The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 6, 2014

In Brief: River Rock, Coffee Hag in 'Best Coffeehouse' running; Wanda Gag birthday celebration

The Mankato Free Press

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Coffee Hag, River Rock in 'Best Coffeehouse' running

Area coffee lovers have a difficult decision to make.

Today is the final day of voting for WCCO-TV's Best Coffeehouses competition in which this area boasts two competitors: River Rock Coffee in St. Peter and Coffee Hag in Mankato.

The winner of the competition — finalists for which were whittled down to 20 after "hundreds and hundreds" of nominations, according to WCCO's report — will be announced during tonight's 10 p.m. broadcast. The voting page can be found here:

"It's really great knowing people appreciate what we do," said Jenn Melby, owner of the Coffee Hag since 2007. "That means more to us than anything."

Melby credited the Hag's success to its community minded principles and broad involvement in the city's arts scene. In addition to hosting regular music events, the coffeehouse uses much of its wall space to support local visual artists.

As for River Rock, kitchen manager Montana Rasmussen said the shop is in the midst of upgrading its front counter space as well as adding new service and espresso bars. In addition to signature cappucinos, homemade baked goods and a daily lunch menu — today's special is a minestrone soup with locally grown winter vegetables — River Rock even offers made-from-scratch puppy treats.

Furthermore, River Rock barista Helena Shanks placed 14th at the Big Central Barista Competition in Minneapolis.

"It just shows the level of dedication we have to our craft," Rasmussen said.

Wanda Gag birthday celebration

NEW ULM -- The Wanda Gag House Association will be holding a 121st Snippy and Snappy Birthday Party for the author and illustrator from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Brown County Historical Society Museum Annex, 2 North Broadway St.

The celebration includes a mouse-themed adventure with games, crafts and singing. Refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact