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Med City's newest coffee shop strives to be 'Bad Ass' above all else

Rochester has another coffee shop for residents to try out. The name may be catchy to grab anyone's attention, and it represents the first of a franchise's foothold in the Midwest.

Bad Ass Coffee
Gabby Mitzel and Grace Pearson prepare an order on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at Bad Ass Coffee in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Looking to be more of a badass in your morning routine every day? Rochester’s newest coffee shop has that covered.

Bad Ass Coffee (1529 Hwy. 14, Suite 100, Rochester) opened at the beginning of June under the ownership of Rochester residents Lori and Todd Heins, and their business partner and friend Tobin Emrich.

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The Heins and Emrich met through their love of horses as their children had participated in horse shows together when the kids were younger. Now with their kids at an older age, the Heins and Emrich looked to do more with their time by opening a business, as Lori Heins said.

“We wanted something that seemed stable, and Tobin really liked the idea of opening a coffee shop. Through COVID and the 2008 financial market crash, it seemed in both cases coffee was one of the businesses that always thrived. When we saw the name and logo for Bad Ass, it really spoke to all of us, and we felt it was the right franchise to open up with,” said Heins.

Bad Ass Coffee has been around since 1989 and is based out of "The Big Island" of Hawaii. The company did not become a franchise until 1996 when they opened their first store in the continental U.S. in Salt Lake City, Utah. The newest addition to the Bad Ass franchise is the Rochester location, which also happens to be the company's first Midwest location.

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Chris Ruszkowski, senior vice president of marketing for Bad Ass, said company is excited about its Rochester location and sees it as an opportunity for the brand to grow at an international scale.

“It's one of those brand names that is recognizable and memorable. Our first and number one commitment is to the community, and having owners from Rochester helps to show we are here to be a part of it. Also we see Rochester as a spot where many people will come in and out of the community and spread awareness,” said Ruszkowski.

The name Bad Ass has been an attention grabber for customers and ownership alike. Once the Heins and Emrich heard the story behind the company name and logo, which is a donkey, it helped to seal the deal on opening the franchise in Rochester.

Bad Ass Coffee
People dine on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at Bad Ass Coffee in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Ruszkowski shared that same story on how Bad Ass Coffee got its name, and how the slang is associated with donkeys and not another version of the slang term.

“Coffee is often harvested in high altitudes and in Hawaii, especially Kona. Donkeys have always been used to help carry the harvests up and down the mountains. The farmers who our company called their donkeys bad-asses in a positive light to showcase their endurance every work day carrying as much coffee as they did," Ruszkowski said. "And with our name we want to do the same honoring our bad-ass customers that work hard day in and day out."

When it comes to the coffee customers can get from Bad Ass, the majority are 100% Hawaiian beans with other beans imported from countries such as Columbia and Brazil. Heins spoke on what goes into some of their signature blends as well as favorite drinks she recommends to new customers.

Bad Ass Coffee
A Beach Bonfire drink is seen on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at Bad Ass Coffee in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

“We also sell signature blends, which are not Hawaiian, but are still very carefully selected and roasted to give a unique, non bitter, mild flavor, Heins said. "Our new limited-time offering is the beach bonfire through September. It's pretty delicious and has macadamia nut, toasted marshmallow and chocolate.”

The grand opening for Bad Ass welcomed in a partnership with Paws and Claws Humane Society of Rochester over last weekend with 10% of the sales going to the animal shelter, and a few puppies were up for adoption at Bad Ass. Heins said that two puppies were adopted by families on the first morning of the grand opening last Friday, June 17, 2022.

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Heins expects Bad Ass to have more partnerships with community nonprofit and animal shelters in the future. For now, Heins hopes to continue the growth of name and brand recognition of the company for the summer to come.

Bad Ass Coffee is located off U.S. Highway 14 and Marion Road in Southeast Rochester, across from Cub Foods and Planet Fitness. The shop is open from 5:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. daily and has a drive thru available for anyone in a rush.

Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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