North of St. Cloud on the banks of the Mississippi sits Little Falls, one of the oldest towns in Minnesota with a bakery, meat market, and now a coffee roaster. Reality Roasters opened two and a half years ago and is now bursting at the seams.
Mark Norgren, owner and roaster, was born and raised in Little Falls. After spending 23 years in Alaska where he began honing his craft as a coffee roaster, Norgren moved back home. Reality Roasters is a one-man operation that has made quality coffee in a small Minnesota town a reality. “It takes a lot of roasting, cupping, and tasting along with knowing your clients,” says Norgren, who roasts coffee for many of the local restaurants and cafes.
Norgren drinks coffee with his customers and blends to their needs. Of a recent blend created for an older, female clientele: “I blended a lighter, sweeter floral coffee with a Mexican flair.” Some of his most popular blends include his Denali Dark and the Northern Lights blend. His shop is not a cafe, but he sells everything you need to make the perfect cup of coffee: a variety of brewers and a selection of whole beans that cost $11 or $13 a pound.
As Reality Roasters coffee has dripped into cups all over town Norgren has pushed the threshold of quality, traveling to San Francisco to study coffee with Willem Boot, a nationally recognized coffee consultant.
Working with Café Imports in Minneapolis, Norgren has created a select coffee club that he says “was created to introduce my steady customers to the finest coffees in the world.” Revealing a new coffee each month, Norgren works with Andrew Miller, President of Café Imports. They acquire rare and small lots of coffee from coffee competitions such as the Cup of Excellence, in which growers submit their coffee to an international jury to be graded before being sold in an international auction.
This month Norgren will introduce his customers to the one of the winning coffees, which hails from Rwanda and is called Nkundiye Innocent. The Cup of Excellence jury noted that the cup has nuances of citrus, floral, honeysuckle, and molasses.
As Reality Roasters reaches beyond Little Falls to palates all over the state, Norgren plans to install a larger roaster.
Coffee roaster in Little Falls
119 1st Ave NE
Little Falls, MN 56345
OWNER: Mark Norgren
HOURS: Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm