Rosie’s Coffee Bar and Bakery

The donut shelf at Rosie's, please do not drool on the glass...
by Robin Gray
February 2018

I had never heard of Rosie’s Coffee Bar and Bakery till recently. When I asked a friend and coworkers if they had been there I heard some rave reviews about the donuts. When I went on a recent Saturday in the late afternoon, not a donut was left in the bakery case. I will have to assume that the donuts are so good and well liked that there will not be any available at the end of any given day.

The menu consisted of some breakfast selections (oatmeal, quiche, breakfast sandwich, biscuits and gravy and a breakfast burrito). They also offer paninis, salads, and sandwiches that all come with a choice of sides. I sampled the burrito (large enough for a few meals), the sandwich of the day (a tuna melt), and the chicken pesto sandwich. All of our food was fresh, plentiful, and well prepared. There were small touches that let me know that there was some thoughtfulness and care that went into the food. These were things such as sandwiches held together with toothpicks adorned with olives, a sweet gherkin on the side, and microgreens on the sandwich. The bakery case offered a number of delicious looking selections. There were expresso brownies, cupcakes (red velvet, maple almond, German chocolate), cookies, bars and mini pies (cherry, s’mores). I sampled some of the bakery selections and it is clear that this is where they really shine. The German chocolate cupcake was moist and airy with a smooth buttercream icing and rich coconut filling. A sweet treat but not so sweet that it was hard to eat. All the cookies were pretty and tasty. 

Rosie’s is an unassuming building on Monona Dr. The inside is also unassuming. There are a handful of booths, a handful of tables, a small sitting area with a fireplace looking heater and couches, a bakery case, and a coffee bar. But what really created the atmosphere were the people that I watched come in to pick up custom baked and decorated cakes and seeing them leaving happily with their cakes throughout my visit. The two ladies in the booth adjacent to us engaged in a game of scrabble and the coffee bar also created warmth. I stopped at the coffee bar on the way out for a coffee to go. I chose Ethiopian beans and a siphon process. We watched with childlike enthusiasm as the water slowly warmed in one glass ball and then due to vapor pressure rose to the upper glass chamber to mix with the grounds and then after a drop in pressure the coffee infused water dropped back down into the glass ball from where it started. It was an exciting cup of coffee. It was intense and full and slightly bitter. I learned that this form of coffee preparation is from the 1800s.

But I got to the real heart of Rosie’s by spending some time talking with the owner Coz Skaife. She exuded passion and confidence about her work and her mission, “to leave the world a little sweeter than we found it.” She talked about building her team of employees and how important it is to have happy and well cared for employees. She apologized for being frazzled when we spoke as it has been quite a busy day. One of the busiest in their history. She talked of only using the best ingredients in her baking. No bleach in the flour, real butter, and love. She clearly loves the work that she does. She named the place after her mother, Rose Marie. The website tells the story of her mother expressing regret at the end of her life when she was ill that she did not give back enough to others in need when she was able and that she was very affected by those that cared for her when she was ill. Coz used that inspiration to open Rosie’s in her memory and is choosing to help her mother “give back from the grave.” She employs people with special needs, donates to organizations who are working to help others, and is clearly trying to leave the world a little sweeter than she found it.

There are also a number of other ways that she is spreading her sweetness. On the day that I visited, they had done around 16 Uber deliveries (download the Uber Eats app). In addition, they provide fruit bouquets for pickup and delivery and provide these for 1-800Flowers and Amazon. Additionally, she sticks to her roots and does special order cakes (including wedding) which she has done for decades. And if that were all not enough, she also provides all the desserts for Hi Point Steakhouse in Ridgeway. Phew, no wonder she talks so fast!

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