Caffeine and community: Coffee Chaos on celebrating 15 years of business

Back in 2004 Kim Krantz never would have imagined that the small business he was about to open would become a community staple. At the time, he and his wife Denise just knew they wanted to make a consistently great cup of coffee, and offer service with a smile that kept people coming back each day.

Thus, Coffee Chaos was born, and fifteen years later it continues to thrive.

Focused on offering espresso, iced and blended frozen coffee drinks, teas, baked goods and much more, Kim has learned a lot during those fifteen years. Among the most important lessons has been the need to teach others how to provide quality service.

“I have always been in the food service industry, and in opening the business, I felt that it was important to give first-time job experiences to high school and college students. Most of my employees fall into that category, and this is often their first job,” says Krantz.

“Working to help them learn the skills they can take to any job, that’s rewarding and important. We have to teach new employees multitasking, customer relations, and guide them in the ability to talk with people. That will help them so much in the future,” says Krantz.

Some of Krantz’s favorite moments at Coffee Chaos have come from years of spending time with his staff and customers, and the exciting memories they take with them when they leave.

Krantz is proud of the shop's six-year winning streak of Greatest of the Great Lakes Bay.

“I’ve had so many people come here to propose, many customers who have come here for their first date, and a couple of my staff members met here when they were young and later got married,” he says.

“You become part of people’s lives, which is what is so neat about it. The friendships I have made are tremendous.”

It can also be rewarding to be your own boss and own a longstanding local business as Krantz has found.

“I have regulars who have come here since first opening those doors fifteen years ago,” says Krantz. “I like to entertain people and the most rewarding part is that I still have those repeat customers. Being consistent and having a good following and growing that customer base, allows me to enjoy being my own boss.”

Coffee Chaos has helped set a standard in the community for good coffee, and this is reflected in Krantz’s attitude.

“I want to give our customers the best possible service in a clean, inviting atmosphere and a consistent quality of drink. That’s why the training is so important. No matter who makes it or what time of day, it always tastes the same,” he says.

Krantz says he has always had a tagline for Coffee Chaos. “You drink local. The theme of my shop is our local community. I’m from the Great Lakes Bay Region. I’ve lived in Midland since 1999, and this area is so unique in the amenities it has for a community of our size.”

“Coffee Chaos is designed with that in mind, and we have a lot of photos in the shop of things that happen locally like Tall Ships, the hot air balloons that come through each year, photos of Dow Gardens and more, all shot by Robert Spears, a local photographer.”

Midland is often spoken about in conjunction with its thriving non-profits, engaged downtown area, organizational attitude, and the philanthropic nature of the people who call it home. Many successful local businesses have found that becoming part of that atmosphere can happen more easily by embracing the sense of community. Krantz himself has wholeheartedly embraced this concept by becoming involved wherever he can.

“The nonprofits in this town are doing so many great things within the community,” Krantz says. “Being a part of that, and how those things come together has taught me so much. I have been a sponsor of Midland’s Dow Tennis Classic for fourteen years. I’m involved with the Exchange Club of Midland, I’m on the Midland Business Alliance board, and this week I’m supplying coffee to the volunteers at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. I like being out in the community. Everyone has this great ‘we can do it, we can help’ attitude.”

Often local businesses like Coffee Chaos are started on a dream, or a family history of being one’s own boss. For Krantz, the ties run deep. “My dad was a business owner, and I have learned that being an entrepreneur is in my blood. Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t start this even sooner,” he says.

He is also a family man who values not only the past, but the future. He notes that the legacy is prime to continue.

“My oldest granddaughter is starting to be of the age that she wants to work here when she’s older, my daughter worked here growing up – we are definitely a family business. My daughters want to maintain it when I retire, and the legacy will continue. That’s really cool.”

One thing is for sure, no matter what Krantz does in the future, he will always remain thankful to the community that brought him such strong success. He takes great care to state that he is thankful to call Midland home.

“After 15 years, I just want to thank the Midland community for accepting us, and making Coffee Chaos successful. The community takes care of us and the customers look out for us because this has become their home,” he says.

“They don’t hesitate to let me know if something is wrong, and they will look out for the staff, even giving them gifts during Christmas. Midland is a very giving community, and I see that right here every day within my shop.”

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Andrea Foster.

Andrea Foster is a writer for Catalyst Midland, and in her full time job an environmental educator for Little Forks Conservancy. She is a mother, a partner, an activist and a feminist. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering, kayaking, hiking, knitting, curling up on the couch with her cats and projects that benefit her community.