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New coffee shop is 'All About the Karma'
by Cynthia Petersen Correspondent · February 27th, 2017

They say what goes around comes around, and that's certainly true for Karma Coffee Cafe.

The cafe, located at 1725 Boyson Road, opened in January and has already become a popular place for coffee drinkers, health-conscious individuals, and those looking for a place to just "be" when the pressures of life get to be a little too much.

Owners Susan Staed and Diane Peterson said they came up with the name, because "it just clicked."

"We threw out some names to our friends and family and talked about it for a while," said Staed. "And then my sister said, 'How about karma?' and I said 'Yes. That's it.'"

Staed met her business partner while Peterson was working for Staed's husband, Art, a State Representative, as his campaign manager.

"We both love coffee," Peterson said with a laugh.

Peterson explained that Staed owned a coffee shop a few years ago in Iowa City, Coffee Talk Cafe, which was located close to Kirkwood.

But after a few years as an entrepreneur, Staed sold the cafe to help her husband. A few years later, Peterson called her to propose an idea.

"I was driving to a job site, as a consultant, and was looking for a place where I could stop and get a cup of coffee," she said. "I saw a building available on 42nd Street and I called Staed and asked her, 'What do you think? Do you think we could open a coffee shop on 42nd?' Without skipping a beat, she said, 'Let's do it.'"

Although that property didn't stay vacant long, it didn't stop the two women from moving forward with the idea. They wanted to stay on the NE side of town, so they looked around for something that would fit their needs; they wanted a drive-thru, which was extremely important.

"We just couldn't find what we were looking for," said Staed. "Finally, we decided to expand our search. As soon as we told the realtor, he found us the perfect place."

The drive-thru was essential because they wanted to make buying a good cup of coffee as convenient as possible.

"Our customers love the drive-thru," said Peterson. "There are many customers who like to come in and visit, but there are also those who need to grab a cup of coffee before work, and this is perfect. The wait isn't long, because they can ring a button to let us know they're waiting."

Besides some of the best coffee in town (courtesy of Iowa Coffee Roasters) the staff at Karma Coffee Cafe makes homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts in a variety of tastes and style, for those with sensitivities and allergies, and those who are trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

"We talked a lot about being peanut-free and thought about how many things have peanuts in the recipe," said Staed. "We have a customer whose child has a severe peanut allergy, and (we) decided to just go peanut-free."

Some of their homemade soups include Sweet Pepper, a Cup of Sunshine, Carrot and Ginger, and Hungarian Mushroom.

"We want to help people eat healthier," said Peterson. "We offer a variety of options for people and are very clear about what is vegetarian, what is vegan, and what is gluten-free. Although we offer choices for those who appreciate vegan and gluten-free, we still have lots of options for people who appreciate the full spectrum of food options, including bacon."

"We know we can't be everything to everybody, but at least we can have a variety of options, including for those who like meat," Staed added. "We try to cook our dishes without preservatives and without high fructose corn syrup. We make a honey syrup using local honey, and use local products whenever possible."

As part of Karma Coffee Cafe's mission, the cafe will be giving back to the community by donating 10 percent of its daily profits to local non-profits, which not only helps those in need, but it also sets a good example for others to follow.

It really is all about the Karma.

"The funny thing is, Art and I had our first date in this very coffee shop, when it was Coffee Emporium. It really must be karma."

Karma Coffee Cafe is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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