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The Bottled Bean: A mix of coffee, cocktails and craft beer

The establishment on E. Front Street in Minocqua opened last Labor Day

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February 5, 2024

MINOCQUA – Round a curve along the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway in Minocqua, and you’ll come upon a fast-growing downtown destination its owners refer to as a hybrid cafe: part coffee shop, part bar that equals a full experience.

That destination is The Bottled Bean, located at 409 E. Front St. – the materialization of a vision Kelly and Tyler Knobeck said they had in mind for several years before acting on it.

As with many others, the Knobecks said the COVID-19 pandemic prompted them to address their business idea more seriously – performing intensive research and crafting a thorough business plan for what would become The Bottled Bean.

 Finding a home

As to where to locate the new business, the couple said they thought fondly of the community around Tyler’s family cottage on Johnson Lake and their connection to the area.

“We decided that was the perfect spot,” Kelly said. “We have lived all over the world through my husband’s job, but when we took a hard look at what we wanted in life, we said (it was) community and family. We wanted to serve a community we love and be closer to our family – we love this area.”

The Bottled Bean, the couple said, is also an all-in-the-family operation.

Tyler and Kelly serve as owners, with Kelly managing the operations, social media and other day-to-day responsibilities and Tyler handling the invoicing, payroll, loans and other financial work.

Kelly said her retired dad serves as The Bottled Bean’s handyman and her schoolteacher mom pitches in behind the bar.

They’re complemented by a staff of about seven team members that grows with the tourism season.

How it began

The concept of the hybrid cafe was something Kelly said she was exposed to in the United Kingdom when she worked for a startup business in the coffee space there.

That business, she said, was a hybrid as well, with coffee and alcoholic beverages depending on the time of day, as well as a common co-working space where people could rent desks.

“I was hired on as a manager and spent time with several team members to learn a variety of aspects of the business, including operations, marketing and events,” she said. “I have a lot of experience from that as well as in the coffee space (in general), as I’ve worked in coffee for 12 years on and off – starting as a barista and roaster in college.”

Kelly – a former elementary educator – said in that cafe, as well as throughout the family’s travels, she recognized that the best connections people make often happen over a great beverage.

And so, after more than three years of solid planning, the couple built their own modern-looking building from the ground up in Minocqua with the help of local builders and other local businesses.

“The lot… sat empty for 20 years, and it’s a great spot right downtown,” Kelly said. “We were intentional about using local businesses for it. It is a big thing for us to own the building, as it gives us stability, as we don’t have to worry about the market with renting.”

The self-described “Northwoods modern with a twist” business opened on Labor Day to serve “all walks of life,” as Kelly puts it, serving as a meeting spot that’s rooted in consistency.

“Our vision is to deliver consistent service, consistent products and a feeling of community, as people are at the heart of what we do,” she said. “We wanted something different but approachable, and to offer products people can’t find everywhere else.”

That, Kelly said, has required them to “go the extra mile,” often meeting distributors and other vendors that don’t travel that far north halfway to secure certain products.

“That’s allowed us to offer an assortment of unique items people are used to traveling to Minneapolis or Milwaukee to obtain, but the option to enjoy it at The Bottled Bean or build a mix-and-match container of their favorite beverages to take home,” she said.

What’s inside?

A walk inside the doors of The Bottled Bean reveals a wall of refrigerated coolers that display an assortment of beers, other alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic options for customers to purview.

Kelly said beers are set up by type – stouts, seasonals, hazy IPAs, IPAs, pilsners and “OG” for those who want their familiar favorites, such as a Busch Light.

“The items are customer-facing as part of the customer experience,” she said. “Our goal upon walking in is to pleasantly overwhelm you.”

In addition to bottled and canned beer, The Bottled Bean serves six beers on tap.

Kelly said The Bottled Bean also offers a seasonal selection of craft cocktails, which are in addition to four core offerings: an espresso martini, Irish coffee, Bloody Mary and Old Fashioned.

“In fall, this entailed several drinks made with pumpkin, apples, toasted cinnamon and smoking glasses,” she said. “(Drink making) is a production because the bar faces where the customers are, and they see exactly what we’re doing. We’re big into the performance aspect, and we have fun with it.”

Though the bar is not what is considered full-service, the couple said they tend to keep at least one vodka-, bourbon- and whiskey-based drink’s ingredients on the docket.

Kelly said she admits the cocktail menu has been her biggest learning experience, and she credits their on-staff mixologist with crafting stand-out cocktails people talk about.

And, there is coffee, too.

Kelly said for those seeking an excellent cup of coffee and a daily jolt of caffeine, The Bottled Bean doesn’t disappoint.

