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Urbandale Coffee Roasters Brew a Sense of Community During Pandemic

March 30, 2020

On a cool Saturday morning Colleen Meyer and her husband Gary, with gloved hands, laid out one-pound bags of coffee on a steel table. The bags were within easy reach of drivers as they lined up their cars outside of the Friedrichs Coffee Roasters in the Urbandale neighborhood of Des Moines. The Meyers greeted friends and neighbors as they stopped to pick up their free coffee. “We just want to share a little cheer,” said Gary Meyer. “You’ll get a good Iowa smile as well.” 

Since 1991 Gary and Colleen have owned and operated Friedrichs Coffee Roasters, named for Gary’s grandfather, himself a coffee aficionado. The idea for the business first began when the Meyers took a trip to Costa Rica, where the son of a local coffee bean farmer offered his family farm for the Meyers to camp on their stay; the rest is history. Through this spirit of charity and destiny, the Meyers came to embrace the Costa Rica coffee business. Now the Meyers seek ways to pay it forward with their own good deeds, including running an environmentally conscious business. 

Today, Friedrichs’ mission is “to showcase award-winning coffees to baristas throughout the specialty coffee industry.” With three retail locations across the greater Des Moines area, the Meyers sought an opportunity to use their success to give to their local community as cities across the country struggle in the face of Covid-19.  What better way to boost spirits than to give friends a boost of caffeine to help them stay awake and sane in this challenging time. “We wanted to help pull the community together, let people know we’re all in this together,” said Colleen. “The trick,” added Gary, “was to find a way to give back safely.”

Colleen and Gary came up with a plan to give away 500 one-pound bags of coffee at Friedrichs Coffee Roasters’ Urbandale location, where the company’s roasting operation is located. In the interest of social distancing, the bags were placed on trays which were then carried over to a table for curbside pick-up. Several  customers caught coffee bags that were tossed gently toward their cars. Some residents picked up a pound of coffee for themselves while others grabbed a coffee bag on behalf of family and neighbors who were stuck indoors. And, like the Meyers’ first adventure pitching a tent amidst Costa Rican coffee beans, all were grateful for the extended kindness. 

NOTE: Learn more about Friedrichs and support their generosity and good deeds by joining their coffee of the month club at 

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