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Contrast Coffee Offering Something Different in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

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Contrast Coffee’s new shop in Iron Mountain, Michigan, at 1201 Carpenter Ave. All photos courtesy of Contrast Coffee.

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Contrast Coffee continues to show more sides. Adding to its shops in Iron River, Ironwood and Marquette, the company recently spread out into an expanded Iron River roastery in September of last year before opening a large fourth cafe in Iron Mountain.

In a new 1,500-square-foot commercial building purchased by the company, the roasting operation now centers on a 10-kilo-capacity Mill City roaster and an Ikawa sample roaster.

“With the expansion of the roastery we are also getting more connected at the farm level,” Chris Cheney recently told Daily Coffee News. “We have been able to take two trips to Costa Rica to connect with farmers we have been purchasing from, and meeting new farmers. We have plans to hopefully visit Colombia later this year, as well.”

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Contrast Coffee’s Iron River roastery, with a 10-kilo Mill City machine.

Contrast is also taking advantage of a house attached to the roastery building to capitalize on the region’s tourist appeal, having converted it into an Airbnb rental.

“Iron River is a tourist town with a lot of lakes to be enjoyed in summer and skiing and snowmobiling in winter,” said Cheney. “We are able to treat our guests to some cool experiences due to being able to offer them some free drinks at our coffee shop, as well as a roastery tour. We have included a French press and a coffee grinder in the AirBNB, as well as a $10 gift card to our shop one block away to enjoy with each booking.”

The new 2,000-square-foot cafe in Iron Mountain bears the black/white Contrast color scheme and logo, but also asserts its own personality, Cheney said, with more visible emphasis on coffee’s origins and treatments on the way to the cup.

“We really wanted to highlight the efforts taken in the farming, sourcing, and roasting of coffee into the decor of the shop,” said Cheney. “With that in mind, we have worked with Cafe Imports to utilize several of their artistic posters that highlight information about coffee tree genealogy, coffee farms around the world and harvest schedules. We have also included a steel globe art piece on the wall with our coffee bags near their respective origins.”

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On the new bar, a 2-group La Marzocco Linea AV pairs with two Mahlkonig K30 grinders, while a Mahlkonig Guatemala grinds for Fetco batch brew and V60 pourovers. Crepes and panini are available to munch and wash down with cold nitro cold brew, kombucha, root beer or orange cream soda from a 4-tap kegerator system.

Cheney said that while the company is always on the lookout for additional expansion opportunities, there won’t be any more big moves until at least next year, most likely.

“I believe a lot of this year will be focused on our existing shops and bringing a bit more focus to our food offerings, as well as continuing to invest in our teams through improvements to our training program,” said Cheney.

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The latest Contrast Coffee is open now at 1201 Carpenter Ave. in Iron Mountain.

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