The Caffeinery: 10-Years In

This is a bit of a time travel post as it’s technically 3/29/24 at the time of this writing.

March 17th of 2014 is the official anniversary of when The Caffeinery first opened its doors to the public. We had a public celebration at the shop on Saturday. My wife, Lauren, had put a callout for customers to share photos with us on social media that they’d taken at the shop over the years. It was an awesome idea and so many people shared photos of their visits over the years. There were a lot of baby’s first outings (and now those babies are proper kids) and that just hits different these days now that we have our own lil one. Being able to see the shop through the eyes of our community was such a rewarding and humbling experience. I’m just happy that Lauren and I have been able to bring so much joy into the lives of so many people. That the space we created became space that one-time strangers felt safe enough to take a chance on and make regular destination. I mean, that was always the plan… But plans don’t always go as planned if you know what I’m saying.

Seriously though… I can’t believe it’s been 10-years. Depending on the circumstances, 10-years can either feel like a blip or an eternity. It’s all up to your vantage point. My perception on the passage of time is largely dependent on how well rested I am. If I’m exhausted, it feels like it’s been 50 years. On the rare instance that I get a full-night of sleep… It seems like we just opened the shop yesterday.

I’m always so busy working on new projects that I often don’t spend enough time reflecting on past accomplishments. I’m always moving forward and focusing o n the next step or evolution of a process. The downside to constantly moving forward is that I tend to forget about previous accomplishments as I continue to build and evolve. This is why the pictures that everyone submitted meant so much. I was able to take some time and see the many different iterations our vision and saw the gradual and constant evolution of not only the physical space… but the evolution of menu items, offerings, services, and protocols. Not to mention all of the faces of people that have been kind enough to spend time with us working to make this community a little bit better than we found it. If there’s one thing I’ve always felt confident in, it’s the ability to find and support people that want to make a difference. Over the years people have come and gone, but I am appreciative for the part that every individual has played in pushing this place forward. Even if someone was only with us briefly, whether it worked out or didn’t… their contribution provided a lesson in leadership. Whether the mistakes made were their fault or mine… I am finding myself constantly learning and adapting as a employer/leader. I’m by no means perfect or would even want to strive for such an impossibility, but the whole process simultaneously keeps me young and ages me deeply. ha

So many things have happened since we’ve opened our doors… It’s hard to keep track of it all… If we were to just focus on broad strokes, The Caffeinery now has 3 different businesses under one umbrella.

In the beginning, we set out to create a fantastic multi-roaster coffee shop that would serve as a community hub to help provide contrast to our sleepy downtown that seemed just on the verge of waking up. We made it a point to set extremely high standards for our hospitality program. Within the first 6-months we had placed as one of the best coffee shops in America thanks to being invited to compete in Coffee Fest’s America’s Best Coffee House competition! That distinguished recognition really helped us feel that our efforts were heard/seen and appreciated. We’ve always been a people over profit organization and it just feels good when people see and appreciate the efforts and sacrifices we’ve had to make in order to provide that type of environment.

In 2016 we started to explore what it would take to begin roasting our own coffees as a means to further elevate the coffee experience not only at our physical shop, but in the homes of countless coffee enthusiasts across the country. We approached roasting with the same ambition and dedication to quality that went into opening our coffee shop. We spent years researching and studying the ins and outs of roasting coffee. In 2018 we ordered our first small 2-kilo production roaster and started putting in the work. At the time, we were carrying the best roasters the US had to offer and that set the bar pretty high for our up-and-coming roasting program. However, just like playing music… You’re only as good as the musicians you’re playing with and by having those excellent roasters in our shop it pushed us to swing for the fences and really put in the work. It ended up paying off and within 8-months of starting our garage-based roasting operation… we brought in our first national recognition for our espresso blend, Habitual. Since then, we’ve continued to push ourselves to be a little bit better with each passing day. Today, we offer online retail, wholesale, and private label coffee to customers all over the world. We have built amazing relationships with wholesale partners that share our vision for bringing exceptional coffee to the masses. We don’t spend a lot of time on marketing as we often keep our heads down and focus on the work and we are fortunate that so many people recommend us. A lot of the work that goes on at the roastery happens behind the scenes which makes it hard to show off, but you can taste the effort in each and every bag that we send out. The real testament of our coffee roasting program is that it has created multiple award winning coffee roasters that had never roasted coffee previously. The crew at our roastery is beyond amazing. Their dedication to quality and curiosity is the driving force behind the successes of the roastery.

This year we’re embarking on the third business under The Caffeinery umbrella. We are launching our new sister business “Midwest Coffee Repair” as a way to provide even more support to our community of coffee aficionados. This new venture will serve as our equipment, service, and preventative maintenance wing of The Caffeinery. It will allow us to offer that extra level of support that our customers who are putting in the work and need their equipment to be in tip top condition. I’m also extremely excited that this company is being created in partnership with one of our long-time employees. It will be the first female-led coffee repair outfit in Indiana that I know of. Really looking forward to introducing everyone to MCR in the very near future! I’m proud of all the work that’s gone into this startup thus far.

Wow, that’s quite a bit of reflection. Maybe too much. Idk… I suppose now is as good a time as any to start wrapping things up. I appreciate everyone for their continued support of my family and our business ventures. We couldn’t do it without you all and hope that we continue to earn your trust and business for many years to come. Thanks for everything!

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