Skip to main content

The Pinery: Where coffee and community meet

The shop intertwines a family dream with the area's history

share arrow printer bookmark flag

January 9, 2024

WAUSAU – Unlike Central Wisconsin’s landscape today, full of businesses and developments – large and small – the area in the 1800s looked vastly different.

According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, Wausau – which was originally known as Big Bull Falls – was full of pine forests, leading to the first lumber mill being built in 1839 by George Stevens. 

Fast forward to a few years ago in Arkansas, where Daniel Tyler said he and his wife, Andrea, were talking about opening their own coffee shop.

“My wife and I had this dream of opening a coffee shop called The Pinery,” he said. “Now, how to pull that off, and what to do to make that happen – we didn’t have a clue. We were excited about the opportunity to create some sort of impact in the community, for the community.”

Little did the Tylers know that dream would become a reality – but not in Arkansas.

Connections, good timing

Tyler said he and his family moved to Wausau in 2021 and opened River City Church.

But, opening a coffee shop was still on his mind, an aspiration he shared with friend Nolan Baker.

“Nolan has been a part of our faith family at River City,” he said. “Nolan and I were sitting at a backyard barbecue, and I told him my dream of opening a coffee shop. He was like, ‘I love coffee, too.’ We got into this huge conversation about ‘one day,’ and then this opportunity fell in our lap.”

Before they knew it, Baker said the ball was rolling – and fast – starting with the announcement of a former coffee shop in Washington Square closing.

“Once I found out what had happened, I sent it to Daniel,” Baker said. “By the next day, he called me and said, ‘I have a verbal (confirmation), and I could get a written contract down here quickly.’ That flew into place.”

Though the building had previously been a coffee shop, Baker said they wanted to have a “blank canvas feel” so that they could create their own story in the space.

“(We) also (wanted) to bring in those natural roots and get people (involved) in the process and conversation of coffee (being) a thing that grows,” he said. “You’re here to experience it, and we want to have that connectedness.”

Tyler said he and his wife’s original idea to name a coffee shop The Pinery was a perfect fit for Wausau – as it pays homage to both his family’s dream and the area’s history.

“The legend was that this area was known as the pinery before it was a city,” he said. “People would mill down the pine trees and send them down the river – it was this beautiful, historical story.”

The co-owners officially opened The Pinery (300 N. 3rd St. Suite 103) Nov. 1. 

Listening and educating

Baker said The Pinery continues to evolve as the team learns more about what the Wausau community is interested in.

On the flip side, he said, the shop also provides opportunities to educate the community on coffee. 

“We’re doing roasting classes and cupping classes, espresso tastings and things like that,” he said. “We also want to introduce some of the complexities of coffee, so we’re always going to have drip coffees available… People can get into whatever lane they’re interested in pursuing.”

And, though The Pinery offers a variety of classic coffee beverages – such as lattes, macchiatos and cortados – Baker said the shop also has teas and recently introduced Lotus energy beverages to meet the needs of those looking for caffeine without the coffee flavor.

Food-wise, he said, The Pinery offers breakfast and lunch paninis and has recently started providing in-house bakery items.

“We always have scones and cookies,” he said. “We’ll have more offerings (down the road) that are even more consistent… We want to be, first and foremost, a coffee shop, and then all those things are additions to it.”

Roasted right from the shop

Not only does The Pinery provide fresh coffee for customers, Baker said the shop also roasts its own beans with its Bellwether Series 2 Roaster.

As of right now, he said The Pinery is the only coffee shop in the Wausau area to have both a storefront and roasts all of the coffee in-house – though other shops do small-batch roasting or focus solely on roasting. 

“Our beans are available on the menu, too, because we do all of our roasting here downtown,” he said. “That’s something we’re passionate about.”

Employees are also able to be trained in roasting when they’re hired if they so choose, which Baker said is true for all roles in the coffee shop.

“When a team member comes in, they can identify some different tracks they’re interested in,” he said. “We’ll have people who come in and say, ‘I’m interested in bakery,’ or ‘I’m interested in being a barista’ or ‘I’m interested in leadership.’ Then, as they get through that customer service profile – that’s the first and foremost thing – they can start being plugged into different areas.”

Keeping the roaster within eyesight of The Pinery customers, Baker said, also gives the team a chance to talk about it. 

“It’s awesome to get people in and say, ‘this is the green bean right here,’” he said. “And then, ‘this is the roasted product.’”

Tyler said bean roasting is his “favorite part.”

“That was the thing that set us apart and made us most excited about having a coffee shop,” he said. “To have somebody else’s beans in here would be fine, but it made it even more special to be able to do that (ourselves).”

Community at the heart

While The Pinery team prides itself on providing its coffee to customers, both Tyler and Baker said none of that would be possible in the first place without the supportive community the shop has. 

“Our heart is to give back,” Tyler said. “The phrase we’ve used with each other is ‘Wausau doesn’t realize how great it could be.’ Our passion is to see the city flourish.”

For the coffee shop, he said that means giving back to nonprofits in the area.

“Every month, we pick a different nonprofit to support, and a percentage of our proceeds goes to that,” Tyler said. “Proceeds went to The Hagar House for November, December was the Boys & Girls Club and January is the Bridge Street Mission.”

Tyler said being community-centric also means hosting events to get people together – such as trivia nights – and keeping the shop open later on the weekends for customers to congregate. 

With a love for the community, he said it’s been great to feel the love back in turn.

“We’ve gotten incredible feedback so far,” he said. “Nolan’s done a great job building a team of people, of baristas… and so the customer experience has been super positive because I think we have a quality product, and we have an incredible team who cares about the people who are coming in.”

Baker said The Pinery’s social media and public relations team has also been great at helping get the word out to members of the community.

“They provide such a backbone that, without them, I don’t think a lot of people would have been in,” he said. “There’s so many people who come in saying, ‘I saw you on Facebook’ or ‘I saw you here, I saw you there…’ So hats off to (the PR team).”

Future plans

With just a little more than two months under their belts, Tyler and Baker said they have a few different plans for the future they are currently working toward – such as offering mobile ordering.

“One of the things we’re working on next is (for) somebody to be able to order coffee online,” Tyler said. “(We would like) to have some merch… (and) we do see The Pinery expanding.”

Another area the partners may venture in expanding to, Baker said, is wholesale.

“We’re interested in wholesale or partnering with companies so we can either provide them a specific blend that meets what they’re interested in,” he said. “Or (even) getting on the shelves and being available for people to purchase in different shops.”

The Pinery is open from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to noon Sunday. 

For more on the shop, visit

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending