Caleb Garn and Lee Carter look like an odd couple. In black stocking cap and oversized Johnny Cash shirt, Garn exudes laid-back roadie chic. With his bow tie, tucked in button-down shirt, and spiky hair, Carter looks part mod rocker, part enthusiastic science teacher. After talking to the guys about their forthcoming coffee shop, Five Watt, it’s clear that looks aren’t everything.
Garn (below right) and Carter (below left), both avid bass players who met while working at Uptown’s Bull Run coffee shop, exude passion and positivity. Where most of us would look at the gutted storefront on 38th and Nicollet and think only of debt and uncertainty, these bosom buddies cheerfully imagine grand possibilities. When it comes to their soon-to-be shop, Garn and Carter are of one caffeine-fueled mind.
With Five Watt’s opening a mere six or so weeks away, Garn and Carter are nailing down some of the most important details. They’ll get their beans from Kickapoo Coffee Roasters in Viroqua, WI, which sources product directly from small-scale sustainable growers. They intend to contract with Verdant for tea (though they’ll make their own chai), Patisserie 46 for pastries, and Castle Rock for milk. They’ve ordered two Modbar espresso machines and picked up a few church pews to provide additional seating without cramming too many tables into their 1,100 square feet.
They’re especially excited (no, giddy) about the Modbars, because the machines’ “guts” go under the counter. Therefore, the only thing between the barista and customer is a gadget that looks like a futuristic soda or beer tap. “One of the core values of our shop is breaking down the barriers between the coffee barista servers and customers,” says Garn. A four-to-five seat coffee bar also will facilitate conversation between the coffee slingers and sluggers. Along with getting to know their clientele, Garn and Carter want to de-mystify the coffee-making process but refuse to sneer while doing so. They seem determined to shatter the stereotype of the aloof barista who thinks latte art and pour-overs are secret, sacred practices.
As part of that mission, Garn and Carter will bring their already trademarked fun: In addition to standard coffee drinks, they’ll offer a list of specialty creations, including a “bow tie line” of cold press drinks that will incorporate cocktail bitters for distinct flavor profiles. They’ll keep the “Johnny Clash Mondays” they started at Bull Run (wall-to-wall Johnny Cash and The Clash tunes). And, they’ll have “Sunday Service” from 10am–noon, complete with Hammond organ and an oatmeal bar. Ultimately, they want Five Watt to reflect their own spirits, to be the place they’d want to hang out (a good thing, since they’re sure to be there constantly in the coming months).
The corner of 38th and Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis is quickly becoming a go-to spot for Twin Cities foodies. Along with Five Watt, there’s Blackbird, Cocina Latina, and Kyatchi (a sustainable sushi restaurant coming soon). A few blocks to the West, you’ll find Victor’s 1959, Grand Cafe, and Rincón 38, and to the East and South, you can get everything from skeeball and fried cheese at Pat’s Tap to refined, season-driven fare at the Corner Table or Cafe Levain. Kingfield is a culinary neighborhood on the rise, and Garn and Carter couldn’t be happier to be the new guys on the block.
Five Watt Coffee
Coffee Shop in Kingfield, Minneapolis
3745 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
OWNERS: Caleb Garn, Lee Carter