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Get cookie dough balls at this new Marion Cafe

Trading Grounds signature drinks (left to right) caramel macchiato, the Golden Ticket, and blueberry lavender tea and lemonade, Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at Trading Grounds Coffee in Marion, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

Owner Shawn Keating speaks to The Gazette Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at the Trading Grounds Coffee in Marion, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

Barista Ashlyn Chamberlain prepares an espresso on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at Trading Grounds Coffee in Marion, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

MARION — For new cafe owner Shawn Keating, his love of coffee started with gas station cappuccinos growing up.

“I remember Saturday mornings going to QuikTrip en route to family events. To be able to push a button and customize these things the way I liked it,” Keating, owner of the new Trading Grounds Coffee, told Marion. “It was just something to look forward to, and it was part of the ritual.”

With his first business, which opened on April 25, he aims to recreate a space where such rituals can flourish – moms socializing with free time in the summer, kids coming in to treat themselves to celebrate a accomplishment, high school students an after school smoothie.

For Keating, coffee is more than a cup of flavored caffeine.

If you are going to

What: Trade Grounds Cafe

Where: 917 Barrington Pkwy., Suite B, Marion

Hours: Summer hours are 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Website: tradinggroundscoffeecompany.com

Details: Coffee, tea, cookie dough and baked goods are available inside Trading Grounds or at its drive-thru.

“These are things that are super exciting to see,” he said. “Just being able to do that for people…it’s something that I thought I could do that might resonate with people.”

After graduating from primary education and 10 years working in various roles at Hills Bank, Keating has returned to his roots – running a small business like the one he grew up with – in a new venture that incorporates education and his passion for people.

Keating, 34, brings eight years of experience from the former Coffeesmiths stores in Cedar Rapids, where he honed his coffee skills to match his passion. With Trading Grounds, he revives the influences of Coffeesmiths.

A standout you won’t find at other Corridor cafes, for example, is a chilled, ready-to-eat cup of chocolate chip cookie dough.

With the new local cafe, Keating wants to give people a local perspective on coffee that’s affordable without sacrificing conveniences like drive-thru. Inside the shop are aesthetic elements that he hopes will foster a slower environment in a busy world.

If customers notice anything wrong with their usual drink or want to try something different, Trading Grounds wants to hear about it.

“I want customers to have conversations,” Keating said. “I want to make sure you do things in an environment… where people don’t feel like they’re being rushed.”

With RunWell Coffee, a product of the Iowa Running Company in NewBo, roasted by Thinkwell in Waverly, Trading Grounds treats coffee as an art similar to wine. Instead of looking at light, medium, or dark roasts, coffee looks at notes and flavor profiles based on region and roasting temperature.

“It elevates the thinking process about coffee — it’s similar to thinking about wine,” Keating said. “People who really love this art…know there are nuances.”

In addition to the standard coffee and espresso selections, customers can order unique drinks, including some with eyebrow-raising flavor profiles.

Le Fondateur, a creation of the owner, combines white mocha, raspberry and peppermint. The Golden Ticket, a more popular option, combines white mocha, caramel and toffeenut.

In some cafes, pressure variables with espresso tamping can cause variations in beverage tastes throughout the day. At Trading Grounds, Keating pointed out the automatic ground compaction in the espresso machine. This ensures that the flavor will be consistent no matter what flavor profile you sample.

Instead of syrup flavors, the coffee opts for a powdered approach, which allows the drinks to blend more seamlessly. This means that the first sips won’t be too bitter and the last sips won’t be overly sweet with syrup that has leaked to the bottom of the cup.

In addition to the coffees, the boutique offers a wide selection of teas, including refreshing and not too sweet options like iced lavender blueberries this summer.

If you fancy a bit more baked pastries, a good selection of flavors of scones are baked on site daily, as well as cinnamon twists and turnovers on some days. Trading Grounds scones have a moister, cookie-like texture.

On Barrington Parkway, the new location may seem remote from Marion’s main business districts. But strategically, it was selected at the center of several schools and in a rapidly growing underserved area with the YMCA and the future UnityPoint Clinic in Tower Terrace.

Comments: (319) 398-8340; elijah.decious@thegazette.com

Barista Ashlyn Chamberlain prepares an order for a customer on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at Trading Grounds Coffee in Marion, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

A selection of fresh baked goods on display Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at Trading Grounds Coffee in Marion, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

The afternoon sun illuminates the interior of Trading Grounds Coffee on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at Trading Grounds Coffee in Marion, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

An assortment of tea available at Trading Grounds Coffee on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at Trading Grounds Coffee in Marion, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)


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