Shepherd coffee roasters work from home but look to a mobile future

Hardtack Coffee Company started out as a hobby, the finished product ending in the coffee pots of family and friends.

Dan Maloney had visited an old Army buddy in Oregon, who showed Dan his home coffee roasting operation. Inspired, Dan began roasting his own coffee beans in a cast iron Dutch oven right on his kitchen stove. As friends and family asked for more, Dan’s wife Valerie suggested that perhaps they should go in business from their Shepherd home.

Following a class at a Michigan State University Extension site, the Maloneys were soon invited to sell their home-roasted coffee beans at area farmers markets. Hardtack Coffee Company was born.

It’s a labor of love for the Maloneys. Hardtack Coffee is currently classified as a cottage food business, limiting where they can sell their wares. You can find them most weeks at the St. Louis Farmers Market.

"I still have my day job; I’m calling you from outside of Sacramento, California right now," Dan says by phone.

"But we try and invest as much of our free time as we have into this."

Hardtack Coffee sells a variety of roasts, including medium, dark, and chicory. One unique aspect about the company is that the Maloneys offer custom-roasted coffee flavors. If a customer desires a vanilla or chocolate roast, for example, they can simply email the company to request their own custom batch.

The company recently added a decaf roast and easy-to-recycle coffee pods.

Dan says that Hardtack doesn’t like to see anything go to waste. Even the chaff from the coffee bean is utilized. The Maloneys combine the chaff with goat’s milk to create an exfoliating soap.

While Hardtack is only available at farmers markets, one idea for growth is a mobile coffee trailer, similar to a food truck.

To get there, Hardtack Coffee is currently enrolled in Phase One of the Central Michigan University Research Corridor’s Right Choice program, working toward the goal of a commercial kitchen license.

Visit the Shepherd-based Hardtack Coffee Company online to find out where they’ll be next.

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

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