Never Forget Your Past
Every morning thatis open, I am reminded about where we started. Our good friend, Fritz Dohm stops in for a coffee. This time of year, he brings with him many treats: Zucchini, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, gardening tips (Don’t plant root vegetables around the full moon), stories, and just simply, visits. Fritz and his wife Sue, ran the when our coffee story started. Every Saturday, from about 2012-2017, we would take our beans and sit and visit with Fritz, Sue, and our customers. Similar talks were had, visiting, tips, watching the plants grow, and back then, slipping berries and beans to my toddlers. (Just today, I mentioned to Fritz that my daughter loved the yellow cherry tomatoes, and he smiled the same smile he did when would slip her ground cherries, when she could barely walk.)
We started on a whim, more my Dad, than I. He wanted to give roasting coffee a try, and he had an idea of how to get it done. He had spent an evening talking to a friend of a cousin, who roasted and delivered in Chicago, under the name Grinderman. My dad was closing out his career in education, and I was starting mine, while also becoming a father and moving back to Sauk City. This would be a hobby, maybe a business, but mostly, something to do together. We bought a big gas grill from McFarlane’s, a fabricated drum from Simply Manufacturing, and a big rotisserie to spin it, and we got to work. Mostly burning, sometimes toasting (under roasting), and sometimes when things got really exciting, putting out small fires, all in my Father’s driveway, with his neighbors, the Bender family, watching.
Our first blend was a mix of those Roasted and Toasted, which we called Black and Tan because it was accurate, and because it helped clue people into the Irish heritage we planned to theme our business around. Our logo became our initials, JJC, cursively stylized into the shape of a clover, hand drawn on our early bags. Our hyperlocal, supremely fresh with high-quality beans business model, has been around since day one, but now, with less burning.
We moved into our current RoastShop in 2018, after spending 6 months or so bringing the space back to life. It had sat empty for quite a while, so we had to do some battle with the Spiders and other unwelcome inhabitants that were taking advantage. We brought a much bigger and safer Roaster in with us and relearned how to roast on a machine actually built for coffee. It was pretty scary. The fire department was only called on us once, as the neighborhood learned what was going on with that new “burnt toast” smell. We sent a few pounds over to the Fire and Police departments to apologize.
We have now been open four and half years. For us, our daily cup is a ritual, followed by several more, but constantly remembering where we started and who helped us along the way (too many to completely name, but Wyttenbach’s, Rural Health Cooperative, Wollersheim, Ski-Hi and so many dedicated customers, who have become dear friends). As we cruise into our 5th anniversary, next spring, maybe we will finally have that Grand Opening, and again thank all those who have kept us on their counter or in their grinder for all this time.
80% of our coffee is sold direct to the family that drinks it, with 95% of them being around the Sauk Prairie area. We love our community, and work hard to help make it a wonderful place to make home. To help do that, our “Bibliophile” blend benefits local literacy programs and our “For the Birds” blend benefits local bird habitat charities. We also provide coffee to local events put on by many groups and clubs, and encourage you to reach out if you need coffee for your fundraising event. We want people to think of John Joseph Coffee when they think of coffee in Sauk Prairie. As the back of our bags have said, for the last 5 years, “For the love of coffee, be kind” and we truly encourage you to always remember where you came from.
John Joseph Coffee
Natural, Fair, Sauk Prairie
112 Van Buren St
Sauk City, WI 53583