North Dakota’s youngest funeral director also undertakes new coffee bar in downtown Fargo – InForum

FARGO — If Hannah Blazinski-Cuhel’s photo isn’t in the dictionary under “overachiever,” it probably should be.

It wasn’t enough that the Erhard, Minnesota, native balanced a full course load studying mortuary science remotely while also working full time for Boulger Funeral Home.

Or that she says she is likely the youngest person in North Dakota to be licensed as a funeral director at the ripe, old age of 21.

No, this one-woman dynamo wanted more.

Now, in addition to her full-time job at Boulger, she owns and runs Revival Specialty Coffee Bar, which is located inside

the new First Avenue Market, 612 1st Ave. N., Fargo.

That means in addition to managing three employees and handling the business end of things, she works at the coffee shop herself once a week.

“The baristaing is my favorite part,” Blazinski-Cuhel says from behind the counter at her coffee shop, where she whips up a latte from “Florence” — the name she’s given her gleaming La Marzocco Linea Mini espresso machine.

Balancing a full-time profession while also running a business is a big undertaking — if you’ll pardon the pun.

Even so, the 22-year-old seems to possess the youthful energy and boundless ambition to do both.

“I just want to get it done,” she says, after topping off her latte with a perfect tulip design in foamed milk. “I’ve learned we have a finite time to enjoy life, so I want to get the hard stuff done right away.”


Hannah Blazinski-Cuhel, the owner of Revival Specialty Coffee Bar in downtown Fargo, uses foamed milk to create a tulip design atop the latte. Blazinski-Cuhel talked to baristas and coffee shop owners and delved into numerous online resources to learn all she could about running a coffee shop.

Chris Flynn / The Forum

It’s not the most intuitive pairing of professions — funeral director and barista — although both do require emotional intelligence, people skills and business acumen.

She also found that the same inner scientist who was drawn to the chemistry of mortuary science loved the precision of coffee. “We weigh the coffee down to the tenth of a gram. You even out the bed of coffee as even as possible, you press it down with the same amount of force every time, you run the same temperature of water through it …. It’s a formula. This is one big science experiment.”

Dropped off by schoolbus to work

Blazinski-Cuhel grew up with her diesel-mechanic father, older sister and a little brother in tiny Erhard.

From age 14 on, she always held at least one job. “I started working as soon as I could. Like the bus would drop me off at work at Larry’s Super Market in Pelican (Rapids, Minnesota) and then my friend’s mom would come and get me and drive me home,” she says, laughing.

After taking career-interest tests while attending Rothsay High School, she learned “mortician” was one of her top recommended vocations. (It came in third, after pediatrician and psychologist.)

She was baffled. “I kept thinking, ‘What did I enter to give me that?’” she recalls.

But she decided it warranted a look. A job shadow following the funeral home staff at Olson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, reinforced the notion that she was on the right path. “I saw how helpful the funeral director was and how much of a difference they were making,” she says.

After graduation, she had planned to study mortuary science at the University of Minnesota. Instead, thanks to COVID, she wound up staying in Fargo — where she worked full days at Boulger Funeral Home while taking a full course load of classes in the evening.

She also found the combination of real-world experience and college studies invaluable. She sat in on funeral arrangement-planning, learned processes like embalming and witnessed first-hand how to talk to people who were grieving. “Marty (Baumgartner) and Jeff (Baer) and Tia (Lopez) were huge instructors for me,” she says. “And Jim and Larry Boulger are the ones I learned much about running a business from. I’m so, so grateful for that. You can only learn so much in a book. That was how I became the funeral director that I am.”


Hannah Blazinski-Cuhel (right) stands alongside two of her mentors, Jim Boulger (left), owner of Boulger Funeral Home, and Tia Lopez, licensed funeral director, for an official Boulger portrait.

Contributed / Boulger Funeral Home

At 21, she became licensed to be a funeral director and embalmer in both North Dakota and Minnesota.

“Since her very first day of working with us, Hannah has exhibited an eagerness to learn about the many different aspects of funeral service that we haven’t seen from anyone in a long time. She has been a wonderful addition to our staff and we are very thankful to have her as a part of our team,” Baumgartner says.

‘Chucken’ the old name; reviving the new

Following graduation, Blazinski-Cuhel finally found time to travel. As she explored the

different grades of Kona coffee in Hawaii

or reveled in Seattle’s seminal coffeehouse culture, she longed to bring some of those flavors and experiences home with her. “I would think, ‘Oh, I want to have this in Fargo,'” she says.

