Bean & Bear Cafe Sets Roots in Edinboro
Edinboro's newest coffee shop offers hangout for students and locals
Edinboro locals Katie and Jason Spangenberg recently opened the town's newest coffee shop, Bean & Bear Cafe, a name inspired by their beloved family pets.
"My sister had the idea for the name Bean & Bear after our pets. My cat is named Muenster 'Bear,' and my dog-in-law is named Fletcher 'Bean.' We liked it with reference to coffee beans," Katie said, who owns and operates the cafe with her husband (and Edinboro borough manager) Jason. The Spangenbergs both attended General McLane High School and are Edinboro University alumni with degrees in business.
"Between my love for coffee, and my urge to open a business, it just made sense," Katie explained. "I've always wanted to open a business and I have a lot of food industry background." Katie was previously employed by PennWest Edinboro's Global Education Office, and has also worked as a hostess, waitress, cook, and bartender at Culbertson's Hills Golf Course, as well as Charlie's Pub and Eatery in Edinboro.
She attributes her most invaluable industry experience to a more personal influence — her father. "My dad has been in food service since high school, so I had a lot of influence and inspiration from him and his various roles over the years," Katie shared.
Bean & Bear offers drinks and food items in a welcoming cafe space complete with free Wi-Fi and a curated playlist of lo-fi music. They have specialty beverages seasonally, like the peppermint mocha cold brew and sugar cookie latte from their holiday menu. In addition to drinks, the cafe also offers breakfast sandwiches and baked goods. Both drinks and food items are locally sourced from Majestic Baking Company and Happy Mug.
The cafe does not sell bagels to avoid competition with the local staple down the road, Lakeside Bagel and Deli. "I love the bagel shop. They have great bagels, so we're not serving them," Katie said. "We don't want to compete with local businesses. That isn't our goal." According to Katie, the homemade cinnamon rolls are a fan favorite, and usually sell out before lunch. Her personal favorite pairing is the chai latte.
The Spangenbergs wanted to provide a traditional cafe environment experience that they noticed Edinboro lacked. "We wanted a counter-serve, traditional coffee shop. All the college towns in the state system have one," she explained. "The goal is to be a hangout spot where people don't feel pressured to give up a seat. And we're already seeing it. There are always college students here studying."
Bean & Bear is conveniently located near Lakeside Commons at 222 W. Plum St. in Edinboro. "We wanted to be as close to downtown and the campus as possible," Katie said. "We looked at a few places, but we ultimately chose this location because of its walkable distance and ample parking."
After signing the lease last March, the space was gutted and transformed into a warm and inviting cafe. "From floor to ceiling, everything is brand new," she said. "When we moved in, it was an office. We had to build the kitchen, move the bathrooms, it was a total overhaul."
Katie says the greatest challenge in the new business venture was navigating paperwork, construction, and scheduling. The Spangenbergs originally planned to open the cafe in July, but construction caused delays. Once construction was complete, they hit the ground running.
"There was definitely a time where I was training employees on the espresso machine and they were putting up drywall in the kitchen," she joked. "We got inspection approval and opened the next day."
They never held an official grand opening, because community members began showing up in support before they got the chance. "On Sept. 27, we hosted a soft-opening. We planned out the first three days to be invite-only to get our staff comfortable. But people just started wandering in. By homecoming weekend, we were fully open."
Barista Paige Geason has worked at Bean & Bear since the cafe opened. She says working in a new business environment allows for more authentic interactions with customers. "We field a lot of questions about how we operate, which keeps it fresh in our minds," she said. "I enjoy the little questions."
Similarly, barista Shiloh Morris says her favorite part of her job is meeting new customers and working alongside her coworkers. "My experience has been amazing so far. I love that we are all growing and working together," Morris said. "It's been really fun watching my boss, Katie, adapt to running a business and her passion for it."
After an intentionally impromptu opening, Katie says her first moment of realization came later on. "It's been a whirlwind so far. So, for a while it didn't seem real," she said. "I was working in the kitchen the other day and behind me I heard people talking, music playing, the baristas working, the milk steamer going off. That was my 'it happened' moment. It was pretty exciting."
The Bean & Bear Cafe welcomes customers Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find more information or order online at beanandbearcafe.com.
Julia Carden can be reached at email@example.com