From agricultural career to coffee shop owner

Miller’s path goes from farm to food in Iowa

Posted

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Becca Miller’s background would not lead one to assume she would one day be a coffee shop owner.

“It’s kind of crazy how this all started,” said Miller of her start in the restaurant business.

Miller graduated from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids with a degree in agriculture. She grew up on a beef farm and milked cows during high school. She even served as Delaware County’s dairy princess alternate.

And, when the opportunity to buy Brew and Brew in Dyersville came up, she was completing a year as an A.I. technician for Select Sires in southeast Minnesota.

“I really liked that job,” Miller said. “If this hadn’t popped up, I would probably still be there.”

But, this was the opportunity to realize her vague dream of “owning a bakery or something” with a phone call from her mother, who told her the owner of Brew and Brew was selling.

Now, after seven years of owning the business where milk, cheese, cream and yogurt are front and center, Miller likens her journey to traveling the farm-to-food pathway.

“I always kind of joke that I’ve been through all stages,” she said. “I milked cows, bred cows and now I use the final product.”

Miller’s menu requires well over 40 gallons of milk a week for use in coffee drinks and other items. While she has not recently tallied her cheese use, it is in or on every food item except grain bowls and amounted to more than 1,500 pounds in 2021. That was the year she received the Dubuque County Dairy Promotion’s Golden Butterknife Award. Delaware County’s promotion group has also recognized Miller and her restaurant.

“I’m a firm believer that cheese makes everything better,” Miller said.

Brew and Brew also used more than 650 pounds of butter that year, mostly in its baked goods. They also serve yogurt parfaits, and their signature coffee drinks use plenty of cream and half and half.

Beyond the obvious nod to dairy in her menu items, Miller sees other connections with her roots.

“I’m passionate about the business, and I know dairy farmers are passionate about what they do,” she said.

One of her three full-time employees raised her family on a dairy farm. In addition, when she hires younger staff, Miller notices something different about those who come from a farm or who are involved in 4-H and FFA.

“It’s the work ethic,” she said.

Brew and Brew uses and promotes local food and recognizes June Dairy Month, May Beef Month and October Pork Month. Miller said she believes the local agricultural community appreciates that. Even the young people notice, and that means a lot to Miller.

“One year at the county fair, I bought a pig from a 4-H’er, and I knew the parent of (a young customer),” Miller said. “The customer said, ‘Maybe we should go to Brew and Brew because they supported 4-H at the fair.’ That just kind of did it for me.”

In 2022, Miller accomplished a longtime goal by hosting a farm-to-table dinner at one of Dyersville’s historic attractions, the Allen House. The home, built in 1856, was one of Dyersville’s first houses and is a rental facility for events and overnights.

For the event, Brew and Brew prepared a six-course dinner for 50 people to bring awareness to local food. Much of the food came from the Dubuque farmers market.

Expanding on the idea the following year, Miller held another farm-to-table event on Joe and Cara Recker’s farm near New Vienna and prepared a menu using beef, lamb and pork from the farm. FFA members assisted with the event and received a share of the proceeds.

While her first seven years in business have included challenges, including the shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Miller said she is fortunate to operate Brew and Brew in a welcoming business community.

“Dyersville is a good supportive town and customers are so supportive of local businesses,” she said. “I still find it amazing.”

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here