EAGAN, Minn. — Few players have ever thrived so much from the grind as Adam Thielen.
So it's fitting the undrafted receiver who now ranks third in Vikings history in receptions (527) and touchdown catches (53) felt right at home behind the counter at the Viking Lakes Caribou Coffee location Monday while wearing a brown apron, colorful nametag and even a drive-through headset.
The aroma of freshly ground beans filled the air just before whooshes from the milk steamers.
The Vikings unofficial team barista looked comfortable while undergoing training from Caribou Coffee Manager of Support Operations Connor Kelly. Thielen stops at this location before every Vikings home game, but this was his first time creating coffee here instead of picking up his order.
He quickly was cranking out limited-time-only Birthday Cake Lattes, a signature drink created for this week as Caribou Coffee celebrates its 30th birthday today.
Within the walls of Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, Thielen personally makes custom Caribou Coffee drinks for teammates like Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson. Cousins recently held up a cup with Thielen's concoction during an open locker room session and proclaimed it the best coffee drink he's ever had.
"Justin really likes it, but I have to do a little tweak with Justin's drinks. He doesn't like straight black coffee, so I've got to make it a little bit sweeter for him," Thielen explained. "There's a few other guys I try to mix it up for, and I try to keep getting more people on board. I mixed stuff up for the training staff the other day, and I think a lot of people liked it."
On Monday, Thielen learned from the pros, acquiring more skills and techniques.
He sampled varieties, steamed milk, managed to field drive-through orders, followed the multistep processes for specialty drinks and offered service with a smile.
"There's a lot of steps and little details throughout the order to get it fulfilled. They do a great job," Thielen said. "They kind of have a little time clock going off to make sure that they beat it under a certain time, which you can appreciate, especially if you're in the drive-through and waiting in line."
Caribou Coffee matched all sales from that location Monday to donate to Thielen Foundation, which was established in 2018 by Adam and his wife Caitlin.
"Caribou has been very supportive of me and my wife and our foundation and has been a part of my morning routine for a long time," Thielen said. "I know they're celebrating their 30th birthday, but for me, it's kind of part of my daily routine, and then game days, I'm actually at this location, getting my coffee before the games."
When Josh Engelby heard about the appearance, he checked with his wife about the possibility of pulling their son from school for a bit but ultimately decided not to. Thielen gladly signed a hat and trading card for the boy who will turn 10 later this month. Engelby purchased a crafted cold press for himself and then paid it forward by buying a Birthday Cake Latte for the next guest.
"It was a heartwarming experience getting to see Adam being a part of the community and sharing his passion for coffee with other coffee lovers," Engelby said. "In the good spirit of him, he's very community forward, so I wanted to do something in his nature."
The guest appearance occurred less than a week after Thielen was named the Vikings Community Man of the Year and the team's Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee.
"We're obviously super excited for Adam with his nomination last week," said Caribou Coffee Director of Brand Experience Kayleen Alexson.
View photos of Vikings WR Adam Thielen as an honorary barista at Caribou Coffee for the company's 30th anniversary.
The match donation from Monday's sales continued the strong relationship between Caribou Coffee and Thielen Foundation.
Alexson had heard how Thielen's appreciation for coffee was spreading in TCO Performance Center.
"Caribou Coffee is the official coffee of the Vikings, so there is always Caribou brewed at the TCO. Adam has always had freshly roasted beans at the facility, and when we found out he was starting to level up the coffee offerings for the team, we thought we should invite him for an official training," Alexson said. "This is the store Adam and many of the players go to on game days, so this store's team was really excited to have him here. They know Adam and his drink, so it was really great for him come in and have some fun.
"It sounds like he mastered our Birthday Cake Latte that's only available this week," Alexson added. "Our Honey Oat Crafted Press is what Adam has been replicating for some of the guys in the facility, so our team made sure he learned the details of that drink as well. Adam is a pro, and with a constant smile on his face, he's a perfect fit for the team. Caribou is all about that personal experience, so he did a great job."
Enjoy a free cup of Caribou Coffee from Adam
Happy birthday to 'Bou, happy birthday to 'Bou.
Happy birthday dear 'Bou, and free cups of joe soon, too.
Caribou Coffee and Thielen are teaming up to provide a free, small cup of brewed coffee to Caribou Perks Members in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin on the days of the final two Vikings regular-season home games: Saturday, Dec. 17 vs. the Colts and Saturday, Dec. 24 vs. the Giants.
The offer will automatically show up in Caribou Perks accounts. People who are not yet Caribou Perks can easily enroll by texting "Perks" to 762-CARIBOU.
The offer is not valid on orders from order.cariboucoffee.com or Uber Eats.