It Runs in the Family
BY: HALEE MILLER, JL MC 302
Oct. 5th, 2021
The idea sparked over hot cappuccinos in Vienna’s Café Central in 1983. Sitting in the same café that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Sigmund Freud once sipped coffee of their own, a man was inspired to chase a dream that would one day turn into his family’s livelihood and legacy.
Steve and Anne Burgason were never coffee drinkers, but on that ordinary day in the world’s coffee capital, they saw the magic that a café can hold. Steve Burgason decided that one day he would own his own cafe, and with it, create a space for connection between people.
“We fell in love with the culture; we fell in love with the fact that it was a gathering place for people,” Steve Burgason said. “Some were writing letters, some were playing board games, some were in intimate conversations and some were by themselves just reading a book.”
In 1989, Steve Burgason knew it was time to make his café dream a reality. After three days of research in Seattle, the couple came to Ames, Iowa, to start their first business: a coffee kiosk named “Burgie’s” in the North Grand Mall.
After three years of not making enough money to support their family, Burgie’s added a new location in the Memorial Union at Iowa State University. Once again, after not much success, they sold both of their locations in 1998 and built the Southgate Expresse with an attached café space.
All three of Steve and Anne’s children worked at the café growing up, making it a true family business.
Five years down the road, Steve Burgason was ready to take the next step in his coffee endeavors. He took his 13-year-old son, Andrew Burgason, by train to Sandpoint, Idaho, to attend a three-day coffee-roasting seminar. While neither of them knew anything about roasting coffee beans, Steve Burgason did not let the fear of the unknown stop him from taking the next step in their family business.
“You don’t need to know anything about anything, as long as you are willing to learn from someone that is exceptional at what they do,” Steve Burgason said.
A few burnt batches of coffee beans later, the Burgason’s coffee-roasting company took off. Andrew Burgason, now a grown man, became the owner of the re-branded coffee-roasting company, Windmill Coffee. The company now sells roasted coffee beans to over 70 accounts in central Iowa and ships all over the country.
As the years went on, Burgie’s grew in popularity. The original location of Burgie’s in south Ames became owned and managed by Steve and Anne’s younger son, Jordan Burgason. The newest location in north Ames is owned by Andrew Burgason: the once 13-year-old coffee-roasting apprentice.
Andrew Burgason is now living out the aspiration that his father had in 1983.
“Our goal is to just be a place where community can happen,” Andrew Burgason said. “We want to create a space where people can build relationship,”
The newly constructed location of Burgie’s was designed by Casee Burgason Cruise, Steve and Anne’s daughter, who is now a professional interior designer that was able to offer her own touch on the family business as an adult.
“All of our kids are involved in our business, our grandkids will probably end up working here too,” Steve Burgason laughingly said.
The family has seemed to reach their goal of being a well-loved café as Burgie’s is popular among students and Ames community members alike. Iowa State student, Lauren Lutz, is a regular at both locations of the café.
“It’s definitely my favorite coffee place in Ames,” Lutz said. “I probably go once every week or two.”