New Firefly Coffeehouse owners add cheese to the menu

Cheese expert pair buy beloved Oregon coffee shop

Firefly Coffeehouse is about to get a bit cheesy–via artisan cheese, that is.

The beloved shop in downtown Oregon is under new ownership–Jeanne Carpenter, an American Society Certified Cheese Professional in Wisconsin, founder of Wisconsin Cheese Originals and writer/co-producer of the Cheese Underground blog and podcast, recently bought the coffee shop with her husband, Uriah Carpenter, the other co-producer of Cheese Underground. Now Jeanne and Uriah welcome those who love not only specialty cheese, but good coffee and locally crafted food to the newly renamed Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese shop–their “living room” as they prefer to call this gathering space where they look forward to knowing your name and your order. We sat down with Jeanne to ask a few questions about the changes coming to Firefly.

You and your husband, Uriah, just purchased a coffee shop. How does that feel?
Exciting and overwhelming. We are so fortunate to have tremendous support from the community. However, we’ve discovered in a very short time that we now have much less time to sit down and drink coffee than we did before we bought a coffee shop. It’s a little ironic.

Will you continue to serve Kickapoo Coffee?
Yes! We will continue to carry both Kickapoo and Anodyne. I am a big fan of both companies, as they are small roasters dedicated to their craft.

Who will be baking for the shop?
Two on-staff bakers arrive every morning at 3 a.m. to bake scones, muffins, coffee cakes and cookies from scratch every day, even on the weekends. One thing I’ve learned is that all of our bakery items are original recipes created by our veteran barista, Natalie Wright. She built up the bakery case years ago, and has now passed on the baton to focus on pulling perfect shots of espresso, every time, for every customer–almost all of whom she knows by name.

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Will there be changes made to the existing menu?
We’ll pump up the menu by February, building on our current line of expertly created breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Customers can expect to see more local ingredients, higher quality cheeses and meats and a little more creativity. We’ll be partnering with Madison Sourdough to build some amazing sandwiches.

I understand you are planning to have a modest, yet carefully and expertly curated cheese case. Is there a cheese or two or three that you’re excited to offer?
I am really excited to highlight the super small-batch goat and sheep cheeses that are finally coming of age in Wisconsin, but which are not well-represented in the grocery store case because these cheeses are: a) typically more expensive, b) look a little funky and c) many customers aren’t sure how to use them. We’ll have hands-on classes, tastings and events with cheese makers. We hope to be the ultimate representation of small-batch Wisconsin artisan cheese.

Will cheese and coffee pairings be offered?
Well, I have to learn more about the science of coffee first. That’s one of the reasons owning a coffee shop was so appealing. It gives me an opportunity to geek-out on a whole new food category: espresso. In the meantime, we’ll be adding a drink to the menu called the Finlandia. It will be a hot cup of coffee served with a warm piece of bread cheese, crafted by Carr Valley Cheese.

Tell me a little about the coffeehouse itself. What makes it a special space?
You know, when we purchased the Firefly from former owner Erika Weidler, she told us her mission was to create a coffeehouse that other coffeehouses strived to be. And she accomplished that. The Firefly is an extension of our living room. There are couches and lounge chairs, a fish tank, bookshelves, fireplace, kids’ toys and dozens of tables for meetings and studying. The art on the walls changes every month and is created by local artists. Our baristas are trained to focus on two things: creating the perfect drink, every time, for every customer, and learning our customers’ names and knowing their drinks. For years, the baristas at the Firefly started making my drink as I walked in the door, because I came in every day and ordered the same latte. The goal is to do that with every single customer. It takes years, but I’ve got time.