Pay as You Can, aka Caffè Sospeso

The Short Scoop:

The Spent Dandelion has moved to a pay-what-you-can rate.

To reserve your stay, please contact Anna at 605-521-6284, or Feel free to look here to see which dates are yet open.

To learn more about the factors that went into our decision to go with a donation-esque model, as well as the elements that factor into our base rate of $225 per night, please continue to read!

Please note: the Spent Dandelion has a specific purpose to provide a retreat for those who are yearning for some time and a dedicated place for theological reflection and conversation.

If you are looking only for a vacay stay, or for an AirBnB/VRBO sort of experience, please look here and here for wonderful area lodging options designed to better suit your needs.


I love coffee, and I love generosity.

Turns out that when you swirl those two together you get something called Caffè Sospeso: Suspended Coffee.

It’s a tradition which originated in Naples, Italy: someone goes into a coffee shop, purchases a cup for oneself, and then offers coins for at least one more mug for those who might need a cuppa, but who come to the counter without being able pay for a brew of their own.

It’s a way both to celebrate one’s good fortune and extend it to those who sure would benefit from some good fortune too.

NPR did a gorgeous story about this custom: you can read/listen about it here, though the gist of it is summed up in this paragraph pulled from the story:

[Caffè Sospeso] is an elegant way to show generosity: an act of charity in which donors and recipients never meet each other, the donor doesn’t show off and the recipient doesn’t have to show gratitude.

Since the inception of the Spent Dandelion in 2017, we have more or less kept the nightly rate for the Spent Dandelion right around $225.00, regardless of high or low season.

To get to that rate, we didn’t just pop a bunch of numbers on the wall and pitch darts at them to see what we should charge for a stay (and I’ve got horrible aim anyway).

Instead, we looked at the yearly average of rates found at area hotels and other lodging offerings similar to what we provide.

We discovered that the range for comparable spaces is at around $110 per night at the cheapest and in the slowest season, and upwards of $400 per night at the peak of summer, all of which comes to an average of around $255.

Of course, one can find cheaper and more expensive rooms, but by and large, to compare North Shore apples to North Shore apples, what the Spent Dandelion offers by way of the room and its amenities (did I mention that we are nestled in a forest?) would fit squarely within this price spectrum.

However, the Spent Dandelion doesn’t just offer a room and woods; instead, the Spent Dandelion additionally offers conversation with Anna.

Baked into each night’s stay is a visit with Anna, directed by you, with an opportunity to ask questions; find theological footing; delve into the whys and wherefores and what-nows of your belief system; and perhaps be offered a few new resources to discover and things to think.

As it turns out, Anna is a trained theologian.

She graduated with a Master of Divinity and was ordained in 1996; served three years in parish ministry; left in 1999 for Germany where, in 2003, she earned a Ph.D. in systematic theology (her dissertation focused on God’s presence in the midst of suffering); after a tragic accident in 2004 which killed her husband and caused a traumatic brain injury in her son, she and her small family returned to the States so that she could teach at an ELCA college; she left that role after two years to tend to her young-and-still-healing children, and to begin OMG: Center for Theological Conversation; and, in 2016, the three moved to Two Harbors, Minnesota to continue her work as a freelance theologian and begin the Spent Dandelion Theological Retreat Center.

During this time, she has written two books, both published by Fortress Press (I Can Do No Other: The Church’s Here I Stand Moment, 1999, and Joyful Defiance: Death Does Not Win the Day, 2021); presented at numerous Synod Assemblies and Theological Conferences in the ELCA and ELCIC (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada); written regular columns and Bible Studies for Gather Magazine, the journal of the Women of the ELCA; and, as an extension of her faith and tied to her primary vocation as mama, and very much with the help of her husband, created a business for her son Karl, Two Lugs and a Nut Workshop (FB: Karl’s Wheelhouse), which is geared entirely toward Karl and the conviction that people with disabilities deserve a vocation.

Of course, you can arrange for an independent theological consultation appointment with her here, but it is also wrapped up into the experience and the cost of every night’s stay at the Spent Dandelion.

Although Anna would love to do all of this free, we don’t, alas, live in a world (yet) based on Acts 2.

Given that, she has to charge something for both the retreat and conversations (which, for the last 10 years and more running, sit at $100 per hour [which even to Anna sounds like a lot, until one thinks about the way-steeper hourly fees for professions with similar education and experience! Then it’s bargain basement time!]).

Additionally, we have the studio cleaned after every stay, and it is not a surface wipe.

Our amazing housekeeper dedicates several hours to ensuring that every light switch, knob, and floor is sanitized, and replaces linens, towels, and dish ware so that everything is as fresh as fresh can be for you.

Each turnover costs us about $60.00.

The $220 reflects, then, the combined low-balled average for a comparable space in this area, and the low-balled hourly rate for consultation, and a top-to-bottom spiffy clean.

Obviously, for some, that rate is on par with their expectations and their budget.

For others, it’s an easy half of what they would have otherwise happily spent.

For still others who would struggle to find gas money to get here, it’s not only beyond reach but beyond imagination.

Enter the notion of Caffè Sospeso.

For the foreseeable future, we are going to give it a whirl.

We invite people who have need of the Spent Dandelion but who cannot afford the base rate to please come anyway.

Pay what you can—no amount is too small or should carry any shame—and let this place tend to you.

We also invite those who may have any number of worries or matters on the mind, but money is not among them.

In the spirit of Caffè Sospeso, please also pay what you can. Any extra that is received above and beyond the base rate will go toward covering the costs of those who are less flush.

There will be deep gratitude all around.

Because of this new rate model, reservations now need to be made by emailing or phoning Anna. She can be reached at, or 605-521-6284.

And one last thing: if you’d like to support people to come here, but don’t need a reservation yourself, then fret not!

You can still donate to the cause using this link.

All are, indeed, welcome at the Spent Dandelion.

And may I just say, the free coffee here is really really good.



P.S. Please note that the Spent Dandelion is not a non-profit.

That means that there are no tax benefits associated with any additional gift.

While you may not reduce your tax burden, you will relieve someone else’s many burdens.

We thank you!