Cafe
(Pictured: Bruce inside the Alakef Cafe, Minnesota.)

I asked her, “What kind of coffees do you have? Can you make the strongest thing?” She said, “I can make you a Americano.” Which is made the same way as an espresso. You add hot water and stuff, and it kind of turns out like a cappuccino at the end.

Here’s one I took of Ghosthunter:
Books (out of focus)

It’s not really in focus.


I thought the ceiling was pretty cool. One of my mansions has a ceiling printed like that.

Alakef Cafe

You can buy coffee there in bags. You have to grind it up. Some are organic, and some are not. They don’t have any live music.

CaribouThere’s a guy whose name is Geoff who I met. And anyway, he took us to this Caribou Coffee. There was some kind of meeting for a reading of a book on science and stuff. Ways to spend all this money for science purposes. And the coffee they got—

Wait a minute. Explain this meeting again.

Some book that they called “More Money for Science” or something like that. “More Money Lost for Science.” Well, really it’s the other way.

So this book says to spend less money for science?

Right. They have a sit down lounge there. It was a sit-down place. They have a fireplace, couches, and good cushioned chairs. Read the newspaper or whatever.

The coffee is really strong, good but not as good as at Alakef or Eclectic. It’s like fair trade coffee.

What’s the next place you went to?

We went to Mickey’s. It’s a sandwich shop in Brainerd. They don’t have coffee. Pretty much soda and sandwiches and stuff. I think they sold pizza, but don’t quote me on that.

Dave volunteers at a co-op. We got some free trade, organic coffee there. We got French roasted and another one.

We had a break on the Greyhound in Ohio, at the Greyhound snack shop. They had a Starbucks and a McDonald’s. So I got a Starbucks, then I went to McDonald’s to get something to eat. It’s all in the same snack shop.

What do you think of Starbucks coffee?

The one I had going out was better than the one coming back. The one coming back was just too strong. It tasted like it was burnt. I took two sips and had to throw it out.

I don’t like Starbucks.

I don’t either.

I’d rather drink my own urine than Starbucks.

I’d rather drink Satan’s piss than drink Starbucks.

If I was dying of thirst in the desert, and they gave me a Starbucks, I’d say, “Thanks.” But if they offered me another one, I’d say, “That’s okay, I’m rehydrated again, I can go back to drinking my own urine.”

Did you hear about the death metal band fronted by a parrot? And the one fronted by dogs?


Is that a good trend?

I don’t know. How many death metal bands you know that don’t sing about death? Because it all falls on death ears!

Someone asked if you were a Catholic Worker. I said that you were part of the extended community here, and you do a lot of good things for addicts and whoever in Worcester, but I wouldn’t call you a Catholic Worker.

I agree with that. Would you call yourself a Catholic Worker?


I know you do some good Catholic stuff. But I wouldn’t call you a Catholic Worker, though. It seems like you got some other stuff “tapped under the bridge.”

What do you mean? “Tapped under the bridge”?

There’s like an interview with Lemmy on the reissue of their live CD they did at Lamours in Queens. Lemmy said, “If we were more famous, we probably would have broken up.” And he said, “The things that kept us under the bridge allowed us to keep going.”

What I meant by saying that about you is you have a lot more going on than just being a Catholic Worker, with your hiking and stuff, and your job.

Did you see a lot of homeless people in Minnesota?

No, there was nothing out there. There’s basically no shelters out there. If you are homeless…. Some religious group out there, I forget the name but they run the town of Clearwater, Florida, pretty much runs the town of Brainerd.


Some church group.

Welcome back to Worcester.

I get the feeling now that Worcester is a big open space. Like your mind becomes empty.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

It’s not a good thing.

Did you see about this guy who died Thursday by Union Station?

It’s sad, and definitely tragic.

Like I said earlier this morning in our discussion, you can’t make someone take help if they don’t want it. If they refuse it, you have to respect their wishes.

People are homeless for a lot of different reasons. Whether it’s mental illness, whether it’s drug- or alcohol-infested, like fire or any of that stuff, they come from a different state….

Trying to rebuild their lives. It doesn’t happen, to a lot of people. They got this plan of how they’re going to change their life, they stay drunk, I mean sober, for a few years, they stay dry and clean for a few months. They just go back out on the street doing it. Dry drunks and dry addicts. They go away for a few months someplace to dry out.

I was looking at this quote from River Sims, who runs a Catholic Worker in San Francisco:

last night at the meal i over heard some new guy asked someone “who is that guy serving the meal?” and he responded: “he is the priest who accepts us fuckups for who we are, not like the other fucking church people who kick us out.” people are so narrow,and christians are the worse. i often comment that my best friends are not christians, and they are not, and it is usually because they accept me for me. Jesus challenges us to follow him, to move outside the boudaries that are narrow, that limit, and that is the way i have perceived my calling.

