Stone Bru was started by three Sioux City families. An improbable path brought these people together to build a business around providing a quality product and a genuine desire to brighten the day of our customers. The characters in this story are Brad and Hannah Lepper, Jeff and Michelle Boonstra, and Robby Jennings. Sometimes you build a business around a passion. Sometimes a business builds a passion in you. The later describes the origin story of Stone Bru. At least from the perspective of Brad and Hannah Lepper. In the spring of 2015, Brad Lepper was in the laundry business. A casual coffee drinker, but a full time entrepreneur. At that time a great corner piece of real estate had come on to the market, and in his eyes appeared to be the perfect location for a new laundromat. On the corner of Stone and Gordon, this location showed great opportunity for the laundry business being just down the hill from Western Iowa Tech. and on a major artery in and out of downtown Sioux City. This building had a drive thru already in place from the previous business and it would have been a shame to not use it in some capacity. The search began to find a business that could fit that bill. A coffee shop seemed to be the obvious choice, but with no previous experience in the business Brad went on the hunt to find an operator to lease a space to. After a few unanswered phone calls were made to the national and regional chains, Brad reached out to his Aunt Roxanne in Lincoln, NE. who was an owner operator of coffee shop called The Harbor. Roxanne being the encourager that she is recommended that Brad should start his own coffee shop and passed on a phone number of a Sioux City supplier who had reached out to her and had made a good impression. The number she passed along was Nick Topf. A Sioux City native and "Morningsider" to boot. Nick was onboard with the concept and saw the need for a 3rd wave coffee shop in that part of town. Brad had reached out to Jeff Boonstra who was an investor in the laundromat project, and a coffee lover, to pitch the idea of a coffee shop. Brad, Jeff, and Nick met over coffee and the concept was converted into a partnership, and the brand was on its way. Brad and Jeff reached out to Robby Jennings who was a recent Heelan and University of Iowa Grad to offer him a position as a manager and partner in the venture. Robby accepted and began to train with Nick on the details of brewing great coffee, and how to run a coffee shop. Over the next several months the store began to take shape, and on December 17th of 2015 Stone Bru was officially in business. Nick would join the Stone Bru team as an official partner in 2019, but for all intents and purposes was a part of the Bru Cru from day 1. The phrase that was written previously in this story about a business building a passion in you is a quote from Brad. Somehow what started as a small business that was in many ways not supposed to be his focus became a passion that would shape both his and Hannah's life for years to come. From not knowing how to pull a shot of espresso to doing his own repairs and installs and espresso equipment, and from drinking White Mocha's with extra sauce to enjoying coffee black. It was a true coffee conversion so to speak. This perspective shapes the way customers and the coffee they enjoy are viewed at Stone Bru. Stone Bru is a place where people who are not coffee experts can come and know there are no preconditions. You don't have to have a preference between a single origin or blends. You don't have to know the difference between a latte and cappuccino. All you need to know is that you are welcome in our store, and our desire is to make you the best version of your favorite coffee drink. Not for the sake of the coffee, but for yours.
3 and a half years and a total of 3 locations later, Stone Bru embarked on a new venture. Nick and Megan Topf joined Stone Bru as partners, and we began the process of roasting our own coffee. Nick had nearly 10 years of experience in the coffee business and had a desire to make it a life long pursuit. Nick and Brad began the process of building out and launching Stone Bru's Roasting Lab. In October of 2019 the finishing touches were put on the lab after installing new Diedrich IR-12 and IR-1 roasters. The first pallets of green coffee came into lab and our signature roasting profiles were created. Our house coffee which became known as our "Bedrock". The majority of drinks created in our store are created with this profile. Our dark roast derived its name from a black volcanic stone called "Obsidian," and our mountain water processed Columbian decaf was given the name of "River Rock."
Roasting our own coffee has taken the quality and freshness of each cup at Stone Bru to the next level. It has also opened up additional opportunities in the coffee business. Stone Bru now offers an office coffee solution through a partnership with Techniform and their Mochamaster coffee brewers. Stone Bru also has begun to distribute and service the equipment and ingredients used in their stores like Mavam Espresso Machines, Torani, Simonelli, Mahlkonig, Chemex, Bunn, and several others.
The future for Stone Bru is bright with the announcement of the newest location for Stone Bru located in the rapidly growing area of Sunnybrook Dr. in Sioux City. This will be our largest store to date, as well as hopefully our most beautiful.
Stone Bru has and will continue to make Sioux City our hometown for many years to come. We are committed to bringing the finest coffee to the people in our community, and are grateful for the support of our local brand.