This past weekend I had the opportunity to serve coffee at Journeyman Distillery for the Artisan Market. As I drove back to our coffee shop after the long day on my feet I was struck by a handful of things, some simple (my feet really hurt!) and some things requiring more thought and response. This blog is a result of the things requiring more response.
I love to drive and most of the time when I drive I quickly grow bored with the standard route and so I take lots of detours. Saturday night’s detour involved Flynn road and a mental detour. As my mind wandered I was caught by the days events mostly marked by the people who walked through the door at Journeyman. One by one I was greeted by people, some I knew by name, seeing them so regularly over the last three years that I was also greeted with a hug and others I only know by seeing their face regularly in our coffee shop. But when I take both of those groups of people I already feel very fortunate and blessed to be part of a community that we know as Sawyer, MI. But my thoughts went on from there…
I met a number of people that I didn’t know at all, that informed me that they had been in our coffee shop even earlier that morning or afternoon and then had come over to Journeyman to check out the Artisan market. This affected me also, because I realize that I live and own a business in a community that believes in and supports small businesses, not just mine. I owe all of you a great debt of gratitude for your faithfulness and support over the past three or four years, from coffee sampling in the tap room at Greenbush, to the extreme heat and rain of the two summers of the Coffee Cart and finally to this past summer in our brick and mortar coffee shop, I thank all of you.
There is one final group that blesses me. This group is our staff, they serve out at the counter, behind the espresso machine and in the back, next to the roaster every day. Infusco would not be what it is today without each of these individuals and there are not words to express what each of them mean to me personally and how they affect the product that we gather around every day.
Coffee for me is not just a wonderful drink that I love, but a medium that allows me to connect and interact with a community that has been gracious enough to let me join it’s rank and share in its growth. Thank you, thank you and again thank you!
Infusco has been overwhelmed by the support of our loyal friends and families! But for those who are new customers, just discovering our coffee, we want to share the story of Infusco Coffee Roasters with you, too.
Rich’s interest in coffee shops first began way back in 2001, when he was going to school in Mishawaka and visiting Higher Grounds coffee shop in South Bend (no longer in business). Coffee shops in general were pretty new to the SW Michigan/NW Indiana area, but Rich was in youth ministry at the time and thought a coffee shop would be a great place to connect with teenagers. Research was done through Alex Fisenko, who runs a consulting business intended to help individuals get started with their own successful coffee shops. This research revealed that New Carlisle, where Rich and Stacey lived, was not an ideal location for a coffee shop to thrive. Watching coffee shops fail one after another was discouraging. Rich has a love for tinkering, and as a hobby he had begun roasting coffee in a pizza oven he had converted into a one pound roaster. The concept that a roasting company with it’s own brand of coffee could support a coffee shop in an area like Sawyer began to emerge as a sustainable option.
The one pound roaster made roasting slow going, but it was the convergence of friends that pushed Infusco out the door. Some friends of the Siris were talking about opening a brewery in downtown Sawyer (hm, wondering what that could be?), and their excitement was catching. Other friends, Seth and Shannin Vander Ark, expressed interest in a coffee business, and a partnership began. Meanwhile, Greenbush ordered 30lbs of Infusco coffee to use in their Mr. Hyde Java Cream Stout. Confident that at least this order would come again, Infusco decided to invest in a larger roaster in 2011.
Infusco has only grown since then, most recently with the opening of the coffee shop located in downtown Sawyer behind the old fire station. The Vander Arks withdrew from the company in early 2014 due to family complications – if you’d like to read about their journey, you can keep in touch with Shannin’s blog at Don’t Doubt Jack. Meanwhile, Infusco’s vision to provide a delightful coffee experience, build relationships, and be involved in the local Sawyer community while supporting orphans and widows in Kenya remains.
One last thing you might be wondering is, where did the name “Infusco” come from? Rich and Stacey homeschool their three children, and back when the company was getting started the oldest son, Noah, was taking Latin. Stacey realized that the word “infusco” meant “to make dark or blacken,” and when the logo was made the name was to stay. (Another of the Siris’ goals with Infusco is to educate their kids about running a business – Noah even proofread the business plan!)