Velvet Robot Coffee Lab is coming to town


Justin Carner, owner of Velvet Robot Coffee Lab, in Roscoe, IL

For nearly a year, Roscoe residents have been driving by the two-story white office building at 10514 Main Street in Roscoe, wondering who would be moving into the 100-year-old building.

Melodi Broege purchased the building and completely renovated it in 2006. She opened an American Family Insurance business there, until her retirement in 2023.

Broege sold the building to Nick Sommer. Sommers’ COUNTRY Financial Insurance business is now located on the second floor of the building.

Rumors about a coffee shop in the lower level of the building turned into reality when entrepreneur and coffee expert Justin Carner decided to open another Velvet Robot Coffee Lab in the Roscoe location. He owns the original Velvet Robot Coffee Lab at 1292 South Alpine in Rockford, IL.

In 2017, while living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he and his partner launched the Velvet Robot brand that featured cold brew coffee: a strong, smooth concentrated coffee.

After moving back to Rockford, his home town, in 2019, Justin brought with him a desire to continue producing the creative specialty coffee. He opened a Velvet Robot Coffee Lab in Rockford, after debuting the cold brew brand at Rockford City Market.

Velvet Robot roasts their own coffee, in-house. The cold brew is made by mixing coarsely ground coffee with cold water and steeping the mixture for at least 12 hours. The shop will also be serving flavored coffee, cappuccinos and soft drinks

A full food menu will be available. “We will be serving breakfast, featuring New York Bagels sandwiches, and four or five simple lunch options all day." Hours are Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. – 4 p.m, Saturday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. Summer hours will be 6:30 a.m – 7 p.m.

Justin is a graduate of Auburn High School in Rockford. He attended Global Christian University where he studied to become a youth pastor and a teacher. “My side hustle was making coffee - cold brew coffee.”

As it turned out, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Justin’s father, Terry Carner, was a chef at Rockford Country Club and Forest Hills Country Club in Rockford, and owned Northwoods Restaurant in Rockford. He was a big influence on his son.

After returning from Chattanooga to the Rockford area in 2019, Justin taught Food and Culinary Arts at Guilford High School and currently teaches full time at Belvidere North High School. He was a 2023 nominee for the Golden Apple Award.

He and his wife, Susan, a speech pathologist, and their daughter, Sloane, live in Caledonia, Illinois.

Justin has been pleased with the response and cooperation from the Village of Roscoe. “I can’t say enough about the way we have been treated.” Justin said. “They have been so helpful and welcoming.”

Velvet Robot Coffee Lab is finally ready and waiting for customers. “It’s been a long haul getting the shop up and running.”

The atmosphere is cozy and warm. Colorful local artwork and eclectic furniture and decor fill the 875 square foot space. “I believe in people,” Justin said. “My goal is to create a warm, casual and fun place to hang out.”

A grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, 2024, 6:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Once the weather warms up, and the planned parking lot behind the building is completed, Justin plans to open a patio and hopefully provide musical entertainment. In the meantime, customers can call ahead and pick up their order, curbside.

Building owner Nick Sommer is looking forward to the new addition to Roscoe businesses. “I am so happy to welcome Velvet Robot into my building. This is a massive win for the community of Roscoe.

“I am looking forward to everyone enjoying a cup of coffee, making new friends and having experiences that Roscoe has not offered to this extent in the past.

“I expect the coffee shop will explode in popularity, which is also great for my business, which is right upstairs.”

With the multi-use space going in behind the building, Sommer said he can see the building being the new eye of Roscoe.

Artist rendition of the multi-use space off Bridge Street which could serve four adjacent buildings. Lower right: the new location of Velvet Robot Coffee Labs with future patio.
More News from Roscoe
I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified