Creating a Cozy Community, One Sip at a Time

In 2015, two families joined forces to launch Twenty Below Coffee on Roberts Street in Downtown Fargo. After five successful years in their first location, they decided to launch their second location in Moorhead, Minnesota.

A Hygge Approach To Commercial Design

In 2015, two families joined forces to launch Twenty Below Coffee on Roberts Street in Downtown Fargo. Co-Founders, Ty and Elisha Ford and Michael and Danae Moran, launched their locally sourced coffee shop and wholesale coffee brand that has not only warmed the souls but also caffeinated the downtown Fargo community. Twenty Below pride themselves in direct trade relationships, local when possible, to maximize dollars back to the source across the supply chain, whether this is coffee from Ethiopia or whole wheat flour from Noreen Thomas in Moorhead, Minnesota.

After five successful years in their first location, they decided to launch their second location in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Inspired by the Scandinavian book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, the Ford’s and Moran’s knew what kind of atmosphere they wanted for their second location. As Meik Wiking writes, Hygge, (pronounced HOO-GA), has many definitions that may vary from person to person. It’s more about a feeling than a fixture.

“Hygee is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down. You may be having an endless conversation about the small or big things in life–or just be comfortable in each other’s silent company–or simply just be yourself enjoying a cup of tea.”

With a name like Twenty Below, offering a nod to the frigid winter weather, the team’s favorite definition of the Hygge design is ‘cozy togetherness’. Although they had a vision for the design of the second location, they wanted to be sure all the elements worked together and invited Mosaic Design into their process. With the Hygge thoughts in mind, we went to work. We knew the flooring would be cement and the walls white in the 56560 location, which could feel sterile and cold. Starting from the ceiling down, we opted into handmade bamboo lattice pendant lamps, creating warmth, texture and symmetry.

Ty and Michael locally sourced the reclaimed live wood slab for the bar and wrapped the entire bar in varying directions, creating organic movement. Additionally, they added a massive live edge slab that spans the entire length of the bar. Pairing contemporary and industrial appeal, we chose backless steel and leather stools for those customers wanting to work, chat or hang out at the bar.

To the back of the bar, they installed a frost-colored ceramic tile, which is characterized by its smooth finish and beautiful variations, reflecting all the colors of snow. Opposite the bar, the guys hand-stained butcher block and built the tables themselves, just below a handmade wood installation from Mike Moran, that pays homage to the community and roots Twenty Below has dug. Above their wood installation, is a live edge floating shelf that houses various plants, including plants from another local maker, The Plant Supply.

They installed floating butcher block bars, maximizing their space and ability for more friends and family of Twenty Below to come together. We paired these clean lines and soft hues with another set of bar stools, this time with cozy bucket seats and clean lines.

Each larger table was handmade by Ty and Mike and feels more like community dining than it does a place of work. There’s a nostalgic feel of familial dining together, much like life used to be.

At the center of the dining area is a rich, leather Chesterfield that lays on a vintage Persian rug, facing a warm fireplace. The clean lines from the stacked wood span from almost the floor to the ceiling. To the left of the living room, are Mid-Century Modern Tweed chairs that share a large stump, as the side table.

One special area the Moran’s and Ford’s wanted was for children to come and play. So many coffee shops and venues are designed for business meetings and small talk. Although Twenty Below has ample room for such meetings, they wanted more. While building families themselves, they wanted children to feel as welcome as the banker next door. That’s why they set a portion of the footprint aside for children to come and pretend to be the barista behind the bar, imagine they’re sailing up in Duluth, or create a world beyond the walls of Moorhead’s coziest shop.

Although, the interior design of Twenty Below focused on the textures, lines and overall feeling a customer would have coming in–the staff at Twenty Below believes in more than just great customer service and cute pendant lights.

“We want to serve excellent coffee and food, while creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for people to meet friends, work together, and belong to a community. We’ve seen folks walk in our doors, become regulars and really find a sense of place and friendship here,” Michael says, reflecting on what creates the community and family within the four walls of the building. “We believe all people are of infinite value and worth. We strive for integrity as we work with our coffee growers and suppliers, baristas and bakers, business supporters, customers, and each other as co-owners.”

When asked about the future of Twenty Below, the founders are excited about their wholesale ventures and aim to help other coffee shops, restaurants, and offices to bring good coffee to their clients and staff. They’ve been fortunate to build relationships in the Midwest, helping others open their shops or improve their existing coffee setups with better beans, equipment, training, and ongoing consultation.

When it comes to creating family, investing in community and designing atmospheres where friends, family and strangers can gather, 20 Below has done a remarkable job creating cozy togetherness.

Story + Interior Design:
Ty Ford, Michael Moran and Melanie
Iverson, Mosaic Design + Build
Tornell Construction
Reclaimed Wood Contributions:
Ty Ford and Michael Moran


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