Main Street Kansas: St. Francis shop brews up coffee and conversations

Fresh Seven Coffee storefront (Photo courtesy KSN News)

ST. FRANCIS, Kan. (KSNW) – You don’t have to go to a big city or pay a lot of money to find gourmet coffee and teas. A remote spot in northwest Kansas is converting skeptics and bringing a town together.

Fresh Seven Coffee in St. Francis fresh roasts its beans daily, turning once-in-awhile coffee drinkers into caffeine connoisseurs!

Regular customers often sit around a big table at the coffee shop, sipping their hot beverages and talking about everything from the weather to politics.

“It’s pretty amazing, like I’m a farmer. We had a contractor, retired engineer, EMT, nurses. Quite a diverse group,” said customer, Tim Raile.

Kale Dankenbring and his wife, Heidi Plumb, opened Fresh Seven Coffee in 2013. They moved from Phoenix back to his hometown of just 1,300 people.

St. Francis is about 15 miles from the Colorado and Nebraska state lines.

“If anything, I sort of looked at it as another adventure!” said Heidi with a big smile.

But the site for Fresh Seven had crude beginnings. Heidi and Kale paid $3,000 for an abandoned building with no roof, floor or back wall.

“There was a façade that was boarded up, and there was trash everywhere,” said Heidi.

They moved in a coffee trailer and provided seating outdoors. Then over time, the couple enclosed and renovated the building. All the while, their loyal customers encouraged them.

“One of my very dear friends and customers said, ‘Now I love this coffee, and I’m so glad you’re here. If you really want to be my best friend, I would be able to come in and order a glass of wine at the end of the day,'” recalled Heidi.

Voila! Fresh Seven added wine, beers, and handcrafted cocktails, including a Bloody Mary with a beefy garnish that’s almost a meal!

And yes, some of the morning crowd shows up again for Happy Hour!

“We have a lot of fun here. We laugh all the time,” said customer, Brent Rueb.

Customers feel so at home at Fresh Seven, they can watch a movie on the big screen mounted on a side wall, or they can listen to the record player. They even donate their own vinyl, everything from a swing band to Marvin Gaye.

It’s definitely struck a chord in the community, becoming the go-to place for parties and potlucks, even pets! A customer’s dog named Richard is the unofficial mascot.

“He’s part of our family!” nodded Heidi.

Later this year, Heidi plans to start yoga classes at the coffee shop, and Kale does motorcycle repairs next door, providing even more services to St. Francis.

“Some people said it would never work here,” said her husband, Kale. “We’ve proved them all wrong, I guess.”

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