Comfort food is gourmet at the Coffee Cup Cafe

By Joseph L. Murphy

Tucked on the town square of Sully in an unassuming storefront is one of Iowa’s food gems. A short drive off of Interstate 80 leads to a warm cafe experience that offers a utopia of acclaimed dishes.

Robin Morvant holds a slice of pie at the Coffee Cup Cafe in Sully, Iowa. Morvant and her husband own the cafe has been named one of the best places for pie in the U.S. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

Robin Morvant holds a slice of pie at the Coffee Cup Cafe in Sully, Iowa. Morvant and her husband own the cafe has been named one of the best places for pie in the U.S. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)


The Coffee Cup Cafe, established in 1970, offers tasty food that has some hefty accolades. Their banana cream pie was named as one of the 10 best in the United States and their stacks of buttermilk pancakes have kept discerning patrons coming back for many years.

Robin and Darin Morvant have owned the cafe for the last 10 years, building a menu of tasty food that can be sampled six days a week from breakfast to dinner.

“I have people ask what coffee is our specialty because of the restaurant name,” Robin Morvant says with a grin. “I tell them regular and decaf. We’re not a gourmet food shop, we’re a comfort food shop, that’s what we do.”

They’re also known for customer service that comes with a smile and a warm welcome regardless if you are from Sully, a neighboring town, or even out of state.

The name of the cafe and the town itself is rooted in the farms that have been growing food for generations. Farmers and community members visiting the cafe in the early days left their favorite mugs on a shelf  so they wouldn’t have to bring them back day after day. According to Robin, the numerous coffee cups on the shelf led to the cafe’s name.

The sense of community has grown over the years. On any given morning you can walk into the cafe and see about 25 people visiting about crop conditions, Sully civic news and even some of the hot town gossip.

“It is the highlight of their day to come here and to talk with their fellow farmers and neighbors,” she said.  “And I’m glad they have a place to do that. It seems like when the restaurant is closed the (town) square is dead.”

Most days you can find Robin and her mother, Dee Vander Wilt, in the kitchen preparing their famous pies. They make about 10 daily from scratch using only the best ingredients. Most of the recipes are secret but Robin did let me in on a tip that is sure to help your pie crusts at home.


“People ask how we get our crust so flaky and I tell them we still use real lard,” Robin said without apologies.

That lard is bought from Dayton Meat Products, a local locker in Malcom, along with some of the other ingredients they use in their foods.

Beyond sharing her tip about flaky crusts, Robin was tight lipped about the other recipes they use to make the acclaimed food at the cafe. But from my observations I think that the food and the experience at the Coffee Cup Cafe comes from more than a single ingredient. It comes from the warmth of the staff and patrons.

“I love coming out here and talking to people,” Robin said.  “I like to think that this is an extension of my living room.”

Next time you are thinking about taking a road trip or are driving by the Sully exit on Interstate 80 take a detour and visit the Coffee Cup Cafe. As their slogan states; “Sit back and relax you’re home at the Coffee Cup Cafe.”

Originally published for the Iowa Soybean Association. Find more great stories at:

Not your typical dinner party

By Joseph L. Murphy

The tables were set, the guests were mingling and everything was in place for a beautiful evening.

But the location for this dinner event was far from ordinary. In fact, the white linen dining experience was situated four miles north of Jefferson in a pasture surrounded by soybean fields.


That’s the setting envisioned by David Ausberger, a soybean farmer from Jefferson, IA. “Agvocacy” was the theme for the evening and Ausberger’s farm provided the perfect back drop for nearly 40 guests to learn about the great care that he takes to make his farm successful while protecting the environment.

Surrounded by neighbors, city councilmen, board of supervisors and state legislators, Ausberger related his passions for all things farming. As the sun dipped towards the horizon conversations continued that ranged from farming, to the environment, to the local happenings in Jefferson.


It’s an event Ausberger had always hoped to host – a unique opportunity to share his passion for farmers and what farm families throughout Iowa are doing for the environment and food safety every day.

“I think that we have 35 or 40 new advocates for agriculture after tonight,” Ausberger said. “Judging by the conversations, people are coming away from the night with a positive feeling. The fact that we were able to eat great food in a beautiful location was the icing on the cake.”

Shannon Black, a neighbor of the Ausberger’s and member of the Jefferson City Council, enjoyed the evening.

“Being a city council person in Jefferson I think it is important for all of us, even as city folk, to know what is going on outside of town,” she said.  “It is important to know that our neighbors are being good stewards of the land so that we know are waters are safe and land is protected.”

Andy Krieger, a greenhouse owner in Jefferson, has seen big growth in his sales relating to locally grown items so he enjoyed talking to Ausberger about food production on a larger scale.

“I’m proud of agriculture. I’m proud of being able to provide good healthy items to customers that want to be connected to what they are eating and events like this help showcase it,” Krieger said. “Events like this can show the future of agriculture. We are environmentally sustainable and we are offering good healthy crops not only for us but for the world and this is the perfect showcase to prove we are moving in the right direction.”


For Ausberger and his family the night was a success and he hopes that community members that attended the dinner will spread the message about the care that he takes in farming and the environment. He hopes to do it again next year while welcoming more and more people to his farm. The night ended with conversations about technology in farming as guests visited around a bonfire while crickets chirped in a nearby pasture.

“In the 15 minutes I’ve been here, we’ve talked about machinery and how buffer strips are in place to help protect the streams,” State Representative Chip Baltimore said. “There are a lot of different topics we’re going to talk about in a relaxed casual atmosphere and I hope that I can carry those messages back to Des Moines.”


Originally published for the Iowa Soybean Association. Find more great stories at: