Bayfield County Welcomes Three New Coffee Roasters to the County

Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good cup of coffee. Sometimes, that’s hard to find in rural areas. Once again, the place I’m lucky enough to call home, is the exception to the rule. I’ve always been amazed by the bold lifestyle choices people make living here. It is definitely a work to live versus live to work mentality. This past month, I took advantage of my freelance hat to have conversations with three new roasters who are living their passion right here in the place I call home. Special thanks to Bottom Line News and Views and Business North for running this piece in the coming months about a topic I love.

Conversation. Community. Connection. A trio of Bayfield County entrepreneurs have all set out to accomplish this via three independent coffee roasting ventures. Each roaster has their own vision of success but they share a common bond of creating a unique experience through a universal beverage billions of people love — coffee.

Devin Thunhort, Lake Wind Coffee owner and roaster in Port Wing, Wisconsin.
Devin Thunhorst, Lake Wind Coffee

Lake Wind Coffee

Devin Thunhorst opened Lake Wind Coffee in an old Port Wing church last Labor Day weekend. It was the culmination of a long-time love of coffee roasting and falling in love with a girl up north.

“My mother owned a roasting business in Iowa for 15-years. I grew up around the business so it is sort of engrained in me,” Thunhorst explains. “As I grew up, I found myself seeking it out everywhere I moved.”

Thunhorst’s travels eventually led him to being a kayak tour guide on the South Shore. It was then he met his now wife Jennifer, a South Shore local. The two fell in love and the rest is history.

“I started roasting my own coffee out of a popcorn popper about 5-years ago. I was selling it at the Farmers Market and over the years watched my business slowly grow,” Thunhorst says.

Last year, the couple decided to double down and open up Lake Wind Coffee. The coffee shop and roaster opened on Labor Day weekend. The goal – to expand people’s palettes by introducing them to really great coffee, while also building community.

“There wasn’t really a non-bar gathering space in the area that provided a space for creativity and conversation,” Thunhorst says. “Our goal is to create a space that’s welcoming for everyone – that connects and brings people together.”

In addition to sharing a great cup of locally roasted coffee, you’ll often times hear local musicians at Lake Wind Coffee, along with an open mic night. There’s also made from scratch bagels and other treats made by his wife Jen.

In terms of his roasting style, Thunhorst wants to balance cost and quality. “I want this coffee to be the best they’ve ever had. Something that is dependable and that they can rely on. But, also at a price that our customers can afford.”

As a small batch roaster, Thunhorst focuses on roasting just a couple of coffees at a time, with a focus on fair trade organic. It possible, he also focuses on beans grown closer to the United States – such as Mexico and Central America.

He currently sells his coffee at Johnson’s Store in Port Wing and at Lake Wind Coffee.

Delta Diner Coffee Roaster
Jeff Garrett, Coffee Roaster, Delta Diner

Delta Diner

In central Bayfield County, Todd Bucher is no stranger to entrepreneurship. Bucher, who has a long-time history of building successful experiential businesses such as the popular Delta Diner, is entering the coffee roasting business with his friend Jeff Garrett.

“We’ve always been in the coffee business. We use about 1,500 pounds of finished beans every year just for the diner, so if we’re going to start roasting coffee, we have a nice base to start from,” Bucher explains.

For Bucher, it wasn’t a matter of if, but rather when and with who. As part of his efforts to build a year-round, omni-channel business combined with his friendship of long-time roaster Jeff Garrett that he’s decided to move forward on roasting Delta Diner beans on-site.

“We’re in an experience business, not the food business,” Bucher explains. “Coffee is a huge part of the diner experience. We want a coffee paired to the diner experience and with Jeff’s experience, we can take our coffee to the next level.”

Garrett first got into the coffee business over 20-years ago working at Caribou Coffee on the customer experience side. He later was a roaster for Dunn Brothers coffee. He and his wife Diane met the Bucher’s by chance but became life-long friends. For years they’ve chatted about collaborating together but the timing just wasn’t right until now.

One thing that attracted Garrett to Delta Diner is their passion and commitment to creating an unforgettable experience. Garrett believes coffee can do the same.

“The experience is elevated at the Delta Diner. It is high quality, unique, but approachable. It is comfortable,” Garrett says. “Coffee should be the same way. It should stand on its own but it should reflect its environment.”

In other words, the duo is “not out to change what you like but exceed expectations on what you do like,” Garrett explains.

To achieve this, it means deciding who you are and staying true to that. This may sound simple, but for Bucher, it is his recipe for success.

“Decide who you are and do it really well. Diner coffee doesn’t have to be super complex. We want to do a really good job at simple. Simple becomes complex by doing it well every single time.”

This includes a few regular roasts and a decaf along with taking advantage of some seasonal blends as appropriate. The roaster is designed for small batches, up to 6 pounds at a time, allowing an opportunity to roast fresh coffee daily. The team plans to have the roaster running this summer for Diner customers to experience in-house and to purchase at their small retail shop next to the diner.  They plan to sell the coffee online either via a subscription service or an online shopping cart. This gives customers an opportunity to take a piece of the Delta Diner home with them and it is also a way to connect with a niche group of diner lovers on the internet. It also provides additional business during the off-season which will help the business retain year-round customers.

Garrett and Bucher are tight lipped on what their new coffee line will be called but based on their current line, you can expect clever branding and marketing that connects customers with the Diner experience while also having a bit of fun.

Full Keel Coffee Roaster and owner Jared Trimbo
Jared Trimbo, Full Keel Coffee

Full Keel Coffee

“Coffee is nostalgic for me. I was first introduced to coffee in 4th grade and immediately fell in love with it,” says Jared Trimbo of Full Keel Coffee, Washburn’s newest commercial coffee roaster.

Over the years, Trimbo has nurtured this life-long love of coffee in hopes of one day starting his own business. He spent several years as a roaster at Big Water Coffee in Bayfield. It was during this time that he expanded his love of coffee into roasting.

“Roasting at Big Water blew my mind. I started to learn about various techniques and how roasting coffee really is a science and an art.”

Since then, he’s been dreaming of opening a business. In May, 2022 that dream became a reality when he opened the doors to Full Keel Coffee.

The name draws from Trimbo’s other major passion in life – boating. A full keel boat provides additional ballast or stability for boats bound for longer, more dangerous adventures. For Trimbo, a lover of all things nautical and historic, it signals ships that were heading out over the horizon seeking new and exciting adventures.

“There’s a boldness in these boats that I want to achieve with my coffee,” Trimbo says.

You’ll note Trimbo’s connection to boating and Lake Superior not just in the name of the company, but his blends as well. Signature blends include Spinnaker Light Roast, Dead Rise Dark Roast, and Hold Fast Flagship blend.

Each of these carefully crafted coffees pay tribute to Trimbo’s passion for roasting but also his connection to Lake Superior. Trimbo built Full Keel Coffee with scaling quickly in the forefront of his mind.

“My plan is to service larger accounts with a reliable product week after week,” he says. His roaster will do up to 45 pounds per roast, allowing him to scale for customers who need high volumes of coffee quickly.

He’s currently selling his beans at IGA and Adventure US in Washburn, along with on his website. He’s also selling his beans to Black Cat Coffee in Ashland, the gift shop at Memorial Medical Center and other wholesale customer accounts are in the works.

Equally as important, he hopes to share his love of coffee 1:1 with customers.

“Coffee is my number one passion. I want to help people understand it and explore other ways to brew it,” he says.

To achieve this, Trimbo is opening up a retail space in downtown Washburn where his roaster is located. He plans to offer drip coffee and sell beans. Long-term, he also hopes provide tours and an opportunity for people to learn more about coffee profiling and what goes into roasting coffee.

Three entrepreneurs with three different visions of connecting community with coffee. It seems unlikely in a county with more trees than humans and not a stoplight be to found. But, not too surprising for those who live here.

“One thing we have in abundance up here is people who have decided to make their life and their living one in the same through their passion,” Bucher says. A passion that all coffee lovers can be grateful for next time they want to sip on a local brew.


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