Allow Us to Reintroduce You to Wonderstate Coffee

Allow Us to Reintroduce You to Wonderstate Coffee

What's in a name? A whole lot.
by Justin Sprecher | September 09, 2020

Since we first opened our coffee shop business fifteen years ago in the small Wisconsin farm town of Viroqua, coffee has been our way of celebrating place and community. As a mission-driven company, we have strived to find better ways of doing business in the coffee industry. In 2015, we became the first traditional coffee roastery to be powered by an on-site solar array. In 2017, we committed to one of the highest minimum price guarantees to farmers in the industry, more than 50 percent above the Fair Trade Organic minimum. From the beginning, we have been committed to sourcing spectacular coffees that serve a collective future, and while we're proud of a lot of the work we've done, we've also made some mistakes.

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When the company was founded in 2005, our owners Denise and TJ Semanchin and Caleb Nicholes chose the name Kickapoo Coffee. The intention was to honor the Kickapoo River Valley that our roastery calls home. But Kickapoo is not simply the name of a river. The Kickapoo are a People, with tribes in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Mexico. By using “Kickapoo,” we claimed a name that was never ours to take and perpetuated a cultural erasure.

After initiating an internal review of our name in 2019, we apologized directly to the Kickapoo Nation and shared with them our decision to step away from the Kickapoo name and fully rebrand. We are deeply grateful to everyone who brought us through this transition and held us accountable along the way. On July 23, we began the next era of our business as Wonderstate Coffee.

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That bug in our logo is a cicada. Their big, ominous hum sparks a sense of mystery in us. And in our minds, great coffee and its amazing aroma aren’t so different. When we taste a delicious coffee drink full of flavor, we know there is more going on — many hands have contributed to bringing the potential of that coffee seed to fruition. The experience reverberates from the people and places that have made it possible. Since cicadas also symbolize renewal and transformation, we thought they'd be a fitting emblem as we move into this next phase of our business and brand.

Our new name is a celebration of the connection to a wonderful place and community that has inspired our company since day one, but Wonderstate is more a state of mind than a particular place. One of the things we love about the name is its invitation for people to interpret it. One of our tag lines is "Stay Curious," and we aim to create everyday experiences that spark connection, inspire curiosity, and build integrity into our communities.

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Reckoning with our use of the Kickapoo name has been a humbling and vital process. Our name change and rebranding reflect a desire to hold ourselves accountable. It is not the result of a change in ownership or management. We are still the same people, roasting the same fresh coffee beans. As a company committed to social justice and the pursuit of a more fair and equitable world, we recognize that this work begins with us.

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