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New youth-run coffee shop opens on East Side

Updated: Apr 17

Right inside Indigenous Roots cultural art center is a new youth-run coffee shop, Roots Cafe.

“We were just thinking of ideas of how to create something in the spaces, so we came up with the idea of opening up a coffee shop,” said Reyna Day, the cafe’s 20-year-old manager. “I came on specifically after the youth interns were already hired and worked with them.”

Roots Cafe opened its doors on July 19th. Reyna says the cafe has been years in the making. She says the East side needs spaces like this in the neighborhood.

“I think for the East Side the coffee culture has not really been poppin’ for a minute,” she reflected. “I also think roots cafe is really unique in the fact that it is youth run. That feeling of community - that’s something we can build within the baristas. Sometimes when you go into coffee houses or coffee shops they have a vibe where you really don’t feel welcomed in… so I know it’s going to create another spot for folks to come kick it - especially young folks.”

Cafe Roots was created with the intention of not just employing the youth but to train them in the art of being a barista. The staff made their own menus, blended its own teas and learned about the medicinal properties of Piloncillo and Cafe de Olla.

One of the young baristas - named Amina - says Roots Cafe is making Indigenous Roots even more of a community hub.

“I am from the suburbs and anytime that I am out there it’s very individualistic. Nobody is like invested in their neighbors or like what their community is doing but everyday that I am here, new people come here, some old people come in, and people that have had long relationships with it are always here and they’re always interacting.”

Roots Cafe is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. It’s located inside Indigenous Roots on 7th Street on St Paul’s East Side.

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