Artist Stories

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters – Artist Story

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters – Viroqua, WI
Organic Fair Trade Artisan Roasted
TJ Semanchin + Caleb Nicholes – co-owners

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters - Viroqua, WI

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters is a family-scale enterprise situated near the scenic Kickapoo River in the Driftless region of southwest Wisconsin. The foundation of their business is their shared values: connection to the land, consideration for the local and global community, and commitment to their families and those of their trading partners. And yes, there are a lot of coffee roasters out there but seriously, these guys are some of the best. They were named Micro-Roaster of the Year in 2010, they have been awarded the gold seal from Good Food two years in a row, as well as having many top-rated roasts.

These images were taken by Ray at the Depot, over the course of a few days. Nothing was set up for a photo shoot, they just let me enter their doors (multiple times) and photograph their everyday processes. Though the environment requires a lot of detailed work, the atmosphere is very relaxed. And I’m pretty sure Caleb or TJ made me at least one cappuccino every time.


> Why Viroqua?
We have families with little kids and they are the ones who brought us to this little town.

> Best thing about living in this area?
Access to organic foods from our friends and neighbors. Great people.

> If you didn’t live here, where would you want to live?
Pacific Northwest probably.  I hear they have some good coffee there, too.

> How do you make your morning cup?
Pour-over, handcrafted all the way!

> Tell us how you stay connected to your growers/farmers?
We travel and hang out with the farmers as much as possible, which has been slowed down a bit with parenting.  I can’t wait ’til we start taking our kids with us!  I’ve been able to revisit the same farmer cooperatives over the last 10 years; there have been ups and downs with their development, but the dedication and commitment of the farmers always inspires me.

> What brought you into this line of work?
I lived in Central America for a couple years focusing on sustainable development.  When I found myself back in the states fair trade coffee was the perfect outlet to continue my passion for supporting rural communities, maintain a connection to Latin America and delicious food.

> What’s your favorite part of Kickapoo Coffee’s work environment?
Our amazing crew – Viroqua attracts great people and I feel like we have the cream of the crop working here at the depot.

> Current creative outlet?
Getting into the workshop with my six year old son, Cedar – he comes up with an idea and we build it out of wood.

> List the steps of your process.
More details can be found here.


Find out more about Kickapoo coffee on their website, follow their updates on Facebook and – if you’re ever in the area and want your very own tour of the place – public cuppings happen the last Friday of every month at 10:00am at the Depot.

This post is part of our Artist Stories series – to find out more about why and what we’re doing, head here.


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  1. Patricia says:

    Real lovely.

  2. Oh my, I completely love this…this place and this project. Way to use your amazing talent to shine on other artisans! I can’t wait to see more!

  3. tara says:

    Love following u guys. U do such fun stuff!! Nice work!

  4. anda says:

    love. lovelovelove.

  5. Wendy says:

    We pass through Viroqua all the time and this makes me want to stop and explore and spend the day. I only live in La Crosse and people just need to look in their back yard to take advantage of all the culture this area has to offer. I cannot wait to see what you guys feature next. I love experiencing things through your “eyes” !

  6. oh, you guys. this is wonderful. I can’t wait to see more.

  7. Jared says:

    That’s stellar y’all. Loved it! Keep up the great work!

  8. Kirra Sutton says:

    I’m so excited to see these you guys! Beautiful, incredible work.

  9. Erin says:

    Love the photos! Thanks for this Ray. Also, love that dude’s Mars Attacks/Eiffel Tower tattoo. Along with the loon it sort of puts my memories of Minnesota and Paris all together on his one underarm. That was fun to see! Ha!

  10. andy stenz says:

    This is awesome. I don’t drink coffee, but this make we want to try theirs!

  11. Jenn Stark says:

    happy you guys are doing these and to hear the stories you have to tell :)

  12. rachel banek says:

    the story told by these beautiful pictures is absolutely amazing! thanks so much for sharing. -rachel

  13. […] of the crew and roastery, which is housed in the old train depot in Viroqua, Wisconsin, check out the Kickapoo Coffee “Artist Story” recently posted at the lovely Ray + Kelly […]

  14. Erin says:

    I must correct myself, it’s Space Invaders!

  15. Kathy says:

    It’s a beautiful thing to see photographs that so artfully
    capture life and the people living it. Congratulations to you

  16. Enjoy this information taken from Kickapoo’s site. Pictures below are taken from Raymond Siler.

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