I like that! Regardless if we’re Christians or whatever, if we’re pagans or big into Satan, people should like us for what we are, for who we are.

I heard people say this years ago: “evil” is a word that people use when they give up understanding something.

They starve a homeless person or someone who’s poor. They say the food that they serve “came from God,” and they know damn well that it didn’t come from that, it came from the church. They act like God cooked all this food and brought it down to earth. And it doesn’t happen!

Sometimes you’ve said that, “Yes, I am a Satanic madman,” and other times you’ve said that the whole satanism thing is focusing too much on the negative. For me, it’s definitely focusing too much on the negative. That would be my major critique of it.

Really what Satanic is, is Christianity reversed backwards.

That’s what I see. That Christianity celebrates, or acknowledges, weakness, and it sees that we have the possibly of triumph even in weakness. Whereas satanism celebrates human power. People certainly have human power, and maybe sometimes it’s good to celebrate it, but in the end, that human power is very weak. Nothing really comes out of that human power.

There’s so much in satanic religion that’s just so powerful, but we have to do research on it. What are you focused on? How is your life fit into these areas? If you’re one thing, and you think you should be something else. I mean, don’t try to say, “I like religion,” and then change your mind next week. Because that’s just like being a poseur.

It’s because somebody told you, “You should be that.” I mean, you should have your own triangle of love, where you should be free to do what you want, and you’re not harming anybody. Nobody can come inside that triangle and tell you how you should do things. Because that’s just un, un-triangle-of-love thing to do to a person. In that faith.

You remember that one time last summer, when we were at that show at A-Go-Go, and it was like in the backyard, mostly starlit. And a couple bands came up, and they were playing songs about heartbreak, and crop failure, and stuff like that.

And there was a long break before the last act. A lot of the young people were standing around the bonfire there, talking to each other quietly and enjoying the pleasantness of the evening. You and me were sitting in the front row of the chairs, and all of a sudden you turned to me and you screamed at the top of your voice: “SATAN! SATAN! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”


All of them got really quiet, like a bunch of rabbits in the headlights. I thought that was great. I have to hand it to you.

Is there anything else to say about the coffee of Minnesota?

I liked it. I’d like more of it.

How many cups of coffee have you had today?

I lost track.

At least six. I’ve seen you drink six cups of coffee today.

And actually, I had one this morning when I got up.

I’ve had enough to get me going. I’ll need at least one more coffee to finish up the day.

Well, thanks for sharing with us about the coffee of Minnesota.

No problem. I’ll see you next week on the Muppet Show. Keep your ears to the grindstone. And cheers, big ears. And live life loud.

Bruce aka Snow Ghost, as sketched by Tom Lewis
(Sketch of Bruce, AKA “The Snow Ghost,” by Tom Lewis.)

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On March 14, 2006 at 17:47 dave said:

    Nice, succinct interview.

    Alakef is a distributor out of Duluth. The coffee shop’s name is the Village Emporium.

    The book Bruce mentioned, “The Lost Science of Money,” is to my knowledge an unprecedented historical work on the history of money going back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Covers the thinking of Aristotle and later Aquinas and the Scholastics. While this author makes a critical comment about religion, he states that he thinks the late John Paul to be one of the smartest economists in delclaring the jubilee and cites a trail of Church opposition to the Federal Reserve.

    In an interesting twist, Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich married the secretary of his monetary institute and has taken up the cause to nationalize the Federal Reserve. Such a move would take the Reserve out of the hands of corporate control. Not an anarchist by any means. A concrete change, if it were to happen, would revolutionize home mortgages, drastically altering “usurious” lending practices for a cost-plus system. The part that makes sense is that it would curb runaway debt expansion. I can’t determine cause and effect as he does, but people that study with him cite the monetary problem as a principal cause of the war in Iraq and a potential looming war with Iran. If you want to learn more, search for American Monetary Institute on the web.

  2. On March 20, 2006 at 04:38 Dr Kaihsu Tai (Oxford, England) said:

    I think there is an instance of “fair trade” misidentified as “free trade” in the interview.

  3. On March 20, 2006 at 04:38 Dr Kaihsu Tai (Oxford, England) said:

    By the way, is “fair trade” becoming a bigger thing in the USA? It is a growing phenomenon in these Isles.

  4. On March 20, 2006 at 04:44 Dr Kaihsu Tai (Oxford, England) said:

    Thanks for the heads-up regarding the American Monetary Institute and Dennis Kucinich. There are discussions on monetary policy and reform in the green economics bibliography already cited elsewhere in these pages.

Leave a comment