Brewing Community and Curating Creativity

Meet Jon Schmidt and learn how his passions created a community oasis

Jon Schmidt is more than a local artist; he is the visionary owner of the Mocha Monkey coffeehouses, where caffeine meets community, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the creative spirit. After a transformative stint in India, Jon knew he wasn’t cut out for the corporate world.

Jon’s initial foray into the arts came serendipitously during his college years. While studying business management at Gustavus Adolphus College, he took a pottery class. An anomaly in the class as the lone non-art major, this fortuitous twist sparked a love affair with pottery. Throwing more pots than anyone else in the class, Jon found himself at a crossroads between his artistic passion and the practicalities of the business world.

However, Jon discovered how he could do both. 

In 2010, Jon was working part-time at Mocha Monkey when Pam, the previous owner, mentioned the prospect of selling the downtown location. Jon saw an opportunity, marking the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey.

Taking the reins on Jan. 1, 2011, Jon simultaneously managed the downtown location while completing his final semester at college. Mocha Monkey became not just a business but a learning platform where Jon could apply his coursework to real-world challenges. Over the years, the Mocha Monkey family grew, with dedicated employees like Sam, MJ, Rhonda, Cole, and Hannah becoming integral to its success.

The expansion bug bit Jon when HomeTown Bank approached him about opening another location. This marked a significant leap from one to two locations, propelling him from an operator to an owner. He could no longer rely on just himself to fill gaps, but instead needed to empower his team and find the resources to meet all the needs. A third location became possible when he was approached by a coffee shop, Americano, in St. Boni. These new locations not only expanded his impact and reach in the community, they laid the groundwork for Jon to contemplate his next venture – pottery.

Jon’s interest in pottery never stopped. He built a studio in the basement of the original Mocha Monkey, where he threw pots and mugs that they used and sold at the location. Just prior to COVID, Jon was ready to create a pottery identity beyond Mocha Monkey. Social platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok became conduits for his creative expression, rapidly amassing a substantial following. With over a million followers across platforms, pottery is much more than a hobby.

As the pottery business flourished, Jon faced the challenges of COVID-19 head-on. The pandemic served as a catalyst, propelling Jon’s pottery studio to new heights. From creating custom pieces for local businesses like Andersen Windows to expanding his studio at home, Jon’s craftsmanship found resonance beyond the coffeehouse walls. With the aid of a studio assistant, they complete over 4,000 custom pieces a year – made and shipped from the home studio.

The community’s embrace of Mocha Monkey echoes Jon’s mission statement – to create a space where people leave feeling better than when they arrived. This ethos is woven into the fabric of Mocha Monkey, with friendly interactions, an eclectic atmosphere, and quiet nooks for focused work or private conversations.

Looking ahead, Jon is working on two more Mocha Monkey locations in the next year, solidifying the brand’s footprint in Carver and Victoria while expanding the community experience he strives for in each location.

With three young boys and thriving businesses, Jon’s story is one of impact. Mocha Monkey is more than a coffeehouse. It’s a place made for gathering, with cozy nooks and crannies for focused work and custom pottery and decor for ambiance. It’s impact in action – one coffee cup and pottery piece at a time. 

Relax with a cup of coffee at The Mocha Monkey: https://themochamonkey.com/ and check out Jon’s incredible pottery work at: https://www.jonschmidtpottery.com/

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