PPP Profile - Waukee’s The Coffeesmith Gets Caffeine Fix from PPP Funding

Iowa District Office  - September 16, 2020

u s small business administration

PPP Profile - Waukee's The Coffeesmith Gets Caffeine Fix from PPP Funding


There is something special about a locally owned coffee shop. It is more than the caffeine fix, the quaint ambience or the knowledgeable baristas. From our smallest towns to our largest cities, coffee shops are the symbol of the small business “be loyal, buy local” mantra. Coffee shops are simply the heart and soul of the community.

Nate and Shanna Kempers always dreamed of opening a coffee shop since they met 15 years ago. The native Iowans finally jumped at the opportunity in 2017, when they opened The Coffeesmith in Waukee. The business is named in honor of the word “smith,” representing a specialism within a profession. The entrepreneurial venture speaks for itself – the Kempers are after all, coffee specialists.

The Coffeesmith features handcrafted espresso drinks, frappes and smoothies, yet it is best known for its seasonal drinks like maple brown sugar, pumpkin pie, lavender spice pablo honey and pumpkin pie lattes. The high-quality artisan drinks are equally matched with the shop’s baked goods and breakfast sandwiches. Customers especially love the homemade cookies and Almond Patties.

Location, location, location is key to the business’ early success. Waukee is the site of Apple’s $1.3 billion investment in a planned 400,000-square-foot data center campus and $100 million Public Improvement Fund that are widely recognized as magnets for future business growth. It is one of Iowa’s fastest growing cities, with the population almost doubling from 13,790 to 26,164 in the past decade. 

Despite the recent economic boom, The Coffeesmith felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with businesses temporarily closing and customers staying home. An SBA-backed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan through Bankers Trust covered payroll, utilities and rent expenses during the slowdown while the business continued to operate with drive through and curbside takeout service. The business also benefited by the SBA making six months of payments on its existing SBA loan under the federal agency’s Cares Act Debt Relief Program.

The Kempers credit the PPP funding for helping The Coffeesmith survive the pandemic. As the saying goes, life happens, coffee helps.