Brewing success in Traverse City

Five years ago, Mundos Roasting opened in a nondescript building off-the-beaten path in tourist-centric Traverse City. 

Business started off slow, but Mundos Roasting found its groove, establishing a solid customer base with locals, remote workers, tourists, and teenagers looking to hangout. 

“My dad liked the idea of having a place where people could gather,” says Adam Clark, son of founder Dan Clark and part of the family team behind Mundos Roasting

Today, Mundos Roasting has grown to include three Traverse City locations and another in nearby Suttons Bay. The newest Traverse City store, which opened last fall, includes the company’s new headquarters and roastery.

How did a new coffee roaster manage to grow in a small city already saturated with a host of java choices? The answer, it seems, lies in the family’s approach to business and philosophy of “slowing things down.”

The family mantra: “We wanted a slow coffee bar. It’s all about taking a little more time to make coffee, taking more time to enjoy it and taking it easy,” says Adam Clark, who, at 21, is the company’s vice president. One of the family’s mottos is ‘Take it easy.’  “It’s been kicked around for a long time. “It’s something to say to people, ‘Take it easy,’” Adam Clark says. “It’s kind of like saying, ‘Have a good day.’” Mundos Roasting began with a focus on slowing things down, doing things with quality in mind. 

How the company began: Adam’s father, Dan Clark, had long entertained owning a coffee shop and roasting his own coffee. “He had a cup of coffee one day that was exceptional,” Adam Clark recalls. “He didn’t know coffee could taste so good. It got him hooked. He wanted to know, ‘How can I reproduce this?’” “He bought a roaster and started roasting coffee in a garage.”

Mundos 305 is west of downtown Traverse City.Before Mundos, his father spent years in the concrete business, either owning or having started the business. At one point, he took a break to pursue photography, working with his wife, Melissa. When a building on Traverse City’s Boon Street became available, Dan Clark made the move to roasting and serving coffee. “My dad has always had a business mindset,” Adam Clark says. “He wanted to get somewhere with this idea of a coffee shop, and he was always on the lookout.” The elder Clark partnered with a family friend who was passionate about coffee and opened Mundos Roasting in 2017. The name derives from the nickname of a family friend. 

Community space: With Mundos, Dan Clark created the community space he had long envisioned. The stores are spacious, and the staff is welcoming, encouraging customers to linger. Warm, wood tones complement cool concrete counters (a nod to Dan Clark’s former career). Plants and minimal decor help create clean, open space. Customers are encouraged to linger, to grab a seat at a table and hang out. 

A family affair:  Melissa Clark is the company treasurer. The couple’s other son, Jack, 19, is secretary and head roaster.  He began roasting at age 14. Daughter Sarah helped out with the first location on Boon Street and Suttons Bay but is no longer involved; however, her husband Miles Eastman is the company’s head baker.

About the coffee: Mundos Roasting buys its coffee from sourcing companies that have a reputation for treating their farmers well. “The coffee we select, we end up paying a pretty high price for,” Adam Clark says. “Most of the time we pay above Fair Trade prices. You’re going to pay more for higher grade coffee.” Mundos sources its coffee beans from all over the world, primarily from Central and South America, but also from Africa, and Asia (Vietnam).

Expansion:  Within 18 months, Mundos opened a location in Suttons Bay and leased more space on Boon Street to expand roasting operations. In 2021, the family brought close friends -- Zachary and Joelle Curtis and Luke Norris -- into the fold. All of them possess a passion for coffee. Norris has been with Mundos since the beginning; Joelle Curtis joined a year or so later.

In Slabtown, Mundos Roasting is geared more toward carryout service. Mundos West opened in Slabtown. Closer to downtown, Mundos 305 is located on West Front Street. boasts large windows and natural light add to the sense of the space and the food and drink menu is more extensive. 

In addition, outgrowing its original Boon Street site, Mundos Roasting moved into a renovated complex -- a former real estate building -- offering more room for administrative offices, roasting and customers. It’s the company’s largest cafe space. 

What’s next:  The company is settling into its new headquarters, and Adam Clark says the hope is to open the roasting plant -- and a planned coffee cupping lab -- to public tours and tastings. The lab would also be used to train employees, wholesale partners and their employees.

“It’s been a big year for us. To open three locations in one year wasn’t something we were planning to do at the very beginning,” Adam Clark says. “The timing has worked out for us. We wanted to stay in Traverse City. We love Traverse City.”
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.