Q&A: New Auburn coffee shop links coffee to community

Samantha Kunz and her husband opened Iron Grind Coffee House in May of this year, becoming Auburn’s newest destination for coffee and connection. Offering locally roasted brews, a diverse array of events, and a warm aesthetic environment, Kunz hopes to provide a space where the community can gather on a consistent basis to build meaningful relationships. On the cusp of their six-month anniversary, she shares pieces of their story and how they hope to continue reaching out into the community.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your entrepreneurial journey leading up the opening of Iron Grind?

A: My husband and I are partners in the business, but neither one of us come from an entrepreneurial background. We both had the vision to open the coffee shop. Our mission is rooted in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.” Through this lens, we wanted to build a warm environment for people to come and hang out. There are couches and a fireplace, meeting rooms, a place where anyone can go. From mom’s and families to college and high school students, our goal is that it’s an inviting place for absolutely everyone.

Q: What are the challenges of running a business, and how do you plan to meet them?

A: The biggest challenge for us is that we’ve never owned a business before. Hitting the bottom line, understanding the ins and outs has a learning curve. The community has been super receptive to us.

Q: You’re working hard to make a strong connection to the town, and a broader local connection by having Creation's coffee there. What’s the connection to them?

A: I had initially heard about them through my family. The founders, Ben and Jacob are great. They helped us figure out what coffees we wanted to carry, guided us through equipment purchases, walked us through bar design and made everything super easy. We also liked that they’re a local roaster.

Q: It seems like you do a lot of live events! Can you tell us more specifics?

A: Yes! We do events because we want to be a place for the community to go. The goal is to get people in the door, hanging out, and connecting with each other. We try to offer diverse gatherings to reach a broad demographic, but each event is open it up to everyone. There is no set schedule for everything, so in the rotation right now we have Children’s Storytime one Saturday per month, Painting as it fits, Flower Arranging once per month, and Donuts with Daddy periodically as well. We’re excited to celebrate our 6 month anniversary on November 10. We’re hosting a party and will be debuting the drive-thru on the same day! All of our events are posted on Facebook and flyers around town.

Q: What’s the connection to the revitalization of Auburn’s chamber of commerce?

A: My husband and I tried to join the Chamber and we were told that it was closing. We wanted to get connected to other local businesses and through conversations with them, we learned there was excitement to start the chamber. This month we’re working on getting our board members, so we should be a full-blown chamber by the end of the month!

Q: Why is being willing to start a business in a small town so important?

A: Community is key in a small town. Connecting with people, creating a space for them to go. You’re not going to build community if you have to drive to a big city or order everything online. Having a place to go where you see the same people every day helps drive those relationships and make a place home.

Stay connected to Iron Grinds diverse menu, varying events and adventures in their first year of business by following them on Facebook!
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