It all started on the intramural fields at Luther. Two friends fulfilling a PE requirement were practicing their golf swings while volleying an idea back and forth. How great would it be, they asked, to create a business that fed their shared interest in three awesome things: good books, craft beer, and quality coffee.
“We imagined this place where you could go to sip a craft beer while reading,” says Kacey Wyttenhove ’11. “Sure, you could go to a brewery, but those places are usually loud and people go there to be social.”
Katie Terhune ’11 chimes in, “We wanted that coffee shop vibe but with good beer, and we weren’t sure if it existed anywhere.”
That spark of an idea was kept aglow for years, with Wyttenhove and Terhune taking turns rekindling the excitement. After they graduated, Wyttenhove majoring in communications and Terhune in education, the two moved to northeast Minneapolis together and were delighted to find a neighborhood where craft breweries, coffee shops, and independent bookstores were thriving. Terhune started working as a second-grade teacher, and Wyttenhove got a job in human resources. Whenever one of them had a bad day at work, the other would cheer her up by playfully suggesting, “Maybe it’s time to start our business.”
This went on for about five years until one fine day in 2016, when Wyttenhove and Terhune started planning in earnest.
“We didn’t know where to begin. We just started researching everything, typing questions into Google,” says Wyttenhove.
“There’s no one right way to do this,” says Terhune. “If we tried something and it didn’t work, we’d just try something else.”
The two young entrepreneurs taught themselves what they needed to know to be successful. They attended workshops on how to start a small business, met for coffee with mentors, drafted a business plan, toured vacant retail spaces, explored loan options, and more. Their hard work began to solidify when they discovered a small building for rent on Mainstreet in Hopkins, Minn. They instantly knew it was the perfect space for their business, which by this time had a name—Cream & Amber, inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe poem. (The “cream” is a nod to coffee; the “amber” a nod to beer.)
Lease secured, the space was gutted and remodeled to include handcrafted wooden bookshelves that line the walls, a bar with 10 barstools that belly up to a row of six taps featuring local craft beers, comfy chairs that bask in sunlight streaming in from big windows, a community room for book club meetings, and a small kitchen where Wyttenhove and Terhune prepare baked goods to pair with morning coffee and sandwiches or salads to pair with an after-work pint of beer.
Cream & Amber officially opened in February 2019, and locals rave that the store is just what the neighborhood needed.
“We want to foster community,” Wyttenhove says. “Beer is something people can connect over. Same thing with books. These things together just spark conversation. They bring feelings of togetherness, and that’s really what we’re all about.”
The two work at Cream & Amber full-time now, and take great joy in planning author readings, stocking books for their collection (which includes new and used titles), and choosing which kegs they’ll tap next. Looking back on the college experience that brought them together and led to the idea for their business, they feel a sense of accomplishment.
“We became lifelong friends at Luther,” Wyttenhove says, with a smile at Terhune, “and envisioning this idea together and seeing it come to fruition has been amazing.”