Staying True to the Formula: 24 Years of Millcreek Coffee
Just over 24 years ago, Millcreek Coffee CFO Steve Brewster set out to produce some of the finest locally roasted coffee in Utah. Now with just over two decades of successful roasting behind him, Brewster is ready for his daughter, President Stacey Maxwell, to take a crack at leading the family business.
Millcreek has thrived locally due in large part to one driving principle: “We roast coffee and deliver it the next day,” Brewster says. “That’s been our model, and we haven’t wavered in 24 years. We buy the best stuff, we roast it, and we get it out …We do that at a price you pay for the bad stuff.” Brewster visits countries of origin to make sure that farming practices are sustainable and fair where he buys directly from growers. “I can taste it—it’s all in the cup,” Brewster says. “Once you go to origin, they won’t send you crap. They understand that you know better. If it isn’t good, we aren’t buying it.”
Once roasted, coffee loses much of its flavor within seven to 10 days, so Millcreek roasts and delivers daily to provide the best product. Their coffee is date-stamped to encourage consumers to make the most of their fresh roast. According to Brewster, “Everything has a shorter fuse the closer you get to the cup.”
Zach Amador, Head Roaster at Millcreek, will be working closely with Maxwell as she begins her run as CFO to ensure the continued quality of their main product while she focuses on the business plan. Amador cut his teeth on coffee beans as a barista at Millcreek, and his passion for the craft helped him move up in the field. “I’ve gotten to see all sides of the business and made this a lifestyle, learning about coffee,” which is precisely the approach that you can expect from Millcreek, Brewster says. “It has to be grown properly, processed properly, roasted properly and then brewed on time. We need guys like Zach who know what they’re doing and who we can trust to do their job well so we can focus on the bigger picture. You’ve got to be able to say we have our roasting covered.”
Maxwell grew up in the coffee industry—her brother was a roaster, her mother helped develop much of the coffee you can enjoy at Millcreek, and, in addition to her own time as a barista, Maxwell played a big role in opening Millcreek’s airport location. “Someone has to run the business,” Brewster says, “and if someone is part of the business from the start, they can carry on the company culture instead of bringing someone on from the outside.”
Millcreek Coffee has been a successful business model, but their success has largely been in the wholesale business, which is where Maxwell and Brewster see room for growth. Aside from their coffee, Brewster’s retail plans haven’t been ambitious. Brewster admits, “I never was a really big fan of retail and tried a joint venture with a bagel chain, only to discover that it wouldn’t work. What we’ve done best is our model of wholesale.”
Maxwell’s plans for change are to follow the model while making more appeals to younger coffee consumers who have been drawn to artisan coffee shops specializing in things like slow drip and pour-over coffees. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can in order to not only market to our audience, but to educate them,” Maxwell says. The time and care put into Millcreek’s roasting process yields a product that is equally rich in flavor to some more expensive processes. With a potential TRAX stop coming in the near future in front of the store and a greater focus on expanded local partnerships to provide more products in-house, Maxwell anticipates a stronger retail atmosphere to appeal to a broader consumer base. “Our focus is on local products, local Winder milk, Millcreek Cocao and Vosen’s,” Maxwell says. “We use their products, and they use our coffee.”
Plans are even in the works to house a satellite bakery with one current partner, Pierre Country Bakery, to offer freshly baked goods. “We think we could offer a great catering experience: local bakery paired with great coffee,” Maxwell says.
In order to meet the increased demand for their coffee, Millcreek is adding a third roaster and looking to bolster their online sales throughout the state.
You can pick up Millcreek Coffee in a number of restaurants and businesses around Salt Lake City and surrounding areas, as well as in-house at their retail location: 657 S. Main St, Salt Lake City, and at Concourse C at the Salt Lake International Airport, where you can enjoy a variety of fresh menu items for lunch or breakfast. Head to millcreekcoffee.com to learn about how Millcreek supports sustainable coffee agriculture, get educated about coffee in general, or order a bag of coffee for your home or office. You can even subscribe to receive your choice of Millcreek coffees on a monthly delivery basis.