Cafe Steam

Strong Women Creating Value, Part 1: Corrie Strommen

As part of Women's History Month, we are highlighting four women in the community who are making waves and creating things of real value. Check back in over the next few weeks as we share the stories of some real female innovators who are making significant impact in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota. 

Corrie Strommen: Assistant Manager of Cafe Steam, Photographer, and Content Creator. Photo by Will Forsman.

Corrie Strommen: Assistant Manager of Cafe Steam, Photographer, and Content Creator. Photo by Will Forsman.

Who are you? What is your role/title?

Corrie Strommen, assistant manager of Café Steam, freelance photographer, content creator.


What value are you creating in the community? 

At Steam, I'm striving to maintain our hard won title of Rochester's best coffee shop. Each and every one of our employees work hard to maintain that title, in every customer interaction and shot of espresso-it's all about staying focused on turning out a quality product with attention to the smallest details. In my role as a manager, I do my best to help create a work environment that is conducive to job satisfaction and efficient work flow. It's wonderful doing work here both behind the scenes and behind the bar. 

As a photographer, I'm striving to convey my artistic vision in combination with the desires and personalities of my clientele. As of late this has become a wonderful opportunity to work with artists and musicians in the work I'm doing for Collider Coworking and their efforts to incorporate local art and music into their space. I love working with local creatives and combining visions to become something really special. The connections I've made through photography have really changed my view of Rochester in such a positive way. 

What are your responsibilities in your day to day job?

Preparing and serving hundreds of kick a** coffees to the general populous of Rochester as well as managing Café Steam's schedule, reservations, and designing our monthly oatmeal recipes. In my extra time outside of that I often find myself at Collider, taking or editing photos, planning out and organizing future photo shoots, and generally trying to keep my life organized. 


What does it mean to you to be a woman in business?

Autonomy. My business ventures have occurred since being a single woman. Upon finding independence and self reliance, pursuing business came naturally. There was a certain level of risk and uncertainty that I embraced because I had nothing to lose and no one to let down but myself. But, in all honesty, I never wondered if my gender would affect my successfulness or lack thereof. I've found that when hard work and dedication are put out in my work, acceptance and success follow. 


What challenges do you think that women face in today’s society?

The same we've been facing for decades, societal expectations, a degree of dismissiveness toward our abilities, wage gap, sexual harassment, etc. etc. It's wonderful that these issues are becoming more widely spoken about and hopefully we'll see more improvement as time goes on. 

Café Steam Brews Artistic Expression Through Limited Edition Mug Series

Photos courtesy of Will Forsman.

Photos courtesy of Will Forsman.

About the author: Ryan Cardarella is a freelance writer who recently moved to Rochester after spending 12 years in Milwaukee.

Artistic expression has been a hallmark of Café Steam since they opened their doors in 2015. Their latest collaborations with local artists have taken that expression to another, more personal, medium—your coffee mug.

The designs created for Café Steam’s limited edition artist mug series provide valuable exposure for several talented Rochester-area artists while continuing to bolster the strong connection between the coffee shop and the local arts scene. The first design in the series was the handiwork of local artist Nick Sinclair, which debuted in March and quickly sold out.

“We wanted to encompass the Steam experience into something you could enjoy from home,” said Café Steam general manager William Forsman. “Other coffee shops generally have branded merchandise like mugs and t-shirts, but we wanted to take it a step further by promoting the work of local artists. Nick has been a powerhouse in terms of cultivating the local art scene, and we could not have thought of a better person to start this series with than him.”

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The second design in the series, launched just last week, features the artistic stylings of Beth Sievers, who has had several pieces of her encaustic art displayed at the café, along with a spring show entitled “DISCARDED.” This continued support has been instrumental to Sievers as she pushes her artistic career forward.

“It’s very important for local businesses to support local artists. Often, I see a disconnect between the art community and the medical/business community,” said Sievers, who works at Mayo Clinic as a clinical nurse specialist as her day job. “When businesses like Café Steam make art part of their environment, it’s easier for patrons to take note of the art community and start to appreciate it.”

In addition to the mug series, Café Steam hosts an Open Mic each Thursday night, live musical performances on Friday and Saturday evening, and an eclectic mix of visual art throughout the café—elements that help make it a unique Rochester institution. To Forsman, outlets such as these are critical as Rochester continues to develop as an artistic community that supports and promotes local talent.

“The Arts are the soul of any good city,” Forsman said. “We see a budding community in Rochester that wants to foster their more creative side, but doesn’t necessarily have access to the resources or the social acceptance that larger cities have. It’s been our mission to not only serve great coffee, but to open doors and connect artists with individuals who share their interests.”

Mugs can be purchased for $15 at the café and the series will continue with new designs in the near future. Announcements on future collaborations will be made via social media.

“We definitely plan on continuing the series with future artists,” Forsman said. “There’s been such a warm reception and it’s really taken on a life of its own as a great way for artists get their name out there and as a great way for us to connect with them."