Finding Home: Les Cheneaux Coffee Roasters
Like numerous other Michiganders, David Gough grew up with fond memories of visiting the Upper Peninsula as a kid. Every year, he found himself in this magical place where life seemed a little slower and a little more beautiful –he knew that’s where he wanted to end up. When a job opportunity arose that would relocate David and his wife, Jennifer, back to the place he had grown to love, the decision was easy.
They had always dreamed of a small coffee shop business, but before they moved from Holland, Michigan, to the U.P. the timing never felt right. Coffee culture was a big part of the decision for Jen and Dave. The community in Cedarville was welcoming and the Goughs had found a place to start their ethically sourced roastery. In 2017, they bought the smallest commercial roaster on the market and began showing up with their beans at the local Les Cheneaux Farmers Market. That community that supported and encouraged them to make the next step also led them to their current brick and mortar shop. Amy Polk of Applecore General Store was able to direct them to a great location. David points out, “it demonstrates the importance of the chamber of commerce for a small town.”
When Jen and David attended a MSU Product Center showcase, they met Ali Bazzi and Saad Saad, Lebanese immigrants and owners of Retea. David and Jennifer liked Retea delicious, loose leaf tea blends and were drawn to the business’s social mission with 10% of sales being donated to international refugee education programs. Most of LCCR beans are USDA certified and Fair Trade certified, they also participate in a Women Producers program, where women get paid a higher premium. When the owners of Retea decided to sell, they called up Dave and Jen, who are now excited to continue the business. They’ll continue to serve the same loose leaf blends, as well as taking over wholesale accounts. The goal is to also expand wholesale reach to the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan, with a niche being their processing location home is also now in the Upper Peninsula. They also plan to continue the original mission of Ali and Saad to fund education programs for international refugee children.
When the Gough’s moved, they weren’t sure of what to expect, but what they found was a welcoming community. They are proud of the connections they’ve made within the region. For others looking to move and follow their dreams, they also share wise words, stressing the importance of taking time to get to know the culture of the community, building relationships and trust.
Les Cheneaux Coffee Roasters is open year round, and they serve up more than drinks! Jennifer’s coffeecake and cinnamon rolls are always recommended. You can also purchase their coffee beans and merchandise from their online store, teas can be purchased from www.getretea.com.
Alex Palzewicz is the Local Food Sales Manager for Taste the Local Difference. If you are looking for a new location to live, she recommends you consider checking out some of the many small communities across the Upper Peninsula.
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