rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 08/24/2005
The Trail Leads Straight To Espressions Café
by Gary Hill

Nearby Poplar Grove is home to both Long Prairie Trail and Espressions Café. Although you might never have heard of either of these, you should probably check out both of them. In fact, the trail leads directly to the café. Combine the two and you have a great excursion for an autumn (or for that matter any) day.

Long Prairie Trail is part of the much larger Grand Illinois Bicycle Trail. According to the official site of the trail (, "The Grand Illinois Trail is an ongoing Illinois Department of Natural Resources partnership and includes three regional coalitions representing Northeastern Illinois, Canal Country and Northwestern Illinois. Additional partnerships exist with the Illinois Departments of Commerce and Community Affairs and Transportation, the Illinois Historic Presentation Agency, the Illinois Chapter of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the League of Illinois Bicyclists, Illinois Trail Riders and the Illinois Association of Park Districts.

"Portions of the Grand Illinois Trail are open now and you can bike, hike, horseback ride, cross country ski, snowmobile, and canoe through the scenic landscape of northern Illinois and along Chicago's Lakefront, Illinois' beautiful rivers, historic canals and scenic country roads. " The Long Prairie Trail is "14.5 miles of paved trail through Boone County with trail heads at Capron and Poplar Grove." The one thing they fail to mention at their site, though, is that this particular section of the trail includes a treasure not found any other place on the trek, Espressions Café.

Espressions Café is owned by Carol Tonne and has been serving up gourmet beverages for 2 ½ years, but that's only part of the story - and the charm. Take one look at the outside of the building and you'll get another piece of the puzzle. An old time charm simply pervades this establishment, from the décor to the emphasis on quality and service. The modern menu, though, showcases a merging of that bygone era with today's tastes. Stepping inside will reinforce the dual nature of this place. Antiques share space with espresso drinks and Italian sodas for a modern take on bygone era charm.

Tonne says that one of the best features of the business is that they "believe in putting a little love into everything." Now, how's that for bringing back a quality that has been missed in most places for too long? She adds that they are a Christian business but that, "we love everybody". That ethos is shown in other ways around the place, too, including the fact that they have Christian books both for sale and for reading in the café/reading area of the building.

Those just looking for a nice beverage, though, will not be disappointed either. They have gourmet coffees, smoothies and what they call "sparklers" which are Italian sodas. According to Tonne with the various combinations of flavors they have between 250-1000 possibilities for flavors of that last beverage. Their menu lists many of them, but as you can imagine it's only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, just those combinations include "Berry Splash", "Berry Sara Bear", "Candy Apple", "Pammy Sue's Paradise Punch", "Tweetie Sweetie Taylor", "W.P. Kaboom", "What A Melon" and many, many more, but that's barely cracking the surface when you consider all the possibilities of creating your own concoction.

Add to this amazing array of drinks such items as "Gourmet Dreamers and Steamers", "Fruit Smoothies", "Torani Dreamers and Steamers" and "Ice Dream Freezers" and it's very easy to see that sampling them all could become a full time job - but a very fun one at that. Did I mention there is also food? Due to illness in the family they have curtailed their selection temporarily, but normally they have on hand gourmet healthy foods, soups, deli sandwiches and salads. Tonne says that they want to bring in more gourmet foods and that they are "searching for the best tasting natural foods".

Whether you go to check out the trail and stop by the Café in the process or make a trip just to sample some of their wares, be sure to look around at all the candles and gift items they carry. Whatever your itinerary, you'll find that Espressions Café can add something nice to your day. They are located at 100 N. State Street in Poplar Grove. As with their menu, the family illness has made a few changes in their daily routine, but they are generally open Tues. - Sat. 9 AM - 5 PM. You might want to give them a call at 815 - 765-2559 just to be sure, though.

Contact Information
Carol Tonne
Espressions Café
100 N. State Street
Poplar Grove, IL, 61065
815 - 765-2559
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