Few things are more relaxing than an afternoon picker-upper of good coffee and a chocolaty scotcharoo bar.
Or skip the scotcharoo and savor the coffee. Either way, it’s a small earned moment of pleasure, especially if the coffeehouse itself is an interesting environment.
Aaron and Miranda Anderson believe there’s no reason all that has to be down the road in some hipper, urban setting.
So they opened Dark Side of the Brew on the main street of Hebron, a small town with a big personality just off of Interstate 94.
It’s a natural for the Andersons, who moved here, to Aaron’s hometown, from Fargo two years ago so he could join his dad’s Dakota’s Best Gourmet Coffee supply business based out of Hebron.
Coffee is Anderson’s life-blood, so it’s no surprise he knows a good cup when he tastes it.
He can sort out the ones with too much acid, ones that get their “strength” from overloading the grounds instead of from the bean itself, and ones that are roasted too long.
Dark Side of the Brew has a full coffee menu of specialty roasted grinds from up and down South America and Central America made with all the foam, flavor and fuss a person could want in one insulated cup.
There’s also soup, sandwiches and a dessert bar so customers can make a meal out of it, or just take a coffee break with a sweet treat on the side.
It’s also an Internet hot spot and a showplace for local art, including Anderson’s own work.
The eclectic art on canvas and in jewelry, photographs and fabrics contributes to that slightly-out-of-place-in-a-small-town feeling in Dark Side of the Brew, with its slouchy couches in front of south window panes.
Anderson said he welcomes artists to display and sell at the brew, a combination of coffee and culture common in Fargo where they’d lived before Hebron.
“There’s not enough of that on this side of the state. The arts should be promoted here. The wall for art is one of the most important aspects of our idea,” he said.
If the coffee is his side of the coffeehouse, the food and day-to-day management is Miranda Anderson’s, a woman with her native Montana personality and Minneapolis sense of style.
She promoted the move to Hebron to raise their young children in a place with quiet streets and big backyard gardens.
She said the town is fortunate to have two restaurants and their idea was not to compete but to offer an alternative with interesting sandwiches and two hot soups daily.
“There’s no iceberg lettuce here,” she said.
The food is simple, the music soundtrack low and a bit edgy and the atmosphere conducive to tapping on a laptop, reading a book or having a quiet conversation.
She said high school kids and grandpas are all at home at the Brew.
“It’s funny the things people say when they walk in the door,” she said. “We had tourists coming in all summer and they just loved it.”
Aaron Anderson gets credit for naming the coffeehouse, and said he gets a real kick when customers get the twist on Pink Floyd’s album “Dark Side of the Moon,” music he grew up listening to.
One of his customers, Corey Voigt from Wisconsin, in Dickinson construction with the oil boom, said he hits the brakes whenever he passes through Hebron now.
“My parents were so hippy-ish and I grew up on that classic rock. It’s cool, not something expected in a little town like this. As soon as I found it, I stop in every week,” he said.
And besides, he added, “I’m a huge coffee nut.”
The panini sandwiches are named for Pink Floyd albums and songs, which Aaron Anderson said intrigue him for the subtle messages and references in the lyric language.
“With them, you have to get the puzzle and unlock the joke,” he said. “That’s always kind of struck me.”
For the coffeehouse logo, he used the idea of a beam of light through a prism from the “Dark Side” album cover, only passing it through a coffee cup instead.
It works, just like it works for Hebron to have a new light shining on the traditional coffee break.