ST. CLOUD — Area residents have a message for health care workers looking for coffee: This one’s on us.
Adventure Coffee MN, a coffee truck and company owned and founded by St. Cloud native Ryan Voeller, is parking outside St. Cloud-area health care buildings and providing free coffee to those working there.
Most of the coffee is free because approximately 850 people have donated to provide these beverages. The system is called Care Cups.
People can order Care Cups for $5 each on Adventure Coffee MN’s website and can write a message to the person who will drink that coffee, whether it be a standard brew or a specialty drink.
Voeller then pens that message onto a cardboard sleeve — “which, by the way, I’m getting carpal tunnel from” — and the sleeve gets slipped around a cup of coffee and delivered to a health care worker (or sometimes, to a random customer who then gets asked to pay it forward when they have a chance).
Adventure Coffee MN also donates cold brew orders themselves, and has served approximately 70. Approximately 850 cups have been donated by people who want to help, and somewhere around half have been given out, Voeller said.
“I love seeing the faces and the expressions when they read their cups,” Voeller said.
Rachel Erkens, a patient access assistant in the pediatric clinic at CentraCare Health Plaza, had a white chocolate caramel mocha March 20 through the Care Cups system. She got a phone call from a radiology technician that there was a person giving out free coffee by the plaza’s main entrance.
She wasn’t expecting a coffee truck.
“It was really awesome, I mean, because this is — it’s a hard time right now and it meant a lot that people are still thinking of us,” Erkens said.
It helped that the coffee was good, too.
“That coffee was seriously amazing,” she said — and not just because it had a nice note written on the side.
The COVID-19 pandemic began in China in December and has since spread to more than 500,000 cases worldwide as of Thursday, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. There were about 70,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths in the U.S. as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But Voeller’s coffee truck idea started before — and will continue after — the pandemic. Adventure Coffee MN started because Voeller wanted to bring coffee to those for whom it was hard to leave work to go to a coffee shop.
This included the night staff at St. Cloud Hospital. Voeller was in the ER one night and wanted a coffee, but the shop in the hospital was closed.
“That’s kind of, conceptually, what we were gonna do anyway,” he said.
He announced his plan to visit health care facilities and donate coffee on social media, and people reached out, wanting to be involved, Voeller said. The Care Cups are a way for the public to get involved as health care workers continue to work through the pandemic.
The biggest challenge of the Care Cups — other than the wrist pain — is keeping the coffee cup sleeves in stock. He had to reorder.
“I just completely ran out,” he said.
To order a Care Cup, visit adventurecoffeemn.com and click the “store” tab. Adventure Coffee MN does not accept cash or cards at the window for safety and health reasons, Voeller said.
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