End of One Chapter, Start of Another


As many of you know, after living in Oregon for 20 years, my husband and I recently purchased a coffee shop, bakery and restaurant in downtown Oregon and renamed it
Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese. After five months of steadily growing this new business with a new breakfast, lunch & dinner menu, daily specials, and an expanded bakery, drink and espresso menu, we are taking it to the next level and adding an artisan cheese case and retail space on May 2, featuring the best artisan cheeses and local foods from Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest.

In fact, my office at the Firefly is currently filled with boxes of Gail Ambrosius Chocolate, Quince and Apple Preserves, Treat Nuts, Potter’s Crackers, Bee Barf Honey and bags of Kickapoo and Anodyne Coffee, all waiting to be put onto shelves next week. Meanwhile, every square inch of cooler space not occupied with Sassy Cow milk is filled with cheese wheels that have been arriving all week and which I will furiously be cutting and wrapping next week. Did I mention we’re also adding a full array of different cheese boards with wine and craft beer pairings?

As a result of this flurry of new activity in my life, last week I announced to members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals that I would be sunsetting the member-based organization. After 10 years of running a non-official non-profit (thanks to a husband with a good heart and a good job), it’s simply time for me to focus on three newer passions:

1) Building a community around good food & good coffee.

2) Bringing artisan cheese and local foods to the heart of my hometown.

3) Continuing to help steer smart and steady growth as a three-term elected member of the Oregon Village Board, a member of the Oregon Planning Commission and the Oregon Library Board. In fact, in the spring of 2019, I plan to run for Village President.

Operating a 5,000 square-foot coffeehouse, restaurant, bakery and retail shop brings a an exciting opportunity to reach a wider audience and share the gospel of good food. After 15 years of marketing, retailing, buying and educating folks about artisan cheese, I am expanding that passion to supporting local farms by purchasing not only local cheese, but local eggs, milk, produce, meats, and educating customers on the importance of sustainable eating with descriptions of daily specials and new signage.

So fear not, if you would like to stay connected to the many events, classes and activities that I used to offer through Wisconsin Cheese Originals, I’ll still be offering many of those things through Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese.  Be sure and visit this website for a continually updated listing of classes taking place at the Firefly, and keep reading Cheese Underground, where I will continue to write about cheese and announce events, including a new season of Cheese Underground Radio debuting this summer.

Lastly, if you live anywhere near Oregon, Wisconsin, or have a road trip planned this summer, please stop in at the Firefly at 114 N. Main Street and say hello. So many of you have become my family over the years, and there is nothing better than having family share in your success. The Firefly is my next 20-year project, and I look forward to sharing that journey with you.

— Jeanne Carpenter, ACS CCP
Owner, Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese

My Next Big Adventure: Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese

fireflyFExciting news, cheese peeps. My cheese world is changing, and it’s about to get filled with a whole lot more caffeine. Beginning Friday, December 1, my husband, Uriah and I are the proud new owners of Firefly Coffeehouse in Oregon, Wisconsin, and will be renaming it to (you guessed it): Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese.

Next year marks 20 years that Uriah and I have lived in Oregon, and for much of the second half of that time, the Firefly has literally been our second home. We are regulars every morning for our game of pre-work cribbage while drinking our small lattes (the staff often sets up our drinks as we walk in the door). I teach at least two cheese classes there every month, Uriah runs a Euchre tournament on the second Thursday, and you can find me working on my laptop several times a week in my favorite lounge chair next to the fish tank.

For years, most every cheese distributor, cheesemaker and local government official has known where to find me when I don’t answer my cell phone: the Firefly. Folks have figured out that Oregon’s Living Room is my hideout. And starting next week, my hideout will be my official place of employment, as Uriah and I take the reigns from owner Erika Weidler and attempt to carry on the massively successful dynasty she has created in my town.

So what does this mean?

First, if you’re a regular at the Firefly, do not panic. We’re not changing anything for awhile. I’ll be busy for a couple of months just trying to figure out vendor contracts, credit forms, water filtration systems and navigating a payroll of 12 employees. I’m already having dreams I’ve forgotten to order cups. And so far, I’ve pulled a whopping 12 shots of espresso, most of them being mildly terrible. Luckily, I will soon be the very proud supervisor of six full-time trained baristas and an additional six part-time amazingly friendly staff, all of whom can pull a perfect shot every time, make a Hammy Bagel Breakfast Sandwich in under four minutes, and bake a perfect scone every morning.

Second, my life will still revolve around cheese. While I’ve saying goodbye to the awesome job I’ve had for the past five years as the specialty cheese buyer for Metcalfe’s Market, the hundreds of members of my Wisconsin Cheese Originals can still expect me to send them news of classes, dinners, tours and festivals. In fact, mark your calendars now for Cheesetopia Milwaukee on April 8, 2018.

Third, I will of course be introducing artisan cheese to the Firefly (duh), but please don’t be in a super big rush, because I want to do it right, and that takes time. You can expect the Firefly to become a whole lot cheesier closer to spring. Between now and then, we’ll be tweaking the menu to include more local ingredients. And some night in January, we’ll host a big party for everyone to drink practice shots of espresso until Jeanne pulls 12 perfect ones in a row.

One more date to mark on your calendar: Friday, December 1 at 2 pm. That’s when the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce is bringing their spool of red ribbon and giant scissors and we officially christen the new Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese. I am so flipping excited (and nervous and overwhelmed, but mostly excited, but really nervous) and I can’t wait to share this journey with all of you. I’m finally marrying the two food loves of my life: cheese and coffee. And best of all, I’ve got Uriah beside me. Cheese on.