Mobile coffee trailer Forte Cafe has bought out its South Bend, Indiana-based roasting partner Bendix Coffee. The roaming music-themed Elkhart County coffee purveyor is marching to the beans of its own drum after owner Alex Mast came into the business opportunity by chance.
“I just happened to order some coffee from my roaster supplier for a Forte event, and [former Bendix owner Karen Haun] just nonchalantly said, ‘Oh by the way, you’re going to have to find somewhere else to get your coffee, because I’m selling my roaster,'” Mast told DCN. “So then I asked to buy the whole business. It made sense because it aligned with my goals.”
Alex and Desirae Mast founded Forte Cafe in 2018 and have gradually built a local following for its drip coffee and espresso service through pop-ups at events, markets and performances. Haun and Jill DeLucia, meanwhile founded the roasting company in 2013, naming it after the South Bend-based engineering and manufacturing company Bendix Corp., which previously owned the roastery building.
Today the Masts run Bendix from inside Southgate Crossing, a three-story market in Elkhart in an iconic red barn-style building. With Bendix’s bright blue Diedrich roaster fired up in the multi-business commercial hub, the Masts are continuing to grow both brands and have thus far maintained all of Bendix’s existing customers.
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“We are continuing Karen’s style. We have laminated roast profiles of all customers,” said Mast. “We maintained 100% of the clientele of the previous owner, and I personally met each one the first week after the buyout.”
Mast was trained by Haun on the methods and techniques she applied to green coffees sourced entirely through South Bend-based importer Theta Ridge Coffee.
While Forte operations are on a seasonal pause, Mast said that customers will be welcome to tour the roastery by appointment.
“Both brands will grow by themselves,” said Mast. “My long term goals include combining the two together when we have the funds to open a drive through food-and-coffee place, where coffee production will take place as well.”
Bendix Coffee is located inside Southgate Crossing at 27751 Co Rd 26 in Elkhart, Indiana.
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