Inspire Cafe, Dubuque

Inspire Cafe, Dubuque

Sara Post has always loved traveling and has found herself at coffee plantations in exotic locations like Costa Rica and Hawaii. These experiences instilled a passion in her for telling the story of the farmers and people working on these plantations to create the coffee flavor so many crave every morning. After attending the American Barista and Coffee School in Portland, Oregon, Sara returned home to Dubuque, Iowa to open up her own shop – Inspire Café.

“I’m very passionate about coffee and where it’s coming from,” says Sara. “I strive to make sure I’m delivering it as passionately as the farmers pick it.”

Specialty coffee, tea, wine and craft beer are served at the café. Light food options are available for breakfast and lunch, as well as a full spread of pastries. The café is also unique in that it hosts a traditional English afternoon tea multiple times a week.

The owners are eager to make their café a “third place” in the lives of their customers. Typically, people have their home as their first place, their work as their second, and they choose a place to connect with others as their third, which is what Inspire Café hopes to be. Bridal and baby showers are regularly held in the space, musicians entertain customers on weekends, and in the future the café will bring in inspirational speakers.

“I was always drawn to the coffee community just for the simple connection aspect and the feel of the environment of cafes and coffee shops,” Sara says.

The urban, big city environment of the café and their location in the newly redeveloped downtown area of Dubuque has proven to be very attractive to customers. Sara’s sales projections were quickly surpassed leaving her needing to hire twice as many employees when sales were double that of what had been projected. She now manages 18 part-time employees, and recently hosted the most attended ribbon cutting in two years, according to the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, of which the café is a member.

“I have gotten great feedback and compliments on everything we are providing,” says Sara. “People have said that Dubuque has been needing a business of this caliber and that they have been waiting for this.”

Sara contacted Jay Wickham, director of the Northeast Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC), when she started encountering different business aspects that she was unsure of. Jay was able to introduce her to LivePlan to help her create her business plan online, to advise her on how to negotiate her lease, and to give her “sound advice” in terms of her partnership with another local coffee admirer, she says.

“Jay met with me on a consistent basis and made himself readily available whether it was through an email, phone call or a visit, which he did often,” Sara says. “He led me down the path strategically, setting me up to succeed.”

“It’s reassuring to know that Jay is there for me to answer any questions,” says Sara.

After these first few months of business, Sara hopes to have a better idea of her financial capabilities. She will work with Jay to decide in what areas she can reduce her expenses and will continue to reach out to him when in need of advice.

For more information about the events and offerings by this Dubuque, Iowa business, visit the Inspire Café website at

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