When the vagaries of growing older limit your tolerance for vices, you tend to be protective of those still in your repertoire. That’s one of the reasons I wax ecstatic over the coffee at Coffee Bené in the library: a rich, bold, flavorful dark-roast brew.

But it’s more than the coffee. It’s the guy pouring the java: Traves Lundberg, the 28-year-old who grew up on St. Paul’s East Side. To me, he is the smiling face of the franchise, just the right mix of banter and business.

Dave Nimmer

Dave Nimmer

It took me three weeks to learn his first name and a year to know his surname. It took him three days to know how I wanted my coffee: dark roast with a touch of skim milk.

“I’m a face person,” he says. “I remember your face and that tells me something about you. I can remember faces from kindergarten.” From all indications, Lundberg’s got plenty of faces to remember; the library branch of Coffee Bené is doing very well, thank you.

Lundberg has been working for the coffee house for two years and has spent 10 years in the food and service business – Sbarro’s, Chipotle and Dairy Queen – since graduating from Johnson High School. He’s washed dishes, waited tables and cooked meals.

Brewing coffee, at least at St. Thomas, suits him. “I like the people I serve here,” he says. “I’m a social butterfly, the kid who got in trouble in school for talking. There’s always something going on in this place.

“The St. Thomas library has a pulse. I can feel it every day.”

Lundberg also feels the need to think about going to college. His girlfriend is urging him to begin now. He says he has to work full time so he feels a community college might be the best place to start.

Then, he’d like to finish at a place like, well, St. Thomas. “I played football in high school and I had a dream about going to Notre Dame,” he says. “Turned out that wasn’t realistic but, you know, St. Thomas might be.”

Traves Lundberg

“I like the people I serve here,” Lundberg says. “I’m a social butterfly, the kid who got in trouble in school for talking. There’s always something going on in this place.” (Photo by Mike Ekern ’02)

Lundberg’s interests point him toward music or journalism. “I like telling stories,” he says. “And I don’t have any trouble talking to strangers. And music, to me, is how emotion sounds. When I play rhythm and blues (on a bass guitar), I feel like I’m plugged into life.”

That’s the way Lundberg makes his customers feel. Kellie Longworthy, the assistant manager at Coffee Bené, says Lundberg is a big reason for the success of the library coffee satellite. “He just knows how to treat customers,” she says, “and gives phenomenal service.”

Lundberg’s contribution is more than service, though, to library director Dan Gjelten. He wants the library to be a center for the campus community – a living, learning and listening post.

“Traves has created a particular kind of atmosphere around the coffee shop which is warm, welcoming, personal,” Gjelten says. “He makes me feel important, he makes me feel known, he makes me feel appreciated.”

Lundberg makes me feel understood, in my passion for fishing. He loves it. He talks it. And he understands it’s an essential part of life – why no one ever wastes time sitting in a boat with a pole in hand.

“Fishing,” he says, “is never finished, never done. It’s the pursuit of something we can’t have. There’s always the next hole, the next hot spot. There’s something real spiritual about all of it.”

Now I tell you, how can you not take to a guy like that? He’s my five-day-a-week Christmas present.

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9 Responses

  1. Rosa Smith

    Traves is amazing! My world gets thrown off kilter when he’s not on campus! His smile. personality and laugh is unmistakeable! UST should and ought to extend a scholarship opportunity to him as he consistently exemplifies what it is and means to be a part of the UST community!

  2. Suliman

    Traves is one of the best people I have met in my live. He is always welcoming customers with “REAL” smile. I believe that Coffee Bene is so lucky to have someone like him.

  3. Carol Bruess

    Traves rocks. That’s all there is to it. If you’ve been to Bene in OSF library, you know exactly what I (and Nim, and all the commenters above) mean. And if you haven’t yet been to OSF library Coffee Bene, what in the world are you waiting for? Excellent coffee with OUTSTANDING service and endless positivity. Ahhh … our world needs so much more of all of the above. I know, right?

  4. Matt Obermeyer

    I was so glad to see this article. I have been a daily attendee of Coffee Bene for about a year and a half and am amazed everyday at Traves ability to have a positive attitude everyday. I am a firm believer that its the small things that count and just having Traves recognize me as a regular and chat with me everyday, as im sure he does with many others contributes so much to the world. Thank you for writing this and honoring someone on campus that provides such an excellent example for us all.

  5. Megan Smith

    Great article on Traves! He has made me countless lattes, and I am grateful for his pleasant manner and big smile. He is definitely the face of Coffee Bene in the OSF Library!

  6. Cindy Sundberg

    Traves made me feel so welcome at Bene! When he first took my UST card for payment, he noted my last name is similar to his own, so, unlike Nim, I learned Traves’ surname before I learned his first name!

    Mr. Lundberg: You make GREAT Lattes! My husband, Mr. Sundberg, is a little jealous of this guy with a similar last name who makes me such great beverages every day. He hears about the coffee at home!

    But I gotta say: If you ever choose to pursue education over barista, I will be there cheerig you onward. Regardless, thank you for giving yourself to us here at UST! You make everyday a lot more sunny!

  7. Shanna Simon

    I am Traves’ girlfriend, and this article brought tears to my eyes with how on point and well written it is. I am fortunate enough to see that smile 7 days a week, and let me agree with what seems to be the masses that it can light up and room; no matter how dark it may be upon entering. Thank you SO much for bringing to the attention of others how wonderful a person Traves Lundberg is!

  8. Dan Gjelten

    Well done, Nim. We love having Trav in the library – it’s not an exaggeration to say that he has changed the environment here with his cheerful and welcoming presence!


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