116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — For new coffee shop owner Shawn Keating, the love of coffee started with gas station cappuccinos growing up.
“I remember Saturday mornings going to QuikTrip on the way to family events. Being able to press a button and customize those things the way that I liked,” said Keating, owner of the newly opened Trading Grounds Coffee in Marion. “It was just something to look forward to, and it was part of the ritual.”
With his first business, which opened on April 25, he has aimed to recreate a space where rituals like that can thrive — moms socializing with some free time in the summer, children coming in for a treat to celebrate an accomplishment, high school students getting a smoothie after school.
To Keating, coffee is more than a cup of flavored caffeine.
What: Trading Grounds Coffee
Where: 917 Barrington Pkwy., Suite B, Marion
Hours: Summer hours are 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Details: Coffee, tea, cookie dough and baked good are available inside Trading Grounds or at its drive-thru.
“These are the things that are super exciting to see,” he said. “Just being able to do that for people … it’s something I thought I could do that could resonate with people.”
After getting an elementary education degree and 10 years of working in various roles at Hills Bank, Keating has returned to his roots — running a small business like the one he grew up with — in a new venture that incorporates education and his passion for people.
Keating, 34, brings eight years of experience from the former Coffeesmiths shops in Cedar Rapids, where he honed coffee skills to match his passion. With Trading Grounds, he has revived some influences from Coffeesmiths.
One standout you won’t find at other coffee shops in the Corridor, for example, is a cup of chilled, ready-t- eat chocolate chip cookie dough.
With the new local cafe, Keating wants to give folks a local perspective on coffee that’s affordable without the sacrifice of conveniences like drive-thrus. Inside the shop are aesthetics he hopes will foster a slower environment in a hurried world.
If customers notice something off about their regular drink or want to try something different, Trading Grounds wants to hear about it.
“I want customers to have conversations,” Keating said. “I want to make sure you’re doing things in an environment … where people don’t feel like they’re being rushed off.”
With RunWell Coffee, a product of Iowa Running Company in NewBo, roasted by Thinkwell in Waverly, Trading Grounds treats coffee as an art similar to wine. Instead of looking at light, medium or dark roasts, the cafe looks at flavor notes and profiles based on the region and roast temperature.
“It’s elevating the thought process on coffee — it’s similar to thinking about wine,” Keating said. “People who truly enjoy that art … know there are nuances.”
In addition to the standard coffee and espresso selections, customers can order some unique signature drinks — some with eyebrow-raising flavor profiles.
The Founder, a creation from the owner, combines white mocha, raspberry and peppermint. The Golden Ticket, a more popular option, combines white mocha, caramel and toffeenut.
With some coffee shops, variables in pressure with espresso tamping can cause variance in drink tastes throughout the day. At Trading Grounds, Keating pointed out the automatic ground tamping in the espresso machine. That ensures the flavor will be consistent, no matter which flavor profile you’re sampling.
Instead of syrup flavors, the cafe opts for a powder approach, which allows drinks to mix more homogeneously. That means the first few sips won’t be too bitter, and the last few sips won’t be overwhelmingly sweet with syrup that sank to the bottom of the cup.
In addition to coffees, the shop offers a wide selection of teas, including refreshing and not-too-sweet options like the iced blueberry lavender this summer.
If you’re in the mood for pastries a little more cooked, a fair selection of scone flavors are baked in house daily, alongside cinnamon twists and turnovers on certain days. Scones at Trading Grounds have a more moist texture, similar to a cookie.
On Barrington Parkway, the newly built-out location might seem to be out of the way from Marion’s primary business districts. But strategically, it was selected in the center of several schools and in an underserved area that is developing quickly with the YMCA and the upcoming UnityPoint Clinic at Tower Terrace.
Comments: (319) 398-8340; email@example.com