‘Creating connections’

Stella’s Coffee Bar takes specialty drinks on the road

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Stella's Coffee Bar owner Abby Stromberg brews one of her handcrafted coffee drinks in the vintage 1968 camper on Thursday morning.

Abby Stromberg has always been passionate about coffee and she’s passionate about her hometown of Fort Dodge.

The 2012 St. Edmond Catholic School grad recalls being a child and seeing her mother, aunts and grandmother gathered around a table with a cup of coffee in hand and talking for hours. Those memories, and a desire for a creative outlet and connection with people, is what led Stromberg to start a mobile coffee bar business.

Stella’s Coffee Bar actually got its start as the Crafty Cocktail Camper in early 2020.

“We originally started as a bartending service,” Stromberg said. “And we had focused primarily on weddings and special events and we loved every minute of it.”

And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and those weddings and special events started to get canceled. Stromberg ended up pivoting from cocktails to caffeine and turned her vintage 1968 cocktail camper into a coffee bar.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Makayla Johnson, of Fort Dodge, picks up an order from Stella's Coffee Bar at the business's popup at Active Health Clinics on Thursday.

The name for the business came from Stromberg’s mother-in-law, who passed away unexpectedly a few years ago.

“She always joked about how she wanted at least one girl (she had only boys),” Stromberg said. “She always talked about how she would have named her Stella.”

Stella’s Coffee Bar doesn’t just sell coffee — customers can order chai and matcha tea lattes and even fresh-squeezed lemonade.

As for the coffee, Stella’s does offer standard iced coffee, latte and cappuccino drinks, but it’s Stromberg’s unique and creative specialty drinks that get most people’s attention. Some of her signature drinks include the lavender and brown sugar latte, the honey bee latte and the blueberry muffin iced coffee. Each week, Stromberg also dreams up a drink of the week. Some recent special flavors include strawberry cheesecake latte, birthday cake iced coffee, campfire latte, strawberry PopTart iced coffee and vanilla rosemary shaken espresso.

Stromberg said she gets inspiration for the specialty drinks from all over the place, and also from talking to her customers.

“The community has been awesome with taking leaps of faith and trying different things with us and they just do so great at it,” Stromberg said. “It’s all about having the community test your products.”

The coffee beans for Stella’s drinks come from a local Iowa roasterie, Stromberg said. Using local ingredients and local products is important to her business vision.

“We are the people who donate to different fundraisers, we are the people who give back to the schools,” she said. “Keep it local because when you keep it local, you are keeping it in the community and giving back to the community.”

Stella’s Coffee Bar pops up at a different Fort Dodge business nearly every day. The camper’s weekly schedule is posted on the Stella’s Coffee Bar Facebook page. Stromberg said different local businesses reach out to her about setting up in their parking lots. Stella’s has been so popular, Stromberg said she’s booked out for the rest of the year.

“We love showing up at other businesses because we believe in small businesses so much,” Stromberg said. “As a small business, I’m always rooting for everyone else too, and there’s plenty for everyone and we can all work together. It’s definitely community over competition.”

Stromberg was born and raised in Fort Dodge and calls it a “wonderful community.”

“I love it here and I think this community has so much and it’s grown so much and still has so much to grow,” she said. “If we just keep feeding back into it, it’s going to blossom.”

Stromberg is in awe of the support she’s received since opening her business, including with many regular customers who come by almost daily.

“If you give them a good quality product and a great experience, they’ll totally show up for you,” she said. “It’s all about creating that connection.”

Stromberg emphasizes that she’s not a one-woman show — assistants Taryn Freser and Gabby Schumacher, as well as a few close friends — help keep everything running.

“It’s really a team effort,” she said. “I couldn’t do it without them. I couldn’t do it by myself, absolutely not.”

Stella’s Coffee Bar is still available for private event bookings, Stromberg said. She also has a smaller coffee cart that can be used for indoor events.


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