Northern Wilds Magazine
While weather reports might seem like a matter-of-fact topic, Sarah Jorgenson-Hallberg’s videos help people feel connected to a place they love: the North Shore. | SARAH JORGENSON-HALLBERG
Along the Shore

Java Moose: Sharing the weather, spreading kindness

On the corner of Highway 61 and Wisconsin Street is Java Moose, Grand Marais’ beloved coffee shop. The Jorgenson family has owned Java Moose since 1999, back when it was a seasonal kiosk in the Trading Post, and have seen the business through many transitions, including moving to the new location and becoming a year-round operation. Sarah Jorgenson-Hallberg is in charge of operations at Java Moose, and among the many hats she wears, the one she is most widely recognized for is her role as social media manager. Through posting daily weather videos, she has become the face of the Java Moose business, and uses Instagram and Facebook to share all things weather, coffee, and kindness with Grand Marais and beyond.

Although Jorgenson-Hallberg had been using social media for her business for a long time, growing a substantial social media presence is time-consuming. As the only one on the team doing social media, she said she didn’t have the bandwidth to be a “content creator,” as that comes with a lot of pressure to continually generate new ideas. Then came the summer of 2021, when northern Minnesota experienced a summer of wildfires. Jorgenson-Hallberg took to Instagram to share updates on the fires. People watched them, and the start of Java Moose’s signature weather videos was born.

“People online didn’t know if we were okay or if it was safe to come up here,” Jorgenson-Hallberg said. “It was hard for people to find up-to-date information specific to Grand Marais, so it started as a way to give reports on what was happening here.”

The Jorgenson family has owned Java Moose in Grand Marais since 1999, back when it was a seasonal kiosk in the Trading Post. | SUBMITTED

That summer was also the first of two summers to bring road construction to Highway 61 in Grand Marais, and Jorgenson-Hallberg also used their platform to give updates on the construction progress and how that was affecting both Java Moose and the broader community. Today, she shares a daily weather report on the Java Moose Instagram account, braving subzero temperatures, forceful winds, and whatever weather Lake Superior happens to bring. She also shares tips for exploring the local area and getting out in nature.

“I share activities that are accessible and easy for most people to do,” she said.

While weather reports might seem like a matter-of-fact topic, Jorgenson-Hallberg’s videos help people feel connected to a place they love. Many people who visit the North Shore develop a deep connection to Lake Superior, and staying up-to-date on the changing seasons through videos can help people keep that connection alive.

“The North Shore holds a special place in people’s hearts,” she said. “For example, a few months ago, we received a message from a girl who had lost her mother. She said that they watched our videos together every day, and they helped her through that time.”

On a deeper level, Jorgenson-Hallberg’s videos embody a message that’s close to her heart: the importance of being kind.

“I don’t shy away from showing that we care about each and every person,” she said. “I want people to know that everyone is welcome in our shop, and everyone who walks through the door will be treated kindly, fairly, and equally.”

This message on the importance of kindness was shared even more widely than usual this summer when one video of hers gained a large number of views. In this particular video, posted during the height of the busy summer season, Jorgenson-Hallberg shared how the Java Moose staff—particularly the young staff—had been treated poorly by customers. In the video, Jorgenson-Hallberg urged visitors to be kind, and to remember the true reason for any visit to the North Shore: the special beauty of nature. The video ended up being picked up and shared by regional news stations, and has been viewed over 41,000 times at the time of this writing.

“In situations like this, you have to keep your head up and keep integrity,” Jorgenson-Hallberg said. “In our culture, we’re taught that the customer is always right, and often they are, but not to the point of degrading staff or being mean.”

Despite that, Jorgenson-Hallberg said that the vast majority of customers are great people and that she’s incredibly thankful to be in her role.

“We have a wonderful job—we sell coffee and leave people feeling better. We want to get better every day and keep trying new things,” she said. “At the end of the day, people just want to believe that they matter, so be kind.”

Find Java Moose on Instagram and Facebook at: @javamoosegrandmarais.

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