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21-year-old Bemidji barista becomes her own boss

A young woman holds a full tray of coffee drinks inside her coffee shop
Madi Stone
Madi Stone is a 21-year-old entrepreneur who recently purchased a former Dunn Bros. coffee shop and transformed it into The Coffee District.

Madi Stone, 21, owns the Coffee District in Bemidji. She's self-taught, self-made and said she's committed to her company and community.

BEMIDJI — Madi Stone went from barista to boss when she bought Dunn Brothers Coffee in Bemidji last summer.

Stone, 21, removed the franchise, revamped the vibe, and crafted a local coffee joint steeped in love of community and — of course — coffee.

"That's the beauty of Bemidji … how many small businesses we have and how our community supports that," Stone said. "And when I've traveled, it makes me sad to see how many Starbucks and Caribous are just like, everywhere. Every coffee shop is the same no matter where you go. ...

"It takes the uniqueness out of traveling and out of experiencing different cultures and communities."

Stone is a self-taught entrepreneur and said she is dedicated to authentic local flavor, from roasting Coffee District beans on site to sourcing local foods as much as possible.

"I'm not a franchise girl. … We can support our employees better," Stone said. " … You're making your own rules. You can make your own policies. You can support people in the way they need to be supported without having to worry about a bigger corporation looking over your shoulder.

" … What makes a good employee is making sure you're giving them the right tools and the right environment to succeed."

Hear her story in Area Voices!

Funding for Area Voices is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

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Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. She returned for a second stint in 2016-23. She produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota.