Ingo Hoeppner was born in the German town of Stade, north of Hamburg. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the German Air Force to fulfill his country’s mandatory military service requirement. At about this time, the German Air force was in the process of opening an installation at Holloman Air Force base in Southern New Mexico. Its mission there would be to train German fighter pilots, utilizing the nearby wide open space of White Sands Missile Range.
Ingo applied for an open position at Holloman and was accepted. His new job would involve working in aviation maintenance. When he received his travel orders and found out that he was moving to New Mexico, he called his mom and gave her the news. She responded, “Well, you are finally fulfilling your dream.” He asked her what she meant, and she replied, “When you were ten years old, you told me, “Someday, I will live in the American Southwest.” When Ingo’s mom heard him say this, she asked him why. Ingo responded, “I don’t belong here, I belong there. I know my purpose is over there, and America is where I will live someday.” Ingo doesn’t remember this conversation and doesn’t remember having a strong interest in the American Southwest when he was young. However, on January 1st, 1996 the latent intuition of a ten-year-old Ingo Hoeppner was realized when a plane from Germany landed at Holloman Air Force base.
The moment Ingo descended from the plane, he felt immediately at home. It didn’t take long for Ingo to create a new life for himself in New Mexico. He spent his spare time exploring the Southwest part of the state and eventually met and married an American lady named Lisa.
When Ingo finished his active-duty position with the German Air Force, he and Lisa moved to Germany for a while. However, Germany just wasn’t their home and it was only a matter of time before the Land of Enchantment would draw them back, and Ingo was able to get a civilian position at Holloman.
Sadly, Lisa passed away in 2009. Several years would go by and Ingo found himself at another crossroads to either follow a new relationship to Seattle, Washington or stay in New Mexico. Again, the Land of Enchantment won him over. His civilian position with the German Air Force was about to conclude as operations at Holloman were winding down.
Ingo had settled down in the town of Truth or Consequences. Working odd jobs, he had to create the next chapter for himself. For Ingo, the big draw to Truth or Consequences was the natural springs and therapeutic spas the town is known for. These healing waters helped to treat the physical ailments he suffered from his time in the German Air Force.
Ingo noticed that in Truth or Consequences, he couldn’t get a good cup of coffee. A seed was planted and he asked himself, “Why not open a coffee shop?” Ingo is a proactive type of person: when he sees something missing, rather than complain, he looks to see how he can make a difference.
The idea of opening a coffee shop in Truth or Consequences started to go to work on Ingo. He had never run, let alone worked in a coffee shop; however, he did grow up in a family steeped in the hospitality and service industry. His dad owned a hotel and several different restaurants. His mom was a waitress in a five-star restaurant. Partially due to the early influence of his parents, the desire to serve others was a natural expression.
Ingo began researching what it would take to open a coffee shop. At about this time, he was in Germany visiting family. While there, he visited almost every coffee shop he came across and picked the brains of their owners and roasters. He was particularly fascinated with the process of making coffee using the “pour over” method, which was starting to be popular at the time. Though more labor intensive, this process allows more control over the taste, texture, temperature, and strength of the brew. Ingo was determined to serve only the highest quality coffee using organic blends.
Ingo loves art and music and had a vision to meld these into his coffee shop — creating a place that is a living expression of art. Ingo didn’t want to just create a coffee shop, he wanted to create a space for the community, a sort of gathering space. He found a great location on the main street of Truth or Consequences and on October 3rd, 2018, Ingo’s Art Café opened.
The moment you walk into Ingo’s shop you immediately feel that there is something different about the space, almost as if you have just walked into someone’s home. The sizable space is made cozy with large, relaxing sofas in quaint sitting areas as soothing ambient music plays in the background. In one area of the shop, art and handmade crafts from local artisans are offered for sale. He also hosts book signings and pop-up musical performances. For Ingo, the café is not just about turning tables and maximizing profits. He tells me, “If someone wants to enjoy my coffee shop for the day, they can.” Ingo enjoys meeting new people and providing a comfortable environment for people to relax. Today, Ingo serves twelve different organic pour-over coffees, including a Turkish blend. He also offers twelve different organic loose teas. He’s always experimenting with his selection and offering something new. Ingo doesn’t have anything he wouldn’t drink himself. His current favorite coffee blend is “an Ethiopian blend.”
Ingo has also rented the café’s adjoining space, which he makes available as a “community room.” Here, he hosts events such as community fundraisers, CPR trainings, children’s birthday parties, and weekly social events.
Ingo’s commitment to the community of Truth or Consequences goes beyond his coffee shop. He created a non-profit organization called ACT: Acknowledge, Create, Teach. The organization gives money to the local kids’ swim team. With no kids of his own, Ingo remarks, “These kids are my kids.” Ingo also serves as the chairperson for the Parks and Recreation department. One of his goals is to help maintain the reputation and feel of Truth or Consequences as an authentic, alternative health destination in the Southwest.
Ingo’s Art Café made it through the pandemic. His business has continued to steadily grow since it opened. For the foreseeable future, Ingo Hoeppner has invested his heart and soul into the community of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. If the intuition of a ten-year-old Ingo was that his life’s purpose would be in the American Southwest, the adult Ingo has surely found it in this little town in southern New Mexico!
Story & photos by: Seth Jacob
The fascinating history of Truth or Consequences:
Prior to 1950, Truth or Consequences was named Hot Springs. In a strange twist of fate, the name of the town changed when the host of an NBC Radio quiz program promised to broadcast his show from the town if it agreed to change its name to the name of the program. The town residents had a vote, and it was unanimous, the name of the town would be changed. On April 1st, 1950 the host of Truth or Consequences, Ralph Edwards, broadcast his show from the newly named town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.