“I did a lot of research before securing coffee from a semi-local roaster, Mission Coffee,” she said. 

The Bean’s coffee selection leans to the more traditional, but Kelly said they have been able to make something that fulfills every customer’s flavor profile to date.

“We don’t do blended drinks like fraps because it’s all sugar and we don’t want to hide the bean,” she said. “We love great coffee, and so do our customers. We stay on the traditional side, although we do iced drinks, and we make our syrups in-house because that delivers a superior flavor that’s not overly sweet and can control the ingredient quality so the drinks can play on the beans.”

Though the business set out to focus on beverages, Kelly said it does offer a few food options.

“(This includes) fresh bakery – cookies, muffins, doughnuts and scones – charcuterie boards, as well as a small selection of toasted panini-style sandwiches and unique grilled cheese,” she said.

Bowls of complimentary peanuts and pretzels, Kelly said, also grace the tables.

Patrons, she said, are also encouraged to carry in food or order from The Bottled Bean’s food partners – including Otto’s Beer & Brat Garden, from which patrons can order upon scanning a QR code.

“Other area restaurants have asked about partnering with The Bottled Bean to do the same, which we plan to do,” Kelly said.

That being said, she said carry-ins will always be welcome.

“I love the idea of always being able to carry in, whether you have dietary restrictions or it’s simply easier to bring in your stuff,” Kelly said. “We have a great family who comes in on Fridays with little kids – the parents will order (drinks from us), dinner from Otto’s and bring McDonald’s for the kids.”

Business is booming

Kelly said The Bottled Bean has been well-trafficked since opening – in all aspects of the business: coffee, beer and cocktails.

“Every aspect has been successful and lucrative,” she said. 

In addition to The Bottled Bean’s location being a traffic driver – located on Minocqua’s main thoroughfare – Kelly said social media has also been an instrumental part of building a client base.

“If I post about new sandwiches or small bites on Instagram, in particular, they’re selling the items within an hour or two,” she said. “We don’t even have to have the menus out – (the patrons) know and follow along with the journey.”

Kelly said she thinks the customer base was looking for something high-quality.

“We have high-quality products, but we are not outpriced for the area,” she said. “We don’t want to serve a $10 latte. We bring a premium product and unique offerings, but it’s all approachable, easy and fun. Our mantra is, ‘Let’s pour happy.’”

Kelly said guests congregate throughout the building’s many seating areas, as well as the patio outside that features a bonfire for added warmth depending on the season.

The cafe can accommodate 65 seated, but with the outdoor element, Kelly said the sky’s the limit.

“We saw that with Beef-a-Rama™ in September when every square inch of the property was filled with people,” she said. “The building itself is a lot bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. We get that comment a lot.”

Unlike some destinations, Kelly said guests are welcome to linger.

“My ideal would be someone who comes in in the morning to secure coffee, laptop in tow, who enjoys lunch and work time before being joined by a friend late in the day for a cocktail or beer,” she said.

More offerings

Speaking of remote workers, Kelly said her research revealed the opportunity to cater to remote workers as one key segment of potential clients.

“There’s been huge growth in remote workers, and we wanted a space (to accommodate) remote work,” she said. “It will be interesting when summer comes as we anticipate being very busy, but in the ‘offseason,’ it hasn’t been an issue. It’s been fun watching that part of our vision come to life when someone has coffee, works, has a sandwich at lunch and has people join them after work for a beer – it’s a dream scene.”

Kelly said she hasn’t seen a slowing of business since opening thanks to the support of the locals, and Christmas went above and beyond what they anticipated.

“I was intentional about driving traffic with promotions via Instagram and offering some events, including Bingo and Beer, a trivia event, an espresso barista class and a Board and Brush painting event,” she said.

With events, Kelly said she has been mindful of how The Bottled Bean can fill the niche need for an event space that isn’t a reception hall but needs more than a typical restaurant space.

“This is a medium-sized space and fits the niche for families who want to book for Christmas parties, as well as our events,” she said. “Events have been critical to our success, although we will scale back on those during the height of summer.”

Kelly said she is excited to see what the first tourism season brings, especially with fellow business owners continually asking, “are you ready for summer?”

“Tyler and I have meticulously planned out what we expect for summer but will see how that aligns with what they witness firsthand,” she said.

In the meantime, Kelly said she is thrilled by the community’s support of the business, as well as the vested employees on their team who want to make this a career.

“We are researching ways to offer more benefits as we grow to become a Minocqua institution,” she said. “If you’re focused on people, the opportunities are endless.”

Hours for The Bottled Bean are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

For more information on The Bottled Bean, visit, or check out its social media platforms.

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