Coffee in South Bend: Chicory Cafe

posted by Mike on August 20th, 2007

Bruce and I talked to Brenna Cussen about South Bend’s Chicory Cafe for the Snow Ghost Community Podcast. You can listen to the complete podcast, or just read this transcription of the interview.



Pie and Coffee: On our last Community Show, we were complaining that it’s hard to get Fair Trade coffee at a coffee shop in Worcester. In South Bend, though, it’s gotten a lot easier.

Brenna, how’s it going?

Brenna Cussen: Great, thanks. How are you, Mike?

P: Pretty good. Thanks for sitting through all this nonsense so that you could be on the show.

Brenna: I’m happy, I’m very flattered that I got invited to be on the Bruce Russell show . . . Snow Ghost show.

Bruce: If we’re going to do this, let’s get things right!

P: So Brenna, I wanted to ask you about the Chicory Cafe in downtown South Bend.

Brenna: Sure.

P: They have Fair Trade coffee!

Brenna: They do! They made the transition slowly. Well, they had both options of Fair Trade and non-Fair Trade. And the Fair Trade was a little bit more expensive. I’d say maybe 15 cents more a cup. But just the other day, they made the complete switchover. And now they only serve Fair Trade coffee.

P: And it’s pretty cool. It’s actually a pretty interesting place, because it’s billed as “A French Quarter Style Coffee House.” So it’s like a New Orleans-type coffee shop. It’s at the corner of Jefferson and Michigan in downtown South Bend.

Brenna: Yes. The owners are a married couple. I know the wife somewhat well, Heather. And she would love to have opened a coffee shop in New Orleans, actually, but her husband was not interested in moving down there, so what they did was just open a coffee shop that resembles New Orleans as much as it can. And they sell food from New Orleans. Chicory coffee, which is a popular item down in New Orleans. I had never heard of it until they opened, so they also sell chicory coffee. They sell what are called “po’ boys,” sandwiches.

P: And they also have muffaletta on here, all kinds of stuff like that.

Brenna: And they have a great chalkboard on the wall of the cafe, where you can write whatever quotes you want. Louis Armstrong quotes, or philosophical quotes, or Snow Ghost quotes. Whatever quotes you want, you can just write up on the board.

P: Bruce, do you think that there’s an appropriate Snow Ghost quote about New Orleans or Fair Trade coffee that we could write on that board there?

Bruce: I have some feedback about this. The other day, me and Dave went to Big Y, over across the street from Park Avenue, and he was looking for the Newman’s coffee. Cause of all the coffee there—a lot of it was organic, but that doesn’t mean Fair Trade. Able to get the Fair Trade coffee you have to actually look for the symbol on the coffee that says Fair Trade on it. And Newman’s is one that has the Fair Trade on it. If it’s organic, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s Fair Trade. Because Fair Trade is actually the better thing to go for, and the reason why I say that is that they get a fair price for the Fair Trade coffee. And they get a better wage for the Fair Trade coffee than you would the other coffee.

P: I’m very impressed that there’s a place in South Bend that’s all Fair Trade. Because Worcester is not quite twice as big as South Bend, but it has a lot more of the urban amenities than South Bend. It’s just amazing that South Bend—hopefully that this will work out long-term economically.

Bruce: The funny thing is that, when I went to Minnesota, like 2006, a lot of places we went to were all Fair Trade.

Brenna: Minnesota’s a pretty progressive state.

Bruce: So there’s a bigger call for it down there, as opposed to being in Worcester. And the other thing I think is the fact that a lot of people up here, they’re just going to buy the first cup of coffee thy see, and they’re not going to care if it had black tar in it, or black oil in it, they’re just going to buy the cup of coffee they need for their addiction.

P: That’s true.

Brenna: They’ll buy whatever’s accessible to them.

Bruce: There’s one thing I’ll tell you about Fair Trade. If you’re gonna buy Fair Trade, I mean, let’s be fair about this!

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On August 21, 2007 at 15:59 ann marie borek said:

    Now, can you get a Fair Trade regular* coffee?

    *see entry on Boulevard Diner.

  2. On December 26, 2007 at 01:02 Mark Spencer said:

    Mmmmmmm… I *love* fair-trade coffee. So much better than that crap from Starbucks.

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