Urban Fuel Cafe

Urban Fuel Cafe sign.
Urban Fuel Cafe sign.

DMACC welcomed a new cafe this fall on the Urban campus located in Building 7.  The Urban Fuel Cafe provides healthy options including vegetarian items that can be modified to be vegan. The cafe is not gluten-free but is gluten-friendly.  

Sara Volkmann is the owner of Urban Fuel Cafe and three other cafes in Ankeny and Ames. Volkmann began in Ankeny at DMACC. While achieving her Associates of Science degree, Volkmann worked part-time at Cafe Diem. Transferring to Iowa State to study engineering, Volkmann proceeded to work part-time at the Cafe Diem in Ames. Getting her mechanical technician internship and working part-time for a year, she realized that she did not want to continue pursuing engineering.  

Volkmann began working full-time at Cafe Diem. When preparing to turn in her notice, “They offered me to buy in. So, I bought into the business…I bought in 2014. So, I’ve been the owner since then,” Volkmann said.

“I was young and… I loved talking to people and I like coffee. So, it was kind of a win-win… It was a high risk, but I was young enough… that if it failed that I could bounce back from it,” Volkmann said.  

There are four cafes in total. Bill Malone, the founder of Cafe Diem and Volkmann’s business partner, began with the first cafe in Ames. “He had opened coffee shops that had like live music were really all that was trending… He had the option to open that or invest… He chose to open up the coffee shops,” Volkmann said.

In Ankeny, Café X was and still is a full restaurant off the DMACC campus, it is local which is what interested DMACC. When renovating the Student Center in Building 5, DMACC wanted to support local businesses and approached Cafe X. 

The cafes’ menus may look a little different, the location and menu of each café can be found on their website: Cafe Diem. There is also an app: Cafe Diem. Urban Fuel Cafe is a “healthy grab and go, we have plenty of vegetarian options, and we have ways we can do vegan… If people want vegan, then you just got to tell me,” said Volkmann. The most popular item on the menu is the smoothies, they have 40 different options. The number one seller at urban DMACC is the plant-based energy drinks that come in unique flavors.  

The Urban Fuel Cafe is open to hearing from students and teachers about what they would like to see. The cafe hopes to provide what people want. The cafe serves seasonal drinks like pumpkin spice, maple spice, and soon eggnog. In terms of recommendations, Volkmann said, “To our coffee drinkers, our blended lattes is ice cream, espresso, and whatever flavor they want. Otherwise, we make our chai from scratch, we have the same recipe for twenty years… It’s something we’re very much known for… I can do it hot, iced, or blended.” Volkmann has won awards with the chai smoothie.  

Students can work at the Diem Cafes, the Ankeny shop, Café X would love to welcome more employees. If interested, contact Sara Volkmann on their Facebook: Cafe Diem Facebook 

Kendra Snider, the manager at Urban Fuel Café, also started at Ankeny DMACC studying education and transferred to Iowa State to study to become a high school teacher. “One of my roommates wanted to get an application for the coffee shop and asked me to go with and I did,” said Snider. “Grabbed an application and filled it out when I brought it back, Sara interviewed me that day… Had somebody else come talk to me and I even got hired on the spot that day,” said Snider.

“It’s funny I wasn’t even trying to get a job at Café X and just kinda fell in the palm of my hands and I loved it, still do, still here,” said Snider. She spent two years at Café X and transferred to Iowa State, at Ames’s café spending two and a half years there. Snider started as a basic barista and made her way up to store manager at Urban campus.

“Every store has their own personality, and their own touches… we all have the same heart, soul of the company…and I think that’s what I love most,” said Snider. 

Snider’s second year at the café she went on a trip to San Francesco, California. “That is where we get our coffee beans from…the company took their top two or three people from each of the stores…we went to the importers… Then we did a coffee tasting… As a company… we picked our top five and those were the coffee beans we decided to sell and roasted at our stores,” said Snider.  

The meaning behind the name for each café is different to provide students with something that is theirs. Prices on the menu are purposely lower and tax is included in the menu.  

The store offers a reward program, that people can sign up for when they first order. Apple pay, credit or debit card, and cash are all accepted. The café is built to assist students, making their lives less stressful. The Urban Fuel Café wants to hear from you.  

Urban Fuel Cafe worker taking a customer's order.
Urban Fuel Cafe worker taking a customer’s order.

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