By Megan Jarrett, Special to the Cap Times Oct 25, 2020
Coffee, craft beer and bikes add up at n+1 in Verona
The outdoor patio at n + 1 coffee and beer features heaters and music, located inside Rocket Bicycle Studio in Verona.
As the owners of n+1 coffee and beer in Verona look forward to late fall and winter, they’ve planned more of what has made them successful so far: Leveraging open spaces and finding ways to let customers enjoy the outdoors.
At n+1, diners can use the outdoor seating or bring their own chairs. The cafe recently installed fire pits and is in the process of adding more outside lighting to help brighten up the space as days get shorter. There are even blankets available for when it gets chilly.
Owners Jessica Laufenberg and Peter Oyen don't believe that cold weather should keep people from enjoying the outdoors. They cited an old adage: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.”
Located at 507 Bruce St., n+1’s multi-purpose space is home to the coffee and beer bar as well as a bike store/repair shop and a personal fitness studio. Laufenberg sees the businesses as interrelated.
In 2010, business and life partners Laufenberg and Oyen launched a bike shop, Rocket Bicycle Studio, and Oyen quit his day job to pursue it. Laufenberg continued providing nutritional consultations and bike fittings at the shop, using her entrepreneurial experience to provide business oversight while Oyen managed the shop and worked as a bike mechanic.
The bikes led to beer and baristas. They’d always have a pot of coffee on for bikers who came in for a repair or stopped by the shop while out on a long ride. The pair saw an opportunity to turn a fun hobby into a business, and in January 2019, they opened n+1.
The name reflects the owners' personal philosophies and makes a little math joke: “While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned.
“You always need one more.”
Peter Oyen and Jessica Laufenberg are co-owners of Rocket Bicycle Studio and n + 1 coffee and beer in Verona.
As they were getting started in the new business, Laufenberg and Oyen reached out to the Madison coffee roasters at Rusty Dog Coffee. They worked closely with the Rusty Dog team to buy the right equipment and “prepare the coffee the way they wanted it to be experienced.”
“They were great. Learn from the people already doing it,” Laufenberg said.
The coffee menu is simple, she said, to “try to retain the purity of the coffee by enhancing natural flavors.” The café offers “enhancements” like vanilla or lavender instead of syrups or artificial sweeteners. Among seasonal “coffee cocktails” are a burnt sugar orange spice latte, a latte with mint lavender tea and a Turkish cardamom spice latte (all $5).
Peter Oyen measures loose tea as he makes hot chai for a customer.
The n+1 counter is loaded up each weekend with fresh baked goods from Rosie’s Coffee Bar and Bakery in Monona and Batch Bakehouse in Madison. Patrons can pick up an orange cranberry scone (Batch) or pumpkin farm cake muffin (Rosie’s) to take home or grab a seat outside to enjoy their goodies.
Running a small business during the pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Laufenberg credits their ability to keep the doors open in large part to their facility and their creativity.
“We’ve figured out ways to take advantage of the space we have,” she said. That includes a large yard and garage doors that open to create a large, airy space.
They also quickly applied for all of the grants that were made available to small businesses. Laufenberg and Oyen have been diligent about setting up plans to account for the worst if they did have to close their doors for an extended period of time.
For now, n+1’s hours are shortened for a few weekends as it finalizes a fall schedule.