Common Grace in Dearborn seeks to create coffee with a purpose

Dale Tremblay-Dulong wants to up Dearborn's coffee game. It's what motivated him to open Common Grace Coffee Company in west downtown Dearborn, which started serving customers earlier this year.

But it's not the only thing motivating Tremblay-Dulong. The first-time entrepreneur believes in the power of community, he says, and the rich diversity of Dearborn's population is one of the main drivers for Common Grace opening in this particular city.

Another motivating factor is a desire to develop and maintain relationships with coffee workers around the world. Tremblay-Dulong says he wants to be more purposeful in purchasing coffee, using importers and distributors who have relationships with the farmers and can tell their stories. Creating direct relationships with the farmers is also a possibility, he says.

All these motivators are reflected in the Common Grace motto: For the city. For the craft. For the world.

"We recognize that coffee is most often consumed as a commodity. People consume it most days of their lives and it's the center point of our gatherings. But it's also a lot of people's livelihood all over the world," says Tremblay-Dulong. "We want to value the craft of coffee while trying to buy coffee that is intentional and makes a difference."

Tremblay-Dulong didn't grow up wanting to start his own coffee shop. He worked in the restaurant industry in the past and had left the field to go into church ministry. That's where he thought he was going to stay. But coffee brought him back.

He first came up with the idea for Common Grace in February 2016, and the shop opened just one year later. In the meantime, Tremblay-Dulong started roasting coffee and selling it at local farmers markets. He was searching for a location on the outskirts of town but found one right in west downtown Dearborn, a twist of fate that Tremblay-Dulong says couldn't have gone better for the company.

The shift to the coffee business was a surprising but positive development.

"I guess it's something that was brewing inside me all these years that I didn't even know was brewing," he says.

In the short time Common Grace has been open, Tremblay-Dulong is amazed to see what's taken place. He says he's watched a community develop, with people becoming more connected all while being exposed to great coffee. He glows at the story of receiving a letter from a customer sending the staff at Common Grace a note of appreciation.

Besides people being drawn to its craft coffee, Common Grace is looking to foster community through different events. There's live music once or twice a week. Book clubs and conversations are a regular occurrence. Tremblay-Dulong hopes to expand the shop in the future and has different coffee concepts planned. But he believes that a guiding purpose for Common Grace is to create a platform for gatherings, and intends to keep that vision front and center.

And for Tremblay-Dulong, the city of Dearborn itself plays as big a part in his vision for Common Grace as anything else.

"This is a super diverse community. Much of the world lives in segregated pockets of people living next to each other without ever meeting, but Dearborn is full of people that are different from each other," he says. "It's a city filled with people who would never normally grow up next to each other."

He says he's excited about that diversity and hopes that Common Grace can be a neutral ground for the city and its residents from all backgrounds.

Common Grace Coffee Company celebrated a soft opening earlier this year and remains open up to its official grand opening party, which Tremblay-Dulong hopes will be in mid-April.

Name and title: Dale Tremblay-Dulong, Owner

Year Common Grace opened: 2017 we opened but started in 2016

One interesting job you had before running Common Grace: Jimmy Johns delivery driver

What's the all-time best coffee and snack combo: Coffee and almond chocolate croissant

What's the best soundtrack to running a coffee shop: Don't Stop Believing by Journey

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
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