120 Coffee Company opens

New coffee shop invites patrons to linger and communicate over a cup

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 10/3/19

The ambience at 120 Coffee Company, and the desire of the owners, is for people to slow down and savor the moment – to enjoy the coffee and talk with others. It is not a grab and go place, but that …

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120 Coffee Company opens

New coffee shop invites patrons to linger and communicate over a cup

Posted

The ambience at 120 Coffee Company, and the desire of the owners, is for people to slow down and savor the moment – to enjoy the coffee and talk with others. It is not a grab and go place, but that can be done,

The new coffee shop at 120 Court, on the south side of the Paris square, opened Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 24, with a ribbon cutting, and it has been a steady stream of customers since then. Richard and Stacey Wilken are the proprietors and they have devoted countless hours to getting the interior of the old building into a condition that matched their vision of the business.

A coffee shop was not the original idea for creating a business. Richard Wilken thought an old building on the square would lend itself to an ice cream store with an old-fashioned tap operated soda fountain but several things occurred that morphed an ice cream store into a coffee shop.

“We like the smell of coffee,” said Richard Wilken.

Also a new pastor expressed surprise that Paris lacked a coffee shop. As Wilken weighed the options he realized one of the things he wanted to create with the business was a location that brings the community together as a meeting place where people can linger and have time to socialize and talk.

“An ice cream place might have been fun, but it would have been too easy for people to get something to go,” said Wilken. “Coffee is slow. It is hot. People have to sit down and drink it.”

The interior of the business is designed to encourage sitting and relaxing with two large couches, an old church pew, straight back chairs at a table, stools at a high table and more stools at a table built against the front window. Other seats are ottomans made from pipe storage bins used at the former Art Reese Lumber Yard. Upholstered cushions on top of the bases provide a seating area and the wood boxes are painted in bright colors. These are not quite done but were close enough for the opening.

The couple removed pegboard and wallboard that covered the inside walls. The goal was to have exposed brick walls, but that did not work because the inside walls had multiple places showing past repairs, which took away from the appearance.

“There were a lot of imperfection and we wanted to keep them there to remind us and customers that nothing is 100 percent perfect,” Richard Wilken said.

The coffee shop is open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday for now although hours may change after they get a better sense of customer flow.

“There were people waiting when I got here to open up this morning,” Stacey Wilken said during the interview late Wednesday morning.

Coffee selections available to customers include cold brew, pour over (which is a drip coffee) and espresso in these styles: latte, Americano, café au lait, cappuccino and double shot. Hot chocolate is available and the store may later offer hot cider. Other beverage choices are Coca-Cola products and a specialty is Italian cream soda.

Richard Wilken makes a trip every morning to Terre Haute, Ind., for square donuts, and he hopes to expand sweet treat offerings in the future with cookies and pies from local sources. No food or lunch option is currently available but after getting more experience the couple may look at doing sandwiches.

He said some basic things go into making good cup of coffee such as having quality, filtered water, good beans that are properly roasted and also taking into account local preferences

“Coffee is unique to people. They have their favorites,” said Richard Wilken. “We will learn from the community and try to educate people about different coffee, like cold brew.”

The shop purchases Steam Shovel Coffee from a one-man roasting business at Anna operated by Randy Miller.

“He takes a lot of pride in his coffee,” said Richard Wilken. “If I call him and want to tweak it, he will do that. Bigger roasters won’t do that.”

Wilken admitted a long-term goal and dream is to install a roasting machine at 120 Coffee and learn the art of roasting from Miller. That will provide Miller with a way to expand Steam Shovel Coffee and the coffee roasted by the Wilkens will be sold in bags marked Paris, Illinois.

Promoting Paris is important to the couple. The coffee shop has books and art for sale by local authors and artists. Other artwork includes pieces by high school students.

“When people visit from out of town, I want them to see the talent that is here,” said Richard Wilken.