A History of Our Freshly Roasted Coffee

We grew up in Sturgis, Michigan, a small rural town just over an hour from Lake Michigan. Summers were wonderful and full of swimming; winters were cold and full of snowmen and snow tunnels. One thing we’ve always loved about the Midwest is the variety and beauty of the seasons and the majesty of the Great Lakes.

Our father was a builder and instilled in us a desire to create and, if possible, be our own boss. Our first official entrepreneurial project was a fixer upper. After that, we each went our own ways, one to the east coast and one to the west coast via various stops and adventures. We even got married, Jared to his high school sweetheart Elizabeth and Paul to Jennifer from nearby Homer, MI.

In 1999, as we all came together for a summer vacation along the coast of Michigan, Jared laid out plans for us to return to our hometown and build houses. It seemed like a good idea to get back to our roots and families. We completed the move in mid-2000 after surviving Y2K, we bought a big tractor and began building, not knowing that in two year’s time we would sell it and start Five Lakes Coffee!

Along with our wives, in 2002 we brought freshly roasted coffee to our hometown and our desire to help our region discover the magic of freshly roasted coffee.

We remember that first year when we worked from open to close with just the two of us. It took about six months before we figured out how we could work some alternating shifts and eventually we were able to hire some additional help. Looking back we realize it was a miracle that we survived and, not only that, we did it several more times as we opened new stores.

Well, you get the picture. Lots of hard work is involved in starting a new business and it was no different for us. Fortunately, we’ve enjoyed the support of our communities and families.

After that first year we were growing weary of running to the ‘big city’ for freshly roasted coffee, so we began investigating how to roast our own. In the beginning of 2004, we purchased a one-pound batch coffee roaster for the coffeehouse and began our love affair with roasting our own coffee.

We added a 15 kg batch coffee roaster in 2007. Then, in 2018, we moved the roasters into a newly renovated roastery at a local, re-purposed factory and added a new 35 kg batch roaster in 2020. We also added a coffee pod packaging machine in 2021 to better service our customers and coffeehouses.

We’ve seen our share of highs and lows over the years and have always tried to learn from our successes and mistakes. Several lessons future entrepreneurs can take away from our story is to be prepared to work harder than you ever imagined, keep it simple and always do the right thing.

Our families have grown over the years. Jared and Elizabeth now have eight children, Paul and Jennifer have three. Most of our children have grown up and are helping with the business in a variety of ways. Several are working full-time and even asking us when we’re going to retire so they can take over!

Owning and managing Five Lakes has been a privilege for us and our families. We love the community that has been created and are excited to continue to grow. As for when we plan to retire… not anytime soon, we’re getting ready to embark on the next stage of expansion through franchising as we assist new entrepreneurs in opening their very own Five Lakes Coffee!

As a family-owned company, our success has been built on the firm foundation of our relationships with each other and our family of customers. We endeavor to communicate authentically and honestly in our continuing desire to nurture, grow, and maintain healthy relationships.
We could not successfully exist without our loyal family of customers and valued team members who inspire our commitment to operating with character and integrity. We are not above making mistakes, and if/when we do, we will take every step to correct it!
It is also important to us to keep things simple without sacrificing product quality or customer service. We strive to be efficient while pursuing excellence at all levels, particularly in serving one another and our family of customers.

  • C

    Customers are our priority

  • A

    Always do what’s right

  • F

    Facilitate simplicity (keep it simple)

  • E

    Excellence in everything

We cherish our Christian faith. We believe in loving our neighbors and value being good stewards of what we’ve been given. Hard work and doing the right thing are a way of life at Five Lakes Coffee.

While we certainly have our own opinions, we also believe that respectful, ongoing conversations in a spirit of love and grace are fundamental to the foundations of civility. We love the United States of America and believe there is no other country where we could experience such freedom and the ability to create something like Five Lakes Coffee as easily.

Five Lakes Coffee is a community of people who genuinely aim to bring joy to someone else’s day with a smile, all while sharing the magic of freshly roasted coffee in a rewarding environment for hard workers. We believe in promotion through merit.

Our core values reflect our mission, culture, and philosophy. They help shape the team members and work experience of Five Lakes Coffee teams wherever they are.

  • We’re here to serve.

    We keep the needs of all our team members and customers at the heart of our work, doing what is best for the business and best for them.

  • We’re better together.

    It’s through teamwork and collaboration that we do our best work. We’re a culture that leverages the strengths of our team’s talents to innovate and maximize our care for all our team members and customers.

  • We’re mission-driven.

    We model our mission to bring joy to our family of customers every day, connecting our work and daily activities to our business strategy, supporting each other’s efforts to be good stewards who create a warm, peaceful, and welcoming atmosphere to all who come in contact with Five Lakes Coffee.

  • We pursue what’s next.

    We find energy in adapting and reinventing how we do things, from the way we work to how we care for others.

Customers Are Our Priority