Never one to do things half-way, the aspiring coffee shop owner plunged into every video, Reddit forum and online source she could find while also talking to numerous baristas and coffee shop proprietors so she could learn how to do it right.

In mid-July, she introduced Chucken Coffee, a coffee cart named after her calico cat.

On the day that First Avenue Market opened its doors, she approached owners, Stace Aamodt and Matt Estin, and asked if they’d like a coffee pop-up in there.

“They said, ‘Absolutely,’” she says. “It was just happenstance.”

For four months, Blazinski-Cuhel brought in her coffee cart a couple of days a week while the bar area at the market was revamped into a permanent coffee bar.


Revival Specialty Coffee Bar is located in the First Avenue Market, 612 1st Ave. N., in downtown Fargo.

Chris Flynn / The Forum

More recently, she changed the business name to Revival Coffee because, quite simply, “Chucken” was too confusing to remember. Even worse, Google persistently autocorrects “Chucken” to “Chicken.”

“It was just too hard to explain to everybody what it was,” she says. “I just didn’t want any barriers to people loving the coffee.”

The arrangement has provided “perks” to both Revival Coffee and First Avenue Market. “We’ve really been a good partnership,” she says. “Between the two of us, their customers like my stuff and my customers like their stuff.”

Worldly coffee with a Midwestern vibe

Blazinski-Cuhel realizes she’s entered a highly competitive business sector, as downtown Fargo is already peppered with coffee shops.

“Definitely you have to do something to stand out, otherwise there isn’t room,” she says.

It’s one reason she’s invested so much thought and careful sourcing into her coffee drinks: “With us, having such a focus on the specialty coffee aspect of it, like having drinks made to the best possible degree while having those unique flavors that we make by hand, is maybe just enough to pull people in our direction.”

She makes all her flavored syrups from scratch, as she doesn’t want them to contain artificial flavors, refined sugars or preservatives.


A view of Revival Coffee’s menu shows a mix of new, traditional and non-coffee drinks.

Tammy Swift / The Forum

Drawing on her Hawaiian travels, she concocted the Sheyenne at Night, a mixture of latte, oat milk, black rice and


— a purple yam. “It’s the one when people try it for the first time, they’re like, ‘Ohmigod, how did I never try this before?’ But there’s a hump to get there. They’re like, ‘What is ube? Why is there black rice in my latte?’” she says.

(The black rice, she explains, offers a creamy, rice-pudding-like flavor which perfectly complements the nutty, vanilla-laced flavor of ube.)

Her Zen Blend, aka a “Golden Latte,” contains anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric, ginger, spices and oat milk.

For the indecisive, there’s the “Coffee Flight,” which provides a choice of four mini hot specialty lattes.

She also paid careful attention to her non-coffee offerings. When she decided to add Japanese green matcha tea to her menu, she researched that it was

high-quality ceremonial grade,

which is naturally sweet and creamy.

“I knew I wanted fair trade so people were fairly compensated for the work they were doing. And I wanted to know which farm specifically in Japan was the green tea coming from. I’m not going to just buy a great big bag of green stuff and tell my customers I know it’s matcha.”

Blazinski-Cuhel says her Boulger colleagues have been incredibly supportive of her new venture, but she admits “they do think I’m crazy to take it on with how busy we are already.”

Although the coffee bar has been exciting, she doesn’t plan to let it supplant her primary profession as a funeral director.

“I definitely am one that wants to find meaning in their job. And there is no other feeling in the world in knowing that you had any part in helping a family feel even a little bit better about what’s going on around them.”


Hannah Blazinski-Cuhel, the owner of Revival Specialty Coffee Bar in downtown Fargo makes an espresso on Dec. 13, 2023. She says being a barista is her favorite part about running the coffee shop. When she’s not working full-time as a funeral director at Boulger’s Funeral Home, she devotes one day a week to working as a barista.

Chris Flynn / The Forum

She also believes her primary profession has taught her early lessons about the need to pursue one’s dreams. “Especially being a funeral director, we’re reminded every day how precious life is and how you need to spend it,” she says. “It can all change in an instant.”

She hopes her coffee bar creates the kind of atmosphere and coffee drinks which help people capture the full beauty of the moment.

“You’ve got to enjoy life while you can and savor those little moments,” she says. “Certainly enjoying a very special drink which was made intentionally for you is a good way to do that.”

Revival Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at 612 1st Ave. N. Find it on Facebook under

“Revival Specialty Coffee Bar.”

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